We Want More Money

As of today, public sector workers across Denmark are on strike, demanding unprecedented pay raises for healthcare workers, among others. While any individual may of course request a raise, I have absolutely no sympathy for the method employed here – nor the demands. For several reasons:

Refusing to do your job is hardly a way of gaining sympathy. Especially in vital services such as health care, but also in general. You want more money? Get another job that pays more. You just want to do your job better? Then stop whining and pull up your sleeves. You want a new job? Then go get one.

Preventing others by force from doing their jobs has no place in a free, democratic society. However, strikes like this call for everyone to stay home from work, even those who might actually be satisfied with current conditions. This is repulsive and almost mafia-like.

A raise for these income groups is not validated by their level of education and comparison to other groups in society. Hiking their pay checks as proposed would tip the balance and do harm to the overall health of the nation’s economy. It seems that for Union and left-wing types, the prevailing sentiment is one of “we want more”, as if the State had a big gold pot for hand-outs to the self-imposed needy. In fact, the money they are demanding comes from of the rest of us. Why do you want my money?

Much can be said about the state of health care, etc. in Denmark, but just pouring more money into the workers’ pockets won’t solve any problems. More workers may be needed, yes. But even more so, greater efficiency and professionalism in the sector could boost quality of service, without necessarily breaking the budget. The easiest solution to this is outsourcing; if we let private providers handle many of these tasks, they could do it more efficiently for the same funds. And perhaps even with better working conditions and higher pay for those employees who meet the qualifications.

There are many good things about Denmark; the culture of strikes is not one of them. This method reeks of 19th century Marxism and should have been long dead and buried.

4 responses to “We Want More Money

  1. As I recall it, the thought “survival of the fittest” also origins in the 19th century. Or even further back. John Locke (1632-1704) talked about how man ultimately was created strong and therefore able to take care of him self. And I guess he is somewhat right. But in the 21th century not only man is working but also woman, and they are not so strong, and therefore the womens kind of work is less well paid, isn’t it? Shouldn’t the headline of your text have been “We want more (more) money than the others” (15% in stead of 12,8%), so the level (nearly) reaches normal for those groups as well.

  2. It seems obvious that John Locke was talking about Man (as in: not animal), not man (as in: not woman). Neither was “survival of the fittest” ever an ideology, but an empirically based theory.
    In any case, what I’m against is the culture of demanding. Basic freedom rights should allow you to work and earn money according to skills, but not be an excuse for complaining about your status.

  3. Torsten Pedersen

    Kenneth,

    Your comment that the strikes “reeks of 19th century Marxism and should have been long dead and buried” and is, in my opinion, over the top. Surely those presently on strike are not Marxists, rather they free marketeers. They are simply using their right to contract laterally (in unions) to gain optimal utility in their contractual relationships with their employers.

    ‘Wanting more’ is the essential duty of every economic actor in a market economy, which is founded on the fiction of the ‘homo economus’. If workers in the health sector, or any sector, didn’t do everything in their power to optimize their own utility, then market would be become inefficient and unhealthy profit would arise. Whether the strikers ‘deserve’ this ‘unprecedented raise’ therefore only depends on their ability to get it.

    As a socialist I would gladly abandon the market paradigm, but would you?

  4. Thank you for your comments, Torsten. I admit the temptation to demagogy is sometimes hard to resist🙂

    Your comparison of labour markets to the free market is interesting. The ‘Danish model’ of letting labour forces manage their own agreements is, of course, not incompatible with the free market.

    But no, I am a conservative, not a liberal. While I believe in market economics, I don’t pretend that it’s the solution to all political issues.

    All workers should optimise their own utility, yes. And the best way to do that is to work harder (more hours), work more efficiently (smarter routines), or change sector altogether (more education).

    I am not against workers negotiating for better contracts, but I am against the method of strike. Taking other people hostage like that is unnecessary and un-democratic. Victims are those who miss the services provided (obviously), but also those colleagues actually happy with current conditions who are forced to strike.

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