Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Putting the ‘Living Wage’ to Death

Guest post by Peter Osborne

In his article titled ‘Bringing the Living Wage to Life,’ Gordon Campbell of Scoop fame shows how bereft New Zealand is of good, insightful journalism.

Along with most other NZ journalists (and alleged economists), he ignores causality completely. In saying that “we” should introduce a “living wage” simply because people need it, he ignores the causal connection between production and consumption (that we can only consume what has first been produced).  He ignores the causal disconnection between production and need (not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world will bring even one crust of bread into existence). He ignores completely the real reason wages are barely able to keep up with the cost of living (most of all because of paper-money inflation and restrictive employment law) and has instead reasoned that enforced wealth distribution is the answer.

As is typical of left wing thinking, the only tool he has in his box is a gun.

With their uncanny ability to pervert virtue, the left are able to dress up force and coercion with the prettier disguise they call “social justice.” The truth remains that the journey to their utopia can only be achieved by using force on other groups by use of the law. It is not difficult to imagine how things would end.

Campbell ignores the fact that paper-money inflation has helped cause real prices to escalate; that restrictive employment laws have raised the cost of having employees, leaving less for the employees themselves; that compulsory compliance costs in work-places already restrict production, and therefore the earnings from which wages are paid; that the constant piling of compliance, taxes, levies and disproportionate wages mean that products are far more expensive than they need be once they hit the shelf, meaning those on low wages can ill afford the essentials. And he ignores completely the consequences for those people his “living wage” would price out of the employment market altogether.

Campbell wishes to use force to avert the consequences of the previous uses of force. He fails to understand that when force is initiated, for whatever reason and to whatever end, the outcome will always bring with it unintended consequences, injustice, and—ultimately—misery.

Unlike Campbell, I call for the removal of  force altogether as a way to remove the misery: to remove the shackles and to take away the gun of compulsion altogether.

It is true that there are plenty of folk prepared to defend the employment of force and coercion as a tool to engineer society.  That it is true is no less a disgrace.

Perhaps the best excuse for those who call for the tool’s employment is that they rely too much for their sources of information on people like Gordon Campbell—who, after all, has only picked up where the government’s factory schools have left off.


  1. If we follow the 'production' argument then CEOs who destroy shareholder wealth with Homer Simpson decisions should receive a bill, instead of a 7 figure golden handshake.

    Of course this never happens. The rules of production/consumption only apply to people at the bottom of the ladder.


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