Would YOU work for $3000 a year?

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Apparently many workers in China would — for how much longer though is not entirely clear.  You see the Chinese, want to make more, improve the Standard of Living for their families — just like Americans and Europeans do.


8-12% Raises in Minimum Wages across China, in 2005!?

Apparently, Workers around the World, AREN’T Working just for the Fun of it!

This new trend toward leveling the the Global playing field, doesn’t bode well for the Wal-Marts of the world, who rely on such “captured cheap labor markets” —

to remain quiet, dutiful, and

happy with a pittance.

Afterall Billions of Dollars (and Euros) are at stake — those Foreign Workers must not upset that Apple cart.

They should just be happy they have a Job!

Shouldn’t they?

Sound familiar?

Afterall those Corporate Multi-nationals could always pull up stakes and go elsewhere!

There are always “greener pastures” on this planet to tap somewhere … there are always, desperate workers somewhere willing to work for next to nothing

Or IS there?  Kind of seems like China’s near the end of the line, for that exploitable resource that Corporations are addicted to — Cheap Labor:


I guess GE and BP could always start building those Windmills and Solar Panels in Romania — Looks like Labor is still “affordable” there!

Well the Flat World advocates may argue that “Free Trade” (aka Free-for-all Trade) is the key to Wealth and Growing Economies.  I would submit that those Windfall Gains are short-lived, and are ultimately disrupting the fabric of the societies they claim to help. It is only “Fair Trade” the competing strategy, that leads to the long-term stability of both Trading Partners. … Remember Reagan, “rising tide …” theory?

The unchecked race to the bottom of the barrel, through the Outsourcing of American Jobs, to Cheap Jobs overseas, is NOT strengthening either partner in that Trade in the long run.  China finances our Debt, so We can buy up their Exports.  What is wrong with that Picture?

Who will buy all those Cheap Products in America, when most Americans can no longer afford to even pay their Rent and buy their Groceries, because their own job was sent overseas?  Who will need to show up on that Foreign Assembly line, when no one want to buy their Output anymore?

Well surely the Outsource of Labor problem, is “not so bad” when you consider the Costs of Living in each country?

Ok, let do a few rough calcs:

The COL of China is roughly 1/5 that of the USA, check.

SO they need to make rough 1/5 the wage of the US, to achieve “parity”.

Roughly, 1/5 of $20,000 is about $4,000 yet the average salary in China is $2,000 – $3,000

Hmmm?  better than I would have thought, given the Out sourcing Competitive Advantage hype.  Yet China’s Manual Workers are still worth only 50% to 75% the value of America’s Manual Workers.

Of course we still haven’t factored in all that messy paperwork, regarding Environmental Standards, Working Conditions, Benefits, and Social Security, Health Insurance, Pensions.  If we counted all that, WELL tapping the China Labor Force, is probably a STEAL!

But those “comparative advantages”, CAN’T last forever — at some point, the Economic Forces will equalize. “Water always seeks its own level.”

The Chinese People will tooeveryone wants better for their own families.

Indeed the signs are there, of this kind of unrest is building. Give a peasant a shot at a comfortable life, and guess what — they will almost always demand more.

It’s only Human Nature.

Global Wage Issues

Monica Burns, July 17, 2006


Companies have long enjoyed this labor surplus.

For the 88 million farmers who migrated to cities, wages are extremely low.

The average wage for an unskilled worker in 2004 was between $58 and $74 a month.

Many of these workers lacked health insurance, job security, and power to change working conditions.

Chinese factory laborers are paid 64 cents an hour, including wages and social insurance.

This average includes more than 70 million suburban and rural factory workers are paid 45 cents per hour.

In contrast, United States factory workers earn $21.11 per hour.

However, in recent years this worker surplus has turned into a shortage.

China’s one-child policy has reduced the number of able employees.


The majority of workers in China are seeing an increase in wages, and with it, an increase in their standard of living.


Although wages are higher, they are too low to live comfortably. The often demonstrations and strikes in China cause citizens to worry about their country’s political and economic stability.

Some believe an increase in workers’ wages would increase purchasing power and consumption, creating jobs for other Chinese citizens. China should reduce dependency on its exports, and instead look to their own people for revenue, encouraging economic growth with a stronger domestic market.

The government has suggested tax relief as a solution to rural poverty.


Hmmm?  Chinese workers want more, and their Govt IS listening, and perhaps turning their markets inwards? … Maybe Americans will need to learn to “build their own stuff” again too, some day too?

[Continuing …]


There is much debate over whether an increase in the minimum wage will help or hurt those involved.

Many economists say that an increase in wage will help out the economy. The poor will be spending more and costs will invariably, adjust.

However, other economists say that the minimum wage should be determined by the market itself, meaning that each person’s wage “reflects the ‘value’ placed on it by employers and consumers”


Still, many argue that any increase in the minimum wage will drive labor further underground, and lead to even more corruption. […] By setting the wages so low, they have continually allowed for exploitation



Contrastly, European countries have laws setting relatively high minimum wages.


The minimum wage in various countries in Europe, when converted to U.S. dollars, ranges from $442.77 (in Netherlands) to $22,969.85 (in Malta) per year.

The U.S. minimum wage falls somewhere in between at about $13,500.00 per year.


The huge difference in minimum wages in European countries may not be so different when you factor in the cost of living.


Indeed the rough calcs, done earlier, indicate that very few Wage Labors WORLDWIDE, are getting rich, when you factor in the “Cost of Living” in the respective Countries. … I wonder who is?

What is a mere Laborer to do?  Should we stand by while our jobs are shipped elsewhere?  Should we work to pass laws that would discourage — instead of encourage — this Hemorrhaging Economic Practice? … Should the Senate eliminate the Outsourcing Tax Credit?

larger image

How much bloodletting can one Economy endure? … Is there any “Whole Earth Solution” that might address the overall Systematic Problem?

[Continuing …]


Although many countries have national minimum wages, a global or international minimum wage would be a giant feat.


One such organization is Global Exchange. This group sees a need to create both a global minimum and maximum wage.

The annual minimum wage would be arbitrarily set at $1000, and

the annual maximum wage would be $1 million.

Though the values aren’t based on any proven research, the prospect of having both an international minimum and maximum wage is surprising.

A minimum yearly wage of $1000 could help developing countries which currently have minimum wages of lesser value

while the maximum annual wage of $1 million could limit richer countries from earning too much per capita;  yet the consequences of this could be a lack of productivity as citizens know they can only make so much.

The overall concept here is to level the playing field, bringing the gap between the rich and poor closer together.

Since almost 3 billion people make a living on less than two dollars a day, an annual global minimum wage of $1000 could help a great number of people.


Extremely ambitious, no doubt. But not without merit. Limits, BOTH at the top, and the bottom. … Hmmm?  What is Wrong with THIS Picture?  BUT, How will the super wealthy afford all their toys?

Unless we want to look forward to the Water and Food Wars, of the next Century, and Mass Migrations as Global Warming kicks in — something must be done to check, the rampant exploitation of the Planet’s limited resources, NOW!

We need to stop catering to ONLY the lucky few at the top of the Pyramid.

There use to a concept called “carrying capacity” that was often discussed several decades ago — and the fact each Eco-System had one. And that “carrying capacity” put strict limits on how much growth could occur in each Eco-Neighborhood, without severe backlashes in the system, such as famines and predation, which Nature would use to return the system back to a Balanced and Stable mode.

I would submit that Economic-Systems too, are subject to very similar “carrying capacity” Limits, that will always put the brakes on any over-exploitive process, one way or another, returning the market system back to a Balanced and Stable mode. (Just look at the Housing Bubble collapse, for an extreme example of such a correction.)

But that is a topic for another day … suffices to say that, No System can grow forever, without giving something back … not even a rambling diary post.

Cheers, and happy horse trading. May you always find the best price for your efforts.

$3000 a year is not SO bad, I guess, IF you live in China. At least they have Work,

for now …

Hmmm … $3000 per year, divided by 12 months, … er, you don’t want to know!

It equals a Pittance, of what an Honest Day’s Labor is really worth.

also posted on dkos


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  1. jamess

    meaningful work

    is the meaning of life.

    and others,

    they just want to “get rich”

    any way, any how …

  2. Allison In Seattle

    Lots of work, great points, great flow, plenty to ponder — everything from A-Z.


  3. Karlonia

    Wow, this was a pretty informative article — I always wondered about what kind of income the average Chinese workers are actually earning. My own income from my websites is still quite low, but at least I’m making more than most Chinese workers. However, I’m living in the USA instead of China, so it seems that I still have a lot of work to do in order to increase my revenue.  

  4. dkmich

    Smacks of Poppy Bush’s new world order, which smacks of 1984.  Insurance companies are in the process of setting co-pays and deductibles based on life-styles.  What they can’t legislate, they will enforce through coercion.    This smacks of Escape from New York.  

  5. curmudgeon

    before manufacturing plants start closing in China, and move to the most impoverished countries in Africa?  

    This should work for at least the lifetimes of those who are profiting most handsomely by this cruel shell game.

  6. Lasthorseman

    in expanding the Freedoms of the American experiment would you plan on exporting the industries of said experiment by exporting them to cheaper slave labor, non enviornemntally regulated totalitarian regimes such as carbon emission exempt China.  The company diversity club featured a seminar on the new Chinese factory complete with it’s slave labor “living quarters” included in the five building factory complex.

    “Ray” was a 30 year company veteran.  He went down to Mexico to supervise the transfer of machines.  He was gone for about six months.  Upon his return he retired.  He became reclusive.  He refused the traditional company retirement party, the roasts, the tributes, the speeches and the comraderee always associated with a tried and true long time solid company contributor.  We know he saw things that he as a real American just could not deal with.

  7. thethinveil

    If you can’t read what it says on each, these would be the election results in 2004 (I think) if only the rich voted, the middle class voted, and working class voted. You can go to the “rich state, poor state, red state, blue state” Blog to learn more about this and about how this data was collected.

    Now compare that last graph to the unemployment graph that jamess has. It matches almost perfectly with the voting patterns of the poor. The more unemployed people the more the poor vote Democratic.

    Thanks Jamess for the diary, incredibly interesting info everywhere you turn in this diary of yours.

  8. jamess

    and even tariffs to re-balance the playing field.

    sorry if I wasn’t clear enough, dk

    I don’t want a United States of the World,

    nor a one world currency —

    simply exploring the Economic stats,

    that kind of puts it on an Apples to Apples basis.

  9. jamess

    that’s about the best feedback,

    I’ve ever gotten on something, I’ve written.

    I really appreciate the feedback.

    Pondering, it can lead to Reframing the Debate,

    and that can lead to significant Change.

    my theory anyways.

  10. jamess

    I was surprised by this too.

    When I researched this before,

    (see link above: The Chinese People will too)

    I thought Chinese were basically Slave Labor,

    but this time, I put those wages in the context

    of their local Cost of Living.

    And in that context, they are rapidly catching up with us.

    Pretty soon well all be in the same boat.

    all just Workers barely able to get by.

    I  still think Worker-Owned Businesses, as discussed in Moore’s latest film,

    are the key to establishing real Wealth-Parity,

    up and down the Labor Spectrum.

    thx so much for the feedback, K

  11. jamess

    keep shifting the Work,

    to the Cheapest Labor Force,

    especially those with NO voice in their local Govts.

    What a “shell game”

    What happens when they run out of “Cheaper Countries” —

    they’ll probably shift the work to Prisons then,

    Or maybe robotics will be ready to replace everyone by then?

    and only robot service & repair companies,

    will be the ones with Jobs, for regular Humans?

    (That’s at least until, they can train the Robots,

    to fix other Robots.  oy veh!)

    What a Utopia, Corporate Directors will have then eh?

    thanks for the observations, curmudgeon

  12. wilberforce

    Cheaper shipping to Europe too.

  13. RUKind

    That’s what I’ve learned and I’ve lived the entire range except for ultra-wealthy. Wages are a different animal altogether. Wages should be fair for the risk and responsibility and skill and education involved. Plus any God-given special abilities. That part never works out right.

    Right now, the Chinese have begun outsourcing to Egypt. That will help keep Chinese wages low as Chinese wages help keep our wages low. eventually, the Egyptians will outsource to sub-Saharan Africa.

    If China ever lets the yuan float instead of pegging it at eight to a USD then Chine will be able to skip the Egyptians and outsource back to us.

    We are at the beginning of an oligarchical, feudal state. Nothing stands in the way of it. There is one chance: audit the Fed. we see where the Skulls and Bones lie when that happens.

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