Guest post by Kevin O’Brien, retired Charted Accountant and former consultant to the Government of (then Western) Samoa.
The living wage claim imbroglio has done us good in having to examine wages and living costs: I am not so sure it has done us right. It took a bit of looking to find the paper setting out the claims to a “living wage” of $18.40/hr; they were not on the Anglican Church Family Centre web site , in whose name they were, but on the Living Wage NZ site who commissioned them. 
The claim then is political – a creature of the unions and the ultra left greens with the churches donning social-justice robes and blessing all, other than those who ultimately have to pay. The politics of envy are writ large: bosses and others must be richer, so they can pay, to match our spending aspirations. If the boss class hasn’t got it, then the Government must have. Someone needs to pony up to satisfy our unrequited hunger for more.
I suspect there is sin somewhere in the midst of this. Is it right to heavy employers, a.k.a. bosses, to pay more when no more is going to come their way to meet the extra demand? Is it right to set demands for pay in excess of minimum reasonable needs? Is it right to pay a single 18 year old straight from year 13 at high school the same hourly rate as an experienced single worker, or one a few years further on who has a spouse, and the population replacement minimum 2 children, the same hourly rate also? If justice is about balance where is it here? Are ability and contribution of a worker to producing residual income to be ignored? Continue reading