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The Wage Equivalent to a Day`s Work

TheWage Equivalent to a Day’s Work

Onefamous slogan that rose from the major labour movements has been the“A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” This motto hasbeen going around since at least the beginning of 20thcentury when the labourers wanted to have a fair share of the pie bymaking their works and efforts be compensated properly. According tothe International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ (IBEW) unionrepresentative Joe Davis, “It is important to have the individualswork and get paid for a fair wage. We have to make sure that ourlabour is valued.” We have various necessities that need to beachieved in order to get by and live on with our everyday lives. Mostof these necessities are material things like food, clothes andshelters and in our today’s society we need money to be able to getthe said necessities therefore we have to work for a living. As longas money is the primary key to get these material needs, we should bepaid a fair wage for our efforts.

Whatare the grounds that we can call a fair day’s work and a fair day’swage? How can we determine them? Are they guided by laws that must befollowed by our society? Does it include ethical concerns of what ismorally right and fair? We can answer these questions if we canlearn how our economy operates. We cannot just ask what it is to bemorally fair or what is fair according to the law. It could be theminimum wage or the usually talked about and computed “livingwage.” The right definition of what is really morally fair, andwhat does the law say of what is fair, can be far from the definitionof fairness of the society. Social justice or social unfairness isdefined by the production and exchanges of material facts andobjects. (Conatz 2012).

Oureconomy’s political definition of a day’s wage is just simply therate of the wage and the intensity of the required work in a day. Therate of wage and the intensity of work are both determined by theopen market’s competition of the employer and the employee. Thedaily fair wage is usually the required sum to compensate or pay thelabourers’ work while the actual rate of wage may be sometimesabove or below the daily fair wage that fluctuates with accordance tothe trade’s conditions. In normal conditions, the actual rate isjust the mean average of all the fluctuations. The day of fair workon the other hand is the length of the working day and the intensityof the actual work that is equivalent to the workman’s full workingpotential in a day excluding the same amount of power that is stillenough for the following day. A Fair Day’s Wages for a Fair day’sWork (1881).


FollowingKarl Marx’s Labour Theory of Value, he views the value of acommodity to be equal to the cost of its production. Thesecommodities are objects that satisfy the needs and want of humanswhich is a fundamental unit of capitalism which is a form of economybased on large quantities of such objects (Marx 1844). This theory isan important concept in the philosophical ideals of Karl Marx. Theimplication of this is that the commodities or objects that take thesimilar amount of time for their production should have the samevalues. Karl Marx tried to shift this theory to oppose theforerunners of capitalism. He pushed the theory in a manner that mostof the economists in the classical times hesitated to do. Marxexplained that his theory could explain the values of commoditiesconsisting of the commodity called “labour power” that theworkers sell to capitalists to receive wage. (Prychitko n.d.)

Thecapitalists can live longer without the worker than can the workerwithout the capitalist. Because of this relationship, workers andlabourers get the lowest wage rate despite the long and intense rateof work that they do. When the supply is greater than the demand,large sections of workers undergo starvations because their existenceis brought under the same condition of the products and commoditieswhich makes them commodities themselves. In the capitalists’approach, money is viewed as a mean to make more money bytransforming money into commodities which can be transformed backinto more quantities of money. Workers treat their labour power as acommodity which they sell to capitalists or factory owners.Capitalists buy the worker’s power to make more products andcommodities which are then sold to the market to make more profits. The capitalists who produce his good and commodities to the market atgiven prices will have to afford more labour power from the labourersat the least price as much as possible. The price at which he’llbuy the workers’ powers are so low that the workers will not beeven to carry on with their daily lives (sparknotesn.d.).Apparently, the fair day’s work of labourers in this type ofcommerce is not very well compensated or the do not receive the fairwage that they deserve which is against Karl Marx’s will becausecapitalists extract the surplus values of the workers in order toenjoy and avail of monetary profits.

IfKarl Marx has the labour Theory of Value, John Rawls has the Theoryof Justice. Rawls’ Justice Theory is patterned with accordance tothe conception of the conditions of justice of Hume, to theconception of one’s self of Kant and to the moral psychology ofRousseau . John Rawls is explicit in supporting the primarynoninterventionist model of the equivalence in opportunities and heis also in agreement to John Stuart Mill’s claim that “accidentsof birth” are arbitrary in the moral sense. The theory tackles oursense of justice and other moral sentiments. (Chapman 1975, 588)

JohnRawls believed that the laissez-faire and the capitalism of Karl Marxare unjust. The unfair systems of those two are explained by thedifference principle. The principle of difference mandates that theworker’s condition should be better without the system of capitaland labour. This principle entails the transfer of wealth throughtaxation that will bring the workers’ welfare to be in par with thestandards. Laissez-faire capitalism does not follow the right fiscaland legislative means of transferring wealth to improve theconditions of those people who are least well-off which also makes itunjust according to Rawls (Little 2012).

JohnRawls was also opposed to the minimum wage. He thought that we shouldalso get rid of it and just let the labour market go as low as itwould be and let employers just pay few dollars per hour to let thegovernment intervenes and then fill in the gap it if the wage is notenough (Bungay 2013). John Rawls has been called the mostinfluential political philosopher of the 20thcentury mostly by democrats because he believed that the governmentshould help those least advantaged so that they can live their livesin a more pleasant way where they do not have to work very intenselyand no capitalists that take advantages of their labour power.

Rawlsdefined a new economic system called market socialism which conformsin all respects to his mixed-economy conception of capitalism, exceptthat private ownership of capital and wage labour are replaced byworker ownership and democratic control of the production process(Kukathas 2003, 96). Market socialism is at least plausible that itcould satisfy the principal of equal liberty and is viewed by Rawlsas far better than capitalism.

RobertNozick provided a comprehensive and persuasive case against theTheory of Justice of John Rawls by proposing a theory from the idealsthat human race has supreme rights to their person as well as totheir fruits of labour. He made comparisons to the justice’s twosystems which is from his own theory of entitlement that is from thechronological process of transferring and acquiring properties andthe theory of the end-state or the theory of time-slice which arebased from the distribution of commodities and properties whereRawls has patterned his difference principle (Younkins 2002). Nozicktook the issue of Rawls’ view of distributive justice as it talksabout the inequalities in our economy. If Rawls believed that theseinequalities in our economy should only be allowed if the generalpublic more importantly those who are least advantaged profit fromit, Nozick argued that there is no business that promotes socialinequality at all (Fraser 2011).

Anotherargument of Nozick is regarding proper taxation. He argues thattaxation is a form of forced labour because taxation imposes someconditions that require labor with threats of punishment where thelabourer does not benefit directly from the work. This shows theimmorality of taxes (Waller 2011, 242-243). Some people agree tothis claim since if we take the earnings of a particular hours oflabours let’s say n,it is equivalent to taking that n hours from that person. It will belike the person is forced to work for nhours for the purpose of another person. But even if they objectforced labor that is brought by the taxation of earnings, it wouldoppose forcing unemployed people to work for the benefit ofthemselves and they would also object to force each labourer to workfor extra hours other than their allotted number of hours each day orweek.

Ifthe current holding of the people are acquired justly, then if wewant to determine whether the subsequent distributions are just ornot, we will be basing from transfer principle only. From this, anyform of taxation which will exceed the value required to maintaininstitutions of transferring just, rectification and the acquisitionof the entitlements that are preserved are unjust according toNozick’s point of view. (Johnson n.d.).

Thereare also other influential people who are expressive in giving theirviews and opinions when it comes to labour and wages. One of them isTerrence V. Powderly who is a machinist and a utopian who believedthat the monopoly of employers and the wage system were the maincauses of the crisis. He found a division not among the employees andtheir employers but among “producers” like labourers and theirsupervisors and “parasites” which are those that include juriesand those that are in the field of banking (Shmoop Editorial Team2008). Because of the producers and parasites, Powderly felt thatthey lived off the labours of others. He wanted the abolition ofcorporations of cooperatives so that the workers and labourers wouldhave a real stake in the business. On the other hand, theleader of the American Federation of Labor or AFL only soughtuntainted and straightforward union of businesses. He had no concernson public reformations or any utopian plans and actions. In the earlytimes, Gompers said that the unions have to keep off themselves fromany political affairs. Well-organized employers and labourers mustgo in equal footing with their “bosses” during sessions when theybargain collectively (Shmoop Editorial Team 2008). He also believedin the capitalist system and as well as the free-market. His goal issimple which is to give workers the proper compensation that theydeserve and be at par with some employers in the business and themarket sector. Powederly wanted to include all workers regarding oftheir skills, genders and age while Gompers focused on organizingonly the skilled craftsmen.


Capitalismis still somehow evident in our modern society today. This isunfortunate to see because most labourers do not get the proper wagethat they deserve. Workers should be paid in direct proportion to theintensity of their works and labours. The equality of payment tolabourers is one of the things that are indicated in the Human RightsLaw which amplifies my claim for our workers to get justice regardingtheir salary. As what I have said in my introduction, every livingthing’s instinct is to strive for survival. Most necessities thatplay a significant role for us to survive are material things thatcan be exchanged for work or money. Cliché as it may sound moneymakes the world go around nowadays. Why? We need money to be able tobuy foods, clothes, to be able to pay for our rents or to be able tobuy ourselves shelters or houses- primarily, to survive. What is themost common source of money? It is through working.

Employersshould be considerate to the welfare of their labourers and viceversa. They should work hand in hand with their employees in order toachieve harmony in the working place. When workers are satisfied withthe amount of compensation that they receive, they will be moreefficient and their outputs may even be better. Workers should alsobe aware that in order to achieve higher compensation, they shouldlearn how to hone their skills and abilities through trainings andpractices.

Racialand gender discriminations should also be abolished in the screeningprocesses of employees. It is true that these genders can have theirweak and strong points but if they can work together, they can fillin one’s weaknesses and use it to their advantage to be able towork well.


Modernand mainstream economists now believe that there are other ways ofearning profits other than capitalizing. Organized production throughworkers and labourers that are well compensated can have good qualityoutputs which in turn can be exchanged for a good amount of earnings.

Sincewages are dependent to the condition of the market, wages can alsovary to the type of job that you are doing. A street sweeper cannotbe paid the same as a skilled engineer or physicians but it doesn’tmean that street sweepers should be paid poorly. The statement “AFair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” conveys clearly the greatroles of both the employers and the employees. Establishing goals andsetting clear staff expectations is a key factor in managing theperformance of employers. Workers can exert their full potentialthrough commitment, work ethic and motivation. The end result of faircompensation will be beneficial to the employers and workers,labourers or employees. Employer can get competitive and skilledlabourers and the workers can get a working place worthy of the useof their skills and abilities.


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