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What to do with a wage increase

By David Hale - posted Friday, 11 September 2020

Would you forgo all or part of a wage increase to top up the wages of the lowest paid workers?

If a system existed, where it would go directly from your pay to that of a randomly selected lowest paid worker would you do it?

We could argue we simply cannot afford to go without the pay rise, even though that is exactly what we did before it was offered.


We could complain that we are struggling ourselves, however, saying that to the lowest paid worker, on much less, would almost be comical.

The current median income in Australia is less than $50,000. So, if one is earning more, you are earning more money than half of all taxpayers. Many of that half manage to pay the rent, buy food, clothes, and travel on that amount. So, we can manage to forgo a pay increase.

If we really believe we do not have enough to spare, we could take the Sir Karl Popper approach. Agreeing not on, how much we want, but what is too little to cover basic needs.

In the case of Sir Popper, he was focusing on the social ills of society rather than what makes an ideal society. Believing the latter would be more fought over than the former. There is more agreement over what is bad than what is good.

So, in our case, there could be more of an agreement over what is too little.

If those basics needs are not met, we forgo all or part of a wage increase to help others. 


The basic needs could be things like indoor plumbing, shelter, three meals a day, a few pairs of clothes, healthcare, and ensuring not just existence, but being part of society, some entertainment.

There would also need to be some savings to cover costed emergencies, not having money for the sake of just having money in the bank.

For the sake of argument let us agree that we need less than we think we do. And that people, here and abroad, have less then they need.

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About the Author

David Hale is an Anglican University Lay Chaplain, staff worker for the Australian Student Christian Movement and a member of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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