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A Fair Salary

Entry 103, on 2004-12-15 at 14:29:08 (Rating 3, News)

How much is a fair salary for doing a particular job, and should pay differ depending on whether the person is working in the public or private sector? Those are the issues revealed by the announcement that the leading news reader for New Zealand's state owned television channel has had her salary almost doubled to $800,000.

Television New Zealand has been criticised in the past for being extravagant with its spending, and the current government suggested they wouldn't stand for much more of it. We are yet to see what the repercussions of this latest ridiculous decision will be.

The vast majority of people who are prepared to comment on this seem to be against it, although there are a few who admire her for negotiating such a favourable package. In comparison, the prime minister of New Zealand, who works long hours, and has huge responsibility, gets less than half this.

I think this issue goes beyond this single instance. There are many people in New Zealand (and to a much greater extent in other, bigger countries) who are being paid huge salaries for doing a job of doubtful importance. American celebrities seem to be an example of this trend at its worst.

The justification seems to be that the market will decide, and a person's salary is determined by their value to the organisation paying them. I disagree with this. There are many examples of managers and executives running businesses very poorly and still receiving huge salaries. There are examples of people making huge contributions to society through science and art but barely earning enough to live.

If salaries are determined by the market, its about time they weren't. Forcing everyone into a set regime of pay is impractical, but the balance can be corrected by taxing high salaries. I say tax people earning over $200,000 at the rate of 80 cents in the dollar and re-distribute the money to the more needy.

A lot of people will say that this will just scare off our best people - they imply that having a big pay packet makes you better in some way. I say fine, let them go. If their only motivation for working here is making lots of money they aren't worth employing anyway. Use the money we save from their salary to do more research - that will really help the country.

I feel equally offended when people in the private sector get these huge pay packets. Many people will say its OK to give them piles of cash, but not OK for the public sector because that's tax money. That's crap. Its me who pays the incompetent head of Telecom through my phone bills - there's no difference between a high charge to a private company for a compulsory service and a tax, in my opinion.

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Comment 1 (19) by Anonymous on 2005-03-08 at 15:51:35:

You really like telecom don't you?

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