Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Harder living in Hamilton [updated]

The notion of the so-called “living wage” essentially is that employees are to be paid not for what they do, but for how many mouths they have to feed.

It’s called a “living wage,” but to the extent the wage is paid above what the wage-earner produces, the extra has to be paid for by someone—whose own living is thereby made correspondingly harder. And to the extent the wage is made irrelevant to what wage earners produce—their production being the reason they were employed in the first place—their incentive to produce  is disconnected from their incentive to earn.

At a stroke this transforms wage-earners from honest earners to charity cases.  And it transforms wage-payers from businesses into charitable arms of the government. Transforms them by compulsion.  Or, if its arms of government paying the so-called “living wage,” it further transforms all ratepayers (and rent payers) from free people into milch cows.

Odd then that those cheering the “living wage” decision by Hamilton Council like to ignore this. Because this decision to pay Hamilton Council employees a “living wage” is made at the expense of Hamilton Council’s ratepayers,  whose own manner of living (without any say in the matter) will now be correspondingly less prosperous for the compulsion from above to pay others more for less.

The decision is, in short, immoral.

And a less likely way to begin making an Affordable City for ratepayers is hard to imagine.

UPDATE: Dave McPherson told Leighton Smith this morning that the cost for these higher wages is all coming out of “existing budgets,” so therefore “this is no cost to ratepayers.” But if existing budgets can find the amount necessary to pay for this decision, they (and all future budgets) could also have been dropped by the amount of this unjustified increase. So the decision has permanently cost ratepayers the amount of that foregone decrease.


  1. From each according to their ability;
    to each according to their need.

    RIP capitalism.

  2. As a Hamilton City ratepayer I applaud the Council's decision to pay a "living wage". Those ratepayers who don't share my cheer have as much say in this matter as they have in any other, that is, they get to elect those who will represent them. I will certainly consider voting for the seven councillors who supported the policy.
    On the question of morality, I'd worry more about the squandering of 27 million ratepayer dollars on motor racing before worrying about paying 80 employees an average of $1.80 per hour more. A "living wage" won't make living in Hamilton discernibly harder, but it will make it a little fairer.

  3. Actually Stephen, ratepayers don't get to elect those who represent them, at least not exclusively. If ratepayers alone elected councils, I imagine rates would be a lot lower. Likewise, if taxpayers alone elected the national government, taxes would be much lower. Even better would be if rates and taxes were voluntary, in which case, Stephen, you could pay all the rates you like and make up for the selfish bastards like me who would rather pay people according to the value I personally gain from them.

    The American founders protested taxation without representation. What we have ended up with is representation without taxation, or, as Ben Franklin said, two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.


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