A Little Bit of Whimsy
Friday Ephemera

The Wrong Kind of Rich

Readers will most likely be aware that the Guardian has quite a lot to say about the evils of high pay and rewarding failure. Demands for a “maximum wage” are aired at regular intervals, usually in articles denouncing executive “pigs” and “private sector kleptocracy.” For instance, Polly “two villas” Toynbee can be counted on to gasp in well-rehearsed horror at “fat cats” and the “danger of stratospheric pay.” Scarcely a week passes without our favourite bejewelled socialist railing against “the unjust rewards of the rich,” by which she means, “the 1.5% who earn over £100,000.” These are the “extravagant earners” who “feel profoundly entitled to take what they like in salaries” and “monster bonuses,” all while being “unashamed” and “untouched by public disgust or a sense of propriety in the face of so many losing their livelihoods.”

Despite the protestations of umbrage and disgust, this well-heeled descendant of the Earl of Carlisle somehow finds the strength to cope with being quite rich herself. Toynbee’s Guardian salary, for years a subject of speculation, was eventually revealed as £106,000 - excluding royalties, advances, media fees, etc. Presumably Polly feels her own financial rewards are not at all “extravagant” or “unjust,” or a likely cause of public outrage. It seems, then, that Ms Toynbee only dislikes the wrong kind of rich people, which is to say rich people whose politics and backgrounds may differ from her own.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that 180 journalists and advertising staff will soon be made redundant at the Guardian

The newspapers have been in financial turmoil since the Guardian’s editor in chief, Alan Rusbridger, decided to move the papers from broadsheet to the current medium-sized Berliner format in 2005. The move involved spending £80m on new presses, but in the four years since then, the Guardian has lost almost a fifth of its readers, with sales slumping from 380,000 to 311,000. In August GMG reported that it had lost £89.8m... The company’s financial position has become so precarious that it went to the very brink of closing down the 200-year-old Observer earlier this year.

Despite the losses, Mr Rusbridger received an 11% pay rise last year to £445,000.

That would be the same Mr Rusbridger whose egalitarian credentials are affirmed by owning only two houses and just the one £30,000 grand piano. And the same Mr Rusbridger who, when asked if he was embarrassed by his 2007 salary of £350,000 and the previous year’s bonus of £170,000, said

I didn’t ask for the money.

Which of course makes all the difference.