What if everybody's salary was public information?

I've been thinking a lot about transparency lately. I suppose in general I feel like the more transparency in life that we have in place, the better off things would be. Obviously, this is not the case in every area of our lives but I do feel in general transparency is a much needed change agent in our culture.
Just think with me about the impact this would have in our society. Transparency in our relationships. Transparency in our governments. Transparency in corporations.
The one area that I am most curious about your feedback is the following: how do you think it would affect society in general if everyone's salary was public information?

Comments

Sam P said…
I'm currently reading a fiction book about what Neanderthal life might have been like. In the book, they communicate with hand signals and only rudimentary vocal speech. Transparency is kind of hard to avoid when everyone can see what you're signaling to one another. Courtesy is the only reason anyone would have any privacy at all. It was immediately implied that anyone that deliberately tried to hide what they were signaling was up to no good.

Probably a safe bet.

It certainly has its merits, but in terms of salary - I am still ambivalent. It would be impossible to avoid the "keeping up with the joneses" syndrome. Someone that was perfectly content with what they might have considered a fair salary is now discontent simply because salary is correlated with recognition and favor. On the other hand, it would benefit everyone if people were paid what they were worth, and not a dollar less.
Without transparency, the more contented ones get paid less than the discontented ones, even if they're worth the same. Supply and demand doesn't seem to apply.

In everything else you mentioned, though, transparency is constructive. Corporations that communicate their intent more readily are more trusted and favored. Governments that clamp down in secrecy are not trusted. Relationships suffer from hidden secrets. Transparency is refreshing in modern society.
Sam P said…
I'm currently reading a fiction book about what Neanderthal life might have been like. In the book, they communicate with hand signals and only rudimentary vocal speech. Transparency is kind of hard to avoid when everyone can see what you're signaling to one another. Courtesy is the only reason anyone would have any privacy at all. It was immediately implied that anyone that deliberately tried to hide what they were signaling was up to no good.

Probably a safe bet.

It certainly has its merits, but in terms of salary - I am still ambivalent. It would be impossible to avoid the "keeping up with the joneses" syndrome. Someone that was perfectly content with what they might have considered a fair salary is now discontent simply because salary is correlated with recognition and favor. On the other hand, it would benefit everyone if people were paid what they were worth, and not a dollar less.
Without transparency, the more contented ones get paid less than the discontented ones, even if they're worth the same. Supply and demand doesn't seem to apply.

In everything else you mentioned, though, transparency is constructive. Corporations that communicate their intent more readily are more trusted and favored. Governments that clamp down in secrecy are not trusted. Relationships suffer from hidden secrets. Transparency is refreshing in modern society.
I agree with everything Sam said. :)

I also believe that if everyone was transparent for just one day, that there would be a lot of surprised people. Things are not always what they seem.

Especially in regards to things that go around at church...not in regards to people's issues or struggles... but giving, working, etc.

I also believe that transparency from a teaching/learning aspect is needed. We have to set the bar high that we stretch ourselves to grow. However, we can set a unrealistic, fake persona that is never attainable or healthy. We must transparent as people not to glorify mistakes or imperfection, but that people can see there are levels of growth and failure is always a part of growth.

There are definitely levels of transparency.

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