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  • My name is Rutger Bregman.

  • I'm a historian, and in my humble opinion

  • bin men and women should be paid more than bankers.

  • So a good way to illustrate this point

  • is to look at a couple of strikes that happened throughout history.

  • So for example in New York, 1968, there was a big strike of bin men.

  • They were just angry that their wages were not going up anymore

  • so they said, 'You know what, we're gonna go on strike

  • and then you'll see just how important we are.'

  • And indeed, six days later,

  • the state of emergency had to be declared.

  • New York really couldn't handle it.

  • Turns out you can't do without bin men.

  • Two years later there was another strike, in this case of bankers.

  • It's the only strike that I know of throughout history

  • where the bankers actually went on strike.

  • And all the experts at that point, all the economists,

  • they all predicted disaster.

  • This was supposed to be like a heart attack for the economy.

  • But then the strike started.

  • And nothing much happened really.

  • It actually lasted for six months in the end.

  • the economy just kept growing, businesses kept operating.

  • There are nowadays many people in professions

  • in say Wall Street or Silicon Valley

  • that are often described as the visionaries and the whizkids

  • who come up with all these wonderful products.

  • There was someone at Facebook who worked there for years

  • and said, "the best minds of my generation

  • are thinking about how to make people click ads."

  • That's one of the tragedies of our time

  • is that we're wasting so much talent.

  • There are so many smart people right now

  • in jobs that don't contribute anything.

  • And it's not necessary. It's not inevitable.

  • We need to rethink who the real wealth creators actually are

  • in our society.

  • So there's some fascinating research actually,

  • new research from two Dutch economists.

  • Max van Lent and Robert Dur who looked at this whole phenomenon

  • of what they call...

  • They asked people the question...

  • Turns out that in modern economies, developed economies,

  • 25% of the workforce says...

  • Now who are these people, is an interesting question.

  • Turns out that actually, they have wonderful LinkedIn profiles.

  • They have wonderful, excellent salaries,

  • they're often at the top of the pyramid.

  • They're bankers, corporate lawyers, consultants.

  • Basically, you know, a lot of people sitting in offices all day,

  • sending emails to people they don't like,

  • writing reports no-one's ever going to read

  • but still making a lot of money.

  • So that's quite fascinating right. That the rest of the population

  • is supporting this whole class of people

  • who don't really contribute anything.

  • Right? What we're doing is we're spending billions of pounds

  • to educate our best and brightest and they go to Oxford and Cambridge

  • and then they go on and they do jobs that they absolutely don't like.

  • I mean, it's not me saying, it's people themselves saying it,

  • where they don't really contribute anything.

  • What's going on here? Who are the real wealth creators?

  • And the reality here is, I think,

  • is that we're living in an inverse welfare state.

  • Where most wealth is actually created at the bottom

  • by people who are doing the real work.

  • The teachers, the nurses, the garbage collectors, you know.

  • This state of affairs, it's not inevitable, we can change it

  • and I would like to live in a society where we actually pay people

  • according to their contribution.

  • Where we have a real meritocracy.

  • And in such a society I believe in the long run

  • bin men and women will be paid more than bankers.

  • Thanks for watching. Don't forget to subscribe! :)

My name is Rutger Bregman.

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Rutger Bregman: Why bin men (and women) should be paid more than bankers | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/23
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