On wages growth

John Richardson writes: Re. “How can we fix flat wages growth? We can’t”, (yesterday). Oh yes we can Bernard: if we had the political ticker. Once upon-a-time, back in the good old days when most of us enjoyed real choices as to what career we might pursue and what employer we might commit to for life, there was a convention in the private sector that the Managing Director/CEO of any enterprise could not enjoy an income greater than 12 times that of the most lowly paid individual in the organisation.

These days, with the inmates in charge of the asylum, it’s said that Managing Directors/CEOs in the US enjoy remuneration levels 300 times greater than the median income of their employees, while in the UK, the ratio is around 183 times median pay. In poor old Australia, our average Managing Director/CEO is expected to get-by on a measly 50 times the average earnings of their subordinates.

If we were really serious about responding to the growing level of inequality across our society whilst at the same time, finding an effective mechanism to rein-in the burgeoning cost of management, our boards could do worse than to reintroduce such conventions. But of course, that would require the owners of capital and their political protectors to admit that “trickle-down economics” really is a fairy story about life at the bottom of the garden.

It would also involve having the will to re-embrace an old but discarded philosophy that the health and wellbeing of all is more important than that of the individual: anathema in a world where we consciously teach people that they should be at the centre of everyone-else’s universe.

On Dutton and 18C

Nathan Lee writes: Re. “Did Dutton’s anti-Muslim spray breach section 18C?” (yesterday). 18C covers race, not religion. Much as the religious fundies would like to have their choice to be an adult that believes in skygods (and burning bushes or floods with barges or whatever) protected by blasphemy laws so they can continue to get away with nonsense in the 21st century – it is a choice and no different to someone who believes in Elvis or that the moon landing was faked. The minute we start protecting those sort of thoughts from criticism: we’re in trouble.

18C (and 18D) however are about the tiny sliver of speech that is related to race/ethnic background (e.g. not something you choose, like religion, but rather something you’re born with). So having a headline about “Muslims” when it was really relevant because it was “Lebanese” is a bit misleading.

Peter Fray

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