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A Fair Wage

I am addressing a significant problem that must be dealt with by the employer. But ultimately the solution requires that employees understand what constitutes a fair wage.

Introduction

Especially for young people, the idea of a fair wage is a mystery, and their emotional response can be damaging. Employees who feel they are underpaid often under perform, sometimes sabotage the job, or (on rare occasion) become criminal in their behavior.

Two Examples

Leonard had been with me seven years. He was an alcoholic who had compartmentalized his drinking sufficiently that it didn't seem to affect his job performance. But with time, it spilled over into the work place. One day he expected a raise, and I was not willing to give him one. His emotions overheated, and he became unmanageable—in time I fired him.

Here's a story from World Net Daily, December 18, 2005. An immigrant from Jordan, Ali R. Warrayat, crashed his car into a Home Depot in Arizona where he formerly worked. After going though the doors, he headed for the paint department, and slammed the vehicle into flammable goods. He got out of his car, and ignited the flammables with his lighter. He then went outside, sat on the curb, and waited for police to arrest him.

He was reported to be a respectable and hard working employee, but told police he had not gotten a proper raise. He was also mad at the United States for proposing a 700 mile fence along the Mexican border. The loss to the Home Depot store is estimated at $1,000,000.

Both Leonard and Ali Warrayat felt they were being underpaid. Both responded in an emotional way that was damaging to others and to themselves. How should they have reacted? and how does one arrive at a fair wage for his situation?

Traditional Free Market Approach

A fair wage is what one man is willing to pay, and another man is willing to accept. When two men agree, you have a fair wage. If Leonard had found someone who was willing to pay him more, he could have rightfully left my company and joined the new firm. His new higher wage would be a fair wage because he and his new boss would be in agreement. Leonard threatened to interview elsewhere, and I gave him permission to do so on company time.

The above paragraph is understood by people of my generation, but not by many young people. I propose that we test the validity of this "free market" approach by going to the Bible.

Biblical Example

The reference is Matthew 20:1-15. Let me abbreviate the story: A farmer began to hire day laborers offering them a penny for the day. (That was considered a fair wage at the time.) The farmer was willing to pay a penny, and the worker was willing to accept the penny. Throughout the day he hired additional workers for his vineyard. These latecomers were hired without knowing their exact wage. They had agreed to accept whatever the farmer decided to pay.

At the end of the day, the farmer called the latest latecomer, and paid him a penny—he paid everyone a penny. Those who worked the entire day expected more, but he paid them, just a penny. They became irate.

I've seen a worker get upset by what I pay another employee, but as in the above parable, it's none of his business. The employer had agreed with his first workers for a penny, and he could have paid them more, but he chose not to—that was his option. Of course, nothing says any of the workers had to return the next day.

The Modern "Feelings" Approach

In our progressive, "no-absolutes-everything-is-relative" society, each man decides for himself what he should be paid. If his boss is unwilling to pay what the employee has decided he is worth, then the boss is unjust and deserves whatever he gets. It can be poor job performance, sabotage on the job, or even the destruction of his business.

Now let me add another dimension: Men are more aggressive than women. A woman who feels she is underpaid may keep her feelings to herself. A man who feels he is underpaid is more apt to act out those feelings in the ways I have indicated above.

Consider Termination

To summarize: A male who feels he is underpaid is risky—even one who is a hard working competent employee.

  1. Worst case scenario: he can burn down the store or shoot the boss.
  2. Best case scenario: he can quietly spread discontent among his fellow workers.

For the Employee

If you were able to somehow force your boss to pay more than he is willing, it would no longer be a fair wage. If you think you're worth more, first tell your boss. If you are unable to convince him, then find a job elsewhere that pays more. But don't get mad because he doesn't see things your way.

Scripture addresses the issue in the following passage:

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3, KJV

A Fair Wage,

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Dr. Kool

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do, you're misinformed.Mark Twain
Blessings: The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.Sir Winston Churchill
Socialism 101: Never waste a good crisis.Hillary Rodham Clinton
Are You Ready? Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the son of man cometh.Jesus
Mt. 24:44 KJV
Going for Broke: The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money.Margaret Thatcher
Winning: It's really hard to win an argument when you're wrong.Dr Kool
Doing The Right Thing: You can always count on Americans to do the right thing--after they've tried everything else.Winston Churchill
Kool Kommunity: Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
NKJV
Good For The Soul: Confession is good for the soul, but hard on the reputation.Merle Krafthefer
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