Recently it has come out that a number of well known British charities pay their CEOs 100k salaries and in some cases well over this. For someone who has given to a number of charities over the years, this has come as a bit of a shock but not that much of a surprise to be honest. It seems that there is always a way to find high wages for the people at the top and in the middle of most organisations, but the wages at the bottom always seem to be low. Equally, it seems that many positions in charities are also volunteer ones, so it’s fine for a Working class person to stand around on the street rattling tins in people’s faces and not get paid but somehow if the person is from a more affluent background then high wages must be paid. I have to say that this kind of thing angers me and upsets me for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have given to a number of charities many times before today and I do not like the idea that money has gone to pay the often very high salaries of people working in an industry that by its very nature is about redistributing wealth to those in genuine need. Secondly, my idea of charity is certainly not keeping affluent usually privileged Middle class people in foreign holidays, piano lessons and private tuition for their kids and living in an exclusive suburb with a four wheel drive in the garage. Thirdly, again charity now seems another business that affords professional people a good living and the rest of us without connections have the ‘privilege’ of volunteering with the vague hope, if that, of getting some form of probably low paid employment at some future date. Of course this doesn’t seem to happen to those in the middle ranking and high end jobs, where wages seem to be very good. Fourthly, my worries are like many people who feel that if large chunks of money given openly and freely and out of the generosity of often many ordinary people are going in high wages and expense accounts, just how much is actually going to the people who are supposed to be the actual recipients of it in the first place? And fifthly and finally, how different then is the ‘business’ of charity compared to banking, law, the media, politics, business and many other institutions that are a part of the economic and social infrastructure of Britain? I don’t see a great deal of difference in any of them now in that wages are very high at the top and afford an affluent lifestyle to those in the middle, but almost always are low waged at the bottom with the added emphasis now of volunteering being often the first option for getting on the first rung of the ladder. Who does this benefit? It benefits the people in the middle and the top at the expense of the people at the bottom. Does this really surprise anyone, if they are being completely honest? Even charity then now is just another form of easy money that isn’t always being used for what many generous givers think it is being used for.
Does this sound like I am bitter and envious and angry? Well you’re right, I am all of the above and many more and I feel that many more people are too, for many reasons but mainly because somehow affluent people always seem to remain affluent even in institutions that are supposed to be about redistributing wealth from the haves and wealthy, to the have-nots and poor. It is not even the fact that there are people who will get more than someone else perhaps because they have more responsibility and do a job that requires more skill or education, it is that there are many skilled Working class people with good educations and degrees now and often we don’t get a look in, it is always someone from an already affluent background going on to get a good job whilst the rest of us have to make do with what’s left over.
I have said this before as well, but I have noticed that many equal rights organisations purporting to fight for fairness and justice are almost always top heavy with privileged Middle class people as well, who seem to always be speaking on behalf of the rest of us not so lucky and privileged but we are deemed not good enough to speak for ourselves and consequently from what I have seen of many such organisations there is nary a Working class person or any kind of person who has endured real poverty or struggle amongst them. Henceforth, the people who get the good jobs in these organisations are usually Middle class and don’t really know anything about poverty or real struggle. It also means that it becomes a business, a profession, and far less about actually trying to change things. I feel that such organisations tacitly and very carefully keep Working class people and poor people out of them because such a person would see much of what passes for those organisations as a sham and just another Middle class talking shop and not much more. I did actually write to a number of equal rights organisations a while back asking among other things why they curiously enough never mentioned class as an issue when all other prejudices were mentioned. Only one actually wrote back to me, and when I replied they never bothered after that. I thought that considering they were organisations purporting to be fighting for equal rights they didn’t really respect my rights at all. To be honest, I expected them not to get back to me. I feel that class is one of the major issues in Britain and yet it is both subtly downplayed and constantly ignored by the affluent Middle classes so they can use it to their advantage in the same way they pretend to be interested in Black rights and minority rights and because the Middle class, as we all know, benefit from the unfairness inherent in the system.
My conclusion then is that privileged and affluent people, although some are concerned about poverty and try to make a difference, most do not and even those who claim to do so actually don’t which makes them look dishonest and disingenuous, especially if someone is saying one thing but doing something else. I would even say this kind of this is prevalent to a degree in organised religion where people get a good position because they are educated and whether they are genuinely Christians or not seems to be less important. It then becomes like a business, where the actual message is not important but where the only thing that matters is just keeping the organisation going. Is it any wonder that many of us feel disillusioned with so many things?
As Christians, we know that the world although on the surface appears fair and just and that good people act for the betterment of us all, that the reality is that the world is at best unjust, unfair, riven with all kinds of divisions and every kind of unfairness and that sometimes bad, uncaring and unscrupulous people rise and decent people with morals and consideration and compassion for others get sidelined, marginalised and even ignored. I don’t say everyone who prospers is bad however, that would be unfair and untrue, nor do I claim that everyone who is poor or struggling financially or in some other way is automatically a suffering saint either, because that would equally be naïve and untrue as well. But that at times the world is much more likely to be an unjust place than a just one. ‘Your uprightness is too great, Yahweh, for me to dispute with you. But I should like to discuss some points of justice with you: Why is it that the way of the wicked prospers? Why do all treacherous people thrive?’ (Jeremiah 12:1 NJB)