The US government has just dissolved the ‘super committee’ set up for finding a way out of the deficit. They couldn’t reach a bipartisan agreement on spending cuts and so have quit, highlighting just how divided the country is. Meanwhile, in the UK, reforms seem to be the order of the day, and political and business leaders are weighing in on tackling the country’s financial quagmire.
Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable has been in the press, as has the head of the enormously profitable pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithCline, deriding grossly indulgent executive pay, after the disclosure that the head of Barclays has had pay increases “up nearly 5,000% in 30 years – while average wages have increased just threefold,” The Guardian newspaper reports. It seems the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ sentiment is being firmly felt across the globe.
The UK’s High Pay Commission was set up to investigate the reasons behind the huge inequalities in British society – the leaks over the last year concerning Barclays’ Bob Diamond, and what he earns, has been seen as fairly repugnant in this current austerity climate. And quite right – how much is enough? The committee called for “greater transparency in the setting of executive pay and says employees should sit on remuneration committees.” Cable then went on to say that “There is widespread consensus, not just among the public but in the business community, that this is unacceptable and is undermining the credibility of our markets-based system.” This is something the American government is grappling with – laying blame on the business community is seen as biting the hand that feeds. But, someone has to pay the bill, and unconscionable capitalism doesn’t really work – it’s just that the cold war specter of being called a ‘commie’ still strikes fear in both the Democrats and Republicans. What no one in Washington seems too concerned with is rebuilding trust, beyond just rhetoric. The mud slinging continues and nothing gets done, surely that’s not what we’re voting for?