High pay: time for a Commission

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Justice in pay packets starts at the top. Across the board | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian .

Polly Toynbee is on form on the issue of a High Pay Commission this morning. I warmly endorse the idea, and what she has to say:

At last! The House of Commons public administration select committeeyesterday called for a top pay commission. About time, you might think, to restrain out-of-control salaries that rocket-propel national inequality. The new commission would issue top pay guidelines, naming and shaming organisations that can't justify excessive salaries. Good.

Except it leaves a great gaping hole. This top pay commission would only cover the public sector, not the private sector where the problem originates. ... One sector can't be tackled without reining in the other.

Public jobs are tough. Running a local authority, or a beacon comprehensive or teaching hospital in a hard-pressed borough, takes more managerial talent than running any company. Selling food or cars has just one target – the bottom line. Compare that with a public manager's multiple goals. A happy and well-educated child or a recovered hip-fracture patient returned safely to their home require skills no investment banker has. That is why it's one-way traffic: no one asks retail managers to run schools, hospitals or councils. They might find the responsibility for other people's lives hair-raising – and the pay would be too low.

I think that last paragraph especially true. And it needs to be said time and again.

As for private sector managers: I give you BA and Eurostar, the East Coast rail route - and that's just private sector transport mess ups of late.

Anyone noticed the mess bankers created?

Or the inability of auditors to audit?

One could go on. But unless we ask two questions, the first being have we made things too complex to manage? and the second, why do people need so much to be incompetent? if they claim they can manage we fail to make any progress at all.