A gay old time

Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, they’re the modern stone age family. From the, town of Bedrock, they’re a page right out of history.

Let’s ride, with the family down the street, through the, courtesy of Fred’s two feet. When you’re, with the Flintstones, have a yabba dabba doo time, a dabba doo time.

We’ll have a gay old time.

Had that fucking tune in my head all day because, in a truly world-summed-up moment, I saw a man yelling it into a traffic cone this morning.

This man is fairly famous in the area for singing unlikely ditties into this traffic cone in return for spare change. Men in suits stride by ignoring him, women shepherd their kids in a wide arc around his grimy being and when I bung him a couple of quid people look at me like I’m about to break out a shopping trolley and join in on percussion. This is where we are.

There’s was a man on the radio the other morning defending the news that the nation’s top executives earn 144 times the average of their employees. In fairness to the scumbag from the ‘Adam Smith Institute’, last year the number was 183 times. What do you people want, blood? Ninety-grand beamers need homes too.

The oft-touted solution to this incredible discrepancy is to give shareholders more say over the level of pay awarded to a company’s fattest felines. Shareholders.


Because shareholders are seen as a saintly, almost democratic body of do-gooders, willing and able to rein in the excesses of capitalism to reduce the barbaric inequality that leads to a man shouting the Flintstones into a trafic cone.

Now, bear with me, but I’ve a little issue with this. If less money goes to the top executives, there’s more money in the company, and therefore more for the rest of the workforce. And shareholders will choose to pay these employees more rather than trouser it as dividends themselves, will they? Will they?

Yesterday we found out out by how much train companies plan to rinse their captive cattle, with the announcement of fare rises for the coming year. And yesterday morning, in a rare moment of clarity from a stand-in presenter on Radio 4’s flagship Today The News Is The Fucking Same As Yesterday And We’re Helping To Keep It That Way programme, a train company super-groupie was asked if fares couldn’t be kept a little lower by giving a bit less to shareholders. His response: “They only get 3%, and it helps foster competition.”

Of course it does. If prospective shareholders see the Fat Controller is willing to give them 3% of all the profits the company makes, by definition leaving the company with 3% less of the profits they could put back into, I don’t know, trains say, they’ll hardly choose to ‘invest’ in his miserly 2%-giving opposition instead, hence ‘competition’. As Manisha from Accounts stares grimly into her smartphone at the reflection of Project Manager Brian’s groin half a school ruler from her face on the 7.55 from Tulse Hill, it’s doubtless the benevolence of shareholders that battles Facebook and old-man cock for prominence in her mind’s eye.

Shareholders are a subset of the class of people who believe money for nothing is their right, like savers moaning that interest rates are low so they don’t get free money added to whatever they’ve squirreled away mercilessly, and people who inherit eye-watering wealth. People like Hugh Grosvenor, the 25-year-old who has just come into, and is likely now coming all over, half of London after his dad, the Duke of Westminster, crept the other side of the grass. All the money’s in ‘trusts’, so he’ll pay no inheritance tax. I ‘trust’ someone will see to it at that he gets a good shoeing at the next Men-Who-Roll-Naked-In-Banknotes AGM.

But shareholders are a special kind of arsehole, because many of them are just like us. They start not with mountains of readies littered about their country houses, but with a few quid spare, thinking “How can I make this pile a bit bigger?” And I know the lofty dreams of the righteous shareholder are to invest in something to help it grow, to earn a deserved dividend while fostering creativity and innovation.

But tell them they can do all that with their spare money without taking a cut, by just allowing their money to work without dividend, and watch their broad-chested altruism be replaced by the infuriated glare of the capitalist denied their right to be richer, and therefore better, than the feckless scum they’ve spent their lives overcoming for the good of us all. It’s tough news for all of us to take, but shareholders aren’t the people to steady the ship we’re floundering in, they’re the fuckers running from port to starboard and back tossing lifejackets overboard.

Think of everything that goes wrong when business meets general public, and shareholders are at the root of it. Gas prices too high? Shareholders. Bank charges mounting up? Shareholders. Employees forced into supposed ‘self-employment’ and paid way below the minimum wage? Shareholders. Thousands of jobs gone at a famous British clothes retailer? Corpulent, avaricious, egomaniacal shareholders, with knighthoods no less. And I know none of this would be possible without the public wanting more for less in every area of their lives, you Uber-loving rascals you, but a shareholder merrily pays three quid for a 3am ride from Derby to Dagenham, throws up in the back and demands a 50p ‘dividend’ for the privilege.

Where would we be without shareholders? Less investment, less economy, less jobs, less money, so goes the tale. Less investment, less economy, less stress, less time spent doing bullshit jobs that don’t need doing to make money for people who get up two hours later than the rest of us and still call us lazy, less competition, more co-operation, more calm – that’s my alternative, shareholders-strung-up happy planet.

Of course, bastards will still want money for nothing, so it should be heady times for betting shops and, by extension, off licences. No economy on Earth has yet failed when based on speculative wager and dolorous remorse, and if you want to argue the toss I’ll be in the Dog & Duck tending to the 2.50 at Bangor on Dee, having a gay old time.

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