Quote of the Day: Inequality of Wages

Quoth Francois Tremblay

Saying that inequality of capacities must lead to inequality of wages would only make sense if all work was the same, in which case the person with lower capacities should be paid more (for having to do a work more difficult than he can actually do) and the person with higher capacities should be paid less (for having to expand less effort for the same work). But in reality, the variety of work to be done is as great as the variety of capacities that exist in people’s natures. Since people can always find some work that suits them, or is at least proportional to their capacities, inequality of capacities coupled with a proportional inequality of work leads us back to equality of wages.

Succinctly said.

Francois has written an excellent short series of articles on the necessity of equality in society which make a solid case for what I always say in that you cannot have liberty without equality. Make sure you read part 1 and part 2 as well.

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10 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: Inequality of Wages

    1. Tremblay seems to be ignoring the fact that "capacities" are not static – but can be increased by labor; this is typically called "studying" or "going to school". Any society that compensates brain surgeons the same way it compensates flipping burgers is not going to have brain surgeons very long, whether the compensation is monetary or otherwise. This sort of thing is why I lean toward mutualism and not communism.

      1. Any society that compensates brain surgeons the same way it compensates flipping burgers is not going to have brain surgeons very long, whether the compensation is monetary or otherwise.

        You're making the mistake of assuming that doctors or any other difficult to learn trade are becoming so simply because of the rewards. This is simply not true as it's far more likely that they become thus because it is their wish to help people or something to this extent. If people did choose their profession according to their income, then we would be seeing far less doctors and brain surgeons.

        In any case, any profession can just as well be as skilled as a surgeon, from cooking to sewing to IT. Do not take for granted the current drive of capitalist enterprise to deskill humans and turn them to a simply automaton. It's far more likely in an Anarchist society that positions such as "flipping burgers" will be dismantled and replaced with something humane which has as much capacity for skilled work as any surgery.

        1. That's exactly the problem though, if jobs are not de-skilled that necessarily means some jobs will take different skills and some will take differing degrees of similar skills. In the real world it takes a lot of time and effort to acquire some skills, in this case brain surgery. It strains belief to suppose people would put years of time, sweat, and effort into learning something complex and difficult if they knew they'd be rewarded the same as if they studied for a day.

          Further, if we supppose as you suggest that various professions will once again become skillful professions with all the complexity and variety that entails, say the profession of Master Sewer, the question still exists why should you put hard work into become a Master Sewer when it's easier to just be a Seamstress since the reward will be the same. As a communist I guess you believe the personal reward people would get from helping others and developing their capacities would be enough, but for something that takes literally years of sustained study and effort I just don't see it.

          1. You're mistakenly assuming that the current system of education which has become as much fun as "work" will remain. This not necessary. It's far more likely that the educational process will become as much fun as the actual productive process. Perhaps it will return to a measure of apprenticeship coupled with actual studying when required. All in all, the whole point would be to make someone training to be a surgeon as much fun as someone training to be a master cook.

            Furthermore, people do not choose to become a Seamstress rather than a Master Sewer. Those two are part of a scale and the former will become the latter in time as long as this progress is not blocked via hierarchical institutions. As such, you can easily expect people to become masters on their chosen craft as they progress with their lives. This will only be something natural and not necessarily something to be rewarded extra. This is because those who are masters used to be apprentices once and then they were supported by society as a whole (for example by having an equal pay) while they were developing themselves. Now that they are in a position of mastery, the extra productivity they give back makes up for this which to me sounds only fair.

            As for jobs that do not take equal skill, those as per the original quote, of course equalize with the fact that people are not equally skilled either.

            Finally, you have to remember that I am for abolishing money altogether, so speaking about "rewarding everyone the same" does not make much sense in a moneyless economy.

    2. Why would anyone wish to be simply flipping burgers?

      To answer your question as it should have been put forth. Yes, a master cook might be just as skilled as a brain surgeon

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