We are constantly told that if city bankers are not given bonuses, they will leave and work elsewhere. This is their justification for their greed and arrogance, and seemingly the world has bought in to this lie because nobody has bothered to question it. The problem is, the whole argument fails to hold water.
The argument goes that if we do not pay these people millions they will leave, and they may go abroad. The problem is with this argument that they live in the UK, most are UK citizens, and most really do not have the urge to work abroad. The opportunities to work abroad already exist for them so this argument is bankrupt.
So what if they left and went to work in Europe ? Well the problem is that they deal with UK banking, that is their area of expertise. They work in the London markets and although the markets are "world" markets, working from London has its advantages.
So what if they go and work for another UK bank ? Well does another UK bank have the capacity and money to take on all these extra bankers ? The answer is almost certainly no.
There is an argument for Wayne Rooney to be paid a vast sum of money. He has a unique talent that cannot be taught. Likewise some businessmen take calculated risks with their own money and makes deserved healthy returns. Whilst anyone moaning about the sums that Take That makes simply lack the ability to be singers and songwriters. But what do bankers do that is that unique ?
You are not born "a banker". Everything they do is trained and taught. Presumably, if bonuses were not there and they all left, a new generation of bankers could be taught the job ?
The problem is that there is no academic qualification to be a banker. No degree in banking, it is simply a job that actually many people could do, if they were given the opportunity. I am not saying that everyone would be good at it, but neither are all bankers (as we have seen).
Please don't for one moment think I am saying being a banker is an easy job. I'm sure it isn't. But then again, neither is being a nurse, a teacher, a doctor, a fireman, or in the armed forces. But anyone who thinks that sitting behind a desk playing with other people's money, means they should be entitles to earn premier league footballer wages really is living on another planet.
In simple terms, bankers are not unique, they do not posess unique skills that only they have. They are just lucky, have the right school tie or the family contacts that got them a lucrative job.