As a result of a Freedom of Information request, the BBC is to publish the salaries and expenses of its top 100 executives. BBC Expenses . That is a start. But, why only the top 100 executives, why only the BBC. Over the last few weeks there has been a feeding frenzy in the newspapers and TV about MP's expenses, but in reality those expenses claims, disgusting as they are, are small fry compared to the millions of pounds in expenses that go to the really rich and powerful in British Society.
As I reported in my blog Greed Is Not The Problem , according the the Financial Times,
“The UK parliament has been humiliated by an expenses scandal of Augean stench, prompting Martin Bell, an anti-sleaze campaigner, to suggest such abuses could never occur in the business world. “If our cabinet ministers worked for a private company or public corporation, half of them would be out of a job this morning,” he said. “They would have been shown the door. Their employers might then call in the police.” Sadly, he is wrong. Shareholders are taken for a far bigger ride by their C-suites than UK taxpayers are by their MPs.
Shareholders have little insight into the perquisites enjoyed by executives: the jets, country club memberships and season tickets are never disclosed in remuneration reports. Every so often, daylight reveals shocking shareholder-funded extravagance. Ex-Tyco boss Dennis Kozlowski, for example, supplied himself with a $15,000 umbrella stand, a $17,000 “travelling toilette box” and $2,200 wastebasket. More recently, opponents of John Thain leaked to the media that the one-time chief executive of Merrill Lynch had treated himself to a $1.2m office makeover, with $87,000 rugs, $25,000 pedestal table and $68,000 credenza. But for every case that makes headlines, thousands do not. Which accounts department queries the spa treatment in the boss’s hotel bill or questions helicopter trips to far-off golf courses?
C-suites around the world are, with few exceptions, hypocritical in the extreme, demanding austerity from workforces while living high on the hog themselves.”
Last week, we saw that the expenses for Prince of Wales had risen last year by a whacking 25%. The defence given for that is that it was for travel abroad he had been asked to undertake by the Government. But, does that travel require all the undoubted trimmings that go with it??? I hear that you can get to most places in the world quite reasonably on Easy Jet, and other similar airlines!
The MP's are nonentities in all this, they are in reality like the bloke down the line in a company who gets the blame that should go to the top bosses! That a Freedom of Information request has been made to the BBC to open the books on their affairs is a start. But, the only reason this has happened is because the BBC is Public Corporation. Private companies are protected against such disclosure by the laws on commercial confidentiality. The law should be changed so that we can see what these executives get and claim - indeed even the ordinary shareholders ought to want this information too! - and what links they have to otehr organisations that affect our lives, and frame our ideas.
After all, one of the BBC's newsreaders, when challenged by an MP, admitted she was paid £92,000 a year, or half as much again as an MP!! Actually, we ought to question for doing what. £92,000 a year seems a hell of a lot of money to sit and read an autocue of questions, and statements - especially when for some reason nowadays it takes two people at the same time to read thee News! - especially when they are the same bits of news repeated ad nauseum every 15 minutes! We know that the BBC screens its journalists before they are employed to make sure tht the vast majority are acceptable to the status quo, could it be one reason for such high salaries is to ensure that these important information formers know which side of the bread is buttered? But, I don't want to pick on the BBC, the connections of journalists in the Capitalist media with big business is also well-known.
Most people are pushed o know who their own MP is let alone other MP's, fewer still actually understand what they stand for in detail. Yet most people know the newsreaders who are on our screens everyday, for many hours of the day. They are "celebrities". And these people, day in day out provide us with the information on which we judge those lower paid politicians! Should we not know their affairs in at least as much detail as those of the MP's. We should have a register of interets for the top journalists like that for politicians. Like politicians every time there is something they are speaking on, in which they have some connection, they should have to declare an interest, and we should have a full list of their salaries and expenses, as well as details of what companies they and their close family have any connection with.