I must confess to being rather taken by Twitter.
It’s easy-to-use, very portable, and – best of all – it’s really helping my education.
For example – here’s a coupla ‘fun facts’ I discovered in the last few days.
Did you know:
– that Pope Pius XII invented subsidiarity? Yes, that hallowed European principle that tends to find expression here in the ‘localism’ agenda;
– or that the average pay gap for FTSE 100 companies was 262:1? Yes, that’s the average – the steepest ratio reported (by One Society) of top pay to bottom pay is a whopping 656:1 (for every pound earned by the lowest-paid M&S worker, the best-paid earned £656.)
‘And?’ I hear you ask. ‘What do I care about subsidiarity?’ and ‘Companies must pay their top executives well to remain competitive!’
One at a time:
Subsidiarity: “It is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organisations can do.” Thus Pius XII’s papal encyclical. What I take him to have meant is that power resides with people, and that ‘remote’ bodies taking that power away is unjust.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. Devolution exemplifies this principle, with relevant powers devolved by central governments to a more local level.
Most of us will have come across examples of decisions which affect us having been taken at such a remove from our lived experience that the reality ‘on the ground’ appears not to have informed the decision-making process at all, a ‘one size fits all’ approach often shaped by politics rather than by evidence.
The trick, then, is for people close to the effects of policy decisions to become empowered and informed – to acquire the tools needed to gather and present evidence and to negotiate the policy landscape.
I’d call this CoProduction of Policy-making.
The pay gap: The Equality Trust has launched a new campaign to address the runaway ratios of top-pay to bottom-pay. The campaign particularly targets Local Authorities – but encourages them to use their influence over private sector organisations as well.
Social inequalities damage all members of an unequal society right across the gradient – as demonstrated by Wilkinson and Pickett’s The Spirit Level. More equal (and happier) societies such as in Scandinavia have not become more equal by accident – governments (with a clear mandate from their citizens) implement social policies explicitly aimed at ‘flattening the gradient’ or ‘reducing the gap.’
The Equality Trust’s new campaign calls on Local Authorities to take action themselves, and to use their influence on private sector providers, to reduce income inequality. The campaign says simply: Act Local = Reduce the Gap.
A ‘mash-up’ of Tackling Income Inequality and the Principle of Subsidiarity could lead us to take action wherever we are, whatever our sphere of influence might be, because every action counts – and YOU have the power.