Look at the picture above, what do you see? That’s the front cover of City A.M. on 28-Feb-12 showing what £67.7bn can buy in the UK public sector.
Look closer, what else do you see? Obviously, the lower the average per annum income for a group of people, the more people you can pay. Key professions have been picked for the image. At the bottom, we have nurses and teachers: all women, you can tell from the long hair. At the top, we have bobbies, GPs and senior police: the higher paid professions and of course they have all been portrayed as men, the ties give that away.
A clear depiction of the income gap between men and women, a clear depiction of career stereotypes.
Is it any wonder that women are said to have lower aspirations? The media consistently bombards us with images that define the status quo. People subconsciously and unknowingly respond to stereotypes: aiming and applying for jobs that society says are ‘normal’ for their type.
I very much doubt that too much thought went into creating this image and that’s what makes it so powerful. Stereotypes are so deeply ingrained. Indeed, if the cartoonist had decided to split each line according to the true gender mix in that profession, people may well have screamed “It’s political correctness gone mad!’
Anyway, having made this casual observation, I decided to take it a step further. Using 4 City A.M. papers that were yet to be discarded, I counted the number of male vs. female faces. I excluded the sports section, it was all 100% men and I excluded pictures of crowds because it can be difficult to differentiate man from woman. I did include the fictional ‘tipster’ because he is most certainly depicted as a man. However, I also include the female cartoon in the Lloyds Banking advert to keep it fair. Each image had to be indisputably male or female. The results:
14-Feb: 37 men, 11 women i.e. 23% women
24-Feb: 47 men, 17 women i.e. 27% women
14-Feb: 41 men, 13 women i.e. 24% women
28-Feb: 41 men, 7 women i.e. 15% women
What’s your point, Heather, I hear you ask? I don’t have one, numbers just intrigue me.
This week I watched an irked civilian railing off his displeasure at Boris Johnson writing for the Telegraph and getting paid for it. I think everyone, politicians included are entitled to some time off and they should spend that free time however they choose to. If Boris chooses to write in his free time, so be it. If someone is willing to pay him for it, even better. Why do I say this:
He’s not doing it during ‘business’ hours
If Boris is sat at his desk in City Hall writing articles I would take issue with that, even if it’s during his ‘lunch’ break. As a public servant it is his duty to serve the public from that office and doing anything else simply would not be right. However, I am reasonably confident that he does not do this.
It doesn’t take much time
As someone who has always enjoyed writing I know that when one is passionate about an issue you can write about it fluidly and rapidly, it does not take a lot of time.
It’s more transparent than other enterprises
People frequently take issue with politicians indulging in private enterprise. I too agree that there is only so much time in the day and if you’re in public office you need to rightly spend most of your time on that. Of the private enterprises that a politician might choose to undertake surely writing is one of the most transparent? We the public have access to the writing and can approximate how much time we believe it took Boris to get his feelings down.
We get to know Boris’s stance on various issues better
Through his writing we get a better feel for how Boris Johnson thinks and hence how suitable a mayoral candidate he is. Everything that Boris does that we can observe is an opportunity for us to vet him, articles included.
More tax pounds
Let’s trace the income that Boris makes from his column. For argument’s sake let’s call it £10,000 per contribution or about £500,000 per annum.
If the same £500,000 had ended up as operating profit, it would only incur the corporate tax rate of 30%, so just £150,000 would be returned to the taxpayer. I don’t know about you but I prefer the former to the latter. The faster we can wipe out the deficit, the better.
In conclusion, provided Boris pays his taxes and doesn’t spend office hours writing his articles, all things considered it’s beneficial to taxpayers and the voting public. Am I missing something here?
To do what you want rather than what makes you money is a luxury preserved for the privileged few
If you know someone that says this it is more than likely that they grew up in a well-to-do home and never knew ‘want’. They see their ‘socialist’ views on life as something that sets them above other people, but seldom do these sanctimonious individuals pause to acknowledge how much of a privileged position they are in.
Most people do not have the privilege to follow their hearts. To do so would be selfish and indeed self-indulgent. Money is not evil, it is an enabler, having a little money can be the difference between dying and having a few more breaths on this earth.
I grew up in a poor country and was naturally frequently exposed to poverty and want. Yes, I fully acknowledge that I was raised in a relatively wealthy family but when you come from somewhere as poor as Malawi, that doesn’t mean you’re completely sheltered from the vagaries of misfortune.
Fortunately for me, the things I enjoyed in life steered me towards a career that earns decent money. If for some reason I decided to follow a self-indulgent path that did not earn money, I would at the same time be taking myself off the path that would enable me to one day contribute in real, monetary terms to my family and to my country. Yes, you can contribute in non-monetary terms but I dare you to say that to the mother that hasn't been able to feed her children for two days. When you're poor, money to purchase food and shelter is all that matters. It consumes your every thought and effort.
The needs of my own life are simple and I continually try to temper them. My biggest fantasy for when I have a real amount of money is to build a series of little libraries in Malawi because it is only through study of the written word that people can gain freedom from poverty.
Most people in Malawi and indeed in many poor countries follow the path that makes money because they don’t have the choice. They need and want to help their family. The money they earn frequently goes to help with the school fees of siblings and to purchase medical supplies for any family members that are sick. Most poor countries cannot afford a state funded medical system. Free education if it is available is frequently atrocious, you wouldn’t wish it on an enemy let alone a loved family member.
I know many including Steve Jobs proclaimed that you should follow your heart not money. I agree that this is an ideal position but most lives are less than ideal. Your family are the only people that love you unconditionally. The more selfless amongst us put our families first and ourselves last and in many cases if given the choices:
1) low-income fulfilling career but unable to contribute towards the extended family or
2) high-income less fulfilling career but able to contribute towards the extended family
Most people would choose option two because they have to. So, for those that are fortunate enough to come from a background where they don’t have to make this choice, please stop being so self-righteous and count your lucky stars.
You will know if you follow my blog that once I discover an idea that I believe is moving me closer towards my goal of financial freedom, I publish it, not everyone’s modus operandi – I know; however, when I finally hire that celebratory yacht on the coast of St Tropez, I don’t want to be the only one enjoying that sweet joy I want all my friends to be there celebrating their own financial freedom. Anyway, I digress but you must excuse me, I only went to bed at 1.00 a.m. working on Fat Creep™’s next YouTube video and I’m already up at 6.00 a.m.
Last year I made a massive discovery. Something that adds so much value to my life that whenever I meet someone that has not heard of it I plug it like I am on their payroll although I am not. It’s called Weebly.com. Weebly is a drag-and-drop facility that enables a user to build a fully functional website within hours.
When I started understanding the internet, way back in 2007, I used to host my websites via Powweb, however, because I was having to use my own amateur HTML skills it took me ages to update my website and naturally that site would remain not updated for months at time.
Fast forward to 2010, I saw Powweb offering a widget called “Weebly” and I started using that to update Katsonga.com instead and I was hooked. You see, the problem with HTML is that different browsers – internet explorer, Google chrome, safari, firefox and the rest of them – read HTML code differently. This means that the same code will look different depending on the browser being used and sometimes my pages used to look awful in one browser versus another. This wasn’t a huge problem even in 2007 because internet explorer was still the major engine used for web browsing but a website that is not optimized for all browsers is most certainly not acceptable today as internet explorer only has a small portion of the market. Weebly solved this problem for me because their widgets are already optimized for all major search engines.
To add icing to an already splendiferous cake the facility is already mobile enabled. If you go back even six to eight months, most websites appeared all tiny and weird on a mobile device because they had not been optimized to work well on small phone screens. Weebly had already preempted that issue and solved it before it was one.
Now, whilst I think Facebook is fun and everything, you will agree that it can be a massive time vortex – it sucks many to its core and before you know it you’ve wasted a whole hour that you hadn’t planned on wasting, browsing through some random’s photos. Weebly on the other hand adds massive value to a life. It enables a user that otherwise may not have been able, to get their idea out there and possibly make some revenue out of it. Even incorporating features such as Google ads is so simple. Through no extra effort on my part I am receiving my first £10 from Google. You may be thinking that’s a small amount especially given that’s after a few months of use but I did nothing special to receive it and that, to me, makes it a substantial gain, it’s passive income and it will grow over time.
I could go on about the benefits forever, integrating shopping carts, embedding YouTube videos and pictures is very easy. You can add a forum and even an appointment booking system within minutes.
Indeed, if you know a little HTML you can easily adjust the code on the Weebly templates to make them more unique to you. Basic HTML is putsy, I learnt my first bits of code in late 2006 using htmlgoodies and I was able to build a very simple site in three days so it is definitely worth pumping a little time into. If you need any help, they have a super-responsive support team that responds to emails in less than 24 hours.
Anyway, enough said – get your ideas out there, use Weebly. They have a free service but to build something more sophisticated you will need to upgrade for $78 for two years, that’s less than $40 / £27 per annum. This is way lower than the value that these guys are adding to my life right now, but I am not that naive, I know it’s the entry level fee and in two years’ time they will hike that rate up, it’s the model everyone uses but in Weebly’s case I am not going to mind because their very presence will be the reason I managed to get my ideas out there.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.