Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hospital cleaners more valuable than bankers

This article was originally posted on 8/19/12

According to new research by the U.K.-based New Economics Foundation, workers like hospital cleaners and child-care providers are worth far more to society than bankers or advertising executives.

The study examined six different jobs and attempted to determine their overall societal value. Workers who clean hospitals were judged to create roughly 10 pounds for every one pound they are paid, while bankers, due to the immense damage inflicted on the world economy by financial speculation and other practices, end up destroying seven pounds for every one pound they create.

Other productive positions researched included child-care workers—-who create 9.5 pounds for every pound they are paid, by virtue of assisting in the growth of the next generation of workers and freeing up parents to continue working—-and recycling workers, whose work generates 12 pounds for every one pound of wages paid through the reduction of carbon emissions and the reuse of recyclable goods.

Advertising executives, by virtue of their tendency to encourage "high spending and indebtedness" and to "create insatiable aspirations and [fuel] feelings of dissatisfaction, inadequacy and stress" were found to destroy 11 pounds for every one they generate.

Similarly, the money that a tax accountant saves a client is money that will not be used for productive purposes by the state—tax accountants were shown to destroy 47 pounds for every pound generated. As tax accountants are not often retained by the working class, it can be assumed that the money they save their clients is not being used for workers to avoid destitution.

A spokeswoman for the foundation said that the aim of the survey was to make the point that "there should be a relationship between what we are paid and the value our work generates for society. We've found a way to calculate that."

While it stops short of recommending revolutionary change—-instead suggesting various reforms such as including social and environmental value in prices or establishing various commissions and policies to promote income equality or a "green industrial policy"—the New Economics Foundation still provides a valuable lesson, one echoed by revolutionary thinkers past: Capitalism no longer acts as a positive influence on production and well-being, but as a hindrance that must be eliminated in the interest of human development.