1F232 Dismantling of socially not justifiable income inequalities

Dismantling of socially not justifiable income inequalities:

What is the rational, logical justification for the fact that in Germany, for example, a top manager from private industry earns at least ten times as much as a head physician, and that a head physician earns in turn at least ten times as much as an unskilled worker – in spite of working the same number of hours? Why does a physiotherapist who works with paraplegics and must cope with major physical and psychological strain earn €1200 per month, whereas a university professor or a head physician earns €10,000 per month[1] – even if working the same number of hours? Those who try to justify these differences in income generally point to the education required for a professional position and its duration or they cite the responsibility attached to certain positions but not to others.

But even in the competitive society of materialistic capitalism, shouldn’t access to education and university studies (whether based on class or, especially, on financial means) be regarded first and foremost as a social privilege? In addition one should be aware that while some are studying others already have to go to work, as labourers, as cleaning staff, as long-distance lorry drivers, and so forth. Is it still legitimate to ask who experiences the more strenuous years during that phase of life, the student or the unskilled worker? And hasn’t the student in addition the (in part) justified hope of finding at least a physically less strenuous and financially more lucrative job? By contrast, the labourer must (for the most part) resign himself to growing old while performing similar activities to those he already performed at the beginning of his working life. The argument often presented that a specialist training and academic studies (lasting just a few years) are of themselves sufficient reasons for higher financial earnings (throughout an entire working life of forty years or more) is thus by no means obvious, indeed it is completely groundless.[2]

Similarly one must ask whether it shouldn’t be a privilege for an individual to assume responsibility for an important undertaking or for the well-being of others. And why should or must assuming responsibility be offset or even rewarded by additional material possessions (earnings) when this is, after all, also a social privilege and the person in question should feel honoured by this fact alone? In conclusion, why must a higher salary (material compensation) be paid for the work of a person who is ‘better’ qualified as a result of education and academic studies or for the assumption of responsibility? The simple answer is: there is no reason.[3]       

In order to avoid social tensions and income-related injustices and to foster a harmonious social development, absurd and completely unjustified income disparities must be phased out in the medium term. Thus the limitation on the individual accumulation of capital and power discussed above and the proposed reform of the ethical basis of educational and vocational training curricula are implicitly compatible.

A just and solidary wage system (as a first step)

With respect to the redistribution of money and wealth from the bottom to the top, typical for a capitalist economic system, remuneration not determined by negotiation (or law) of certain top earners have a large share. There are payments or salaries which account for the multiple (up to 1000-fold) of average wage rates. The grave and scandalous of the mentioned allowances are explained (a) by the magnitudes (of the capital) that are generated not by own performance but by third-party services and are therefore to be regarded as predatory salaries, and (b) by the self-empowerment, in which the recipient groups set these allowances. It is inconceivable that a society lethargically accepts such income splitting and self-empowerment. Rules against these perversions and for a just and solidary wage system could look something like this: For not fully performing (weak) people and very low efficient activities, there should be a solidary wage compensation, so that life-serving wages can be paid. Only then the society serves the necessary constitutional principle of human dignity and solidarity also in the work area; All professional activities, including those of bankers, managers, directors, etc. are paid by solidarity equitable standard wages (or statutory).[4]

 [1]  Those who claim, for instance, that their reasons for wanting to become a physician are chiefly altruistic should ask themselves whether they would still have this career aspiration if the corresponding salary were at the level of that of a nurse, or even that of an unskilled worker.

[2] Even in the relatively rare case that a four-year course of studies is financed by the student him or herself (thus not by parents or the state) by jobbing, this additional work during the years of study does not justify a higher income over a period of forty years or more by comparison with an unskilled worker.

[3] Since education in a capitalistic value-oriented society posits individual (material) wealth as the chief motivation both for individual action and for social progress, disparities in income, from the perspective of material capitalism, are, however, a necessary means for the formation of (economic) classes and elites without which the system would collapse.

[4] See also Felber-Model: Gemeinwohlökonomie (Economy for the Common Good).