New Life #480 – Don’t Fix A Rusty Engine
Dr. Michael Laitman in conversation with Oren Levi and Yael Leshed-Harel
Question: The issue of minimum wage has been on the news very often lately. This is a matter of great concern not only in Israel but in other countries as well.
We would like to examine this issue not so much from an economic perspective but from a social perspective. After all, the minimum wage in a country can tell us a lot about the society and it raises many problems that are related to the social relations in the country.
As an employment advisor, I see how the middle class is gradually falling to the category of minimum wage earners. Generally speaking, this refers to nearly one-third of the workers who receive minimum wage or a bit more. It is close to a million people, including people who have higher education: teachers, young architects, social workers, etc. Today many find it hard to make ends meet because of the low wages they receive.
There are many arguments about this issue in Israel, including the moral and social aspects. Is there a point in enforcing artificial equality? Or is it better to maintain the laws of the free market in every area?
Economists have not reached an agreement on this issue either. Some claim that high minimum wage increases unemployment and weakens the economy. Others believe that these claims are baseless. Seven Noble Prize winners, for example, deny any relation between unemployment and minimum wage and claim that raising minimum wage is beneficial for the economy.
What is your opinion on this matter?
Answer: I deal with a different kind of systems. They are controlled by different laws than those acceptable in modern society. These are the laws of nature, not the artificial laws of this world that are enforced as a result of egoistic rivalry.
Therefore, I find it hard to enter the rotten structure of society founded on “dog eat dog” and every man is despised foe. In such circumstances it is impossible to give advice on specific issues since the whole system is hopeless. The only thing we can do is to get rid of it and to create something new.
On the other hand, we have already seen how to destroy the old world without building anything better. After all, the basis remains the same egoistic basis.
Today we are subject to the market economy that exists according to its own rules. This means, as a rule, an employer would like to pay an employee nothing for 24 hours of work a day without any breaks or vacations. The employee, on the other hand, in general, does not want to work except to receive a salary in his bank account and not a minimum wage but a maximum wage.
Under such circumstances, society exists on the account of the competitive potential of its members: everyone tries to attain as much as possible by games of power, negotiations, agreements, and many other factors.
For example, between an employer and its workers, there are labor laws, authorities, trade unions, workers’ committees, etc., but all the parties involved still want to benefit from what is going on and no one wants it to end.
After all, companies, groups, and unions have an interest, and even if they fight for the rights of the workers and lower classes trying to achieve minimum wage, pensions, stipends, and other benefits for them, they still think only about themselves. These people hold good jobs and receive their share, or in other words, operate egoistically.
Therefore, there is no one we can demand correction from. It is impossible to correct only part of the mechanism. If an engine is totally rusty, we can change a certain part with a part made of gold, perfect in size and in every parameter, but this will not help. The fixed part may even disrupt the whole system and even more.
I remember when I was a student, a girl decided to clean part of the window in the dorms where we lived. As a result, we discovered we then discovered we had to clean the whole wall of huge windows. And then when the sunlight entered the room, it turned out that the whole room needed a good cleaning.
In short, if we intend to fix something, we need to take whole system into account. It is an integral system in which all the parts are mutually connected; it is impossible to isolate the minimum wage as the factor for economic success. We have to approach the whole system integrally and give it a good shake, or, in other words, to take it apart and put it back together again differently. No individual fixes will help the whole picture.
From KabTV’s “New Life #480 – Don’t Fix A Rusty Engine,” 12/23/14
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