An Honest Wage: Dollars, Hours, And Ethics

The Huffington Post:

In the nation’s capital this month, Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed legislation that would have forced large retailers to pay more than the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour. Gray was under pressure from Wal-Mart, which threatened not to expand operations in Washington if the so-called “living wage” bill were passed. Passionate debate on the issue has dominated the local news for months.

This debate took me back to when I was a young man, working in a thread factory for $1.60 an hour. That was the minimum wage at the time, just raised from $1.40 the year before. I was a student, living on nothing, so I didn’t need a living wage. My factory pay, in inflated dollars, is almost exactly the same as the minimum wage is today — and still not a living wage.

But are these two basic resources really equivalent? Not deep in the human psyche, two psychological scientists argue. Although we trade time and money all the time in a real world of work, in fact these two resources trigger very different processes in the mind. According to Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Cassie Mogilner of Penn’s Wharton School, dollars and hours may have a previously unrecognized ethical dimension. Specifically, time may be linked to moral reflection, while money may be the currency of self-interest and dishonesty.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology. Follow Wray on Twitter @wrayherbert.

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