The Third Leader: Pay gap

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A certain amount of discussion, we note, about salaries. Terry Wogan, it is said, is being paid £800,000 a year by the BBC, while Chris Moyles, the Radio One disc jockey, is, apparently, on £630,000. Meanwhile, some GPs are reported to be on £250,000.

Well. We could mention that this is merely the sort of money that Wayne Rooney might put on the 2.15 at Towcester, or that, in the good old days, would scarcely purchase you a peerage; we could talk about the economic relationship between scarcity and demand; we could ponder the aged question of interfering with the market; we could discuss remuneration proportionate to social value and job satisfaction; we could even wonder why we begrudge Mr Moyles more than Mr Wogan; but, in the end, we would still have to ask: is harping on this doing you any good? Envy is not an attractive emotion. History counsels against it and its corrosive, distracting qualities. Literature abounds with warnings, from Esau to Iago to Dickens's marvellously named, self-hating and self-defeating Bradley Headstone.

There are those, of course, who manage to channel the negativity into a positive, successful competitiveness. The rest of us, though, should not envy them, either. If I could offer some advice, it would be twofold. First, avoid asking that question about the richly rewarded: "Yes, but are they happy?"

Second, I have always taken great consolation from the oft-repeated wisdom of a veteran newspaper sub-editor, which, to be fully appreciated, must be imagined in laconic Australian: "Just remember: whatever happens, there'll be no justice in it."