The Monthly Minimum Wage Myth

Entitlement is a disease of the modern world. In the Bhagavad Gita, it is said, “You have a right to your labor, but not to the fruits of your labor.” I never quite understood this till I became a business owner. Hard work is and can be a key ingredient to success, but hard work alone is not enough.

Over the years, I have heard countless people lament that they worked really hard and therefore are entitled to x, y, z and so on and so forth. The hourly wage for services rendered or a fixed salary for work done is really quite a ridiculous notion if you stop to think about it. And yet, this is the system that most of us work with when we think about the notion of ‘money’.

Even the very word ‘money’ can conjure up all kinds of feelings–some good, some bad, and some mixed. For a business, money is liquidity. It is, however, by no means an indication of how wealthy a business is. The wealth of a business is not measured purely by cash alone. Cash is only but one of the many assets of a business. A quick look at the balance sheet of any business will reveal a whole list of revenue-generating assets–both tangible and intangible.

And yet, we live in a world where salary negotiations are measured largely in dollar terms. If you are a graduate, you are entitled to a certain salary; if you are a masters grad you are entitled to something more and and so on and so forth.

I worked so hard. I studied so hard and this is the pittance of the offer that was made to me. It was less than what I thought I was worth. Everyone told me that if I studied really hard and got good grades and landed a good job, I would make lots of money.

The irony of it all is that most of the entrepreneurs I know don’t have a degree–and yet, they are often the wealthiest person in the room. Those same individuals who worked very hard and did very well in school; now have to work under people who are less educated and perhaps even less intelligent than them.

What happened? How did this happen?

Most professionals I know are not rainmakers. They rely on an employer to give them a set sum for services rendered. Although this is the most common compensation system in place today, it is not the only one that exists and it is most certainly not the only one which works. There are other methods and modes of compensation–profit sharing, commission, royalties and so on. But still, the idea of a fixed source of income for services rendered is so deeply ingrained that I wouldn’t even know where to begin unwiring that wire in people’s brains.

The Coronavirus Pandemic that swept across the globe has led to unprecedented job cuts, pay cuts and a restructuring of organisations all over the world. The Dow and the FTSE saw their biggest quarterly drops in the first three months of the year since 1987. The IMF expects the global economy to contract by 3% in 2020. Even in the wake of a world pandemic, the disease of entitlement continues to persist.

The next time you sit across a negotiating table (or Zoom call) and demand more money, remember, “You have a right to your labor, but not to the fruits of your labor.”

However, if you are a rainmaker

But that would be a different negotiation now, wouldn’t it? You would be talking about what you can bring, not what you are entitled to receive.

Dipa Sanatani is the Publisher at Mith Books and the author of The Little Light and The Merchant of Stories. In The Merchant of Stories, Dipa takes the reader on a personal journey–narrated through a series of candid journal entries–on what it takes for entrepreneurs and creatives to start their very first venture.


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