Pulling Together


Pretence and Pretention

I’ve just been published. I submitted a little information on myself explaining fields I have worked in, mostly in very lowly capacities. The blurb accompanying my article explained my background. Apparently, I have had a long career, mostly in electronics but also in life assurance and banking.

In fairness to actuaries and bankers it is, perhaps, reasonable to point out my position in those industries is a little reminiscent of a cleaner at the Palace of Westminster having a career in politics, or the Downing Street cat being in government. I opened the post in the claims department and did some routine filing for a life assurance company for a year or two. My main claim to fame was that I handled Christopher Robin’s death certificate as I took it from the envelope and added it to his file.

As for my work for the bank, I had a temporary casual job unwrapping banknotes and feeding them through a sorting machine to check they were fit for reuse before bagging them up again. Yes, I saw more money in a shift than most would earn in a lifetime, but the machine took the decisions, and I needed no qualification for the job other than being able to stay awake at night and sleep during the day. My biggest moment in that job was coming back after New Year and turning a date stamp over from 1999 to 2000.

I have heard of CV inflation before, but I never thought it would happen to me.

However, there is a more serious aspect of this deception. It is that our whole society is fooling itself about its achievements. Instead of generating real wealth, we lend people money and tell them they’re well off even as we saddle them with debt. Students run up huge loans to study for degrees they might never be able to use when they eventually reach the workforce. Mortgages and car loans ensure every penny of a worker’s wage is already spent before he (or she) leaves for work in the morning. No one dare risk upsetting the most unreasonable employer. Business, no longer making profits from making things, now profiteers instead, finding excuses for charging people for things that used to be taken for granted. There’s the ticket price, then there’s the booking fee, the cancellation insurance, the postage, the download fee, and so it goes on. If there’s a new way of charging people, business will use it, even when they're not receiving any service in return. BT has long claimed it costs three times as much to receive three months’ advance payment as a single payment for only one. Other similar scams abound. When I booked my car in for a service under my prepaid service plan I was told that there were three items of scheduled maintenance due which were not part of the service, and therefore not covered by the plan! These were to cost more than the “service” itself. How can scheduled routine maintenance not be what servicing means? It was always included in the past, and was the basis for taking out a three-year plan. Needless to say, I shall not renew the plan, and I will avoid cars from manufacturers covered by the same (maker-owned) dealer network in future, but I presume they think they’re being clever.

That’s not innovative business. It’s just daylight robbery, and they have no reputation if that’s how they behave.

While all this goes on the country gets poorer and net wealth is squandered as the wealthy take more from the poor and try to kid themselves they are doing well, but it’s not sustainable. The number of rich will inevitably diminish as they too become victims of an economy which resembles a pyramid selling scheme, for that’s really all it is if nothing is actually made. We have to turn that round before it’s too late.

About the Author

K J Petrie has a Full Technological Certificate in Radio, TV and Electronics, an HNC in Digital Electronics and a BA(Hons) in Theological Studies.

His interests include Christian and societal unity, Diverse Diversity, and freedoms from want, from fear, of speech, and of association. He is a member of the Social Democratic Party.

The views expressed here are entirely personal and unconnected with any body to which he belongs.

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