So, 70% of Britons think the gap between high and low incomes is too wide. (New Statesman 28th January 2008)Would any of them care to make this a meaningful view by quantifying? I’ve tried in a very modest way to open a public discussion here in Ireland but there were no takers.The question can be framed in a number of ways: a) What multiple of the statutory minimum wage constitutes an unacceptably high salary? b) What multiple of the average wage constitutes an unacceptably high salary? c) At what point does a salary become unseemly? Of course the answers – if anyone is prepared to push the boat out – should be vague approximations. I mean, are we talking about twice, ten times, a hundred times what an average person earns? Are we talking about £100K, 500K, £1M?
The head of Ireland’s Health Services Executive earns in excess of E450K and a proposed settlement for some of his staff involves incomes in excess of E300K. Now while ordinary citizens in conversation are aghast at such loony salaries, the Irish media seem to discuss every aspect except the actual amount of money.