時薪三十三,夠生活嗎?


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單看標題,讀者或會覺得我是支持最低工資,且愈高愈好,實情剛剛相反,我反對立法,深信扶貧要講策略,不得其法,就會適得其反,最低工資有副作用,不利弱勢,尤其今日全球化競爭激烈,成本效益比甚麼都重要,胡亂干預,只會好心做壞事。問題是,立法已是事在必行,再反對都無意思,但退一步說,如果按照左派的邏輯,最低工資要「足夠」養妻活兒,時薪三十三夠嗎?我估計,莫說三十三,就算三百三也不夠,不信?且看下去,自有分解。

記得有次跟朋友吹水,講開最低工資,我問:「基層缺錢,不一定要加人工,可以加福利,不是一樣嗎?」「不一樣!」朋友斬釘截鐵:「好多人不想靠政府,希望自食其力,立法推行最低工資,就是要保障打工仔,過有尊嚴的生活。」我好奇:「住公屋,算不算靠政府?免費教育,算不算靠政府?輪街症,又算不算靠政府?」朋友無言以對,我知道,我問中死穴了。

左派認為,老闆有責任「養起」員工,如果工資過低,不夠生活,政府就要立法,迫其就範;開倉派米,等於以公帑補貼「無良老闆」,如此一來,豈不是「助紂為虐」?看似有理,其實大錯特錯,錯在昧於歷史。事實上,政府以公帑補貼老闆(姑勿論是否無良),已經補貼了幾十年,只是比較低調,外人不易察覺罷了。以公屋為例,租金低,設備好,「性價比」一流,加上選址多數靠近工廠區,既減輕居民的交通負擔,也方便老闆招聘人手,可謂一家便宜兩家著。

香港在七十年代經濟起飛,工業產品暢銷世界,躋身亞洲四小龍,說穿了,就是依靠本地的廉價勞動力。為何廉價?因為有政府補貼,基本開支如教育、醫療、房屋等,都有公帑做後盾,市民固然得益,老闆也有好處,可以用較低薪金聘請員工,是官商勾結還是利益輸送,任你說,但沒有這些補貼,會有甚麼後果?有數得計,現時讀大學,每年成本超過廿萬,四年制,就要八、九十萬,如果不靠政府,最低工資要幾多錢才夠交學費?

企業要履行「社會責任」,無錯,但人家打開門做生意,無非為賺錢,扶貧工作,責在政府,否則我們辛苦交稅來幹甚麼?政府的工作,就是補市場的不足,如果工資不足以維生,就由政府補貼。當代自由主義大師兼諾貝爾經濟學獎得主海耶克(Friedrich Hayek)在《通往奴役之路》中說:「當社會變得富裕,我們應向弱勢社群伸出援手,讓他們免受赤貧之苦。」但他強調,政府應盡量避免直接干預,改為提供間接援助,以免影響市場運作。

具體來說,政府現時有綜援(針對貧困、失業和低收入人士),也有各種生活津貼,如車船津貼、書簿津貼、學費減免、傷殘津貼、租金減免及不定期退稅等,若嫌不夠,可以加碼,甚至加推,例如政府早前計劃向「十無人士」派食物券,確保他們兩餐無憂,就值得考慮。也有人建議負入息稅,把各項福利整合為一,有利有弊,都可以討論。

錢從何來?不用擔心,政府大把錢,只是用非其所,像西九二百億,高鐵六百億,不是形象工程就是政治工程,於國計民生有何益處?而審計署每年揭露的官僚浪費,動輒一千幾百萬,如果政府勵行節儉,如裁減冗員或部門合拼,每年必可省下過億公帑,用於扶貧也好,興學也好,總好過益了庸官,害苦市民,對不對?

KFC Auto vending machine @ Festival Walk

立法推行最低工資,等於將政府的扶貧責任外判給老闆,後者精打細算,一個幾毫都幾到盡,人工加了,自然會想盡辦法收回成本,汰弱留強在所難免,甚至會出現機器取代人手,像大家樂已率先採用自動售票機,每部成本一萬,平過請人。雖然主席聲稱不會裁員,觀乎外國例子,但凡推行最低工資的,自動化和自助化無處不在,務求將人手減到最低,就連快餐托盤都要自己清理,是好事還是壞事?各位讀者可以自行判斷。

原文刊於信報 10年9月15日號第37頁獅子山學會欄。

時薪三十三,夠生活嗎?” 有 10 則迴響

  1. SPZ

    企業要履行「社會責任」,無錯,但人家打開門做生意,無非為賺錢,扶貧工作,責在政府,否則我們辛苦交稅來幹甚麼?政府的工作,就是補市場的不足,如果工資不足以維生,就由政府補貼。
    —————————–
    Classic case of corporate welfare. If you have a regressive tax system, it’s akin to robbing the middle class to subsidize the working poor. The super rich sits back with huge gains.

  2. SPZ

    因為有政府補貼,基本開支如教育、醫療、房屋等,都有公帑做後盾,市民固然得益,老闆也有好處,可以用較低薪金聘請員工,是官商勾結還是利益輸送,任你說,但沒有這些補貼,會有甚麼後果?
    —————————
    That’s rather strange for you to argue because if one believe truly in the invisible hand firmly, things like free education (9years), universal health care (just see how much the Tea Party hated it in the US) and public housing are “distortions" of the free market and “socialist" and should NEVER have been provided because for the market fundamentalists, education, healthcare and housing from a neoclassical point of view should be entirely the responsibility of the individual and not from the state. It seems like you are arguing against your own ideology.

    立法推行最低工資,等於將政府的扶貧責任外判給老闆,後者精打細算,一個幾毫都幾到盡,人工加了,自然會想盡辦法收回成本,汰弱留強在所難免,甚至會出現機器取代人手,像大家樂已率先採用自動售票機,每部成本一萬,平過請人。雖然主席聲稱不會裁員,觀乎外國例子,但凡推行最低工資的,自動化和自助化無處不在,務求將人手減到最低,就連快餐托盤都要自己清理,是好事還是壞事?各位讀者可以自行判斷。
    ————————————————
    This entire last paragraph is all the more baffling and bewildering from a neoclassical view. You claim that minimum wage will lead to the drive for automation and redundancies. But isn’t that precisely the process of “creative destruction" that free market guru Joseph Schumpeter had been cheering about for his entire lifetime?

  3. 我都覺得奇點解某d讀者會覺得薯信奉「新自由主義」或係「原教旨」。;p 佢從來冇話過自由市場萬能,well,有興趣可以買本書睇。

    題外話:某甲聲稱要「扶貧」/「環保」推行某法。某乙指出某法不可行,甲與觀眾往往第一反應就是乙反「扶貧」/反「環保」所以無良、冷血,而忽略乙反的只是那個方法。第二個反應就是「乙你咁叻,講個可行方法出嚟啦。」,要知道乙既可只知某法不可行,而不知哪法可行,亦可以有其他乙認為可行方法,但無論如何,這和他以為甲法可行與否仍是不相干的。

  4. 如果反對最低工資,等於市場原教旨,等於反對任何形式的政府干預,即是無政府主義。

    按照上述「邏輯」,贊成最低工資,就是等於共產原教旨,等於贊成有形之手無孔不入主宰人民生活,即big brother is watching you。

    結論是,我的確自打嘴吧,甚至有可能患上精神及人格分裂症。

  5. SPZ

    佢從來冇話過自由市場萬能
    ————————-
    That’s interesting. So where do you draw the line? What is acceptable intervention and what is not? But i doubt Von Hayek and Friedman would have approved of things like universal healthcare which exists in Hong Kong. What about the issue of individual responsibility which free market fundamentalists like to talk about?

    題外話:某甲聲稱要「扶貧」/「環保」推行某法。某乙指出某法不可行,甲與觀眾往往第一反應就是乙反「扶貧」/反「環保」所以無良、冷血,而忽略乙反的只是那個方法。第二個反應就是「乙你咁叻,講個可行方法出嚟啦。」,要知道乙既可只知某法不可行,而不知哪法可行,亦可以有其他乙認為可行方法,但無論如何,這和他以為甲法可行與否仍是不相干的。
    —————————–
    Haha. 乙 may not be as clueless as you think if he had read Thatcher’s interview in the 1980s. If 甲 challenged him for any workable alternatives, 乙 can always reach out for this easy and straightforward comment (because it can be the rebuttal to every question!)

    Mrs Thatcher:"‘I am homeless, the Government must house me!’ and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first."

    Strangely, that will probably be Mrs Thatcher’s rebuke to 薯 when he talked about “因為有政府補貼,基本開支如教育、醫療、房屋等,都有公帑做後盾,市民固然得益,老闆也有好處,可以用較低薪金聘請員工,是官商勾結還是利益輸送,任你說,但沒有這些補貼,會有甚麼後果?"

  6. SPZ

    那麼,贊成最低工資,等於共產原教旨,等於贊成有形之手無孔不入主宰人民生活,即big brother is watching you。
    ———————————
    This is also interesting. The United States first introduced statutory minimum wage nationally in 1938. Communist China, on the other hand, set a national minimum wage law in 2004. Certainly, looks like the Americans have a much more powerful big brother than the one-party regime of the Chinese Communist Party. LOL.

  7. SPZ

    企業要履行「社會責任」,無錯,但人家打開門做生意,無非為賺錢,扶貧工作,責在政府,否則我們辛苦交稅來幹甚麼?政府的工作,就是補市場的不足,如果工資不足以維生,就由政府補貼。
    ——————————-
    Hahaha. When i re-read this statement, i still find it interesting. Because it looks like enterprises are also have a “crutch mentality": If i can’t pay my workers a decent wage, it’s the government job, it’s not my individual responsibility. I can rely on the government to subsidize my wage bill. It has nothing got to do with my management flaws and methods or my uncompetitive practices or outdated production methods or internal rigidities that maybe i can’t pay decent wages. In any case, if i can only pay my worker a dime an hour, it’s never my fault. It’s the taxpayers’ responsibility to subsidize my wage bill (i.e. the cost of my private business).

    If this is not welfare dependency on the part of big businesses, what is? Haha.

  8. SPZ

    When someone also proposed that it should be the government’s job to subsidize wages when employees aren’t paid a decent living wage, Oliver Twist’s request for more gruel from the master during supper always come to my mind. In this case, it is the modified version (in bold).

    “The gruel disappeared; the boys whispered each other, and winked at Oliver; while his next neighbours nudged him. Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

    ‘Please, sir, I want some more.’

    The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupified astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.

    ‘What!’ said the master at length, in a faint voice.

    ‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’

    “Get the taxpayers and the government for more gruel. You not having enough is none of my business," replied the master.

  9. SPZ

    看似有理,其實大錯特錯,錯在昧於歷史。事實上,政府以公帑補貼老闆(姑勿論是否無良),已經補貼了幾十年,只是比較低調,外人不易察覺罷了。以公屋為例,租金低,設備好,「性價比」一流,加上選址多數靠近工廠區,既減輕居民的交通負擔,也方便老闆招聘人手,可謂一家便宜兩家著。
    ————————————-
    The logic of reasoning is that since the government has been subsidizing various things for decades, it is absurd to question the government attempting to make up for shortfall for employers who can’t pay a decent living wage and one example of this long-running but “low-key" subsidy was the provision of public rental flats (well below market rental) by the government.

    Well, with the above reasoning, does that mean that monthly old age allowance is also a subsidy to businesses? Does that mean that having a police force can be considered a subsidy to businesses? Or providing a fire brigade is also subsidy to businesses as well? That portraying of almost every single governmental action as a “long running and low-key subsidy to business" is indeed mind-boggling. Imagine even paving a road by the government can be thought of as some “long-running and low-key subsidy" to business which therefore justifies state wage subsidies is therefore quite humorous.

  10. SPZ

    按照上述「邏輯」,贊成最低工資,就是等於共產原教旨,等於贊成有形之手無孔不入主宰人民生活,即big brother is watching you。
    —————————————-
    Actually when i revisit this sentence, i was rather confused by what you mean. Under communism, they don’t advocate minimum wages. Rather, they demand equal wages for everyone because the proletariat would have exterminated the bourgeoisie! Hahaha.

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