Talking About A Fair Wage

[Krishna's lotus feet]“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.40)

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nehābhikrama-nāśo ‘sti

pratyavāyo na vidyate

sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya

trāyate mahato bhayāt

Friend1: Have you read that story about the CEO who made everyone’s salary the same?

Friend2: Where it was $70,000 a year?

Friend1: Yeah. It didn’t work out too well.

Friend2: Any person with a brain could have predicted that. Why are you going to work hard if there is no incentive?

Friend1: Exactly. It got me to thinking of the minimum wage issue. It seems that is always a hot topic for discussion.

Friend2: As in people are always lobbying the government to raise it?

Friend1: Yeah. Since they increased it a few years back, they’re due to increase it again. There is no other reason given, other than the typical appeal for “fairness.”

Friend2: You know, you can look at the issue from so many different angles. What stands out to me is that the minimum wage essentially makes it illegal to accept an offer.

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: Well, let’s say that I have a job that needs to be done. I’ve decided that at most I’m willing to spend $100 to hire someone.

Friend1: Okay.

Friend2: I’ve found a few potential workers to fill the role. The problem is that the minimum wage law says I have to pay at least $120. Never mind that people are willing to do the job for $100. If they accept my offer, it is illegal. There is outside interference with no just cause. Someone who is completely removed from the situation has arbitrarily come up with a number they deem to be fair.

Friend1: That’s true. People say that it costs jobs, too.

Friend2: It has to. One way I’ve heard it described is that the minimum wage discriminates against people with low skills.

Friend1: Because with their lower skills, they won’t be deemed worthy enough to be paid the minimum wage?

Friend2: Right. So for the people who are already earning that salary, the increase helps them. It eliminates competition. The principle is the same with the established businesses promoting increased government regulation. They stand to benefit since the regulation decreases the opportunity for competitors to come in and offer a lower price.

Friend1: Do you think any of this has significance in spiritual life?

Friend2: Well, competition for wages is part of material life. It shows that people are never happy, and neither are they viewed equally. One person earns a certain amount, and others wonder why they can’t earn the same. It’s not fair, in their eyes.

Friend1: And so there is constant competition. Class discrimination seems to be involved here, too.

Friend2: Oh yeah, for sure. The concept of upward mobility is for moving from one class to another. You only want to move because you’re not happy in the lower economic status.

Friend1: So what about in spiritual life?

[Prabhupada]Friend2: It’s interesting because though there is variety in work, everyone is viewed equally. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would say that the officiating priest in the temple is on an equal level with the person gardening on the temple property.

Friend1: That’s interesting.

Friend2: It is, because you typically wouldn’t equate the two. After all, the priest has to be so clean and pure. They have to do their job in a timely manner, and they are interacting directly with the deity.

Friend1: And the deity is non-different from God, right? Not that the Supreme Lord is limited to a statue form, but the deity is a form of worship authorized directly by Him.

Friend2: It’s His causeless mercy. We don’t have the eyes to see Him, so He kindly appears in a way that we can worship, honor and remember Him.

Friend1: If the gardener is equal, wouldn’t everyone want that job? Gardening looks easier than doing other things.

[Radha-Krishna deities]Friend2: It’s not a question of easy or difficult. It’s about using the qualities you have to the best of your ability. If you are skilled in speaking and leading, then you can actively preach the philosophy of devotional service. You can help to train others in following the regulative principles, such as in chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Friend1: So, are there clashes between the classes? Is the sweeper eager to become the acharya, the person who leads by example? Is there upward mobility? Do the traveling preachers look down on the people who don’t travel? Do the residents of the temple resent the congregation members?

Friend2: Envy will surely exist as long as the devotion remains impure. But when there is no impurity, something strange happens. Each person considers their service to be insufficient. The pujari will think that the sweeper is much higher since they do their job so sincerely. The sweeper will think likewise about the pujari. Unlike in the material realm, there is no desire to surpass anyone. There is only appreciation for others and what they bring to the table. It makes sense since the Supreme Lord is pleased by any genuine service. He does not look for size. He looks only at sincerity, strength in resolve in following through. In this way anyone can become dear to Him. Even a little service goes a long way with Him.

In Closing:

Present minimum wage not fair,

Wealth with workers the owner should share.

Upward mobility, higher in class to go,

Advancement when bank balance to grow.

In bhakti the sweeper and pujari the same,

When acting without personal gain.

No envy, not considering low or high,

Lord appreciates anything with sincerity to try.

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