Both The Mail and The Independent led with pretty much the same headline, comparing Wayne Rooney's world with that of what they described as the real world. Credit to them both. Jonathan Brown for The Independent summed the story up thus;

..the opulence of Wayne's world and his historic record-breaking deal stands in stark contrast to the other news that rocked the city this week. It is now estimated that 40,000 people in the Greater Manchester area will lose their jobs as a result of chancellor George Osborne's plan to cut £83bn from public spending to fight the deficit.


But Jonathan Brown and the other journalists who have taken a similar track, worthy as their words might be, are incorrect in one crucial respect. The real world at the end of the first decade of the 21st century does include paying footballers, pop-stars, and assorted celebrities huge amounts of money for arguably very little social return. Wayne Rooney may now be the top of a very large money mountain, but that mountain has existed for many years now. Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand were part of that mountain and their social value is highly questionable. All Premier League footballers are part of the mountain and would do exactly as Wayne did if the opportunity presented itself. If memory serves me correctly, John Terry pulled a similar stunt at the end of last season, threatening to go to Man City if Chelsea didn't up his wages. Cheryl Cole and dozens of similar fairly talentless pop stars are part of the mountain and milk the system for all its worth.

All this has been going on for some considerable time and we are fully complicit in the farce because we buy the tickets, buy the records, buy into the whole celebrity game. Tuning in to X Factor, Big Brother and Britain's Got Talent, all feeds the insatiable celebrity culture and the industry that has grown round it. Paying thousands of pounds for season tickets to what used to be a working class leisure pursuit only feeds the system.

To focus on just one footballer is to miss the point completely. Yes, top footballers are obscenely paid but so are many others, most significantly, the 'spivs and chancers' that recently destabilised the world's economy. Any article attacking the absurd levels of pay that footballers now demand must also attack the wages and bonus culture of our casino bankers. Whereas footballers and pop stars are merely grossly overpaid entertainers, financial speculators and currency manipulators, are social and economic parasites, bleeding the system until it is a lifeless corpse.

We could stop all this in a day but we haven't as yet shown the courage or consciousness to do so. Manchester United fans could get rid of the Glaziers tomorrow if they refused to renew their season tickets or simply stopped attending home matches. Liverpool fans could demand a 51% supporter owning system today from their new owners if they had the courage and the consciousness to do so. We could all demand the full nationalisation of the publicly bailed out banks if we had the nerve to do so. A Peoples Bank based on the Post Office was such an obvious step for the previous Labour government to enact but they didn't have the political will to do so and we never demanded it. Neither it seems has the new leadership.

All these social initiatives are still very much on the agenda. Social ownership of our economy, our communities including our sporting institutions has been an idea that has been around for years, and the question will keep posing itself in ever more pronounced ways as each economic crisis makes the current status quo look that much more absurd. The banks will fail again. The huge corporations will go bust again and governments will be forced to bail them out with tax-payers money because these private companies have become too big to fail. Football clubs will continue to go into administration because the EPL is run on the same neo-liberal, free-market lines as our economy, where any form of regulation has become an anathema. And when things go pear-shaped again, you know who has to pay the bill. All this is the real world and it's no use pretending that Wayne Rooney is just some type of aberration.

The Wayne Rooney affair has underlined some basic truths. The ELP needs to be regulated and fans need ownership of their clubs just like the banks need to be regulated and we need some form of collective ownership of our economy. It's still very unfashionable to say these things but deep down most of us know it makes sense. But even the Labour Party, complete with its new Red Ed, is afraid to talk in these terms. Instead our Labour leaders continue to bow down to the free market, believing that just a tad more light touch regulation will do the trick. It won't, and Wayne Rooney's ridiculously obscene new wage; the bankers continued plunder of the nation's wealth via their bonus payments; and the continued tax avoidance by the very rich is evidence enough. The leopard does not change its spots. Casino capitalism will always seek to maximise profit and the rest of society can go to hell.

As for us ordinary folk, we will one day ask the question: what is a fair price for a nurse, a teacher, a plumber, a social worker, a footballer and a pop star? Oh, and I nearly forgot: what is the appropriate salary for an investment banker who, through their speculative greed, can plunge the entire world into economic chaos?

End JPK 26/10/10 Copyright

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 27 May 2018 12:17 )