Monday, 14 December 2009

Adding Value or Destroying Value ?

A recent study by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has examined the social value and financial cost of a number of professions ... with enlightening, but perhaps not surprising, results ... for instance they highlight how highly paid groups such as bankers and tax accountants systematically destroy value, rather than add value, to society ...

The Foundation applied a new form of job evaluation to calculate the total contribution various jobs make to society, including for the first time the impact on communities and environment. A spokesperson for the Foundation said: "Pay levels often don't reflect the true value that is being created. As a society, we need a pay structure which rewards those jobs that create most societal benefit rather than those that generate profits at the expense of society and the environment" ... and went on to say ... "there should be a relationship between what we are paid and the value our work generates for society".

A total of six different jobs were examined and their levels of pay, as well as the overall value they contribute to the society, were compared:

The elite banker - "Rather than being wealth creators bankers are being handsomely rewarded for bringing the global financial system to the brink of collapse. Paid between £500,000 and £80m a year, leading bankers destroy £7 of value for every pound they generate".

Childcare workers - "Both for families and society as a whole, looking after children could not be more important. As well as providing a valuable service for families, they release earnings potential by allowing parents to continue working. For every pound they are paid they generate up to £9.50 worth of benefits to society."

Hospital cleaners - "Play a vital role in the workings of healthcare facilities. They not only clean hospitals and maintain hygiene standards but also contribute to wider health outcomes. For every pound paid, over £10 in social value is created."

Advertising executives - The industry "encourages high spending and indebtedness. It can create insatiable aspirations, fuelling feelings of dissatisfaction, inadequacy and stress. For a salary of between £50,000 and £12m top advertising executives destroy £11 of value for every pound in value they generate".

Tax accountants - "Every pound that a tax accountant saves a client is a pound which otherwise would have gone to HM Revenue. For a salary of between £75,000 and £200,000, tax accountants destroy £47 in value, for every pound they generate."

Waste recycling workers - "Do a range of different jobs that relate to processing and preventing waste and promoting recycling. Carbon emissions are significantly reduced. There is also a value in reusing goods. For every pound of value spent on wages, £12 of value is generated for society."

The example professions chosen will certainly promote debate about this important (and philosophical) aspect of 21st century 'economics', and whilst such work is still clearly in its infancy, it already starting to highlight a number of potential ways pay (and taxation systems) are likely to evolve in the future ... e.g. becoming more closely aligned to the level of social (and environmental) value actually provided to the 'economy' ...

When places like the UK decide to progressively move towards becoming a 21st century 'economy' is a very different question however ... as the those currently in "Power" will resist it at all costs, and the level of failure/despair will have to become far worse before the majority of ordinary hard-working people (who are currently adding all the value!) decide to do something about it ... take a look at this post for instance - however, when they do decide to act ... change things will (e.g. take a look at another of my recent posts for instance, as well as this recent one from fellow blogger, writingsonthewall, too).

This post was referred to on Robert Peston's blog "New ice age for bankers" post 98.