Monday Message Board – Queens Birthday Edition

Time for another Monday Message Board, but we’re enjoying a long weekend, at least in Brisbane where the miserable weather of last week, forecast to continue for several days more, has disappeared. I’d welcome thoughts about the monarchy, honours lists and so on, and would also be interested to hear from readers affected by the volcanic ash clouds.

I’m tightening up on the civility rules and will, from now on, delete anything I regard as personal criticism of another commenter, along with coarse language. As usual, save long rants, extensive debates with other commenters, and repetition of old themes for an appropriate sandpit.

33 thoughts on “Monday Message Board – Queens Birthday Edition

  1. @Ikonoclast

    Another way of saying this is to say that a CEO is worth 200 mid-level workers on this measure. This sort of relative worth I have always been sceptical about.

    You and me both. While I’m not sure about how one couild model relative contributions to value with the kind of precision that one would like — at least some of the foundational assumptions are going to be highly subjective/arbitrary — I find the idea that any one human being in an organisation could be consistently 25 times more valuable than the average full-time employee doubtful.

    While absolute income equalitty in condituions of scarcity is probably unrealistic, a ratio within an organisation in which the best paid employee had a salary package worth no more than 25 times that of the average FT employee would put a cap on inequity that could be reconciled with the practicalities of systems operating under scarcity.

    If companies had to pay an increasing proportion of salaries above this benchmark out of after-tax income — perhaps 100% when the differential reached 30 times the average salary, then the very best paid employees, and those immediately below them would have a strong incentive to improve the average wages of FT employees as a whole. That sounds like the beginnings of equity to me.

    Of course, under this system, one would need a fairly expansive definition of both the organisation — (perhaps prescribed interests of 15%) and its contractors (who would count as employees based on more than half their work being for the one organisation) so as to avoid creative accounting.

  2. @Fran Barlow

    “.. I’m not sure about how one could model relative contributions to value with the kind of precision that one would like… ” – Fran Barlow.

    This is a key point. Of course, the market system supposedly is able to do just that. Namely, a free market purports to be able to assign the correct relative worth of work in each case if the labour market is unregulated or lightly regulated or only regulated at the low end with minimum wages but no maximum wage/salary. In practice, the latter leads to some absurd outcomes at the extreme high end.

    Perhaps more important that possible inequity in wages/salaries is the growing inequity between the wages share of income and the profits share in our economy.

  3. @Ikonoclast

    Perhaps more important that possible inequity in wages/salaries is the growing inequity between the wages share of income and the profits share in our economy.

    Indeed that’s so and the two, though independent, are related. The accretion in private hands of very substantial profits exaggerates and sustains inequity in the wages system because they place enromous power in the hands of a few, who can then adduce their specific interest to constrain public policy options, including over wages, benefits etc.

  4. Ikonoclast and Fran Barlow, the position of a CEO (and the directors) of a corporation is neither due to the Queen’s Birthday nor to a ‘free market’. These positions are due to corporate law.

  5. @Ernestine Gross

    I think I knew that the position of a CEO (and the directors) of a corporation was not due to the Queen’s Birthday. I can’t pretend I didn’t think the “free market” had something to do with it. Now you remind me of corporate law I have had a “doh!” moment like Homer Simpson. Look forward to your post when u can post it.

  6. The Queens Birthday Holiday is a very curious one; possibly the most curious holiday on the Australian calendar. The first point to make is that its existence is evidence of the inherent conservatism of Australian society; things will not be changed unless they absolutely HAVE to; (or stand between a corporation and profit). This holiday harms no one, there’s no real consitituency to abolish it, and therefore it stays, regardless of the fact no one celebrates anything specific on it.

    Indeed, I would be delighted to find one day that Australia should become a republic, and the House of Windsor deposed as Australia’s Head of State, and yet this anachronistic holiday should still be celebrated.

    In Canada, an equally conservative and even less republican minded Dominion of the British Crown, the holiday ascribed to the monarchs is the Monday closest to the 24th of May, celebrated as “Victoria Day”. This holiday however is very significant to Canadians, not because of the Monarchial feelings of the people (ask the Quebecor community what they think of the Crown), but because the day serves as an unofficial “start of summer” celebration; an important point after undergoing the rigours of a Canadian winter.

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