The Guaranteed Hourly Wage

The Guaranteed Annual Wage is subject to much debate.

On the one hand, humanitarians cannot tolerate arbitrarily severe poverty in a wealthy society; moreover, children raised in poverty are demonstrably more likely to be a burden on society in adulthood, both through higher incidence of health problems and through reduced contribution to the GNP. So it makes sense, for both humanitarian and practical reasons, to "put a cap on poverty" by guaranteeing a minimum income.

On the other hand, there is the issue of initiative: a person with hope, confidence and ambition will probably always strive to make a better life for him- or herself, but (a) higher income is not the only meaningful definition of "a better life"; and (b) even in a "kinder, gentler" society, not everyone will have hope, confidence and ambition. Therefore we may expect a substantial fraction of those receiving the putative Guaranteed Annual Wage to make little or no attempt to earn more through hard work.

(In the real world there are even more disincentives provided by taxes, loan payments etc.)

There is much to be done. Moreover, intense competition for the world's wealth means that a society with a burden of unproductive people will tend to drift downward in the international pecking order. So the debate continues and nothing changes.

Enter a new concept:

The Guaranteed HOURLY Wage

Each person (regardless of age) is guaranteed a minimum wage per hour worked. If you don't work, you don't get paid. If you work more hours, you get paid proportionately more, limited only by the number of hours in a day and the number of hours' sleep you need. (There may need to be a ceiling on hours/day to prevent overenthusiastic people from working themselves to death; and of course it must be a serious crime for employers to attempt to facilitate same.) Some arrangement can be made for "sick leave". The minimum wage should be set so that a person working a 35 hour week will earn what is considered a typical subsistence income. (This amount will continue to be the subject of endless debate.)

Employers will be required to pay at least this amount per hour. This is already in place.

For those who are unable to find jobs in the private sector, the Government will offer work at the minimum hourly wage. This should not be hard; there is plenty that needs doing!

Yes, school should count as a job; but time spent on homework can't be verified, so (at least initially) it won't count. You have better reasons to do your homework anyway.

What are some of the consequences?

Jess H. Brewer
Last modified: Mon Aug 16 01:07:24 PST 1999