Living wage not minimum wage

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The talk in the UK – where we do have a minimum wage – and elsewhere is about a minimum wage but more often than not the minimum wage (alone) does not pay the bills.

Thus it is not a minimum wage that is required, unless bills and prices come down to a proper level, including and especially rents, but a living wage and this will vary from place to place, not just country to country.

In the UK capital London, such a living wage would have to be, under current conditions, considerably higher than the same wage in say Liverpool or some other place where the cost of living is lower. On the other hand in rural areas it may, again, have to be higher than in some places.

All too many people believe that those on low incomes should “get education and training” so they can better compete in the labor market. This is not just mean-spirited and ignorant but downright stupid and nasty. Not everyone can be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a CEO of a corporation, and not everyone wants to either.

Our countries need retail workers, dishwashers, ditch diggers, laborers, gardeners, forest workers, you name it. But that does not mean that the should be paid slave wages because their jobs are “less important”. Their jobs are as important as all those others.

I keep always wondering as to how those who think that the “menial” jobs are unimportant and worth less in their eyes believe that those jobs are going to be done if everyone “gets education and training” and gets “better” jobs. By gnomes and elves and fairies? It would appear so.

Not everyone in one of those “lower valued” (by those who judge) professions has chosen that path because they are not well educated or whatever but out of choice, as it is a profession they actually want to pursue and many of then do, in fact, require education and training, though not necessarily at a college or university.

The truth is that every job and every person's time at work (and elsewhere) has equal value and not only should there be a minimum and a living wage; I believe all work should be valued equally and pay should the the same per hour for all. That would, I am sure, shut up a lot of politicians and others who believe that they have a more important job to that of the refuse operative or the cleaner. Reality is, obviously, a different one but should it be?

Where we can see a real fairness is when local currencies that are based on hours (not Pounds, Dollars, or such like) are used and in such situations the hour work of a gardener is equal to that of a lawyer. In the same way as the hour's work of a seamstress is the same as that of a computer technician. An hour is an hour, that is to say sixty minutes of someone's day that he or she spent in doing this or that, by way of a service or producing something.

In the meantime, however, before we have a system entirely based on hours we need a decent living wage for all and this must be based on the cost of living in a area, with some additional amount upwards, to enable saving for a rainy day as well.

© 2016