At close to £21 an hour, which translates to an annual salary of just over £40,000, you are bang in the middle of the best rewarded fifth of all employees. You earn getting on to twice the national average. In short, you are, in relative terms, rich.
No, you’re not.
You have a relatively high income, yes. But that is not the same as rich. For rich refers to wealth, a stock, not to income, which is a flow. And that sort of intellectual sloppiness does not bode well for someone trying to give an analysis of how this all happened.
For much of the 20th century, the income gap in Britain narrowed steadily as we gradually became a more equal society. In 1918 the richest 1% of earners was rewarded with 19% of all income, receiving about 19 times more than the average earner. By 1935 the top 1%’s share of income had fallen to 14%; by 1950, 12%; by 1960, 9%; by 1970, 7%; and by 1980, 6% (and only 4% after taxes).
This was all achieved without stipulating a ratio from top to bottom – but it was much lower than 20:1. And, in fact this process towards a more equal society seemed inexorable, an almost natural consequence of an advanced democracy. During these years – the three decades or so after the end of the second world war – this trend was part of the political consensus.
However, in the late 1970s a few of us got greedy; the rest of us failed to stop the greedy, and they spread their ideas around (if not their money).
You what? We’re to take seriously the argument that there was some outbreak of greed? What is this man smoking? It’s all come about as a result of the destruction of self restaint or something?
It’s not unusual to look for economic causes for economic changes. Rather than, you know, moral ones.
That the turning point in inequality came as globalisation returned – almost to the moment in fact -and that this rise in inequality happened in all of the industrialised nations at the same time might give some people pause for thought.
Although not, apparently, Danny Dorling. Which is probably why we shouldn’t be listening to him on the subject.
Oh, and he elides between CEO salaries and CEO total income after bonuses and share vestments. Man’s just not being honest.