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from Breakingviews:

Technical measures won’t curb pay extravaganza

By Edward Hadas
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

One of the more puzzling British and American trends in the last three decades is the vast increase in the share of national income allocated to the very rich. The High Pay Commission, a non-governmental UK body which published a report on Tuesday, points out that share of British national income garnered by the top 0.1 percent of earners has moved from 1.3 to 6.5 percent since 1979. The Commission has a 12-point plan to change things.

The puzzle is two-fold. First, what caused the shift? Companies may be bigger. But corporate bosses do pretty much what they always did. They are just getting paid much more to do it. At BP, one of the few big British companies with clear records going back to 1979, the top boss received 16 times as much as the average worker in 1979. Last year BP’s “boss-peon” multiple was 63.

Second, why has there been so little public indignation about the pay extravaganza? The report’s forward says “the public is rapidly running out of patience”, but in fact this trend has been in place for decades, was not halted by the recession and has not fired up a mass protest movement. There are rhetorical expressions of outrage from politicians and at the pub, but the British, like the Americans, seem remarkably complacent about the triumph of the elite.

Why life doesn’t begin at 40…

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pensioners.jpgThink you’ve got plenty of time to save for retirement, boost your bank balance or achieve the level of wealth you’ve always aspired to? Think again.

While it might be said that life begins at 40, this is far from the case on the financial front: wage growth stalls 30 years before the average retirement age, according to personal finance website Fool.co.uk.

Dear Chancellor… What would be in your letter to Darling?

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darling.jpgLabour might appear to have calmed the storm over the scrapping of the 10 percent income tax rate for now. But new research shows the extent to which Britons are peeved about the level of income tax.

When asked what would be their key requests of Chancellor Alistair Darling, the largest proportion of more than 3,000 people polled for Unbiased.co.uk — 31 percent — said they’d like to see a cut in income tax. And, it seems, many Britons feel an obligation to help the less well-heeled: while 12 percent would like to see it reduced for everyone, 19 percent want a cut for less affluent sections of society.

Is curry the latest for the spending chop?

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The Friday night take-away, Saturday shopping spree and summer get-away are in line for the chop, as consumers become increasingly nervous over looming recession. Almost nine out of 10 Britons say they will cut spending on non-essential items to cushion themselves against impending economic downturn, according to a poll of 1,000 people for Web site Fool.co.uk.

A British institution — the good old take-away — is set to receive the biggest blow, with over two-thirds of the nation planning to cut back on curries, fish suppers and late-night kebabs, the survey says. Other planned cutbacks include retail therapy (67 percent) and fewer holidays (49 percent), while 12 percent plan to stop smoking, 4 percent to put pension contributions on hold and 3 percent say they will even cut their kids’ pocket-money.

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