Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Let's talk salaries

I was going to write about something else but I found something odd in an article and I quote:

Mr Eugene Tan, an Assistant Professor of Law at Singapore Management University, said: "While we accept the principle behind a fair compensation package, the idea that ministers are paid way above the average Singaporean is something many Singaporeans have difficulty accepting."

I fully agree with the need to review and reduce. I've said before, no one needs that much money. But I would be very worried if what Singaporeans couldn't accept is that ministers are paid way above the average Singaporean.

Salaries are different because of different job scopes. (Some people will disagree because some people get more (or less) for doing the same thing as others but that's for another day.) What is "way above"? That makes it sound like a bad thing. I would think it's very subjective. I break my back standing all day and make $1k a month while that minister smiles and shakes hands and makes $100k a month? *pout* Or, I sit in the office (then home) all day and make $4k a month, but no way am I going to give up privacy and personal time with family in order to make $100k a month!

Why would I be worried? Because even Raj Rajaratnam dabbled in insider trading - he is already a billionaire at under US$2 billion, but there are some people who have net worth "way above" his meagre US$2 billion, by some 30 times.. Makes me wonder what people do when they earn 100 times or 500 times less than others...!

I think what Singaporeans couldn't accept is that "ministers are paid no-one-needs-that-much-money highly and peddling hard-to-swallow policies". Not bothering to repeat my words - search link for "ministers' salary".

And then there is talk of applying the same principles of ministerial pay to the top level of the civil service.

I'm of course too far down the hierarchy to be affected. Anyway, no one knows what these principles are yet. So long as in the end, the compensation is fair and adequate, it should be fine. Again, no one needs that much money.

But I'm also thinking... Sure, there are good people who are willing to serve regardless of pay. Then, there are also good people who want to serve but are also curious about what they could achieve in the private sector. With the top carrot shrinking, it kind of lowers the opportunity cost for good people to go out and look see. Perhaps it's a good thing for there to be a better spread of talent..

Thankfully I have enough self awareness to know that I'll never reach the top carrot. I can leave any time for better life balance and sanity! :)

Ok, to bed early again. Still suffering a hacking cough and a runny nose. And the head hurts every so often =(

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