THE Living Wage Foundation could have chosen worse weeks in which to hold their annual Living Wage Week which runs until this weekend.

This has become one of the most important annual events in our political calendar because it challenges the financial and corporate elites who have gerrymandered affluence in the UK.

At the same time it offers a rebuke to the nihilistic values which underpin these organisations’ modus operandi. This basically extends no further than a wretched Thatcherite “Survival of the Fittest” ideology which values humanity only insofar as it can turn a profit.

The concept of human dignity and all men and women having been born equal and with the means by which to contribute to society and thus share in its bounty is an anathema to these people.

They will only entertain an arrangement which leaves this gilded few unscrutinised at the top of society. Their sense of entitlement is no different from that of medieval princes who sincerely believed that God had blessed them in this way and that their riches and power were absolute and beyond question.

Now in its sixth year, Living Wage Week seeks to portray how in-work poverty contributes to social inequality just as insidiously as unemployment does.

It also encourages companies big and small to pay all of their staff at least the basic Living Wage and it seeks to show them the advantages that can accrue from doing so.

During this time 3600 companies have undertaken to be part of this, including around one third of FTSE 100 companies. The real Living Wage is now set at £8.45 per hour to everyone over the age of 18 outside London and £9.75 in London. The National Living Wage is £7.50 an hour and there is no London weighting mechanism.

This is nowhere near enough, as sharply increased rents in the private sector against a backdrop of inertia in the social housing market have effectively seen the rate stagnate and retreat.

Wages have also failed to keep step with the rise in the cost of living, meaning that the poverty gap in the UK – one of the largest in the developed world – shows no signs of reducing let alone being bridged. Liverpool FC recently became the first club playing in the Premier League (the richest football league in the world) to commit to paying all of their employees the Living Wage. This extends to casual labour and part-timers.

Celtic FC, another massive football club hailing from a similar working-class community, had long resisted joining the Living Wage Foundation. It claimed that this would set a precedent of allowing a third party to influence its wage structure.

Two years ago its chairman, a privately-educated corporate lawyer who is also a major figure in Scotland’s whisky industry, said that it would not be in the best interests of the club to pay the Living Wage to all of its employees. This would cost around £500,000 a year … roughly the value of the right index fingernail of Kieran Tierney, their world-class young defender.

Celtic, the richest sporting organisation in Scotland and founded by an Irish monk to relieve the suffering of the immigrant Irish in 19th century Glasgow, now pay the Living Wage but remain resistant to signing up for the Living Wage Foundation.

SEVERAL of their lowest paid employees have said to me that they were told bluntly that if they accepted the new very slightly higher rate of pay, the discretionary bonuses which had become part of their overall packages for the previous decade would be rescinded.

The contents of the Paradise Papers showed in unprecedented detail how far the richest and most powerful people in the world maintain their position at the top of society. We encounter financial greed – the avaricious worship of money to the exclusion of all else – in several depressingly quotidian guises. But the egregious greed of some individuals and organisations, already very rich, laid bare by the Paradise Papers was quite sickening.

Using financial muscle to plot a path through tax laws is simply one of several ways in which the rich and powerful maintain their hegemony.

They would have us all believe too that they are “wealth creators” who keep honest toilers like the rest of us in gainful employment. This is one of my favourite of their empty canards. It conveys a sense of kindly and benevolent entrepreneurs spreading their wealth for the good of the punters and their families.

The reality is that as soon as they find a way of making their money without recourse to human agency they would do so in an instant. In the meantime they will oppose trade unions, fair wages and benevolent working conditions until that golden day when they don’t need to use human beings at all.

Tax avoidance and low wages, anti-trade unionism and ownership of the majority of the press ensure that the hegemony of the corrupt classes is virtually guaranteed. The hapless fecundity of each new generation of royal simpletons helps top this up as does the annual and increasingly vulgar politicisation of the poppy. This would have sickened those of my antecedents who fought and fell in the two world wars and contradicted all that they thought they were fighting for.

Buying influence through lobbying firms to alter government policy and further conceal their shady and underhand activities is another of the ways that they maximise the results of their graft.

The tax advantages that accrue to non-doms and Thatcher’s massive Right to Buy confidence trick were the main means by which the Tory Hard Right and their acolytes were able to effect the virtual social cleansing of London. Now we know that the UK establishment – both Labour and Conservative – connived at this by looking the other way at tax dodging on the grand scale.

Some well-meaning commentators feel that capitalism can be rescued from such corruption. But it can’t really; the disease is too far gone and has begun to make the UK rotten to the core. This is a gangster state which punishes the innocent and the honest and rewards the greed, avarice and gluttony of the ruling elites. Will this ever reach a point when the rest of us will rise up and overcome this wickedness?