Monday, October 13, 2014

Market Wages are not Ethical Wages

The daily post (if days are measured in months).

I've been thinking a lot about what "fair" means when it comes to fair wages. What's a fair wage? Market rate? The market will pay the lowest it can--it seeks efficiencies. It doesn't seek humanity, dignity, fairness, justice, equity--just the lowest price for the commodity.

So market wages are not ethical wages. To me, anything under a living wage is unethical. You ask someone to come work for you for 8 or 9 hours, and pay them lower than what it takes to pay for housing, utilities food, transportation, and healthcare. They aren't able to save, and are still underwater when it comes to the bills. Yet you're profiting from their labor. To me, that's unethical.

Paying higher than a living wage gives the person a chance to save, and to hand their time over to you without needing a second job to make ends meet. Second jobs aren't the worst thing in the world, but if someone is working 16 hours to make ends meet, someone's not paying them a living wage.

People who pay market wages do so because they can, and they rationalize it by saying that others are nuts if they pay any more than they have to.

I don't see it that way. If I'm going to ask you to change your life on my behalf, you're at least going to get a living wage, and closer to what we call a "thriving wage"--even for entry-level work. If you're on the team, we've got your back. We don't want you to be tired. We want you to be healthy. We want you to develop financial security. And we want you to work hard in service of the company's mission, its customers, and its people.

I haven't been writing for quite some time and have really felt the need to start again. Writing helps me clarify my thinking, and I haven't been doing that, so things sit there, clogging up my neural pathways (don't ya love science?).

So I'm pledging to go back to the daily post. I'm hoping you'll hold me to it, and that all three of you will chime in on the comments. Thanks for reading.

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