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A conservative view on low wages.

Written By: - Date published: 11:33 am, July 25th, 2013 - 37 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, cost of living, Economy, equality, minimum wage, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

Further to the discussion the other day about the sayings of Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill:

It is a national evil that any class of Her Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions… where you have what we call sweated trades, you have no organisation, no parity of bargaining, the good employer is undercut by the bad and the bad by the worst; the worker, whose whole livelihood depends upon the industry, is undersold by the worker who only takes up the trade as a second string… where these conditions prevail you have not a condition of progress, but a condition of progressive degeneration. 

Exactly.

37 comments on “A conservative view on low wages.”

  1. Richard Christie 1

    Wow, that from a Tory, shows how far the ‘centre’ has shifted.

    • Tinfoilhat 1.1

      I think it says more about how poor our politicians are compared to those of churchills time.

    • Rich 1.2

      Actually, he was a Liberal in 1909. Churchill changed parties twice.

  2. Santi 2

    The words of Sir Winston Churchill, a giant, a lion, a historic figure!

    • Antonina 2.1

      Then again – he did call out the army to fire on striking workers 1926.

      • Tinfoilhat 2.1.1

        Then again he did navigate he UK Through the world war.

        • Richard Christie 2.1.1.1

          …and sent the troops into Gallipoli

          • Arfamo 2.1.1.1.1

            And dumped the kiwi cannon fodder into Greece and Crete. And thought the British should hang on to India. And got the elbow at the end of the war when the need for his particular conservative set of overall “talents” was past.

          • tinfoilhat 2.1.1.1.2

            Which he regretted til the day he died

      • Murray Olsen 2.1.2

        He sent tanks in against the Irish workers.

  3. One Anonymous Knucklehead 3

    Proof, if any were needed, that once upon a time we had better wingnuts.

  4. joe90 4

    September 1, 1980 Ronald Raygun:

    Beginning in January of 1981, American workers will once again be heeded. Their needs and values will be acted upon in Washington. I will consult with representatives of organized labor on those matters concerning the welfare of the working people of this nation.

    [...]

    Well I pledge to you in his memory that the voice of the American worker will once again be heeded in Washington and that the climate of fear that he spoke of will no longer threaten workers and their families.

    [...]

    They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.

    August 3, 1981 Ronald Raygun:

    It was in recongition of this that the Congress passed a law forbidding strikes by government employees against the public safety. Let me read the solemn oath taken by each of these employees, a sworn affidavit, when they accepted their jobs: “I am not participating in any strike against the Government of the United States or any agency thereof, and I will not so participate while an employee of the Government of the United States or any agency thereof.”

    • Rosetinted 4.1

      joe90
      Thanks. Some words have to be seen to be believed. Now I’ll just look at the provenance to check that it isn’t an elaborate satire as some people like to confuse us as to reality, sort of like the journalists who put composite events together and present it as one true story.

  5. vto 5

    Well done KJT.

    What it highlights is most certainly how far decent values have moved.

    That this current evil National government doesn’t even remotely acknowledge the sort of principles that Churchill outlines exposes their crassness and their lack of understanding as to how society actually works. They really are a shallow bunch of losers. Unfortunately they hold power at the moment.

    It also amply highlights the fact that this National government is of the far right. This government is an extreme government.

    Employers who pay less than a living wage should go fuck themselves. And the reluctance of NZers to not apply for slavery type jobs where they don’t get paid enough to live on is to be applauded.

    • Saarbo 5.1

      “Employers who pay less than a living wage should go fuck themselves…”

      Absolutely 100%. Ive said it before and I will say it again, if an emlpoyer cannot set up their business model to pay a living wage then they shouldnt be in business…simple. And what a brilliant quote above! That is the reason that the min wage needs to be increased to the Living Wage, because once it is, businesses adapt to operate profitably.

      • Rosetinted 5.1.1

        Saarbo
        Are you trying to being tiresomely sarcastic and derisory It sounds like it. If employers can’t afford to run a business to make themselves a living and pay their employees a basic living wage, they are truly wasting their time trying to run the business. The business world is littered with businesses that have gone down, shit happens.

        What should be done is to have the conditions in the country that enable businesses to flourish and especially the overwhelming majority employing under five people. Not as you suggest reducing living and working conditions and squash the whole economy.

        Then what follows is to pay people hourly or daily just enough to feed them and to travel home and back. That sounds like India, where they save money by sleeping on the streets. We’ve got the start of that, don’t push it further along will you.

      • Rosetinted 5.1.2

        Saarbo
        Are you trying to being tiresomely sarcastic and derisory It sounds like it. If employers can’t afford to run a business to make themselves a living and pay their employees a basic living wage, they are truly wasting their time trying to run the business. The business world is littered with businesses that have gone down, shit happens.

        What should be done is to have the conditions in the country that enable businesses to flourish and especially the overwhelming majority employing under five people. Not as you suggest reducing living and working conditions and squash the whole economy.

        Then what follows is to pay people hourly or daily just enough to feed them and to travel home and back. That sounds like India, where they save money by sleeping on the streets. We’ve got the start of that, don’t push it further along will you.

        • Rosetinted 5.1.2.1

          Don’t know how this got up twice. I don’t remember doing anything likely to do that.

  6. johnm 6

    The likes of Churchill came round to Socialist principles because it was generally recognised that the impoverishment and inequality of large sectors of society led to the French and Russian revolutions and the coming to power of Hitler in Germany and the following WW11. During the 19c draconian punishments were inflicted (To keep a lid on further revolution) on ordinary people who stole a loaf of bread or did a bit of poaching like hanging and transportation for life. Churchill didn’t take the above view out of the goodness of his heart. Globalisation represents the new class exploitation of a globalised economy: the exploitation of poor peoples’ labour. Now that exploitation is being imported with cheap labour.

  7. Sable 7

    Churchill was an inept fool responsible for military disasters including Gallipoli. His mismanagement of WW2 was no better with soldiers calling him “blood and guts”, hardly a compliment. After the war ended he was promptly booted out by the British voter.

    As to any rhetoric regarding the rights of workers it was just that.Churchill viewed the average person as military or economic cannon fodder and little has changed.

  8. DavidC 8

    So what is a living wage?

    A wage you can survive on (but it neednt be comfortable) because we are talking about the basics for survival here, not 3 TVs 2 cars and SKY TV huh?

    so $10/hr x 60hrs/wk ?

    • georgecom 8.1

      No.

      A living wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. A living wage will enable workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society.

      The living wage is the minimum wage necessary for a worker to survive and participate in society. It reflects the basic expenses of workers and their families such as food, transportation, housing and child care. The Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit conducted independent research into a New Zealand living wage rate and announced the rate of $18.40 an hour in February 2013.
      http://www.livingwagenz.org.nz/

      • Georgecom 8.1.1

        This from Maria Slade, a business analyst, a handful of weeks ago:
        Hands up who would like a 34 per cent pay rise for doing exactly the same job as you are doing now?…In return for no additional labour …the councils have proposed paying their low and minimum income earners up to $4.65 an hour more…New Zealand’s average output per head of population is around 30 per cent below the OECD average. In other words, productivity is not our strong suit…increased productivity grows the economic pie. If the pie is bigger there is more for both the owners of capital (businesses) and the owners of labour.
        http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/8882692/Unleashing-the-Living-Wage-monster

        So, an LW is a 34% increase on the minimum wage. Increasing the wage from the minimum to a LW represents a 34% increase for no extra effort. However productivity increase is the key to rising wages. BUT.

        in the 29 years since 1980…When labour productivity increases are taken into account, wages in 2008 should have been around 56 percent higher than they were. Even if we look only at the 20 years since 1989…a real wage 28-31 percent higher could have been justified in 2008 by productivity gains…In other words, business has taken almost all the gains of labour productivity.
        http://union.org.nz/sites/union.org.nz/files/NZCTU%20Alternative%20Economic%20Strategy_1.pdf

        So, had wages actually kept pace with productivity gains since 1989 they’d be about 30%+ higher today. That’s the criticism Slade uses above of the LW, a 34% pay increase for doing nothing extra. Had wages actually kept pace with productivity gains since 1980, wages would be 56%+ higher, well above the LW figure.

        So who is talking about getting a 34% pay increase for nothing? Seems to me that the working people have been lifting productivity but simply have not had their wages increasing by the same amount.

        As Slade comments “If the pie is bigger there is more for both the owners of capital (businesses) and the owners of labour”. Nope, seems not. But then, answer me this, who has actually pocket all of that increased wealth generated by productivity?

        David? Anyone?

        • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1

          An increase in productivity under the capitalist system will always result in lower wages. This is because demand cannot keep up with productivity. In fact, demand is likely to go down while productivity increases and the reason for that is because once somebody has something they don’t need to replace it immediately, i.e, demand is high at the beginning of a products life cycle and decreases over time.

          If we were being rational about it increased productivity would have two out comes:
          1.) Increased leisure time and/or
          2.) Increasing the number of products we actually produce*

          Neither of these things has happened. In fact, leisure time has decreased and so has the number of products as our manufacturing sector gets hammered by the “free-market”.

          * The difference between growing the economy and developing it. The former produces more of the same stuff while the latter creates more new products. The former is also the BS behind the export led recovery that we keep hearing from the politicians. The latter wouldn’t really care about exports as we’d easily maintain full employment and rising living standards. We really, really need to stop growing the economy and start developing it.

          • Arfamo 8.1.1.1.1

            +1

          • tricledrown 8.1.1.1.2

            when treasury starts including those not working in their statistics we will get a true picture of productivity!

          • georgecom 8.1.1.1.3

            During the post war long boom wages rose in rough symmetry with productivity. If fact there were mechanisms within wage bargaining that linked wage growth to productivity growth. Most notably in the US heavy metal industries but it was also a factor in NZ with annual General Wage Orders.

            The links between the two started to come unstuck into the 1970s and were firmly canned with the rise of neo-liberalism.

          • Descendant Of Sssmith 8.1.1.1.4

            Poor managers have faked productivity increases by simply lowering wages and reducing staff and removing penal rates and not giving wage increases and not investing in training and buying state developed businesses instead of creating their own.

            They have pretended that an increase in profits equals an increase in productivity.

            They have de-circulated money in the economy to increase their personal wealth and to increase the indebtedness of those who do the work.

            They have allowed the corporates to destroy small businesses while faking competition via multiple branding and deliberate division and layering of their own businesses.

            A monkey can take over a business and claim an increase in productivity when all hey have done is reduce the salaries of the employees.

            There’s good employers out there but there’s an awful lot of bad ones.

        • Rosetinted 8.1.1.2

          Don’t know about being given a rise for doing the same work. It is possible that they just might be receiving actual recompense for extra work they are doing. So many managers are trying to forge ahead with insufficient labour, which has been shed, and working the others so hard they need to do unpaid overtime to get the work contracts done, and when there is a problem they employ contractors at big hourly rates, and debit the budget against a non-labour part of the balance sheet. All playing with figures and bad management practices.

          That’s what I hear.

      • felix 8.1.2

        “Participate in society”?

        Get back up the chimney and keep sweeping.

  9. Oscar 9

    Fuck that bullshit about living wage being required for the necessities of life. Sure, enable people to pay the bills and rent etc. But give people enough to save so they can go on holiday at least once a year.

    I go on holiday twice a year. Gang up with mates and spend two weeks travelling Aotearoa. Save up more and the SO and I spend a week or sooverseas.

    The way I see it, we’ve managed to artifically increase the cost of living in NuZild since Roger no mics that we havent managed to understand how to counteract the effects of it.

    Immediate, not step change, modifications are needed forthwith.

    Only problem is, our politicians currently lack the guts to realise they reign supreme and should they win on one platform, no reason why they shouldnt enact a platform that benefits the majority and not the minority.

    National did it well, the other way. Policy for the majority, legislated for the minority. Fuck the lot of them, spineless felchers they all are.

  10. Jenny 10

    A number of people here have have scoffed at me for popularising Churchill’s fight against fascism as an inspiration for the fight against climate change.

    I thought that I might take this opportunity to answer these criticisms.

    Churchill was a “racist”, Churchill was “anti-union”, Churchill was an “imperialist”, Churchill was a “right winger”.

    All these things are true. Churchill was all these things. Winston Churchill was a product of his time. Born into a privileged social strata at the top of the British Empire at the height of its power.

    As such, naturally Churchill was a rabid supporter of British Imperialism. As an imperialist, many of Churchill’s views were openly racist. The whole moral underpinnning of imperialism is, that one race or nation has the right to rule over others, implying that the ruled were inferior and the ruled superior for some reason. “All For their own good” This became popularised as the “White man’s burden”. There is actually no truth in this depiction of the imperialism. Imperialism is all about exploitation. The plunder and subjection of the so called “third world”, cheap labour, raw materials, oppressive local administrations is what it is all about. The British Empire at its height was nakedly brutal and exploitative. It was so bad that the Nazis were able to use it in their propaganda to depict the Western nations of France England and the US an inhuman monsters. The irony was of course, that the Nazis were imperialists themselves. The Nazis weren’t trying to end Imperialism but supplant it. Hitler used to regularly make the claim that the new Nazi empire he dreamed of would be more humane. But the true nature of imperialism was just as brutal inhumane, even more so than the rest.

    But where does all this come in, in the fight against climate change.

    The message behind Churchill’s life and it’s crowning achievement, the victory over fascism. Is that Climate Change like fascism is something that will subjugate and make suffer even the elites, not as much as everyone else obviously. But enough to make certain sections of this ruling elite worried. In Britain and most of the Western world the majority of the ruling elites, America, France and even in Britain the most powerful imperial nation. Were all in favour of making their peace with the Nazis.

    Churchill was the exception. The left by themselves could not defeat fascism. The campaign in Spain had proved that.

    What was remarkable about Churchill was his anti-sectarianism. Once he decided we needed to fight fascism, he was prepared to work with anyone, including the feared and hated trade unionists and Labour Party politicians. Even the Russian Communist rulers of the Soviet Union were not beyond the pale for Churchill. Something for which he was roundly criticised in parliament and the press. Moving him to make his famous defence; That, “If Mr Hitler invaded hell. I would be moved to make a favourable passing comment of the devil in the House of Commons”.

    In the fight against climate change we must have the same sort of pugnacious bulldog spirit displayed by Churchill, that will broach no hindrance, that will make no political accommodation, that unceasingly seeks to mobilise every section and level of human society to make the maximum effort possible to avert the crisis.

    Without this sort of Churchillian political leadership there will be no fight back.

    Will there be another Winston Churchill?

    I doubt it. The Al Gores of this world are to mired in the world of comfort and luxury to step outside that, to be able to deal with the issue.

    What we need is a left wing Winston Churchill. One that won’t shut up. One that won’t sit down. One that won’t be intimidated. One prepared to work with anyone who will help the cause. Someone completely non-sectarian, who can bring new forces to the battle.

    Left Right and Centre, we are all human beings after all.

    The right worry about climate change

    I’m in my 90s and I live here on the Stanford University campus. It’s dreamy. It’s so nice.

    However, I have four great-grandchildren.

    It’s fun to have little babies around again, but you look at these little kids and they’re so full of vitality and curiosity and so much fun in them. You can’t help but ask yourself: What kind of a world are they going to inherit, and what can I dredge out of my experience that might be put into place to help make it a little better?

    George Shultz
    Former Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, as interviewed by David Biello about his opposition to climate change.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=questions-and-answers-with-george-shultz-on-climate-change-and-energy

    However the Right’s response is muddled and wrong headed: And as usual, a conspiratorial, controlling, top secret, top down approach doomed to failure. (Something else altogether is required. Not another approach to concentrate more power at the top, but a distributed approach that could weaken the power of the elites to rule.)

    http://www.newser.com/story/171286/cia-studying-how-to-control-the-worlds-climate.html

    Get those tin foil hats out: The CIA is backing half of a $630,000 study into whether scientists can fight climate change via geoengineering……

    So why are spooks interested in the weather? “It’s natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security,” is all a CIA spokesperson would say.

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