James Murdoch has accepted a pay rise of 74%. That’s right, after the phone hacking scandal, closure of News of the World, and his messy evidence at Parliament, the hereditory heir to the position of ‘world’s most powerful man’ has accepted a huge raise in his wage, to $17 million.

How did the media report this huge wage rise? Well, for some reason, they decided to focus on another detail: they told us that he turned down a bonus of $6 million.

This begs an important question. Why was James Murdoch – a man who got his job because of who his dad is – offered both a pay rise of 74% and a bonus of $6bn? Are we comfortable living in a world in which people with vast power have got it because of huge their parents are, and maintain it even when they massively fail?

If this shows anything, it is surely this: neo-liberals tell us that their policies may deliver inequality of outcome, but that they at least provide equality of opportunity. They tell us that capitalism is blind to background, that the cream will always rise to the top. They tell us that it at least does what is best for companies.

If we have learnt anything with the collapse of the finance sector, and then the insistance from the wealthiest bankers that they are allowed to continue to do those things which destroyed them, surely it is this: the global economic system we find ourselves living with does not even deliver success in the long run for many corporations. It only seems to do so for the mega rich who run them – and their offspring. Neo-liberalism doesn’t even reward success. It rewards having the right parents. And when these people fail massively, we don’t hear from the media that they still receive huge pay rises. We hear they are gracious for turning down some of their additional pay.

So, just to repeat this: James Murdoch accepted a 74% pay rise this year. The national media – including the BBC, ran this with a headline that he had refused a bonus. Maybe Britain is broken afterall.

 

Adam Ramsay

About Adam Ramsay

Adam is Co-Editor of Open Democracy UK and a green activist based in Edinburgh. He co-founded Bright Green in 2010.