“Why ‘Overpaying’ Workers Makes Biblical and Business Sense;” But Not Yet

greed

The link below is an excellent article by Tim Weinhold. See if you can spot the flaw in his argument.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/may-web-only/why-overpaying-workers-makes-biblical-and-business-sense.html?share=1VfMAeltTzsQyhId8dBZ80loae0IajOs

Here’s the flaw: The problem of static and declining worker wages in America cannot be fixed solely by promoting the formulaic idea that it is simply a good business practice for employers to pay workers higher wages than the free-market dictates. Why? Allow me to explain with an example: I once worked for a medium size company that paid all its employees more than the free-market rate in wages and benefits for our type of business. Unfortunately a competitor with deep pockets came to our communities and paid their workers less than the free-market rate. Our competitor was prepared to sustain losses for many years in order to drive us out of business and capture market share in the long run. We lost too many customers to our competitor’s lower prices which were subsidized by their workers lower wages. Since wages were the largest expense for our business, we could not compete without implementing severe cuts in wages and benefits, and so we folded.

The solution to the problem is not a business formula. The solution is first to change our hearts and accept the reality that something has gone amiss with our long-cherished American value of the free-market setting wages and providing equal opportunities for all. Then, either this generation or the next will need to fix the free-market, which has actually become crony capitalism.

free market occupy

Government can’t fix this problem because government is in bed with too many big businesses and special interests. More importantly, government can’t fix what ails the human heart. This next statement will sting but here goes: perhaps we followers of Christ ought to focus as much or more on the corruption of the free-market as we do on gay marriage. Why? Partly because a free-market that provides opportunities to all is part of the very soul of America. An uncorrupted free-market has the best chance of raising more people out of poverty than any other economic system on earth. The plight of the poor (and the middle class which is becoming poor) may take priority in God’s estimation over issues such as gay marriage. I base this statement on Ezekiel 16:49 that says:

“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

Granted, America spends billions on government services to the poor. And yet we have hardly made a dent in poverty. Dependence on government programs is rampant. Only an uncorrupted free-market that provides opportunities to the poor like it does to hedge fund managers is moral. A corrupted free-market (due to insatiable human greed) will inevitably exploit the poor and the middle class.

Whereas socialism’s Achilles heel is human sloth (not the critter), the free-market Achilles heel is greed; and both share the common characteristic of being a condition of the human heart. Conservatives like to decry sloth while liberals decry greed . . . while God decries both, though based on my readings of the Bible I suspect greed really gets in God’s craw. Whether sloth or greed there are natural unpleasant consequences to both. And America is experiencing some consequences of both, and it will get worse if we do not have a day of reckoning or repentance from the highest levels of society to the lowest.

I do not agree with everything the Pope says, but at least he has spoken out on this issue of corrupted markets and capitalism gone awry. The silence from leaders of evangelical Christianity is deafening. Oh by the way, many employers pay higher than the market rate, but they treat their employees like slaves under their yoke 24/7; this, too, is an abomination. But I digress.

Dan Price is a young optimist. For a variety of reasons I do not expect that his admirable decision to pay all his employees no less than $70,000 a year will be successful in the long run (though I hope I’m wrong). It certainly won’t be successful unless the ENTIRE Christian world supports his efforts, and likeminded efforts, by helping to change our culture so that uber-wealthy businesses that insist on paying workers as little as possible are treated like pariahs in our society. On the other hand, workers have a moral obligation to make themselves more valuable to their employers. Undereducated workers or workers with no trade skills who feel entitled to a high-paying job … well, they also deserve pariah status. Making our economy work for more than a top tiny percent of the population requires that everyone accept their responsibility. I’m just saying.

Here is some interesting data from Pew Research on wages:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/10/09/for-most-workers-real-wages-have-barely-budged-for-decades/

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Posted on May 27, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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