Opinion

Edward Hadas

In favour of the living wage

By Edward Hadas
April 10, 2013

In the United States and some other developed economies, wages for the least well paid are too low. A mandatory living wage is the best way to redress this injustice.

The idea of minimum wages is well accepted, but the American $7.25 an hour does not meet the simple standard of providing enough to support the worker who earns it. For an adult in New York State, self-support requires 55 percent more, $11.25 an hour in a full-time job, according to The MIT Living Wage Calculator. And a just minimum should really be enough to raise a family – something closer to the $23.58 an hour required to support a single wage-earner with one child.

The minimum wage is one part of the remarkably complex pay system found in all developed industrial societies. Economists often suggest that wages are determined by market forces, the supply and demand for labour, and by employers’ calculations of the value of labour. But actual wages influence both the market and the perceived value of labour. It is more accurate to include market forces and economic value somewhere in the middle of the long list of factors which contribute to the ever-shifting social agreement on pay levels. This agreement is established in the mysterious way that all social orders are built – the powerful push, the weak resist, traditions are followed and evolve, justice is respected and flouted, market forces and economic calculations nudge.

By far the most important factor in determining pay is the social judgment of value. The main reason that bankers, advertising executives and doctors are paid more than teachers, childcare workers and street cleaners is that society values the former more than the latter. And the main reason that the minimum-wage jobs pay too little to support a family is that society has agreed that is what such labour is worth. This is an injustice, because honest labour should always be rewarded with enough to live a decent life.

To be fair, the social judgment of these occupations is less harsh than the pay level suggests. The very poorly paid usually receive welfare benefits from the government, either in cash or in the form of free or cut-price services. It is an awkward arrangement, but unavoidable in societies which have decided that pay should be determined by the job but spending power should be determined, at least in part, by needs and family situation. That division will exist as long as family breadwinners do not receive special pay status.

Still, the combination of low pay with additional benefits subtracts from the dignity of work. The worker deserves his or her reward, and the right reward is a living wage. Besides, in the current arrangement the low paid often find that playing the benefits system pays better than hard work, to the detriment of both demoralised workers and overburdened taxpayers. It would be better to rely more on pay and less on transfers.

That should be possible. After all, the United States and other developed countries produce enough goods and services and have enough infrastructure for every man, woman and child to enjoy not merely life’s necessities but a generous share of its comforts and luxuries as well. With sufficient wisdom, the pay system could be arranged to share out that abundance fairly without much help from the benefit system.

The beginning of this social wisdom is higher pay at the bottom of the social scale. Of course, a sudden massive increase in the minimum wage would be counterproductive. Too many employers would be unable or unwilling to pay, so jobs would be lost or moved into the unregulated black market. However, history supports the case for steady and ultimately substantial increases in the minimum wage. When the less well off have more, they spend more, adding to economic activity and reducing the need to extract taxes from the better off. Besides, better remunerated workers have more motivation to work while their employers have more motivation to increase the productivity of this more expensive labour.

The macroeconomic objections to higher minimum wages deserve serious attention, but they often hide higher earners’ justified fear of losing out. After all, when those at the bottom end up with more – as they inevitably would with a higher minimum wage, even after benefit cuts – those at the top must end up with less. Doctors would still have much higher incomes than cleaners, but both the doctors’ own pay and the ratio of their pay to cleaners’ remuneration would fall.

The desire to maintain consumption and social status is legitimate, but must be set against a higher virtue – solidarity. The fruits of economic success should be shared equitably. A living wage for all is a good standard of success.

Comments
22 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Thank you Mr Hadas, it was a pleasant change to read an intelligent article on this subject which is often clouded by ingrained mindsets.

Posted by EddyTheEagle | Report as abusive
 

The idea of a “mandatory living wage”, “enough to raise a family” is not new, nor is the idea that every man, woman and child “enjoy” not merely life’s necessities but a generous share of its comforts and luxuries as well. This is called Socialism.

Europe has embraced it, and is in deep economic do-do as a direct result. America has ejected such “pure” socialism time and again. It must continue to do so if it is to remain “exceptional” among nations..

America the “minimum wage” has long been accepted as a wage low enough to allow the unskilled to become employed, get experience, and learn enough to be worth more.

A minimum wage based on social aspiration ignores what “minimum labor” is worth. Employers don’t EVER offer employment to anyone whose “work product” they cannot “mark up”, or profit from. The higher the minimum wage, the higher the minimum skills to get a “job”. Do we REALLY want to make it harder and harder for the unskilled to “get on the merry-go-round” of productive employment because there are fewer “entry slots”? For them, raise the minimum wage and the wheel spins ever faster and more difficult to climb on.

The ass, the ox and the horse can can all “do more work” than man, and so you argue these should have more dignity? That’s certainly an original idea, but I doubt many would embrace it. The difference between the “work” of the beast and of man is the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.

Efficiency being the doing of many things and effectiveness being the doing of the RIGHT things in the RIGHT sequence at the Right time always reveals more VALUE in mind over muscle. Is should be obvious that the same difference also applies to all forms of HUMAN effort. It is the job WELL done that is worth more, a phenomenon more and more elusive in today’s “I want it NOW” world.

It is social activism and not social wisdom to suggest the working poor be PAID to support their larger than normal families. To do so merely means society “values” a higher and higher percentage of the essentially uneducated, unthinking, unmotivated and uncaring in it. That’s hardly a formula for success. That’s NOT “social wisdom” but economic suicide.

In a world of BILLIONS MORE HUMANS already than our planet can support (in the manner you suggest) we should give “family breadwinners special status? WHY? The world DOES NOT NEED more people which will only accelerate it’s transition from a big blue marble to a big brown marble!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

Horrible communist propaganda you have here. It sounds like something strait out of the Communist Manifesto “each according to his own need”, except Edward here says and a bit more for “comforts” and “luxuries”– he’s managed to upstage the Communist Manifesto in bad ideas of the century.

Two basic points, that history has shown, which Edward reluctantly concedes to one of: Increasing the minimum wage is directly correlated to unemployment (and the funny part is, they aren’t even counting the number of people forced into part time). Secondly, increasing the minimum wage causes inflation. This one is harder for most head in the cloud communists to understand, but if a company has to pay their employees X% more, they will increase the cost of their product by X% (or find ways to cut costs.. quality decrease, part time work schedules or layoffs are good examples). This X% increase in cost of goods is felt the worst by the lower class… do the simple math here: if the grocery store charges $.50 more for a loaf of bread, middle class will shrug it off, but lower class will feel the pinch. You are killing off the poor with these stupid articles, encouraging a self reinforcing system of welfare (record welfare numbers since implementing minimum wage as a case in point). Why do you hate the poor?

Posted by NorthernLight | Report as abusive
 

It is commonly recited that the minimum wage is not enough to live on or not enough to support a family – all true – except most data show that those with minimum wage positions are not supporting themselves or families – the majority are students, seniors or others supplementing other support with a part-time position. Could McDonald’s double the wages? – sure – but the resulting operation would not be the present McDonald’s – where a working class person can take his or her family “out to eat” – the cost would be markedly higher – ironically, hurting low wage workers the most. In any event, there has to be an entry level job somewhere – and someone who works at McDonald’s for a year and who is never late or absent, is a completely different applicant for a better job than he/she was a year earlier.

Posted by SayHey | Report as abusive
 

capitalism, socialism, communism… humanism, dualism…

there should be a bottom line, if we’ll ever be mature enough to step away from divisive ideologies to recognize downside of competition that enables slavery which undermines global economy and stands in the way of general prosperity.

these conjectures about effects of minimum wage on employment need to be tested, globally.

Posted by satori23 | Report as abusive
 

While I don’t claim to have all (or any) of the answers (or answers that are considered correct, answers that are acceptable to the majority of society, answers that are considered intelligent, etc.), I have always found it difficult to reconcile the mindset that the United States of America possess such a successful, fantastic, preeminent and laudable society with news articles citing data indicating 36% of the participants of that society live in poverty or near-poverty conditions (the definition of poverty being a governmental calculation). By what measure is a society’s exceptional-ness judged? If that measure is solely financial (mathematical) in nature (as may be advocated by free-market / capitalism proponents), then the society of the United States of America looks successful. However, formulating arguments to defend said measure of success using historical data, statistics and correlation calculations makes me skeptical of the merits of the original unit of measure for success.
I fear the oft-stated belief that pure capitalism, through its insistence on the never-ending pursuit of improving capital investment returns, is the most efficient way to improve an entire society’s standard of living may be relying on the use of data showing certain correlations when, as we all know, correlation does not imply / guarantee causation. I’m a big fan of proving causation.
I want to do something to help the portion of the society of the United States of America that lives in, or nearly in, poverty. We as a society have the ability (although not necessarily a clearly defined economic incentive) to improve the standard of living for the most destitute participants of our society. I admit I do not know exactly what to do to achieve the desired living standard improvement. However, as I look back over my professional career and consider the changing living standards of my graduate-school peers, my neighbors, and my friends (a group made up of representatives from every social echelon), I can’t help but feel that, on the whole, the average living standard of the group today is below our average living standard 25 years ago. I can identify more group members whose living standards have declined during this period than group members whose living standards have improved. There may be a mathematical calculation or economic justification for this “feeling”, but it doesn’t make sense to me that a successful society could generate such an impression.
I very much dislike increasing taxes to justify increased welfare spending (a clear re-allocation of wealth from the haves to the have-nots). I’ve personally seen too many examples of society participants who, while they could obtain a job similar in pay and responsibility to the one from which they were ousted, obtain ongoing unemployment benefits instead because they “can” … it appears they lack the incentive to obtain gainful employment (until the unemployment benefits run out, suddenly supplying incentive). However, I do not want to punish certain members of this society who truly need unemployment assistance just to avoid what I feel is a potential misuse (or inefficient use) of a government benefit program.
I have absolutely no problem with paying more for a quick-service restaurant’s cheeseburger if it means the employee behind the cash register earns $11.25 / hr. No, there’s no benefit for me in having to pay more for the same good or service (a decrease to my standard of living). Furthermore, I can’t calculate how much the cost of a cheeseburger would increase in order to fund the employee’s pay increase from $7.25 / hr. to $11.25 / hr., so I don’t know if, on the whole, the employee’s ability to purchase that cheeseburger has increased or decreased. My hope (since I can’t prove it mathematically) is that the standard of living for the restaurant employee is increased more than the increased cost of the cheeseburger. I somehow like hoping for this outcome much better than an increase in an explicit tax related to increased welfare benefits.
My problem with the “letting free markets set the minimum wage” position is that the goal of operating a restaurant (or any business, for that matter) is to maximize the value of the restaurant for its owners. So, since (generally speaking) increasing employee pay works counter to this goal, it’s difficult to make a purely economic argument for increasing wages. Since maximizing restaurant owner wealth can’t be shown as causation for an overall increase in the living standard of a society, I’m concerned there may be a decrease in the living standard of the cash register employee as a result of the restaurant’s goal. If we couple this with the realization that it’s taking more dollars to purchase higher education, transportation assets, food, etc., I fear that if we as a society do nothing different from what we are currently doing, the percentage of the participants of the society of the United States of America that live in poverty or near-poverty conditions will continue to increase. This is unacceptable for an exceptional country.

Posted by VirtualThumb | Report as abusive
 

@satori23,

There is, and has always been, a “bottom line”. The standard of living under tribalism and communism have conclusively demonstrated that the only thing absolute equality in income can produce is absolute poverty.

The standard of living was been better under fascism, but unsustainable due to unacceptable human rights abuses. The standard of living in Socialist Europe has proven itself unsustainable in that productivity is unable to sustain entitlements.

Some might say the same about the socialism/capitalism mix in these United States. But the truth is that we have broken a system that was the most productive and self-sustaining the world has yet seen.

It is relatively recently that “our” leadership has encourages more and more “takers” and fewer and fewer “producers”. As we speak, our “representatives” are poised to “adopt” TWENTY MILLION of the uneducated and unskilled fifth column still swarming across our southern border to squat in these United States and make claims to it’s bounty.

We need to deport ALL of these will-be parasites ASAP, and mine the border inland a mile or so to make sure they don’t return. Presto! Border “secured”. The stream of ever more illegal aliens flowing dries up immediately.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

@OneOfTheSheep

I’m not talking ‘absolute equality’, I’m talking mass slavery. There’s no ‘bottom line’ brother… and that’s a bummer when you have administrators that say, folks you need to compete, it’s a race to the bottom that leads to the robots at foxconn, but we don’t know any better.

To illustrate, competitive as it is, Germany employs more than 7 million people in so called mini-jobs, these folks are deprived of decent living and if you want to compete with that, you need to enslave fellow men harder. It’s as ugly as atavistic as self-defeating… we’re speaking about bottom of the pyramid, by now, it should be quite obvious that you can’t build *** on foundations these folks are envisioning.

We’ll need far more than protectionism you seek, no one is self-sufficient now, we’re all dependent of each other and we’ll need some blazing unorthodoxy, if we’re to dodge (global) calamity.

Cheers,

Posted by satori23 | Report as abusive
 

Minimum wage is a horrible idea and its never worked. Either you let the markets handle wage or you let the government. The markets include the unions. Even though I don’t like the state of today’s unions, I recognize that unions can adapt faster than the government and I fully support the right to collective action.

But an across the board minimum wage kills jobs and tax revenue. If you set the wage high then what happens to the millions of jobs that pay less. Nanny’s, farm workers, butchers, cleaners, etc? Do they get paid more? Some – but most go into the black market, get extorted and so on.

There is a famous equation of the black market. If the market price is 6 and someone sets the price at 10. Then the mafia steps in and charges 8 and keeps .50. The .50 is a lot of power and turf.

The author likes Manhattan. Lets check out one group – nanny’s. Because there is already an overhead, half the families hire in the black market. Now he wants to put in a policy that drives that to 75%. Really?

Posted by John2244 | Report as abusive
 

In the comments the economically less privileged have been compared to an ox and a horse. They have been called parasites and takers. I’d strongly suggest that this is one of the reasons that conservative thought has not reached enough voters recently. I’d recommend taking a more positive approach to sharing one’s view, one that holds no less conviction, but does not dehumanize large groupings of people. It is possible to disagree with the author’s viewpoints without McCarthyism or Nativism.

Posted by Matt10101 | Report as abusive
 

@satori23,

Complaining without suggestions for improvement is a waste of everyone’s time. If you have answers, NOW’S THE TIME!

The affordable personal computer has boosted American productivity and it’s “standard of living” to a point unprecedented in a period unprecedented. You likely were born and have “come of age” in that period, so you have never known anything but plenty until the “Great Recession”.

In the process millions of clerks, secretaries, travel agents, lower and middle management, Project Coordinators, etc. have become “redundant” even as productivity has doubled, tripled and quadrupled. Those jobs weren’t “offshored, they are just GONE. They are no more coming back than buggy whip makers or weavers replaced by mechanical looms back in the industrial revolution.

Look around…it takes fewer and fewer people to do what society NEEDS done. Regardless of WHAT the minimum wage is, it’s just a matter of time before we will buy our McYuk from an entirely automated container where you order, swipe your card, and the “product” comes out of a weatherproof box as fresh as today without a human hand having touched it. All those smiling order takers, cooks, etc. will be no longer employed there.

Automated production does not get overtime, sick leave, family leave, health care, raises, vacations or pensions. That means a company ot industry can invest quite a bit into automating a “job” or series of jobs that can replace hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of those jobs anyone warm and breathing can “master” in two weeks or less.

Yes, there will be the truck drivers that periodically reload the automated container, much like the armored cars reload the ATMs, and there will be the factories that prepackage the uncooked products (much like put out MREs today). So maybe five or ten percent of such jobs will “survive”. But those jobs will all go to someone that “knows someone”. Welcome to the 21st century!

We’ll still see union “shovel leaners” employed on federal and state projects per Davis-Bacon on our way in to work (if we still have a job, that is). Have a nice day.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

Laureates lack answers, while it’s sad that we’re having these social experiments in real-time, it’s good to see there’s will to adopt and deploy radical, unorthodox solutions, as well as to debate issues such as this one. After all, suggestions of global and globally enforced minimum wage aren’t new; it’s merely a patch, one worth exploring, since it has potency to buy time, as we seek non-violent long-term solutions.

It seems to me that we’ll need a huge shift and that unthinkable should be considered. Last year, Kaletsky offered QE for the people, another time-buying venue. In long-term, some basic, remarkably resistant and archaic social contracts should and will be rewritten. Sooner than later, people will start to question the basis of eight hours a day five days a week toil till you die reality, forced upon majority.

We’re in for the ride no matter what; I’d lean heavily on tech in seeking answers, paths to prosperity and better reality. We’re on the verge of creating ‘matter in vitro’, and it would be a shame if we break apart before breakthrough. 3D printers can do marvels for households; they can easily provide, or rather fulfill, that ol’ promise of ‘freedom from want’. Chain breaking shift… in thought.

Meanwhile.., this trend of redundancy, partially caused by quick pace of technology and our inability to adopt or find timely alternatives, it’d be nice if policymakers would show some common sense and refrain from exasperating moves.

Till later,

Posted by satori23 | Report as abusive
 

I agree with just about everything said here, but there is an important fundamental point that is missed.

If an employer does not pay a living wage to a worker, and that worker must receive benefits in order to survive, the employer is getting a subsidy from the government. If an employer cannot afford to pay a living wage for a job, they cannot afford the employee.

Simple as that.

Posted by Urban_Guerilla | Report as abusive
 

Satori23, I appreciate the non-combative and humble approach to your arguments above. Even though we share entirely different ideals, I respect your stance a lot more than Edward here who appears to be trying to start a revolution. One thing I feel you have nailed on the head is that we are ever so close to creating a society where socialism and/or communism might just work– when robots can do every aspect of work, and 3-d printers can print full houses with minerals mined from robots and trees cut by machines in assembly style. When I can print a 50 foot Yacht with the push of a button, these ideals put forth may just work.

However, until that time, Capitalism is really our best solution. In no other time in the history of man has there been a system where the smartest men on the planet are given the desire to produce something without fear of somebody taking it away from them (or taking their profits away, if they are more interested in society ‘owing them one’ [money = society owed favor]). In Communism, the smartest people will gravitate towards politics because that’s the only position with power. In Capitalism, the brightest minds gravitate towards CEO and leader of empires which churn out cheaper food, gadgets and luxuries. I’d rather have the smartest working for me, trying to sell me their products, than controlling me. Instituting a minimum wage reduces society’s ability to employ everyone, which slows down our common goal of freedom from want. Simple as that.

Posted by NorthernLight | Report as abusive
 

OOTS still lives with the dream of a capital driven undeveloped territory ready for exploitation where people could head “out west’ with nothing but their wagon and some household effects and start from scratch. For the owner of a homestead the issue of minimum wage was beside the point. But people in the regulated, monetized and very demanding urban world can’t live like that. They can’t be ignored as easily.

It hasn’t been that way since the industrial development of this country, or it faded rapidly as the country became thoroughly industrialized and now lives in a post industrial world.

This country is becoming a winner take all country and they forget they can’t responsibly care for all that they take. Even mega-business can be gluttons, power mad, and frantic to keep up with their competition, or worse, attempt to destroy them. They have been driven by mania, fraud and fashion too.

A country that devolves into a society that has a gilded and very powerful elite, a struggling and heavily indebted middle class and an enormous number of those barely scraping by, will not be much of a role model and will be just like the undeveloped countries they despise now.

And lets face it – the standard of living here will shrink without a living minimum wage and that will put at risk a lot of the value of the hard assets that need an affluent society to ensure they don’t become tomorrows white elephants and slums. Minimum wage is a landlord’s friend, so to speak. But the developing economies of the world are what will tend to control our wage scales and they are appallingly low. We will start to resemble them is every way imaginable and that means our physical settings will start to look tired and worn out too. The wealthy will have to invest in civic improvements directly and possibly for charity or the workers, at whatever level of pay they get, will rapidly start to hate them and attempt to destroy them. Captain Bly must never forget the prospect of mutiny.

All money is funny money, including gold. All of its value is relative and a bit phony. All types of money can suffer inflation. Money is just a tool and a language to stitch a society together and allow it to stay about the level of subsistence and barter.

OOTS always reduces every argument about special concern for the have-nots to the argument that those who are affluent are undeserving and any legal assurances or help is getting something they have no right to. But he isn’t so concerned when the nation attempts to bully or dominate other countries for its own interests or the interests of its elites. Having a mass of barely surviving and desperate “workers”, whose lives hinge on their admittance into the greater economic world, ignores the enormous leverage that can be brought to bear so that they do what no one of the better paid wants to do. He also ignores the innate social appeal of being employed at all. Having a job was a road to a social life and even a reason to get up in the morning. And they may not actually be working all that hard or even efficiently. Efficiency can also be a matter of job training or structure too and if you’ve never seen the efficient way of doing things it’s rather hard to imitate. It is also impossible to do if you don’t have the right tools or the right support. And the right tools and support can be a matter of proprietary knowledge and even that can be rolled up and more tightly controlled by those attempting to control anything that can be bought up and controlled.

Even the wealthy and powerful can be bone lazy and stupid. They can accustom themselves to dependence on skivvies to do all the jobs that don’t pay well and don’t bring any power and control and bigger gains. OOTS doesn’t mention the nearly ruthless attempts to gain power and control. If they are allowed free reign, the wealthy can become fascist pigs, and I’m not just using an old 60s pejorative – I mean they can be gluttonous and destructive and squander all OOTs so called “efficiency” as well as the lives of all those they insist on controlling and even owning. The majority of a country’s population must have social protections and the means to control its own masters. They are only human beings after all, but wealth and power can go to their heads and make them think they are something so much more.

And the really rotten thing about the powerful, they make damned certain society cannot punish them for the mistakes they make with the games of power they play. In the postmodern world, that has been almost enshrined. They also ignore the fact that their own social ethic or work habits and life style choices don’t have to be models of efficiency or any other of the truisms OOTS likes to cite because immense wealth is a dandy insulator against reprisals.

Wealth lives with the horror that someday they will loose the money and power and sink back into the difficulties, the built in inefficiency and waste of effort that tends to typify life for the less lofty and well healed. They always have. It often takes ruthlessness and enormous amounts of double talk to gain entry into the upper levels of a society. But if left to their self-serving devices and appetites, the affluent can make sure that the less affluent live in even worse situations than those they may have been raised from themselves.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive
 

NorthernLight,

There are many faces of capitalism/socialism… if you remember ‘Titan Grizz’ who caused flurry of comments with his remark on 1 euro wage and lazy French workers, you’ll see that there’s self-defeating side to it. Like Rinehart, Grizz is eager to undervalue work to the point where his tires can’t find market. Not sure how obvious it is, but kindred self-defeat is hidden in policies deployed throughout the Europe. We’re all well aware that without bottom line, there’s no foundation to the pyramid. Effect of bottomless competitiveness is reflected in our reality and inability to kick-start economy. These calls to probe unorthodox ways aren’t necessarily calls to arms framed within some ideological quest; they may as well be means of self-preservation. As stated earlier, it’d be a bummer if things fall apart before breakthrough.

I think it’s important to stress/asses realities behind global policies that force populations of the nations into the race to the bottom, so much so if we’re aware that game is foxconned. Perhaps Lew came to query about that too, because trade data today already suggest that things will go awfully amiss tomorrow.

Regardless, if possible, I’d steer away from old terminology, in sense that near future, may it be one in which we can print what we like, wouldn’t translate well. It’s hard, at least for me, to frame such proposed and tangibly within the reach ‘golden age’ with socialism/communism and similes. Not to say that it’s irrational and unfair to pit perfect equality against human ability.

Regards,

Posted by satori23 | Report as abusive
 

This is a thoughtful, measured and welcome article. Those respondents who equate a decent minimum wage with socialism or communism clearly have no understanding of this subject. When a minimum wage was introduced in the UK, over ten years ago now, some Conservatives made dire predictions about its negative effects. They were wrong.

Posted by JamesGoddard | Report as abusive
 

I meant to say – those who aren’t affluent are considered undeserving. My eyes are garbage now.

@Satori – it seems to me that all the classic economic systems are either dead or dying. The future may look for an economic system that isn’t tyrannical like Communism, too dependent on state aid like socialism or too bi-polar like capitalism.

I won’t live long enough to see the birth of the chimera.
And maybe it will be still born even if it is possible for the classic systems to make a truly successful hybrid at all? But, all sorts of hybrids live now.

But whatever economic or social system eventually evolves will have to deal with all the issues that gave rise to the three classic systems or it will struggle too and maybe even die. All of the classic systems seem to attract “belief” like they were religions and the people who seem to do best are the unbelievers or those who were already well endowed by the classic system they were controlled by in one way or another. The old party members seem to be those who benefited most by inside connections to the Kremlin when communism fell. The same seems to be true for China but, I suppose, even the insiders loose their status and advantage after awhile.

Do you really think you live in a state of satori? Do they use money? There is a very strong current in most of the major world religions to avoid it or to handle it under special controls and with very limited access.

Perhaps that’s what the future will revive? Many people aren’t very good at language skills.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive
 

What this article fails to recognise is that there is a huge difference between the notion of ‘social judgement’ and social responsibility.

The principle of social judgement used by the author is quite dangerous as it inherently implies that the state or a majority has the right to determine what occupations or actions have merit and their value. This principle cannot do anything except open an economy up to distortions as resources are allocated by some arbitrary power rather than according to market forces. However, even more importantly, to suggest that a man’s reward should be decided by others and not by what he produces given his effort is essentially an authoritarian proposition. Therefore, although I would agree that to some extent this does occur in our society it is very much not the principle we should follow if we desire to preserve freedom and prosperity. Finally, social judgement is very much not the prime determinant of income.

On the other hand social responsibility is a principle that can be used along side the market. The notion that every person should be guaranteed a certain standard of living and that those who produce and therefore, have been paid the most should contribute accordingly is entirely right. Although, crucially no one is imposing a certain value on certain occupations but rather people are doing the best they can with their given skills and being remunerated accordingly but there as floor underneath the standard of living. The height of this floor is a debate all societies should rightly have.

Posted by jh123 | Report as abusive
 

@paintcan

Wonder what sort of verbal mishap happened in Cyprus; perhaps it’s manifestation of big depositors’ fears?

It seems to me that you’d find it easy to conjure thoughts that relate dying systems to dying beliefs.

I like the virtue of your ‘OOTS post’…

Posted by satori23 | Report as abusive
 

there should be no minimum or maximum wage. Let the market, not armchair do gooders, decide.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive
 

>>zotdoc

“do gooders”? That’s not what a recent poll suggested.. the majority of American Public believes they are terrible. If there was no minimum or maximum wage, people would be paid for the value they can bring to society… scary thought for those out there who don’t bring anything.

Posted by NorthernLight | Report as abusive
 

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