Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Pay Tipping Point

Public sector workers, as a collective, have it good. I know, I used to work in the public sector. They tend to be jobs that have decent pay, less stringent discipline and an ability to replace your ultimate boss every five years. The pensions tend to be great and it is a lot trickier to make them redundant because they can politicise their situation. However, there are a number of public sector workers who don't have things as sweet as the sweeping collective. Their pay, whether it be comparatively good to the general public or not, is a delicate balancing act.

Doctors are the go-to vocation for this example because they are well paid. Huge demands are placed on them and they are required to do excessive hours, especially if they are junior doctors. It is a career that requires a lot of training, a lot of sacrifice and a lot of on-going effort. Junior doctors are not spectacularly well paid, landing them near the national average. As they progress, the remuneration improves and they can go on to be richly rewarded, not just in wages but also a substantial pension. I think we can all agree that these men and women, people responsible for saving our lives, should be well paid. Yet I don't want them to be overpaid and this is why. If my life is on the line, I want a doctor who is in the job because they want to be a doctor, not someone who wants to be rich. Better paid doesn't make someone better at their job.

We have seen this with company executives. The heads of companies nationwide have seen their pay skyrocket yet their incompetency has been highlighted more and more. For every Steve Jobs, there has been a Fred Goodwin. Why? Because when a pay day is so big, it is okay to be in the job for a few months and be a catastrophe. A doctor isn't a 6 month job. It's a life long service.

A similar argument can be made about other professions in the health service. But how about an alternative? Let's say we get invaded by a superior nation. Imagine it. Their tanks thunder through our cities and countryside and eventually up your street. A sweeping legion of enemy troops are coming to attack your home. Who would you rather was the guy with a rifle who would stand to defend you and your family? The guy who joined the Armed Forces for the big pay day? Or the guy who joined irrespective of the pay? I don't want a mercenary guarding my country. I want a patriot. I want someone who bleeds the red, white and blue of the Union Jack. I am confident I can say that is true of most of Britain's Armed Forces. Sure, some will use it as a leg up to another career but the core that those great institutions are made up of comprise primarily of people who are doing the job because they want to. It is more to them than just something to pay the bills.

I want the girl who is willing to slog through a seventy hour week for an average wage because that is the job she wants to do. I want the guy who is willing to be shot at for a mediocre wage because I want a hero to defend me, not a hired gun. When the credit crunch hit, we saw directors of companies being made redundant and turning to teaching as a secure job. I don't someone shaping young minds and future generations when they considered that role as a fall back position. I want the person who saw teaching as their calling in life.

I'm not saying that someone who does a job to pay the bills doesn't do a good job or lacks dedication. What I am saying that it is the calibre of employee improves when their motivation is better than money. If someone does it for the love of the job, then they tend to be the best person to do the job. Sure, skills and competency are required but when my life is on the line, when something of great importance is at stake, I want a patriot, not a mercenary or a conscript. We would all like to see doctors, nurses, teachers, soldiers et al paid better but there is a pay tipping point. If we go over that, we will end up recruiting the money grabbers, not the society builders and defenders.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Sarcasm: A Method of Survival

If you asked people what I am like, sarcasm would be one of the many traits that would make the list. If they were being flattering, they would call me witty. If they were being harsh, they would say I was sharp tongued or mean. I am. I am an incredibly sarcastic individual. What wouldn't be stated was that I don't like being sarcastic. I don't even like sarcasm. I just do it because the alternative is to be the victim and taking a verbal pummeling through life. I did that for a few years. Well, maybe a few decades. Trust me, it was a miserable existence.

My question is... why? Who decided that we have to be snide in what we say to get through a day? People think I have a thick skin. I don't. I just don't much of a soul left to beat. If your victim is a trampled, bloodied mess on the floor and you give them a kick, they won't react much. They want to but they just don't have it in them. That's the metaphor for me.

I take things quite personally. When someone is mean about me without provocation once, I brush it off as a joke and move on. When it happens again and again, going from a remark to a relentless stream of sarcasm, I start to take it personally. In a stupid sense, the person trying to wind me up keeps going until they get me angry. Then I snap. I rip their head off. I expose all the things that make that person so very pathetic in poetic pugilism that is as lyrical as it is wrathful. I give them what they have been giving me over the course of hours, days or weeks in one abusive rant. Needless to say, they try to calm me down with "I was only joking" or get offended. The first one is stupid. If I stab you repeatedly, I can't use comedy as a defence. If I slander your name over and over, I can't hide behind trying to get a giggle. The second one, getting offended, is even worse because it is utterly hypocritical. You are allowed to get offended but I wasn't? Ridiculous!

So what is the alternative? Be sarcastic myself. Get in there when the jousting starts and make sure that your opponent doesn't get the upper hand. Because obviously, we have nothing nice, interesting, insightful or just plain fun to talk about. No. We need to discuss why I am inferior for your amusement, don't we? Please, let me mention your flaws over and over. I feel this bedrock of sarcasm is the perfect foundation for our friendship.

You know what a relationship built on sarcasm is? One step above an abusive relationship. Abusive relationships are all about one person trying to make another person feel inferior. Sarcasm-filled relationships are a bruise-less two way street version. Is that what you want in your life? Because we live in a world that tells you that you're too fat, too stupid, too poor or whatever else, you have to swim with the tide and chip in with your comments too. You think you're clever? You're not. You're weak minded.

You do what you do because you want to survive. I know. I'm exactly the same. Will I change? Hell no! The previous times I tried, I got trampled, as everyone and their dog acted like they could smell blood and it was time to go for the kill. However, it is a sad state of affairs when the only format of fraternising comes in tearing each other down. Think about it. You'd really rather be ripped apart by other people than be alone? Maybe you deserve the abuse you get or maybe we don't deserve any praise because none of us are willing to change. We don't really want to make the world a better place, we just want to make ourselves feel better by pushing everyone else down.

Sarcasm is not survival of the fittest, just the most mean.

Monday, 2 September 2013


On the 31st July 2013, I attended the LDS British Pageant at the Preston Temple, located in Chorley (yes, I know Chorley and Preston are different places, don't ask!). The Pageant is a show of sorts, a musical portrayal of the history of Mormonism in 1830's Great Britain and Ireland, accompanied by pre-show stalls and activities. It was an excellent performance and best of all, attendance was free. All you had to do was get a ticket and get there yourself.

Now, as is the trend these days, a Facebook group was established to promote the event. I have been a member of the group since its inception and enjoy reading the various posts about people's experience, all of which have been positive and uplifting. Until Mary Currie came along. I don't know her, nor after her ungrateful disrespect would I want to. The group were dignified and decided to take down her antagonistic post. Me, I'm happy to drop to her dirty depth and sling the mud she thinks she can freely fling. Mary Currie, you embody why I am increasingly reluctant to help people with no prospect of reward.

What was her post? She complained that there was no DVD of the production and that one should have been made to accommodate people who could not get to the Pageant. Just because every stand up comedian and rock band do a DVD of their tour doesn't mean this Pageant is obliged to some whiny Scottish woman's request for a DVD. I'd understand if she was housebound but her Facebook page has her standing in some glen and her top photos are her enjoying a flight in a light aircraft. She is physically able, so she has no room to complain about that.

She says it is a long distance for some people. I did security on the 2nd August 2013 and welcomed people not just from Britain but from all over the world. Even better, it came with a big contingent from Scotland. Somehow, those people managed. If you look at a map of Britain and Ireland, Chorley is pretty central and not only that, the site is right next to a motorway. The only way it could be more accessible was if they built a runway on the grounds! So that part of her moan was also unwarranted.

Then she complained about the publicity of it. Now, this information had been shared with my local congregation ad naseum, and coupled with a website and Facebook campaign, I'm not wholly sure what else she expected. If her local church leaders didn't inform her, is that really the fault of those who are running the Pageant? I don't think so. In fact, I know it isn't. But much like this article, she wanted to kick off, so in for a penny, in for a pound!

You'd think the acidic, vile little swine would have bitten her tongue at this point, realising that she had run out of idiotic things to say. No. She had boots to fill and, by Hell, she was going to do it. So she turned to sharing rumours, which were unfounded and untrue, claiming that she had got it from a reliable source. Yeah, the Daily Mail says it has reliable sources but I still don't trust a thing they say! Unless you have stone cold facts, don't try to enhance your argument with speculative crap. It proves that you just want to kick off, that you're a sad, lonely person and what you need is to go for a swim in the Thames wearing concrete shoes.

When people work, sacrifice and devote themselves to something, at no request of reward to themselves, to produce something special and uplifting for others, you do not have the right to criticise them. Ever. I don't care what you think free speech is. Nothing in this life is free. You spout crap to the point that it irritates me and I will come after you because I was on the end of similar behaviour for years.

I used to organise conventions for a group known as YSA (Young Single Adults), an 18-30's for single Mormons. Every year, they were well attended and I would see the happiness and joy everyone else would experience. Afterwards, there would be an outpouring of approval, most of which was on a macro scale rather than on an individual level. That was fine. I'm not good at being made a fuss over. I remember walking down the pathway at the end of one of these conventions, surrounded by all the attendees and not one person spoke to me. They were too busy having a good time and that's great. That I can live with.

What I can't live with was how a month or two afterwards would be the snide remarks. People who had to be escorted off the premises because of their behaviour would start to complain. People who couldn't attend would moan. Soon, the whinging would turn to lies, slander and threats. One that was put to me consistently was that it was unfair that I got to attend these conventions for free. I didn't. I paid like everyone else. What everyone else didn't do is spend over £100 on fuel going to meetings, never mind increased phone bill, reduced social life and minimal sleep over the convention weekend. In 2009, I figured out that I had paid three times more than anyone else attending the convention. For that, I got faint praise, at best, before and during the event and then nothing good afterwards. It led to my number one rule.

Never volunteer. Don't do something for nothing. It isn't worth it. The lack of gratitude cuts like a red hot knife to the soul and you wonder why you bother. You may think volunteering is noble but you know what, the patriots are the first ones to die in war. Mary Currie, people like you are the reason why that is my number one rule. Because you're ungrateful. I just wish you would be ungrateful for the oxygen that the trees so freely provide and refuse to let it flood into your lungs ever again.