With all due regards to Walt Disney, whose song I, and I would assume many of you grew up singing, “It’s a Small World After All”, is wrong.
In fact it’s a big world, with billions of people competing, in what has become a global marketplace, for their share of the pie.
It’s really not Mr. Disney’s fault.
Time’s have changed.
Yes I’m from New York City.
I was born in 1958, and was 11 in 1969 when let’s say I started lets say to be aware of world around me, somewhat (although I vaguely remember going to that World’s Fair in New York)
It’s the year of the first moon landing.
The year the miracle Met’s came from being the worst team in baseball to win it all.
Back then it was a small world.
Cable television didn’t exist and of course neither did cell phones, satellite TV, the Internet, and computers were something only mad scientists had.
The Euro didn’t exist, the dollar was god and the NASDAQ which has given rise to Apple, Google. Microsoft, and well you a know a whole tech publicly traded economy , didn’t even exist until 1971.
Yes 1969 was a long time ago.
Yes I’m ancient.
But back then it was a small world dominated by just a few countries that produced most of the good sold around the world.
As we all know today its quite different.
What prompts this post is my trip to Asia which started with a visit to Singapore to attend ICANN and which concluded with a two+ week trek through Thailand.
Thailand is a beautiful country with some fantastic beaches, mountains, wildlife and people.
But a headline in the newspaper here the other day caught my eye and inspired this post.
There were elections here just about 10 days ago where the 1st women Prime Minister in the history of Thailand was elected (image a women being elected to head up a country like Thailand before the US; but I digress).
So the big topic of the day here in Thailand now that elections are over is should the minimum wage be raised to 300 Baht a day.
Baht is the currency of Thailand.
The current conversion rate is that 30 Baht equals $1 US dollar.
So yes the proposal that the new administration want’s to pass here would RAISE the minimum wage of workers to $10 US a day.
But that is only in the big cities.
Smaller towns would not get this huge increase.
Currently the minimum wage in say Bangkok is 215 Baht a day or $2.15 a DAY US.
Not only is the new government looking to increase the minimum wage for laborers, but it wants to raise the minimum wage on starting salaries of those with Bachelor Degrees (management) from 11,000 Baht per month to 15,000 Baht per month (yes $500 a month US for college graduate management types)
The headlines in “The Nation” newspaper in Thailand blared that the increase in the minimum wage to 300 Baht a day and 15,000 for managers might cause Thailand to lose its competitive advantage in the world increasing its cost by 26% thereby making its goods more expensive on the world market:
“The Centre for International Studies at the University of of the Thai Chamber of Commerce warned yesterday that the policy to increase the minimum wage was likely to undermine exports. Am increase in the minimum wage will mean higher costs, and decreased revenue and efficiency.””
“”Production costs would soar by 31.5% in the services sector and 26.5% for manufactured goods.”
Other government officials worried that such an increase in the minimum wage would draw an influx of laborers from Cambodia Laos and Burma which would apparently jump at the chance to make $10 US a day.
A letter to the editor on the same day also caught my eye:
“”Exploited Workers deserve Higher Wage:
“300 Baht a day is a good start but not enough. Thai workers have been suppressed for too long. Companies that own international franchaises have been ripping off Thai workers for ages.
“In Thailand prices of food and drinks for example at McDonald’s Starbucks, KFC Dunkin Donuts are comparable to those in the US. But over there workers earn a minimum wage of $7,25 per hour while their Thai counter parts make about $1 an hour.”
“Surely those workers deserve more than 300 Baht a day and those employed by five-star hotels where room rates are comparable to ones in London and New York City”
While I can’t say I visited McDonald’s while I was in Thailand I would say that a five star hotel in Thailand (Four Seasons, etc) is going to cost somewhere around $1K a night plus 10% “service charge” that none of the workers seem to get and a 7% sales tax, which is on par with a lot of US cities, actually world cities.
So I can’t really argue with the commentators logic but I will say he had a lot more balls than I do, writing his piece and signing his name proudly displaying the city in Thailand where he lives, when I proudly waited until I was long out of Asian airspace before posting this story.
So what does it all mean?
Well its clearly too much for one little domainer to figure out.
But when a country is considering raising a minimum wage to a level of $10 US a day and worried about its ability to compete in the world global market, well I think its something for all of us to give thought to.
So while I don’t have an answer, I do have a conclusion:
It’s sure not a small world.