Following another week of general election wrangling, with #cashgordon highlighting the flaws of social media, and a fresh round of MP allegations- this time up to 20 members from across the parties taking free jollies in exchange for favours- I found a report in the Guardian confirming, yet again, the age old wisdom that having lots of money doesn’t make people happy.
“More money makes society miserable” they triumphantly shouted.
With all the tweeting and cheating this ‘news’ still doesn’t appear to have reached our pampered public servants.
But all this talk of reddies lead the BBC’s Big Questions panel last week to address an issue that has never really made it to the political agenda, probably because we are a polite breed… and it’s about money.
They asked: should there be a MAXimum wage?
You’ve probably scoffed and thought about stopping reading now you’ve seen this.
But stay with me.
There is a minimum wage, it was only brought in under New Labour, so the debate is not necessarily done.
If we are agreed there is a lower-limit under which a person could not live, then it follows that there could be an upper one?
The economists who conducted the study in the Guardian argue that “once a country reaches a reasonable standard of living there is little further benefit to be had from increasing the wealth of its population. Indeed, it could make people feel worse off.
“As a nation becomes wealthier, consumption shifts increasingly to buying status symbols with no intrinsic value – such as lavish jewellery, designer clothes and luxury cars.”
They warn: “These goods represent a ‘zero-sum game’ for society: they satisfy the owners, making them appear wealthy, but everyone else is left feeling worse off.”
Reminiscent of Alain De Botton’s Status Anxiety, which is portioned up on Google Videos if you’ve got a couple of hours and the basic but not guaranteed ability to stream, this surely makes perfect sense?
People argue that they should be able to work as hard as they want to enjoy the lifeStyle they want.
But it is almost irrefutable fact that after a certain point money can’t make you any happier.
So why bother?
You can have a ridiculous house, cars and holidays, but if you don’t get on with your partner or you’re never at home, no amount of caviar can fill the gap.
Jeremy Bentham, as you may know was one of the founders of utilitarianism, the belief that everything should be done for “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”, the “greatest happiness principle” and, like a lot of 19th century thinking, it still rings true.
He strongly believed that education should be more widely available, particularly to those who were not wealthy or who did not belong to the established church, both of which were required of students by Oxford and Cambridge.
As UCL was the first English university to admit all, regardless of race, creed or political belief, it was largely consistent with Bentham's vision.
New Labour have widened participation, and all parties are committed to higher education if all aren’t prepared to show the cards which will set out payment plans.
But it is a shame MPs aren’t taking a leaf out of Jeremy’s, or even Jamelia’s books when it comes to the buying of affections.
Hoon, Hewitt, say this to yourselves next time a shady character slips you a family pass to Euro Disney:
“If you really cared babe
You would spend your time
If you don't understand
You can't afford mine, no.”