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Things Could be Worse

Entry 1356, on 2012-02-03 at 08:31:42 (Rating 3, Comments)

Things could be worse, apparently. According to some people almost every complaint can easily be dismissed because whatever is being complained about is trivial compared with certain other similar situations.

For example, they say you shouldn't complain about your conditions of work because there are other people with no job at all. And similarly there are people who do have jobs but are working in much poorer conditions than you.

And complaining about the government is pointless because at least it's not as corrupt and dysfunctional as the governments of some some African states such as Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. And the same applies to complaining about the management at your place of work because at least you're not a slave on a plantation, or something similar.

But these are really silly arguments put forward by people who are either too lazy to argue the real points or genuinely have some extreme feeling of entitlement which makes them think that they are so superior that they are above criticism.

No matter how bad things are elsewhere there should always be the opportunity to make things better here and now, and criticising existing conditions has got to be a significant way to initiate change. Or at least it should be because it seems to me that in most situations where there is one group in a position of power and another in some form of subjugation that criticism of one by the other is always seen as a personal attack to be repelled without any thought about its validity.

The "things could be worse" argument is effective because it puts the person complaining on the defensive and possibly even introduces an element of guilt. After all, if you wanted an increase in your salary wouldn't you feel guilty when your relative affluence is compared with the situation of the poor working in a factory in China or India?

The natural endpoint of these arguments is that we should all be working for a subsistence wage apparently, which in turn will make us more competitive and force other countries to reduce their wages and conditions even more. It's a classic "race to the bottom" scenario and it's commonly advocated by modern right-wing governments such as New Zealand's.

Of course it's no surprise to anyone that this idea does seem to be applied evenly. According to the same people who encourage us to make sacrifices for the greater good of the economy the same logic doesn't apply to the rich. If an executive, politician, or some other useless bureaucrat wants a pay rise they deserve it, even if there are people in similar jobs elsewhere making much less.

Apparently for these people things could be worse, but thanks to the immorality of the economic system we live in, in their case it won't be!

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Comment 1 (2993) by Jim on 2012-02-28 at 21:59:16:

What the left leaning loonies like OJB seem to not understand is that people are paid what the market values them at. If they didn't contribute to the economy they wouldn't be paid what they get. It's simple economics and I'm surprised someone as smart as OJB doesn't understand this.

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Comment 2 (2994) by OJB on 2012-02-29 at 08:17:39:

This assumption that people are paid what they're worth is precisely what I have been debating.

Think about it: according to that argument the market pays people what they are worth. But how do we know what they are worth? It's what the market is prepared to pay. It's a circular argument supporting a system which is easily manipulated by the most greedy and corrupt members of society.

And regarding what economists say. First, I don't fully accept economics as a legitimate science, but even if you do take it seriously there are wildly varying opinions of these more philosophical points so economics is largely useless in my opinion.

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