Wednesday, 6 February 2019

George Orwell's pay ratio

This, from The Lion and the Unicorn, popped into my head the other day:
II. Incomes. Limitation of incomes implies the fixing of a minimum wage, which implies a managed internal currency based simply on the amount of consumption-goods available. And this again implies a stricter rationing-scheme than is now in operation. It is no use at this stage of the world’s history to suggest that all human beings should have exactly equal incomes. It has been shown over and over again that without some kind of money reward there is no incentive to undertake certain jobs. On the other hand the money reward need not be very large. In practice it is impossible that earnings should be limited quite as rigidly as I have suggested. There will always be anomalies and evasions. But there is no reason why ten to one should not be the maximum normal variation. And within those limits some sense of equality is possible. A man with £3 a week and a man with £1,500 a year can feel themselves fellow-creatures, which the Duke of Westminster and the sleepers on the Embankment benches cannot.

If we were to update this today, £300 quid a week, or a bit over £15k, is basically minimum wage as an annual salary, and would suggest a maximum (under a 10:1 ratio) of £150k-ish. I bet many people in my corner of the world would consider that absolutely barking, and I bet many people I know in the real world would consider it really quite generous.

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