Monday, 29 October 2012
The living wage fallacy
This is a favourite topic of our class obsessed media and even more a favourite topics of right on left wing political think tanks. Fresh from the success of pushing the 'relative poverty' mantra about a sate of poverty that could never be esapced even if you made the lowest paid multi-millionaires, we now have the 'living wage' concept. 20% of people are too underpaid, amazing how the statistics come up with an 80//20 division eh? Are the top 20% 'overpaid' too?
Apparently someone else can decide how much money you need to live on (see the problem here? Anyone else married?) happily in various parts of the UK. of course, this is then compared to average hourly wages and hey presto there are literally millions of us below the breadline, all it would take it a measly pay rise to make everyone comfortably off.
There are too many flaws in this sort of conceptualising to even try and point out; where do people live? what stage of their life are they at? (by way of example, I remember being a student and could go out 2 nights for £10 easily - its not that long ago) what are they trying to do? Are they working part-time because someone else is full time? Are they immigrants or others with poor skills?
There are a whole multitude of reasons why people take on poorly paid jobs. Rarely is it because of pure desperation. Even this study finds that the worst paying job is waitressing - and htis is the most causal labour of all, students, overseas visitors, all different types of people and very few making a career at it. Which incidentally does have a causal link to why it is so badly paid; there is demand for this kind of work so employers pay less. In a way they can't manage with say computer programmers.
it makes me long for the study into whether we should even have a minimum wage, I don;t recollect it has ever been done satisfactorily since we introduced that concept; these days of course we are onto the living wage - what next the "comfortable wage"?