Is a rate-payer funded $800k salary fair?

4 October 2013
Glyn Carpenter

Is a rate-payer funded $800k salary fair?

by | Oct 4, 2013

John Minto’s idea of capping the top council salary at 5 times living wage, or $191k, may or may not be unrealistic.  The Mayor is at least partly right in saying the city needs to meet the market in salaries for its senior staff.  But the market is not the final arbiter of what is right and wrong, And it certainly does not lead of itself to a just and decent society.

Surely a rate payer funded salary of 20 times the living wage, along with the huge number of others on very high salaries, represents a serious injustice.  Don’t forget that the living wage John Minto talks about is already a much higher figure than the minimum wage which many Aucklanders are on.

The ever widening gap between rich and poor is something that those in power seem reluctant to do anything about, but it represents a serious and growing injustice in this country.The biblical principle of God’s valuing every person and caring for the poor cannot be reduced to simple salary comparisons. But the question must me asked “Is it fair for people to be earning 10, 15, or 20 times as much as others who live and work in the same community, who work the same hours, and who often struggle to even cope with basic living costs?”

Are there not people who would be willing and able to do these jobs for salaries that would be regarded by most as more reasonable?

Would it not be decent and reasonable for the people in these high salary rate-payers funded positions to at least decline their next few pay rises, which in the case of the current reported increase for Watercare’s CEO is twice what some people earn in a whole year?

If they can’t bring themselves to trim their salaries, what about raising the salaries of those at the bottom to a living wage?

It’s time for those in leadership in Auckland’s and possibly other Councils to stop this injustice.

It’s time for us to let them know that those who pay their salaries want to see the situation changed.

via $800,000 salaries for top city staff the market rate, says mayor – National – NZ Herald News.

Feel free to have your say below, and forward this to those you think may be interested.

Glyn Carpenter
Author: Glyn Carpenter

Glyn Carpenter was National Director of New Zealand Christian Network from March 2003 to 2017. He attends Northcote Baptist Church in Auckland, is married to Christine (married in 1981), and they have three sons – two working as doctors and one in computer science.

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4 Comments

  1. Martien Kelderman

    We are often quoted the market when justifying high salaries especially the exceptionally high salaries. The evidence suggests that the market is not working. The market principle says that if the price (salary level) is high then the supply will increase as more people make themselves available for these roles. As they do the price will then fall because supply exceeds demand. However it is clear the price in this “excessive salary ” group is not allowed to fall so we are already acknowledging an ‘other than market’ phenomenon. Further more as we watch people moving in and out of these positions it seems a fairly closed circle. It has more the characteristics of a cartel than of the marketplace. There does not seem to be an open entry into this market by those not already in side. Finally we need all this money to attract skilled and highly qualified people into these positions. Really! I am not sure that I can see the fruit of skills and highly qualified when I see transport coming to a standstill, lack of decent public transport, growing debt, escalating house prices, inadequate housing supply and despite structurally ‘uniting’ an increased fragmentation of the city

  2. David

    Glen you are right, not only is the payment of excessive salaries to some against biblical teaching it also has the potential for very serious social disruption – remember the French and Russian revolutions! As far as Darren W comments about the Spirit level is concerned he gives not avoidance that the facts and conclusions drawn are wrong. The Spirit Level is one of the most carefully researched books, criticism has to be as carefully researched and not just relying on ideology.
    As far as the Living Wage is concerned there is a useful leaflet put out by the Living Wage Faith Group – A Living Wage A Gospel Imperative that gives the Christian Biblical case for a Living Wage. This was put together by Christians from across the denominations from Quakers to Catholics.

  3. Sarah

    Your saying though that the primary incentive to getting a quality candidate who had the required skills to do the job is based on how much monetary incentive you offer. In a just fair society the best candidate for the job should be about there skills yes… But a person who had the right enthusiasm and wants the job enough because that’s there dream job isn’t going to turn it down because it doesn’t pay five times more than a different job. All society is doing is giving important roles to money hungry people rather than employing them on there skillset and enthusiasm to do the best job possible because that’s the right thing to do, rather than because they feel they should because they get paid more than most.

  4. Darren W

    I have to disagree with your argument here Glyn. Sadly you have bought into the debunked theory promoter do inadequately in books like “The Spirit Level” which blames so many of our issues on inequality. This has been proven wrong on nearly every point. If we do not pay a rate that will attract quality candidates for top level public sector jobs we will end up with low quality staff in control of significant spend of our money. The market should, and does, determine prices – including salaries. Only the market can factor in effectively the complexity of matching talent availability, job complexity, productivity etc etc. For these same reasons the whole concept of a ‘living wage’ is completely wrong. We can only afford this if productivity increase giving the required economic boost to fund it. Without this the living wage concept would lead to more failed small businesses, increased unemployment and inflationary pressure on all of us. Wage / salary levels are a complex function of a working market economy. Setting then is not something to be done by social commentators reflecting the politics of envy that yet political left seem committed to destroying us with.

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4 Comments

  1. Martien Kelderman

    We are often quoted the market when justifying high salaries especially the exceptionally high salaries. The evidence suggests that the market is not working. The market principle says that if the price (salary level) is high then the supply will increase as more people make themselves available for these roles. As they do the price will then fall because supply exceeds demand. However it is clear the price in this “excessive salary ” group is not allowed to fall so we are already acknowledging an ‘other than market’ phenomenon. Further more as we watch people moving in and out of these positions it seems a fairly closed circle. It has more the characteristics of a cartel than of the marketplace. There does not seem to be an open entry into this market by those not already in side. Finally we need all this money to attract skilled and highly qualified people into these positions. Really! I am not sure that I can see the fruit of skills and highly qualified when I see transport coming to a standstill, lack of decent public transport, growing debt, escalating house prices, inadequate housing supply and despite structurally ‘uniting’ an increased fragmentation of the city

  2. David

    Glen you are right, not only is the payment of excessive salaries to some against biblical teaching it also has the potential for very serious social disruption – remember the French and Russian revolutions! As far as Darren W comments about the Spirit level is concerned he gives not avoidance that the facts and conclusions drawn are wrong. The Spirit Level is one of the most carefully researched books, criticism has to be as carefully researched and not just relying on ideology.
    As far as the Living Wage is concerned there is a useful leaflet put out by the Living Wage Faith Group – A Living Wage A Gospel Imperative that gives the Christian Biblical case for a Living Wage. This was put together by Christians from across the denominations from Quakers to Catholics.

  3. Sarah

    Your saying though that the primary incentive to getting a quality candidate who had the required skills to do the job is based on how much monetary incentive you offer. In a just fair society the best candidate for the job should be about there skills yes… But a person who had the right enthusiasm and wants the job enough because that’s there dream job isn’t going to turn it down because it doesn’t pay five times more than a different job. All society is doing is giving important roles to money hungry people rather than employing them on there skillset and enthusiasm to do the best job possible because that’s the right thing to do, rather than because they feel they should because they get paid more than most.

  4. Darren W

    I have to disagree with your argument here Glyn. Sadly you have bought into the debunked theory promoter do inadequately in books like “The Spirit Level” which blames so many of our issues on inequality. This has been proven wrong on nearly every point. If we do not pay a rate that will attract quality candidates for top level public sector jobs we will end up with low quality staff in control of significant spend of our money. The market should, and does, determine prices – including salaries. Only the market can factor in effectively the complexity of matching talent availability, job complexity, productivity etc etc. For these same reasons the whole concept of a ‘living wage’ is completely wrong. We can only afford this if productivity increase giving the required economic boost to fund it. Without this the living wage concept would lead to more failed small businesses, increased unemployment and inflationary pressure on all of us. Wage / salary levels are a complex function of a working market economy. Setting then is not something to be done by social commentators reflecting the politics of envy that yet political left seem committed to destroying us with.

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