On Air: Are you paid what you’re worth?

_39214675_dollar_us203Yesterday on the programme we talked about the scandal over MP’s expenses here in the UK.  This commentator thinks that in order to avoid corruption, MPs need to be paid more.  While this blog compares the global benefits given to politicians to those in the UK.   How much are politicians paid in your country? And do they deserve it?

Who could forget the fury over bonuses for bankers?  Newspaper columns were full of outraged pundits urging pay cuts for people who they said didn’t deserve their pay.  In China, bosses have been urged to cut their saleries to ease the disparity between themselves and their workers. But do we need to pay experts like bankers and politicians well to attract the most talented people?  Or will paying a massive salary merely attract greed

What about people who work for charities?  Do they deserve a competative salary or is the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping somebody enough?  This doctor asked for his pay to be redistributed because he thought that he was getting paid too much.

So how should we judge how much certain professionals are worth?  Should you be paid less if you work for the public sector of a charity?  What profession do you work in?  Are you paid enough? We’ll be talking about this on today’s programme so let us know your thoughts below…


Here are some other stories which we’re thinking about for later on in the week.  If you are interested, let us know so that we can decide whether or not to do them.

An 89 year old suspected former concentration camp guard has been deported from the States to stand trial for being an accessory to murder during the Holocaust.  John Demjanjuk is said to be in very poor health, which begs the question, is he too old to stand trial?  Or is it never too late for justice?


One story which seems to be very popular on the blogs this week is the views and actions of the current ‘Miss California’, Carrie Prejean.  She’s caused controversy in the States for two reasons, first, for her views on gay marriage, and then when it emerged that she’d posed for topless photos as a teenager. 

But why are her views on gay marriage so surprising?  Miss Prejean claims that she’s unfairly victimised, especially when President Obama is said to hold the same views.

Here’s an interesting example of a pageant which has taken a different approach towards beauty…But do the attitudes of beauty queens still matter?


102 Responses to “On Air: Are you paid what you’re worth?”

  1. 1 Linda Makins Italy
    May 13, 2009 at 12:08

    Re pay rates. I think those of us who do interesting jobs we have chosen freely should accept that very fact as part of our reward. This is rather like the retirement age argument as if you have spent 30+ years slogging away at some boring job in uncomfortable surroundings earning very little respect from tyrannical bosses, you have every right to demand respite, particularly if the job makes heavy physical demands that your body just can’t take any more. If on the other hand you are still capable of doing your job well and find it enjoyable, there is no reason whatsoever to retire – ever! This is also the answer to the demographic issue in most Western countries, where people are often forced to retire against their will, despite the decrease in the number of younger people to take their place – but that’s a whole different debate.
    While MPs and highly-paid execs undoubtedly work hard, they have the ultimate reward in all that power, which they wouldn’t strive for if they didn’t want it. The “brightest and best” are not necessarily all power junkies so dangling the golden carrot won’t necessarily attract the people we would like to have running our economy and government. Of course it is not possible to pay all salaries in inverse proportion to job satisfaction, but there is no reason to pay MPs more just to stop them fiddling their expenses – which in any case should be means tested.

    • 2 Andrea
      May 13, 2009 at 18:38

      Neither time nor labor (whether mental or physical efforts) have intrinsic monetary value. It is impossible to say that any job has a given price associated with appropriate compensation. People work, ultimately, for many reasons other than money. It seems to me that people work to survive and/or be comfortable (whatever that means to them) and work at jobs that in general pay within their comfort range (and ideally, skills, interests, etc.). It is up to each person to decide what they are “worth” and willing to work for among all the other factors of a job. If the pay offered is too far below a person’s limit, it seems the job would not be worth doing and surely someone else would find the job/compensation desirable.

    • 3 Brendan
      May 13, 2009 at 18:55

      Has anyone mentioned how grossly overpayed & underqualified real estate agents are (were)? Absolutely ridiculous how easily they manipulated the real estate market without any oversight, considering the personal financial impact it had on so many. This is in Canada, I’m sure this is quite familiar in other parts of the world.

    • 4 Brendan Burns
      May 14, 2009 at 04:12

      Linda Makins of Italy makes some good points about job satisfaction and what we get paid. The other contributors have suggested that a person should be paid according to how much money they bring into their organisation and there is some logic in that argument but income has also got to do with risk and that is where the whole Banking farce, with their multi million pound bonuses went wrong. John Major (not the most popular UK Prime Minister) once stated that the “rewards should be commensurate with the risks”. That was and still is the key to what people in management should get paid. Fred Goodwin and his ilk did not take risks with their own money, what they did was gamble with other peoples savings. That is immoral and certainly does not justify what they were paid. I am a self employed business owner who employs people. I enjoy my work but like so many other self employed small business owners we certainly do not get paid in proportion to the risks we take. Small business owners create jobs and wealth in places where big businesses would not operate. Over 99 percent of Europe’s businesses employ less than 20 people and it is these businesses, not the Banks that create the real wealth and employment in our society. Unlike the Bankers, when times get tough, small business owners often have to dip into their own meagre savings to pay employees wages, government taxes and bills to suppliers. Small businesses owners do not go into business to get paid millions but until they get rewarded through the taxation system, in proportion to the risks that they take, tomorrows potential business owners (that is anyone with some vision and a good idea) will not consider opening their own business and that will be a real serious financial loss to our society. We can do without the likes of Fred Goodwin but we can not do without citizens that will take risks and get rewarded for their efforts.

      Brendan Burns Scotland UK

  2. 5 Rob (UK)
    May 13, 2009 at 13:16

    People should be paid according to how much money they bring into their organisation. I have no problem with sportspeople earning millions, even though their job is effectively pointless, because they generate a lot of money for their company.

    It’s harder to gauge how much people paid out of the public purse, like politicians (or BBC employees!) should receive, though.

    • 6 John in Germany
      May 13, 2009 at 13:49

      Hello Rob.
      Has anyone ever really gone into how much money Sportsmen really generate for a company whom pay Millions for a certain man or woman. How much trade do they actually generate, when the excessive monies they receive are subtracted. The product prices are also higher than the sales worth of the product due to this type of advertising.
      Non of our friends and family are influenced by this type of advertising, and our circle is large.

      Have a nice day
      John in Germany

  3. 7 John in Germany
    May 13, 2009 at 13:37

    Some people are overpaid for what they are worth, Models, Racing Drivers, Sportsmen, Investment Bankers, and so on. and then get bonuses on top.
    No One but no one is worth a Million a month. As a pensioner i am only worth what the government thinks i am, if it is an election year we are worth more, a finance crises less….Poor politicians in Germany-a finance crises and an election!!Wow we will get more this year(election), but no one is certain if we will get more, or get some taken away next year. Health costs will certainly increase.

    It is the complete Greed of many that have caused our problems and these people still think they are underpaid, and still want Bonis…….Wish that i had had a job like that, paid for making mistakes, and getting a bonus for the good mistakes.

    A point, we worked hard and good, no Bonis. we even had to take days of to cover overtime, because no one wanted to pay us the extra. and that happens today.

    You see, there are to many people that decide thier own pay level. Luverly Grub, nothing can go wrong there! or can it.

    Sad Miserable old World, with some oasis.

    John in Germany

  4. 8 rgundapa
    May 13, 2009 at 13:54

    I am not sure about the british politicians, but BBC employees are surely overpaid! I did not hear about pay cuts in BBC because of recession. Correct me, if I am wrong!!

  5. May 13, 2009 at 14:21

    As an anthropologist, I would note that in many so-called “pre-industrial” societies, when a village head or chief amasses wealth, he — such figures are usually men — is expected to give his wealth back to the community in the form of feasts, religious festivals, or direct generosity to needier members of the tribe. For example in remoter areas of Indonesia, the “big man” is someone who has achieved political power, prestige, and wealth (usually in the form of pigs). But he is expected to sponsor ceremonial pig feasts, when the pigs are slaughtered and cooked and everyone eats and drinks — at the big man’s expense. Such “chiefly re-distribution” is an important social leveling mechanism. So yes, by all means pay people what they’re worth — with the caveat that none of what you get is really yours to keep.

  6. 10 Tom K in Mpls
    May 13, 2009 at 14:26

    “Or will paying a massive salary merely attract greed?”
    I love all the indignation this question brings. The answer is simple. You are worth what you get. Another answer is, the best measure of your value is, how long will it take to replace you? It is all just simple marketing.

    If you work for low pay, you get more job security and build a reputation for reliability. Ability is less important.

    If you work for high pay, you had better perform. You are risking everything. If you fail to perform, you will loose your position and your reputation will suffer.

    Like every financial decision, it is a balance of risk and reward. There is no fixed rule to what is right or fair. As for the hiring side. I feel the best way to manage this is to give a relatively small salary with properly sized performance based bonuses. It limits potential loss if the wrong candidate is hired. The recent trouble was not the bonuses people were paid, but that the goals which were set by management were unwise. But of course people would rather bitch about what others get and they don’t, so they choose to ignore reality.

    • 11 Richard Posner
      May 13, 2009 at 18:34

      “You are paid what you are worth.”
      What nonsense! You’re paid what you can extract. If you’ve found a way to worm yourself into the highest ranks of Corporate World, you don’t generate the income of the company, your workers do. Capitalism is a philosophy of greed, and the world has been convinced that it is the only system, because the Communist and Socialist governments have either failed, or failed to step up to their role in the world, leaving it all to the United States.
      Do you all really want to be like the US? Scrambling for money, worried about your job, watching your life savings disappear in stock swindles, health care costs and retirement health needs?
      We need the world to learn that it’s not money that makes people happy and healthy. We need to distribute goods and services equably, with opportunity for all to live, not just the lucky, influential few.

  7. 12 Roy, Washington DC
    May 13, 2009 at 14:54

    Paying politicians more won’t keep them from being corrupt or greedy. Here in the USA, politicians at the federal level all have salaries that are well into six figures…but this doesn’t stop them from bowing to the corporations and their “campaign contributions”. They can also vote themselves pay raises, which not surprisingly they almost always do when it comes up.

  8. May 13, 2009 at 15:03

    No Way. I have worked for the same Company now for 19 years and I am in middle management. I make less than $17.00 per hour. That is not good money, however it is a good job in all other aspects. And, most importantly, I love the job.

  9. 14 Patti in Cape Coral
    May 13, 2009 at 15:20

    People get paid according to how much value is placed on their occupation/performance, etc. Here in the US we seem to value occupations such as sports stars, models, movie stars, rock stars, etc., more than others. I’m not sure why we place so much value on those occupations, maybe because they allow us to escape from reality for a time, so we are willing to pay for this. I don’t think this applies to congress and senate, though, I believe they choose their own pay or vote on it, a very nice situation for them. So they are paid according to how much they value their own performance, regardless of what we think…

  10. 15 Bob in Queensland
    May 13, 2009 at 15:30

    While I have some sympathy that backbench British MPs’ base salaries are low compared to other “management” jobs, I’m far less convinced that fixing this would result in any less expense fiddling. Look at the records of extremely highly paid executives in the private sector…nothing seems to curb THEIR greed.

  11. 16 Dinka Aliap chawul-Kampala
    May 13, 2009 at 15:44

    No money/salaries of any kind will/can ever stops corrupts officials from embezzlements and stealing of public funds in any country except if they`re fired.In Sudan no one know how much salaries do president gets because he/she is a only final man.

  12. 17 Crispo
    May 13, 2009 at 15:48

    My Employer pays me what he thinks am worth with a promise to make it better should my performance merit.
    Whilest a moderate number of us- docs, teachers, secretaries, civil servants; be it in the private or gov’t sector, really do the running of the state, there are those who are paid more for what they really aren’t. Let me ask, ‘does an economy of a country collapse if models, sports stars, and beauty peagants aren’t existent? We are sort of inconsiderate, too lifist and lazy.
    Look at the MPs, they decide how much they earn. Now, how do let a man be the criminal and judge and hope for justice? No wonder british politicians couldn’t resist the temptation. In deciding one’s worth i think a separate body should, without bais, decide and vet the different remunerations. As for Bbc workers (esp journalists), given the risks in the field, i feel deserve what they earn.
    Crispo, Uganda.

  13. 18 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    May 13, 2009 at 15:55

    The massive amounts of money paid to investment bankers, sports stars and others are unreasonable. Unfortunately, no one seems to have a clue as to what to do about it. Me neither.

    • 19 John in Germany
      May 13, 2009 at 16:34

      Hi Donnamarie.
      Its called capping, and Obama has used it already Top 500.000 dollars for some managers.
      In our case the European Union could put a stop to it in a very short while, in the same way as minimum wages are dealt with by the Professional bodies/unions. So could the same apply to maximal wages, except you would have to find someone else instead of the unions, in this case.

      Greetings to the lovely land of real democracy.
      John in Germany

  14. 20 Anthony
    May 13, 2009 at 15:59

    YES, well, in the U.S. when people from Washington leave office, they become lobbyists who make MILLIONS. So yes, they pay their dues and then rake it in.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 21 Roy, Washington DC
      May 13, 2009 at 16:33

      Anthony’s post brings up another point about paying people what they’re worth. Lobbyists are easily worth millions to the companies that use them, but are they worth that much to society in general? I would certainly think not. (The same applies to professional athletes, etc.)

  15. 22 Crispo
    May 13, 2009 at 16:05

    Deciding how much one is worth is definately a complex affair.
    Like Linda say, ‘…it is not possible to pay all salaries in inverse proportion to job satisfaction…’ but then thats no prerequisite to pay Mps more and those who really get the economy moving less- a good reason why Nigerians are pushing for a minimum wage of btn $250 to $300 dollors.
    We need some sanity here.

  16. 23 John in Salem
    May 13, 2009 at 16:12

    10 years ago I quit contributing to Oregon Public Broadcasting’s quarterly fund drive when I discovered that their director was being paid more than the president of the United States at that time.
    Since then the disparity has been corrected by Congress doubling the president’s salary but that still leaves someone working for a non-profit earning far more than any state employee or legislator.
    To this day I still cannot bring myself to donate knowing that a huge percentage of my money will go to paying one person while his staff gets a basic living wage.

  17. 24 VIVIDY
    May 13, 2009 at 16:19

    All professionals ought to be paid what they are worth.take for eg, a professional soldier with a bachelors degree or diploma in education or information technology or any other field in the Ugandan army is paid peanuts compared to the civilian workers in the ministry of defence with the same qualifications or even some times with better qualifications than the civilian employee in the army.such salary disperities should be addressed in all departments and all employees ought to be paid what they are worth and this will avoid corruption in society.

  18. 25 Dennis Junior
    May 13, 2009 at 16:40

    No, I am not paid what I think I am worth….
    ~Dennis Junior~

  19. 26 Justin from Iowa
    May 13, 2009 at 16:54

    Doctors, CEOs/Management get paid too much, teachers get paid too little. What’s new.

  20. 27 Monica in DC
    May 13, 2009 at 16:56

    I for one think my salary is fine. Would I like more? Of course! But I am overhead- I handle the books and the HR stuff, I deal with the wackos that I work with, clients who don’t pay on time, and vendors who overcharge.

    Being underpaid is better than not being paid at all. I think politicians, pro-sports athletes and entertainers are paid too much, but it is what it is and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. I would like to see teachers and nurses paid more though.

  21. 28 Liz, Seattle WA
    May 13, 2009 at 16:59

    I am not paid what I’m worth, which would be fine if I actually believed in the mission of my organization anymore. But knowing the salaries of the senior managers (6-figure salaries), I have come to realize that even in the non-profit sector greed outweighs any sense of charity or altruism. This is especially irksome, when I see senior managers not doing their jobs and then taking credit for the hard work of their under-paid staff. The disparity between work-productivity and salary is disheartening, to the point that I feel no incentive to go beyond the minimum requirements.

  22. 29 Linda in Italy
    May 13, 2009 at 16:59

    I take Vividy’s point about soldiers’ pay, after all they are likely to wind up dead any day. However, I don’t necessarily think qualifications should in themselves merit higher pay. I was lucky enough to be in a financial position to turn my back on one career in my forties, give up work and go back to university for 4 years full time, in order to qualify in a completely different field, then take professional exams that have given me the job I do now. My second experience of university in itself was absolutely fantastic, I had a ball, as well as coming out with a first. Higher qualifications give us career choices and, to return to my original point, having that choice is a reward in itself for me, even though I often struggle to pay the bills.
    Linda – Italy.

  23. 30 Roberto
    May 13, 2009 at 17:01

    RE “” But do we need to pay experts like bankers and politicians well to attract the most talented people? “”

    ———- Invalid question. There are no “experts” in banking or politics.

    These people at the top levels are more often than not sociopaths, manipulating systems, facts, truth, disguising unethical or even illegal actions in a quest for power, status, or financial renumeration above tradition.

    If you have a well funded lobby, your business is paid well through corporate welfare tax breaks and loose regulation. Janitors and construction workers generally have little lobby representation, so they are paid beggar’s wages with some notable exceptions and their jobs are replaceable by cheap illegal immigrants who can more easily be robbed and exploited.

    These sociopaths have so ripped up the fabrics of every culture, the status quo is starting to slip into a sort of anarchy of feudal thuggery. People are losing respect for systems that are blantantly ripping them apart as in the Pakistani Swat Valley, the China earquake victims, all the folks losing their jobs and homes because of fraudulent financial securities sold by wall street for the real estate industry.

    The straws breaking the camel’s back are starting to bury the poor beast.

  24. 31 Anthony
    May 13, 2009 at 17:07

    @ Justin in Iowa

    Dr.’s go to school (plus intern./resident.)for 11 years (sometimes more). Teachers go to school for much less. Teachers get great benefits. Dr.’s get sued and spend tons of cash on insurance incase they get sued in friv. lawsuits. Dr’s need to continue their education and are under review all the time. There are plenty of bad teachers who don’t get in any trouble for doing a horrible job or not caring. Dr.’s have to put up with stuff people don’t think about, and owe tons of cash after schooling. Teachers get what they deserve, the ones who cry about are just babies in my view. Now certain Law Enforcement personel, now THOSE are the people who get over paid. And yes, I know about what they have to go through, but the truth is if most didn’t get that gig they’d be flippin’ burgers or just be angry alcoholics without a job.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  25. 32 Bert
    May 13, 2009 at 17:15

    Very insightful replies, I must say. Good job, people!

    Pro athletes in the major leagues are way overpaid, in my personal opinion. But that’s because I don’t value what they do. I don’t personally contribute a single penny to their incomes. Don’t go to the games, don’t watch on TV. If more people were like me, these athletes wouldn’t make anything like their current outrageous incomes.

    As long as people flock to the games and to their TV sets to watch these guys, they can fairly demand more and more income. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

    As long as people make what other people are willing to pay for their services, I suppose there’s not too much to complain about. The problem comes with people like CEOs of major corporations, whose absurd incomes are decided by board members, themselves top execs in other major corporations. It’s an incestuous and self-serving mechanism for salary determination, very similar to the system politicians operate under.

  26. 33 Andrew in Australia
    May 13, 2009 at 17:17

    OK, those who work within a company and rise to the top level should be compensated more for their experience, skill and responsibility. However in too many cases this is not the case. A CEO candidate comes to a company and immediately claims they could make more in another similar field and demand pay rises and packages. They have not worked within that company and they have not contributed to it. Why are they entitled to such obscenely large salaries? They will often shirk responsibility when things go wrong, blame others or sack others to cover their failings. It seems that the only value many top levels have is to improve their lot and little else. They are not on the shop floor building components, dealing with customers or any other significant contribution to the products produced. OK you can’t pay a process worker a 6 figure salary, but they are the ones who put bread on the table so to speak and should be valued more than they are instead of chaff to be dumped without regard for whatever reason management see fit to justify their own existence. More consideration should be given to those who do what is the most basic but most fundamental work and not an self-important, self-indulgent manager. So in most cases the answer is definitel no.

  27. May 13, 2009 at 17:17

    So going back to the old system of bedsits, hotels or even introducing a kind of student-style hall of residence system is utterly unreasonable and unworkable.

    Erm – no it wouldn’t.

    You could have some exceptional flats or apartments to live in while in London.

    Michael Brown’s arguments fall flat on its face from the first paragraph.

    The apartments – in London – would be for parliamentary work and not constituency work! Parliamentary in that you actually attend parliament and vote, debate, speak even!

    If you don’t want to live in a government/State maintained flat/apartment, get your own. MPs are paid 3 times the median wage in the UK. 10% of people, yes 10% get over 40k pounds a year – and they want a pay rise?

    Sweet Mary – I could go on for hours, but no – they should not get a rise at all.

  28. 35 deryck/trinidad
    May 13, 2009 at 17:18

    No, i’m not paid what i’m worth amd i’ll be honest I want more. The problem is who or what systems determine what you are worth. There are many jobs whose financial contibution to the society cannot be measured decisively e.g. Law enforcement officers, social workers, teachers and public service workers to name a few. How do we determine their value and hence remuneration. Investment bankers and those that work in the financial sector are measured by how much profit they can produce which is tangible. Hence their high salaries. Since public officials and those who work in the social sector produce no obviously perceived financial gains they are paid less.

  29. 36 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 13, 2009 at 17:19

    Hi WHYSers!
    Short answer? NO!!! Public Sector workers here have just been told that they are to receive a mandatory wage freeze, with no discussions with any of the unions or anyone before! This is added to the fact that we are under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which caps any likely increases to a particular percentage of cost of inflation. So, again: NO!!!!

  30. May 13, 2009 at 17:24

    There are a few good politicians with honest minds but most politicians make their money on the side with monetery presents from lobbyists and people who have problems which a certain minister can help to remove.
    This has been the way for generations and it will not change. The slightest reason to collect money for expences is good enough to claim for themselves. Politicians are not the only people to claim expences which perhaps they are not entitled to, Corporations and busineses do the same it has always been a way of life.

  31. 38 Anthony
    May 13, 2009 at 17:29

    @ Everyone talking about sports/rock/movie stars.

    Those people help generate millions and billions of dollars, thats why they get that cash. Once any one of us can help generate profits like those stars, then we will deserve the same.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 39 Venessa
      May 13, 2009 at 18:42

      Anthony ~

      Also re: sports, movie stars, rock stars – not only do they help the revenues but it is the consumer that enables such salaries to be given. If we didn’t buy or attend events there is no way they could command the salaries they do regardless of how ridiculous they may be.

  32. 40 Luz Ma from Mexico
    May 13, 2009 at 17:43

    The problem I see in my country is the wage gap between people in top positions (in the private and public sectors) and the rest of the labour organization. In my opinion, that is another contributing factor to social and economic inequality.

    In my case (I work for the public sector) I think I don´t get pay enough for my level of qualifications (master degree, working knowledge of three languages and good working experience) and the amount and type of work I do. But it seems that, in my country, just having a job is a blessing, so I try to not whine about my labour situation.

  33. 41 Dan
    May 13, 2009 at 17:58

    You are only worth what someone is willing to pay you. All else is ego.

  34. 42 Steve in Boston
    May 13, 2009 at 18:04

    In a free society, the market determines what you are worth. If you think you are underpaid, you are free to look for a new job.

  35. 43 Sofia
    May 13, 2009 at 18:17

    Jamaican teachers are generally not paid very well. Jamaica teachers are also not doing their best in educating the nation’s children.

    Jamaican teachers have become distracted by economics instead of putting the nation’s children first. Perhaps when we begin to see an improvement in the literacy level of the children going through the education system, then and only then will they have a compelling case for better wages.

  36. 44 Fred in Portland OR
    May 13, 2009 at 18:19

    I was discussing pay with a friend who is a public school teacher in Seattle. He was trolling for sympathy by complaining that after 3 years of teaching he was only makeing $55,000 a year in 2008. I countered that after 20 years in the U.S. Navy I was bringing in $32,000 a year when I retired in 2003.

    I always look at the world through “Navy Goggles” if you’re not having to go on a long deployment, and put your life in danger and making more than $32k a year is pretty darned cushy.

    Though I do put forth the question : is maintaining the lifestyle and freedoms you cherish only worth $32k/year? Is the education of your child only worth $55k/year?

  37. 45 Sean
    May 13, 2009 at 18:20

    I live in los angeles CA and i work at a retail store doing all there inventory receving. i work six days a week 9 to 12 hours a day, and only make $11 hour. the simple fact is that there is always some one who will do it for less pay, i don’t think i am being paid fair but, i am happy to be working.

  38. 46 Scott - FL, USA
    May 13, 2009 at 18:21

    What somebody else gets paid is not a measure of fairness.

    If I am paid enough on my own income to have a clean place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, health insurance, retirement benefits, and education for my child, then I have no reason to complain.

    Unfortunately there are employers worldwide who do not pay their employees enough to meet their most basic needs.

  39. 47 James, California
    May 13, 2009 at 18:21

    just like markets, pay is based on skill level, supply of qualified workers, etc.
    Employers take the risk of investing in factory/equipment etc. Employers remove the risk from fluctuating wages and pay a monthly salary.
    Workers in a print factory could band together, start their own business, make more money, but take the risk of a downturn.

    Public workers (teachers / politicians) should be considered separately. Teachers should be paid the same wage as politicians!

  40. 48 Craig
    May 13, 2009 at 18:22

    The Founding Fathers of America wanted Capitalism to provide everyone a chance to achieve and be rewarded according to their effort. Unfortunately Capitalism has been corrupted by the businessmen as a cash cow or golden goose. The original concept was designed to share the wealth throughout the companies workers, top to bottom, commensurate with their effort or contribution. Our current economic collapse is the result of the American businessman killing the golden goose. Is it illegal? No. Does that make it right? No.

    Battle Ground, Wa, USA

  41. 49 Tom
    May 13, 2009 at 18:23

    I’m trying to find a better job that hopefully makes me happier. What’s depressing? The growing gap between the haves (CEO’s) and the have nots (the rest of us). The CEO’s say as long as I have a contract, I can get all the money I want. And nobody’s stopping them.

  42. May 13, 2009 at 18:23

    I am a struggling artist, and thus far I have had to price my goods at less than my work is worth. When I have tried to ask for what things are worth I am lectured by potential customers about what they think my work is worth.

    I don’t think it helps that my art falls into what has historically in the US been considered as “women’s work,” and other people who are selling within my field do undervalue their work and time. The US has a history of under valuing artists, and even more so for female artists.

    • 51 Venessa
      May 13, 2009 at 18:46

      Laia ~

      You may feel your work is undervalued but you also have to recognize that it is only worth what people are willing to pay. If people are not willing to pay the price you set, perhaps the value is lower than you think?

      I too have friends that are stuggling artists. I’m willing to pay the price for some of the work I buy from them, but I really have to see the worth in it.

  43. May 13, 2009 at 18:24

    As a nurse working in Cleveland, Ohio, I find it quite disgusting to think about my salary, which sits me firmly in the middle-class here, and compare it to those raking in millions in the entertainment industries.

    I’m interested to see what the nurses being interviewed from other countries have to say.

  44. 53 Jim
    May 13, 2009 at 18:33

    At some point wage compensation is excessive, for example I would say if you receive a $20 million dollar bonus that is not only excessive but obscene. Pay should be performance based and maybe a percentage of what the CEO total package is worth. In the United States it is a FREE market and if you don’t like it you can vote with your feet…..BUT…the recent TAX payer bailouts should also come with some restrictions on pay…after all the TAX payer is paying some of these wages now.

  45. 54 John in Salem
    May 13, 2009 at 18:35

    A correction to my previous post~
    It is not the Director but rather, the president and CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting who is paid $296,500 per year.
    By contrast, the Governor of the state of Oregon currently earns $93,600 per year.

    The question still stands – what is wrong with this picture?

  46. 55 Roberto
    May 13, 2009 at 18:37

    RE “” cash. Once any one of us can help generate profits like those stars, then we will deserve the same. “”

    —————– They don’t generate much money for the general populace, they generate it for the corporate bosses.

    Big salaries of stars are deliberately inflated and part of the promotional package, ie: Look at Mr. Megastar, He’s rich, talented, and drinks/uses Brand Qixar and you can be like him if you buy this product.

    Myself, I generated millions of profits for a company through efficiency innovations that rapidly built up a data base that was crucial to operations. I was paid a pittance. I suspect there are many with a similar story.

    If you want equity and justice, you generally won’t find it in the corporate model. Some of the dumbest, most useless people I’ve ever met occupied top roles and salaries, and of course were just pawns in the top down power structure.

  47. 56 BrianP
    May 13, 2009 at 18:37

    Obama just signed a law mandating “equal pay for equal work”. It is based on a test case involving Lilly Ledbetter in which somebody in payroll committed a criminal offense by showing her what the men in her department were making. It is a crime to steal and divulge secret, company information. Martha Stewart went to prison for illegally using insider information. If the cops smash your door down without a warrant and find anything, it will be thrown out of court because it was illegally obtained.

    The reason for the obvious gender based discrimination was that the men, who had similar job titles for a similar period of time made more than she did.

    The assumption here is that nothing but time of service should effect your pay rate. Some government and union jobs work like that, but in the free world, whatever you can weasel your boss out of is your pay. More overtime -> more pay. More money made for the company leads to more pay. You have to both perform well and negotiate well. It’s up to you.

    Having the government step in and assign pay rates based on nothing but time in the job is so asinine, it would make even Joseph Stalin or Fidel Castro blush. Let the free market determine fair pay. If you are not making enough, take your services elsewhere!

    This is nothing more than a stunt by the Obama to grease the feminists and the lawyers, the 2 largest special interest groups supporting the democrats. Can you imagine how many frivolous law suits will be filed now? Every salary based decision can now be challenged in court with potentially every manager being deposed over every decision. This is going to be a trillion dollar windfall for lawyers at the expense of every company and all consumers.

    Anybody who makes more $$ than me needs to give me some of their excessive pay!

    Austin, Texas

  48. 57 Scott - FL, USA
    May 13, 2009 at 18:40

    Give me a break! Do you know how tired I am of seeing “women and minorities encouraged to apply” on job requests? Is affirmative action sexism and racism directed at white men? When I see that it means that I may as well not even apply because the employer is not interested in hiring the best person for the job.

  49. 58 mel from Portland OR
    May 13, 2009 at 18:42

    I’m sick of hearing about teachers not being paid enough for their work. I used to work as an architect and made less then most public school teachers without health care, worked most weekends, and only had 5 days off per year. There was no holiday time with 3 month summer vacations. Buck-up you whiners!

  50. 59 Peter sc
    May 13, 2009 at 18:43

    I’m in the hospitality industry. I could make a lot of money introducing hookers to tourist or bringing them to overprice shops and get paid a good commission. I choose to remain poor then to be a pimp or dishonest broker.

  51. 60 Jana
    May 13, 2009 at 18:45

    I work as a doctor in the Czech republic with 2 years of practice and I earn 2,5 euro per hour, which is below the average wage, ridiculous.

  52. May 13, 2009 at 18:45

    In USA nurses are paid $30 an hour and high school teachers $10 an hour, the same as supermarket workers. I know a young man who lost his job in industry and retrained as a science teacher, judging it to be secure employment. Now in the economic downturn they are increasing the sizes of classes and laying off teachers.

    Keynes talked about ‘convenient social virtue’ when teachers and the like are underpaid because they are supposed to be rewarded by job satisfaction. Try paying a bill with that.

    And why don’t the bankers and CEOs feel sufficiently rewarded by job satisfaction to live on their substantial salaries without huge bonuses? A more equitable society is devoutly to be wished.

  53. 62 Frederick
    May 13, 2009 at 18:45

    The more I learn about the world of employment, the more I realize that the very people who keep a business alive are the ones who are robbed, so that the so-called ‘visionaries’- the CEOs and managers – of these companies can live lavish and expensive lifestyles. In Canada, the average family income in the 1990s is what people are being paid as starting salaries 10 years later. Bear in mind, that income is supposed to double every 10 years (theoretically). But guess who’s income doubled every 10 years? The parliamentarians. The same people who are in the news for money-related scandals.

  54. 63 SH
    May 13, 2009 at 18:46

    From the US

    I have a BA and MA degree and found out my white younger counterpart with only a BA degree was being paid 65 thousand a year. While I was paid 55 thousand annually. We are both women the only difference is race. This is for an administrative position in a law firm.

    Law firm do not standardized administrative staff salary. There are secretaries who can make 100K based on who they work for.

  55. 64 Patti in Cape Coral
    May 13, 2009 at 18:46

    @ Anthony – Measuring worth by monetary means, rock stars, sports stars, etc. , you are absolutely right, they deserve what they get. Measuring by the importance of the job, such as teachers, nurses, etc, they absolutely do not get enough. Of course, we are the ones paying for the concert tickets, movie tickets, and fashion magazines, so we only have ourselves to blame. I think the shift has to come from the general public and what we value.

  56. 65 Jim
    May 13, 2009 at 18:47

    Though recently laid off, I believe I was paid what I was worth. My concern is that the CEO of the company I worked for was grossly over paid. I was a top ranked employee, but I had not received a raise in 5 years. In contrast, the CEO was paid over 450 times my pay rate, and he received a 31% raise over last year. I think it’s time to do something about the “good old boys” club in the USA!!!

  57. 66 Patti in Cape Coral
    May 13, 2009 at 18:47

    P.S. In general, though, people who go into helping professions such as teaching or nursing don’t generally do it for the money, even though they deserve it.

  58. 67 MIGUEL (California)
    May 13, 2009 at 18:48

    This is a question for the panelist from US, he mentioned that teachers should be paid by performance. In my experience in California I have seen how they put all the good students in one class which makes the teacher look good, and all the bad students in one class as well, which makes impossible to teach and the scores will be so bad that the teacher will seem as bad one as well. How is this taken in consideration according to the performance.

  59. 68 Heather
    May 13, 2009 at 18:49

    With regard to gender inequality: Working in corporate America, I felt that I was paid fairly. However, I found there to be something of an “old boy’s network” firmly in place. In cases where women may not be discriminated against directly, I think that not carousing with male coworkers can hurt us in terms of networking – which directly affects raises, finding new positions, etc.

  60. 69 Roy, Washington DC
    May 13, 2009 at 18:50

    @ guest who said US politicians aren’t allowed to have outside jobs due to “conflict of interest”

    It doesn’t really matter whether or not they’re allowed to have outside jobs, because conflict of interest is already VERY rampant in Congress. Just look at all the brib…err, “campaign contributions” that get pumped into Congress every year.

    • 70 Tom K in Mpls
      May 13, 2009 at 19:08

      Roy , you misunderstand how the system works, and it is as bad as you think. Campaign contributions and lobbying is open, legal (usually) and actually spent on getting elected or reelected. This allows groups to get a sympathetic ear into office. This is a separate issue I would like to see stopped. The corruption usually comes comes in the form of various forms of business contracts awarded to friends or family members or guarantees of a lucrative position after the politicians retirement.

  61. 71 Frances Taylor
    May 13, 2009 at 18:50

    There is an internal issue regarding how doctors are paid in the US. Our system was created by surgeons and then extended to all physicians. the result is that procedures are well paid but simple doctor visits where the physician’s understanding and thinking abilities are what is being rewarded are very poorly paid. This results in curtailment of the time available for discussion and diagnosis for each patient as well as less attention to preventive measures.

  62. 72 Marie
    May 13, 2009 at 18:51

    I feel that althought I am being paid the median salary for my level of experience, the profession of Architecture in general is drastically underpaid. Most architects go to an undergraduate program for 5 years, then have an internship period of 3three to five years before being able to reach full licensure. School is as or more expensive than either medical or law school and is endowed with an incredible resposibility and liability. In addition, the profession is prone to economic instability and the standard work week is 60 hours, yet most people leave the profession because you can make more money as a cocktail waitress!

  63. 73 Venessa
    May 13, 2009 at 18:51

    I have worked in many different jobs where I dealt with salaries and bonuses. There were times my blood would boil simply because I knew that person may not deserve it and may have gotten more than me. That is what happens when you work for someone else. There are tools out there to determine your market value. The onus is on the employee to ensure they negotiate a wage that is acceptable to them. I have done this and I have also left an employer as the result of not getting compensation I felt that was due to me.

    Teachers are most definitely underpaid. After all they are helping to educate the future of our country.

  64. 74 Amit C Javgal
    May 13, 2009 at 18:52

    Hi Ros

    I think eventhough pay disparity is evoking emotions we must be happy to have some kind of earning as day by day the number of people who are beginning to think where their next meal would come from are increasing exponentially. If removing pay disparity means more jobs then why not? I mean people are begging for a job right now. They’ll work for just anything I imagine

    Amit from Bangalore in India

  65. 75 Rohan Chalmers
    May 13, 2009 at 18:52

    The world generally is too concerned about pay. It’s the greedy overpaid who got us into this economic mess so the idea of letting the economic system we have doesn’t work.

    I was a Teacher for 20 years because I wanted to teach not because I was concerned about being super rich. I didn’t expect excessive finacial reward.

    Once upon a time in Russia, Teachers were as respected as Doctors because of the responsibility for educating the future.

    One of your guests defended bonuses for Bankers because of the jobs they generated. I wonder how many jobs would be generated without the Teachers?

  66. 76 Taka
    May 13, 2009 at 18:55

    Pay levels and what they should be depends on whether it’s a buyers market or seller’s market. Regrettably you have both occurring in the same country hence the frustration as we look across the fence. If you set a salary cap there will be a work to rule paradigm shift. Personally I think it is unjustifiable that people make as much as they do for seemingly null productivity activities. Question can we get by without banks? Probably? Can you get by wihout a teacher? Less so? Can you get by without a greengrocer? Not if you live in a concrete jungle or in canary wharf for that matter. I am writing from Kigali, Rwanda

  67. 77 Jackie
    May 13, 2009 at 18:56

    I am disgusted with businesses that pay their workers low wages and then try to make themselves look good by donating to charity.

  68. May 13, 2009 at 18:57

    The market works if you think teachers and doctors should be paid less who contribute less to society. The truth is capitalism is not a meritocracy. In a meritocracy everyone would have the same opportunities which is not the case considering wealth has a lot to do with the quality of education.

  69. 79 Jerry
    May 13, 2009 at 18:57

    It’s not soley a matter of what people get paid. The U.S. is having a crisis because people have been buying goods and services on credit. In the end its how much of your salary you are able to save and not squander away buy buying things on credit that you don’t need.

  70. May 13, 2009 at 18:59

    If pay is based on skill level why aren’t phd scientist paid more than failing Wall Street Bankers?

  71. 81 Meredith@Corvallis, OR
    May 13, 2009 at 18:59

    I heartily disagree that you can’t tell if you are getting paid what you’re worth. I’m a Ph.D. student in the physical sciences. I already have a Master’s of Science degree. I am paid $16.00 an hour for a quarter-time work. I am expected to work at LEAST 40 hours/week however. I believe that any graduate student knows what it is like to be paid only a fraction of what their work is worth –if they’re lucky.

  72. 82 Paulo
    May 13, 2009 at 19:01

    I found your last speaker very frustrating. I support capitalism and a fairly free and unfettered market, but I am really tired for those who have simply replaced the word “God” for “free market”. He essentially said “I have no opinion. I let the free market decide.” He has simply surrendered his reason and morality in favor of deferring to whatever the market decides forgetting the fact that the market is made up of billions of people who have not simply surrendered their common sense and decency. If everyone else simply accepted his sort of fatalism, the system would collapse. The free market works, but this fetishizing of the market into this perfect being, the “invisible hand”, that will solve all of our problems is a cult-like mentality.

    • 83 Patti in Cape Coral
      May 13, 2009 at 19:16

      @ Paulo – I absolutely agree, you said it better than I could. I also believe in the free market, but this attitude that the free market is all-knowing and perfect is unsettling, to say the least.

    • 84 Tom K in Mpls
      May 13, 2009 at 21:09

      Unlike the various supposed deities, the free market needs a bit of guiding by human hands. The two most obvious are anti-monopoly laws and interest rate controls. But on the whole, ya, let the market decide. After all, it is the vote of everyone with a bit of money to spend. How much more fair and democratic can you get?

  73. 85 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 13, 2009 at 19:28

    As for being paid what you are worth also, I am always of the view that one has to also make good career choices. The results of which are that, what you lack in pay, you make up for in job satisfaction and convenience (how much effort you are required to put in relative to returns, etc.).

  74. 86 Puriey Musunga
    May 13, 2009 at 19:31

    Teachers don’t get paid enough in Zambia. They can hardly pay for their rentals, it is a shame!

    Lusaka, Zambia.

  75. 87 James (Uganda)
    May 13, 2009 at 19:35

    Of course i am not paid enough. As a graduate, i should be paid what i earn. I work for a British Government Institution but my collegues in the UK earn slightly more than 5 times what i earn in Uganda. Strange

  76. May 13, 2009 at 19:36

    pays should be small enough to let the Employer make gain, with that said, Pays shuld be big enough to appreciate the cost and time put into gaining the skills that Employers admire.
    moreoften than not, people with professional skills are not appreciated and their welfare are never important.
    It makes more sense to take what ever you are paid where you are employed whilst remaining focused on establishing your own. That is why Percentage cut can help the faith of a determined christian get more focused.
    However, a great many hired professionals are treated such well that they are less concerend really.,

  77. 89 gingin
    May 13, 2009 at 19:37

    If each part of the whole is needed then isn’t each part equally valuable? Why should someone suffer because he is a trash collector and the income he makes isn’t enough to cover his basic needs? Why should a doctor make more money than he needs while another suffers? Both parts are important in keeping the society (the whole) we like to live in going so shouldn’t both be rewarded equally? As long as you are providing a part in society, and I don’t mean popping out babies so you can get a bigger welfare check, then I think a person should at least have their basic needs met. Money is the root of much suffering for people. Money is the reason we destroy our environment. Money is why people turn from an honest living to dishonest living.

  78. 90 Crispo
    May 13, 2009 at 19:38

    Imagine a primary school teacher in Uganda earns about $100, $200-$300 for secondary school teacher a month. Tell me, is imparting knowledge in an individual easy and does not require skill? Why are they taught psychology?

  79. May 13, 2009 at 22:07

    Most people are not being paid enough. However, the wealthiest 1 percent of the world’s people are being paid too much. Also, most women are not being paid the same as men.

  80. 92 Jonnan
    May 14, 2009 at 02:44

    Here’s a thought – pin government salaries to multiple of the average national salary. It’s not uncommon for that to be done regarding bureaucratic paygrades, just go all the way and pin a ministers or a Senators salary to ‘x time average income’ and automate it.

    Want a pay raise? Raise average income.


  81. 93 A Singaporean
    May 14, 2009 at 05:06

    I think the politicians in my country are paid too much.
    They reasoned that it prevents corruption, but I think it only helps them cover up better.

    I also think that the teachers in my country are not paid fairly.
    The Ministry of Education use the students’ academic performance as the most significant KPI in the teachers’ annual performance appraisal. If their students didn’t do well enough, the teachers get significantly less bonuses. It gets even more unfair when the ministry puts special needs teachers through the same assessment system.

  82. May 14, 2009 at 07:32

    who is content with whatever he has got ..hope noone ..when the desire is weihed in money nobody can be satisfied ever ..so this cycle of discontentment goes on and on in this world at present and in future ..

  83. 95 sule musa
    May 14, 2009 at 10:48

    fuel crises is back fully in nigeria again. can any God fearing country come down to our aid ? please do for the seek of the masses because the few so called rich boys instead rich men can stand for their responsibilities. why because the will be in their various offices and houses order for BLACK MARKET with the money they are stilling from the public fund.

  84. 96 Stephan Hughes
    May 14, 2009 at 23:05

    Not meaning to editorialize or anything of the sort, but the labourer will always feel s/he’s worth a few more grand or should get another bonus. What we get is never enough for our standard of living and our level of comfort. But when it comes to politicians, big wigs or fat cats, it’s another story. We all make a hullaboo when we hear how much thye make, but deep down our outcry is out of moral justice but out of pure envy.

  85. 97 Kakule kiza celestin
    May 15, 2009 at 14:03

    The wage i am getting is worth neither the accomplished workload nor my school educations yet working as cargo clerk for a flight company is basically very payable, i just do it as long as i don’t have the better job, hope to get a better job someday…

  86. 98 David
    May 15, 2009 at 17:52

    Hands up who says teachers are paid enough: 2 !
    Hands up who says teachers are not paid enough: 10,000 !!

    No one should set teachers salaries unless they have tought at different schools, different demographics, and different age classes.

    I think teachers all over the world should get a 50% pay rise. Let it start now.

  87. May 16, 2009 at 04:33

    Hello, nope, I don’t admire British Democracy. Most Dictators in the world love the British Democracy, the system is design in such that you can stay in power forever (the key) as long as you keep wining election. After awhile you become very good at it, there is no reason to move out of the comfort zone. American two term system is better. Imagine what would the world would become? if today George Bush is still the boss

  88. 100 Parisa
    May 16, 2009 at 08:34

    It is interesting we all write down our opinions here for just repeating it is bad it will be worse and on and on… So let me try too!

    I think there are 2 sides which proves the worth :our point of vue and other’s point of vue.
    I teach for joy for fun for learning more for keeping my child side alive among children but why I hide it ,I need money !
    In this world , unfairness is not something new , human has tried many ways for gaining equality they ‘ve examined defferent methods , but actually any methods can be good just for limited period there is no everlasting one there is no complete one . I think the base of this method won’t work any more , we should search for something new, we should change, the change not for popularizing , we need a real one, I don’t see anyone who dares to ACT, that’s pity.

  89. May 16, 2009 at 11:12

    Skills are global these days and since globalised pay rates have yet to be established for global scrutiny, I can only answer, I don’t know.

  90. 102 T
    May 25, 2009 at 02:45

    As long as someone meets your asking price, you’re not overpaid.

    David Beckham, Tom Cruise; it doesn’t matter. Is anyone forcing people to pay them $____ million per game/film? No. As for all those who take the mickey out of them for being rich, they know that if they were in their shoes they’d take the money too.

    Which means they’re all hypocrites.

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