Last week one of England’s most famous footballers got angry after the manager left him out of the team for a massive game. The story made the front pages of the newspapers. Now, it seems, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and boss Sir Alex Ferguson have made up. But what caught my eye was the magnitude of Rooney’s wage packet: £250,000 a week. Enough to buy a three-bedroom house (something young couples in the UK can only dream about) every week. That’s a million pounds a month. Is he worth it? Of course not. But United would argue that unless they give him that much he will move to another club. Here’s my answer: nobody else can afford him. More importantly, Wayne Rooney would play football every Saturday for £250. Why? Because he loves football and doesn’t know how to do anything else. There’s the madness – he doesn’t actually do it for the money.
I cannot wait for the day when the bubble bursts in football; when more fans get sick of seeing overpaid prima donnas prancing around and start staying away from the stadiums. Fans who are struggling to pay the mortgage and monthly bills while their “heroes” live like Caligula. The world economy is in meltdown but our precious footballers need millions of pounds to play with. Oh, and bankers too. They also need millions. Same argument: if you don’t pay them 3 million a year they will go abroad. I say let them go. After all, it was the bankers who triggered the economic collapse in the first place. It was they who gambled with people’s savings and lost it all, only to have their lavish lifestyles saved by government bailouts with taxpayers’ money.
Now I’m not saying I wouldn’t mind a few million quid myself. I would be a hypocrite otherwise. If I won the lottery I would rush out and buy a big flashy Range Rover, a farm, a barrel of beer and a big diamond stylus for my record player. But would it make me any happier? I doubt it. What makes us happy is not consuming more, but – and this is going to sound mushy to some of you – doing good things; helping other people; being unselfish. There is nobody as unhappy as a millionaire with no friends.
Actually, you’ve got to hand it to the rich. They’ve still got the power and always have had. As Leonard Cohen puts it so aptly in his song Everybody Knows: ‘Everybody knows that the dice are loaded/ Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed/ Everybody knows the war is over/ Everybody knows the good guys lost/ Everybody knows the fight was fixed: the poor stay poor and the rich get rich/ That’s how it goes/ Everybody knows’.
In the USA, the Congress is full of white, conservative men who block everything that President Obama tries to do. Here’s my solution:
replace these dinosaurs with intelligent women who are active in their communities and understand people’s problems first-hand. In fact, I would go further. I would replace all the men in government in all the countries of the world with women. There would be no more guns, bombs and wars. No more rich and poor. Taxes would be spent on creating the conditions for people to live together as equals. Wayne Rooney can continue playing football, but he would earn the same as nurses and teachers.
Karl Marx believed that one day the poor, exploited workers would overthrow their masters and run the show themselves. Then George Orwell’s Animal Farm showed how the new bosses quickly become as bad as the old bosses. But does that mean it is always better to allow the rich and powerful to keep their millions? Try asking that question to some young people in Spain, Greece, and Portugal where jobs are virtually non-existent and future prospects bleaker than ever.
So come on, Wayne Rooney, buy a few houses for the struggling, hard-workers of Manchester. Oh, and a Range Rover for yours truly while you’re at it.