Friday, 7 March 2014

Britain still follows failed business model

News that the pay of the chief executive of International Airlines Group "increased fivefold last year" despite it coinciding with "swingeing pay cuts for pilots and crew at Iberia", is not surprising, but does beg an important question: Why is it that a business model, which led almost single-handledly to the biggest financial crisis since the Wall Street Crash, is not only being allowed to continue with little or no regulation, but also is the one which is being foisted on previously untarnished corporations and institutions? 
       Banking`s reputation is deservedly at an all time low: profit at all costs the prime motive, scams devised to trick customers and rig interest and exchange rates, highest pay to those employed in the least socially valuable aspect of the business, with obscene bonuses and payment their reward, lowest pay possible to those responsible for the daily running of the company and scant regard paid to trade unions and workers` rights, increased "efficiency" equating to thousands of job cuts, and, of course, maximum effort utilised to ensure as little of the profit goes to the government in the form of taxation. Such  "irresponsible capitalism" may lead to many declarations by CEOs intent on transforming the culture, but "ethics" remain way behind profits in the pecking order, even lower than customer satisfaction. Indeed, one such practitioner of bad practice has been forced to admit, if its recent advertising campaign is evidence to judge it by, that its role as football league sponsor is more likely to win new customers rather than its damaged reputation as custodian of savings. Despite such practices of "predator capitalism", the public is constantly, and has been since the 2010 election, inundated with propaganda about "private" being superior to "public", and that this business model is the one to follow!
        Until relatively recently, there were publicly-run institutions in this country which engendered mass support. The opening ceremony of the Olympics revealed the huge admiration felt for the NHS, yet since then, constant efforts by the government and media to undermine our confidence in a state owned health service have led to tacit acceptance of top-down reforms and privatisation of key services.
       State education, whilst imperfect in many ways, was enjoying examination success, with  results in many schools even rivalling, sometimes surpassing, those of the private sector; universities were accessible to pupils from all levels of society, because the A-level examinations were structured, with coursework, modules and resit availability, all designed to maximise potential and opportunity.Yet changes came, not only with widespread assessment "reforms", but also with the organisation of schools mirroring "big business" of all things, with pay for the headteacher four or five times the level awarded for classroom expertise, union rights and pensions reduced, and the totally inappropriate Performance Related Pay mooted for state education. At university level, more of the failed banking business model; even in times of government enforced austerity, vice-chancellors receive massive boosts to pay, whilst their institutions` student intakes are falling, lecturers` rates frozen, and student fees trebled and soon to be "uncapped", to rise above the £9000 limit. Yet the people whose work ensures university life continues as normal, the cleaners,cooks and such-like, are exploited to such an extent, industrial action is often their only option.
      Even the BBC, once the world leader in television and radio programming, lauded for its outside broadcasts and universally acclaimed for its creativity, is now subjected to similar business methods, cost-cutting whilst simultaneously over-paying at the top, over-generous golden handshakes, muddled management structures, and largely unimaginative in its output.
     Yet all this is tolerated; standards fall whilst neo-criminal activities by the financial institutions go largely unpunished, and gradually the profit-at-all-costs brigade set the standard others in all walks of life are expected to follow. The results are inevitably increases in inequality, a decline in the quality of life for the average worker, and deterioration in welfare services, as tax avoidance increases, and still the business model continues to be followed!

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