Sunday 7 December 2014

If only...

Niko suggested in the last post, that he'd like to see a maximum wage, as well as a minimum wage. I'm not sure how it would work in a capitalist democracy, but I have come across it is Albania, prior to the 1992 revolution which overthrew the Communist regime.

At the time the maximum wage was 4 times the minimum wage. If those at the top wanted a pay rise, then everyone else had to get one too. 

Likewise my uncle used to work for a company in Switzerland which took the same approach, so whether it would work as national policy in a capitalist democracy, it certainly worked in his company. 

It's certainly an interesting notion, and we can see from the above illustration how well off people at the bottom would be now, had their pay rises kept pace with those at the top.


  1. I like the idea but, all things being relative; if everyone's wages go up together, then prices would go up to meet them. Obviously, there would be a ceiling to this effect, I'm no economist, I just think the capitalists would still rip off the majority.


    1. LOL yes. I thought there was a flaw in it.

      Of course it worked relatively well in a controlled communist economy, where almost everything was produced in the country and very little imported.

    2. There certainly should be some control on those Salaries at the top end, but then our Politicians hope to join them in the future and therefore they are not about to watch them fall. No the sma' folk, those self same ones who have always felt the pain can do so, well they do nothing about it. You know they are quite correct. When the people in France were starving nothing was done, well nothing until they started in on the middle classes. Shall we see the same here, once they put the mortgage interest rates up. I could almost guarantee that most of them were just as feared of losing out if e went Independent as the pensioners were supposedly of losing their pension.
      The trouble with the minimum wage was that it was brought in to assist those people who were being paid a pittance and with a little jiggery pokery they managed to get nearly everyone on it. Hence the growth in Food Banks, these are people who used to have money, these are not just the bottom of society, these are the workers. Back to the 1930's and further, when both my Mum and my Father in Law found themselves with police boots going to school because otherwise they were shoeless. We should remember that in those days some people had access to growing their own food, now that has been taken away from some with selling off allotments.

  2. I've read about this before, can't remember where though. From memory, it was suggested that the highest wage be capped at 20 time the the lowest wage - that way there would be enough wiggle room in earnings for things like price fixing not to occur.

    I take the view (for what its worth) if someone wants to earn a gazillion £££'s then fair enough. People who have a lot of money aren't the problem because it seems to me there's enough to go round - its what government spends its tax receipts on and how the cash is collected (or not) that annoys me.

    As long as the tax regime is fair and government is spending money where it actually needs to be spent as opposed to on daft willy-waving vanity projects, then I don't mind that people can earn a lot of money.

  3. Oh and I should say, so long as they're not earning lots of money by exploiting people.

    That's me now.


    1. As someone old enough to remember when we had a proper tax system, oh they wealthy were always complaining but none of them left. They paid up, then the auld witch Thatcher turned up and all hell broke loose. I was in Tortola in the Caribbean a couple of years ago, kind of like the Caymans, in the British Virgin Islands. There, they have full employment unlike much of the other islands, because they milk the money stashed there, Must be nice to have money in the Bank, a lot of people have zero nowadays.

    2. I'm not sure that you can control the top wage in a capitalist economy, Pa. It would seem impossible to me, just as it is to stop private companies increasing their charges...

      Blair once said he didn't care how much money people made as long as it trickled down to the poor. ..which of course it didn't.

      I guess it is the tax system that needs to be fixed. You're right.

      Helena: It's true that people tend not to leave a steep tax regime, but I wonder how they would feel about it being imposed now. I mean a lot of ours find ways of hiving off the money.

  4. This is a much a matter of culture as it is legislation. The difference in the lowest and highest salaries in the UK is grotesque. It's much lower in Scandinavia, not because there are rules about it, but because the culture supports that. People have internalised the concept. That's how any legislation works in the end: the public internalises the values and hence they self regulate. Example being the smoking ban - there was virtually no dissent because people were ready for it.

    One of my nephews used to work for a salmon farm in Sheltand and that firm paid everybody the same salary whether they were the managing director or the fish feeders. Way to go

    1. I agree Derek. Culture is important. The UK system would simply be unthinkable in the likes of japan where wages are much nearer the mean.

      I understood that in Scandinavia it was possible to have high wages but the social security system made low wages not just liveable on, but quite reasonable. In any case, the difference between well paid and badly paid was very little. It's not in their culture to find this improper, as it is here.

      The Shetland fish farm is interesting, but I fear that if they were in a bigger place they would probably find that they would lose their management to competitors. As you say, ourr culture demands that the tope people get paid a lot and the workers not.

      As Helena said this can to an extent be blamed on Thatcher who seemed to think that ordinary people should work for next to nothing, because it made Britain competitive... but management had to be paid silly money "to attract the best talent".

      It's also, however, a remnant of the class system which seemingly only Brits understand.

  5. Tris

    Tend to agree with Paul. I have no issue with people earning money, even lots of it but they need to pay their fair share of tax and that the money is earned ethically and not by keeping people down or profitting illness etc like ATOS. Tend to also agree with the government spending bit, lets not have trident, the Windsors, new massive roads, high spped rail etc. None of which really will aid anything or anybody, even if jobs are created you just know that it will be poverty jobs.


    1. Yes, Bruce. As I said earlier, I think I agree with Paul too. (He's usually right, you know!) You can't really make it work in a capitalist democracy.

      I think you can't use austerity to get out of a bad patch in the economy.

      You have to create jobs, which will create jobs, whilst improving your infrastructure at the same time, and make your communications better which is encouraging for business.

      To that end, building railways, and some roads, bridges, ferries...all the stuff that is falling to pieces... is a good idea. Yes, the government has to find the money (but we all know we can do that if the bankers need the money), but money generates money.

      You employ 10,000 on the government payroll to build railways and roads. That's probably 10,000 people no longer claiming benefits. You pay them a living wage. That's 10,000 people with some money to spend... carpets, curtains, cars, gardening equipment, meals, nights out...

      That money creates jobs for other people... who have to sell the stuff to our new found relatively well off 10,000. Of course because we import almost everything, it doesn't do much for manufacturing, but that's another problem.

      The bones is that your roads aren't full of pot holes and your bridges aren't falling down.

      How Gidiot thinks he's going to pay down the debt and grow the economy when his tax take from the people at the bottom is low, because they earn so little, and from the people at the top, becasue they cheat so much...

      Only a dim witted sniffer would imagine that was going to work... Oh wait...

  6. This is a good idea as it would complement the concept of minimum wage. However I do agree with the caveats discussed above. In principal, there must be a fair taxation regime to balance out the interests of workers, employers and the state. At the present moment I don't so. Parties with vested interests are in cahoots with each other and manipulating the system for their own ends.

    Out of the way, I must reiterate my previous point, especially after reading some blog posts day; SNP must be voted into office in the next parliament. It is now obvious Scotland will be shafted in the next parliament no matter what. Only by voting SNP, Scotland can be salvaged.

    We MUST convince others that all Westminster parties and their proxies are only interested in themselves. What was before, what is and what will be peddled are lies. Only Scots can save Scotland.

    1. Agree with you there, maybe we need to be stronger on that. If only we could run bus trips down to the prosperous South and let people see how many of them live. I acknowledge that many in London live hellish lives, but there is a wee bit where the rich live, Cheshire for instance, Norfolk is another and of course around Sussex and Suffolk. Many would hardly believe it.

    2. Well, as Nicola said, there is an army of people out there who will put up posters, canvas, and generally work hard for a good number of seats in London.

      I know that the unionist parties will be working together to try to thwart that. It may not be official policy but they have plans to vote tactically to keep independence parties out.

      So Tories will vote Labour it that's the best way of beating the SNP, and Labour will vote Tory.

      I can understand the Tories, but I find it hard to believe that Labour would want another 5 years of Tories, rather than a devolved, federal state of Scotland with reasonable policies for the poor.

      Still... who can work out what Labour think. Not even Labour.

  7. tris and all

    The problem with the minimum wage is it has swiftly become for many
    the maximum wage as was expected by some well me for one.....
    It was meant as a gesture with tax credits/tax payer picking up the tap
    and letting off the grasping employer from paying a fair wage.But once
    the Blue Torys got back they quickly began to reinstate poverty?.austerity
    and so inequality takes back off big time once again.

    You see in the days off trade unions people could reasonably
    negotiate. Now it more cap in hand could i please guv have a rise
    Nah ! feck off says the Guvnor

    Oops sorry sir tugging me forelock bowing low as you
    back out of the office door.....

    I mean people are so poor in work you have in fact
    a Tory prime minister and chancellor asking for the minimum
    wage to be raised higher than inflation..
    What kind of Alice in wonderland is that,

    1. Yes, that's true.

      I mean I don;t want to put down the minimum wage idea. Thatcher had abolished the wages councils, and their minimum wages (dependent on the trade) and I was (perhaps naively) relieved that Blair brought it back in, although even then I was shocked at how low it was.

      But you'll remember, companies threatened to close down and said that they would be bankrupt if they had to pay £3,60 an hour.

      Actually, just after that, I did a contract with the Jobcentre, recruiting, interviewing and psycho-metrically testing people for jobs with some local companies... They paid me £3,66 per hour for this management style job.

      Of course, setting it so low has been a benchmark for grippy companies to pay as little as they are legally allowed to.

      Just a year after it came in, I was recruiting for a Dundee Bar that was opening up. Mainly it was students who were applying. A few of the students came from Aberdeen. All the wages, bar staff, glass collectors, kitchen assistants, paid £3,60. The students form Aberdeen were aghast ... they just wouldn't take the work. Dundonians won out, because it's a low wage economy here. people expected to get paid the minimum wage, even for working at 2 am.

      Still true. One of St Andrews most prestigious hotels pays its student workers at minimum wage, whether they work during the week, at weekends, on bank holidays, or whenever. The only difference is Christmas day and New Years day.

      It's a mega expensive hotel and the work is drudgery. But folk need the money.

    2. "What kind of Alice in wonderland is that?"
      The kind we had the chance to escape, the rabbit hole (or should that be rabid hole?), and the fairy tale horror of Westminster rule.

      I await your witty, fairy tale referencing, rebuttal.


    3. jimminy

      Err no you cant escape rabid capitalism by becoming an Independent
      nation ruled and run by a capitalist elite . The only way for a fairer
      equal society is the end of capitalism forever . I didnt see that in the snp
      white paper.

    4. Niko Independence was not about the SNP it was about democracy are you really as dim as you make out, maybe you are since you voted Labour come what may.

    5. No you can't escape capitalism but, we could have escaped the whore of all parliaments and it's insane feed the rich, starve the poor mentality.


    6. There are ways of making capitalism work for everyone, as we have already discussed... Iceland, Faroes, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Holland, Greenland, and to a lesser extent, Switzerland, Japan, Canada. There are others. Of course these countries aren't perfect, but their capitalism seems to work better for ALL of them than it does here for a few.

  8. My son's first job was a zero contract one. When he sucked up to the management he got as many hours as he wanted. But when they "fell out" with him he got no hours. It was a retail job where everyone got bored easily and this was managements way of making life exciting. He now considers himself very lucky as he has a 35 hour contract with a different retailer, on minimum wage of course!!!
    A lot of overtime is on offer but again he finds himself having to "suck up" to be given any.
    So apart from looking very seriously at the minimum wage the whole work ethos must be scrutinised.

    1. What a dreadful way to have to live, sucking up to idiots so that you'll have enough money to pay buy food.

      It's certainly true that that quality of management in Scotland is appalling.

      At a certain hotel in St Andrews, my student friend, who is 23, clever and incredibly industrious, says that some of the junior managers there, around the same age as him, are so incompetent that they lose their tempers with people when things don't go well, and when a mere employee makes a suggestion they are told to remember that they have just argued with management.

      I had a manager at one point who seemed to have no problems in demanding that other people stuck to the rules, while she broke them: dress code, smoking breaks, time off in lieu (TOIL) and on one occasion she told a female member of staff that she couldnt have time off to take her child to hospital, and the next week did exactly that herself. Not surprisingly the level of sickness with stress was high.

      And it's not just an age thing. A local jobcentre manager was famed for incompetence, laughed at within the employment business...until she retired!

      So I agree. Management by targets, by people who have no management skills is a killer.

  9. Many of the "five star" London hotels and restaurants used to have a queue of homeless individuals at their kitchen door first thing in the morning looking for a day's employment as "kitchen porters" etc. In return they were given a hot meal and a few bob in their pockets which was cheaper than employing someone evem on the minimum wage. If only their customers knew the inevitable lack of hygience standards they would be horrified. There is no reason to believe that the same thing does not happen all over the country even, perhaps, at Westminster......

    1. From what I can make out, John, a great deal of the catering industry relies on zero hours.... not really "contracts" because many of the staff are paid off the books and avoid tax, insurance and all these pesky things.

      I understand that the domestic staff at Westminster are employed by agencies on minimum wage, which must be completely impossible to live oon in the centre of London.

      I'm sure I read somewhere that that quite a few of the security people working in the Home Office were illegal immigrants.

      What a bloody joke Westminster is.

      Still they have to try to save money somewhere, because I see that the House of Lords has refused to reduce the costs of catering by joining with the Commoners. Apparently the quality of the champagne would have to be lower.

      Well, I can understand that. It's just dreadful when one runs out of the best vintage and has to go on to the stuff Munguin keeps for the tradespeople.

  10. Tris,

    For your benefit, the Ritz was one of them!

    1. Thanks for warning me off the Ritz, John, but since the Barclay Brothers bought it, and that dreadful old woman moved in full time, it has gone downhill.

      Id favour the Dorchester if I were to visit London. The Ritz in Paris is a very poor second to the Georges V.

      Still, as I can't afford to go to Paris or London, I suppose I am spared all that worry...

    2. I will let Munguin know though!

  11. After reading a few more posts, I have concluded that the battle lines for this GE have been drawn. It is now between the nationalists (in its original sense) and the unionists. I think Kevin McKenna and the Rev have put it succinctly: Labour & Conservative Party.

    There is no difference. SNP better start campaigning ruthlessly this time. No more Mr nice guy. The Establishment is out to stamp Scotland for real. This time the SNP is potent actual threat.

    SNP will have to put a catchy slogan that hammers the point: Labour = Tory.

    1. Totally agree.

      There is no discernible difference between the Tories and labour on the main points.

      Social Security must be slashed; people must work longer for their pensions, which will remain embarrassingly low); Trident must be renewed no matter what the cost; Scotland must have the most limited of powers (here there are slight differences, but only becasue Labour sees itself more or less finished in England if any substantial powers are transferred to Edinburgh); immigration isn't done for the good of the country, it's done to keep the howling right wingers from defecting to UKIP; foreign policy should be dictated by Washington DC, Lords should stay; royals should stay; Britain should continue to play at being important.

      It looks like the Liberals will be a reduced force due to their dalliance with the Tories. The SNP has to work for us.

      I think that David Cameron, leader of the Conservative, Labour (and Liberal Democrats) is a good slogan.