Time To Change The Record
Last week Gillian Tett, the respected journalist who made her reputation by predicting the financial meltdown of 2006, spoke about the big fear for the year ahead that she’d picked up from global leaders in Davos. It wasn’t market instability or the Euro crisis that troubled them, but concerns over the growing anger felt by the many over the huge disparity in wages with a tiny elite at the top.
In essence, she was making clear what those involved in the Occupy movement have been banging on about for months – the 99%, to paraphrase Peter Finch from the magnificent film Network, were mad as hell at the 1% and weren’t going to take it anymore.
It feels like there have been a couple of recent victories for the 99%. RBS chief Stephen Hester turned down his £1m bonus. There was a rather ignoble scramble around this, and the decision was probably too politicised, but still, he acted.
Then Fred Goodwin lost his knighthood. This feels a little like a hollow victory. Much has been made of Goodwin’s humble beginnings coming from a council estate in Paisley. Good for him that he (initially at least) achieved so much. Rather than strip him of a title, why weren’t questions asked about what he could do to help the social mobility of those coming after him. Avarice and greed lead ultimately to his downfall, but he is every bit as culpable for pulling up the ladder behind him and not offering a hand up.
So in the magazine this week we look at Occupy St Pauls. As they face eviction, we have a photo essay detailing the protestors while James MacIntyre, one of the few journalists to actually bed down there, assesses what has been achieved and what comes next.
Rock legend Neil Young revealed last week that Steve Jobs liked to listen to vinyl at home. Jobs felt that the compressed sounds of digital music through digital players just didn’t fly. Perhaps Young is being playful. Perhaps we were all too ready to suck up convenience.
Either way, the future doesn’t quite look the way it used to not so long ago…