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In which I don't move to England just yet - Tactical Ninja

Jan. 11th, 2013

09:09 am - In which I don't move to England just yet

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There are a few people on my flist currently looking for work, right? Seems an indication of the times. ;-/ I'm not at the moment, but I still keep my eye on what's happening in my field and this morning, this one came through. It's pretty much what I'd call an entry level job in the field, and I suspect I'd have a pretty good chance at it. But you know what I really like about this ad?


They tell you what the bloody salary will be! I ran the number through an exchange rate calculator and discovered that this would be a substantial step down from what I'm currently earning, and therefore not worth upping stakes to move to the UK (I was born there so have a right to work already btw). I suspect I will have to take something of a pay cut to work where my passion is, but that much seems a lot to sacrifice. Although, I've no idea of the cost of living in the UK either - English folks, can you tell me if £28,000 is a reasonable amount of money for living in London?

This is just a thought experiment by the way - I'm not about to become London's finest female sheep shearer just yet - but it's the sort of thing that's useful to know for when I do get to that point.

Anyway, in New Zealand, employers seem loathe to disclose salary up front. It seems to be part of our weird cultural aversion to talking about money*, which is damn frustrating when you're applying for jobs. We are taught that we shouldn't ask about salary at interviews until the job's been offered, which leads to this bizarre bullshit ritual in which the interviewee has to act as if they don't care about money, they are just so passionate about this work that they want to do it from the goodness of their heart. The interviewer knows this isn't the case, but everyone plays along as if it is, and then if the job's offered and the salary is too low, it's all been a huge waste of everyone's time and resources, and the whole thing is something of a farce.

I've got around this in the past by asking on first enquiry about jobs for a job description, application form and indication of salary range. If they ignore the request, I ask again, and if I'm not informed, I wouldn't apply for the job. I have a firm idea in my head of how much money I want to earn, and applying blind for a job is IMO disempowering and potentially dishonest if, after I've convinced someone I'm the best person for the job and I'm dead keen to do it, I then go "Sorry, that's not enough money." Or if the interviewer's talked the job up as fantastic, but then offers a low wage, they come across as having pulled the wool over my eyes and who wants to work for someone who does that?

In my opinion, putting the salary as the top line in an advert stops this bullshit before it gets started. I don't know if that's common practice in the UK (or the US or Germany or Sweden or any of the other countries represented on my flist), but I am curious. Is it just New Zealand that has this stupid secrecy about salary, or is it commonplace in other countries? Enquiring minds want to know!

* NZ was colonised in a large part by people who were attempting to get away from the strict class structures that existed in 19th Century England, and there's this very determined egalitarian streak within our culture - the catchcry at the time being "Jack is as good as his master!" Funny thing, the culture isn't all that egalitarian in practice, and inequality is increasing by the minute, but we have things like this foible about discussing money, as if knowing how much people earn creates a divide that we apparently think shouldn't be there, so it's a touchy topic. See also: Tall Poppy Syndrome. We like to think we're so egalitarian, and damnit we will bring you down just to keep the playing field level!

*ahem*


Meanwhile, I want this. I want it bad. You know how I said I know more about Thedas than anyone should reasonably know? Well, they made a book for people like me, with pictures and everything! OMG OMG OMG! And it's being released just before my birthday! This is not a massive hint for my loved ones oh no, of course it isn't lalala .. *whistle*

And finally, This is very strange: the keynote address for CES 2013 from Qualcomm, featuring a gamer caricature (remember BOOM! HEADSHOT guy from Pure Pwnage? Kind of like that), Big Bird, a Rolls Royce, and Maroon 5 Dido. I kid you not.

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 08:29 pm (UTC)
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I wonder how many of the people who complain that they struggle to attract skilled people are also the ones that don't want to reveal salary?
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From:miryai
Date:January 10th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
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Ummm.. almost every job in Australia has a salary range published. And if it doesn't, I don't bother applying. That is critical information!
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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
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You'd think, right? Apparently some employers don't think so..
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:January 10th, 2013 08:54 pm (UTC)
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We never published salary range when looking to employ people, but that's partly because there is a very wide range of capability in software development. And usually the need to find someone capable is more important than how much they cost.

On the other hand, it would make things simpler to know up front.

When I've investigated employment, I usually say in my contact letter what my salary expectation is... then the employer can work out: 1. whether they can afford it, and 2. how to interview me to determine whether I'm worth it.

Anyway, at least NZ isn't as bad as Hong Kong which routinely asks you "how much did your previous employer pay you?".

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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 08:57 pm (UTC)
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Whoah. My inner kiwi is going "SO none of your business" to that Hong Kong question!

I think your line of work is probably quite non-traditional in its approach to employing people - it certainly seems to me that in that field, there's a lot more innovation in general, and less fear of trying new approaches to things, and that could quite possibly include recruitment practices. Having said that, did you put something like "Salary commensurate with experience/compatibility/whatever" or even "Salary to be negotiated"? Because I'd be relatively happy with that information rather than a number.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:00 pm (UTC)
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What really galled me is, after I left, HK PolyU contacted me to ask how much my new employer was paying me.

Uhh what?
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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
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*eep* Yeah, that's a bit.. direct. I guess from their point of view it'd be useful data - they lost a talented person and certainly if it were me I'd like to know if my salaries not being competitive was part of the reason. But.. cultural differences .. awkward.
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From:siobhan63
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:04 pm (UTC)
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I think in Canada any government-related job (and I'm including broader public service e.g. teachers, healthcare workers, etc) will clearly indicate salary - either the hourly rate if it's that type of position or the salary range for the classification level.

Private sector jobs - it's hit and miss. A lot seem to fall back on the " we offer a competitive salary" tag line.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
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Dear Potential Employer,

Competitive with what? A fast food restaurant or a finance company? Just wondering....

;-)
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From:siobhan63
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
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Yep. That's pretty much my reaction to that too.
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From:siobhan63
Date:January 11th, 2013 12:20 am (UTC)
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The other fun thing some employers do is state in the ad that you should list your salary expectations in your cover letter. I hate that.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
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In that case, that's not only not a realistic option, it's also a pretty crappy wage for what they seem to be expecting (without having read the full jd or person spec, that is). I'd expect a job like that to be paying the equivalent of at least $55K NZ.

Administrators get paid more than that IME.
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From:bekitty
Date:January 10th, 2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
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The same thing happens in NZ with community organisations. Funding's shit, and as a result nobody gets paid very much.

The Wellington People's Centre skirted right on the edge of bankruptcy for ~20 years, and then finally fell over. I'm amazed that it lasted as long as it did.
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From:rivet
Date:January 10th, 2013 10:56 pm (UTC)
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The same is true in the US, by and large. The competition for good NGO jobs is fierce, and the pay is preposterous. Especially in places like SF, which have higher than average living expenses.
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From:richdrich
Date:January 10th, 2013 11:13 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I'd say you really need to make in pounds what you earn here in dollars to achieve a similar lifestyle.

(And even then, you'd be looking at either a much smaller flat, or an extended commute on unreliable, crowded trains.)
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From:elven_ranger
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC)

£28,000

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I would feel rich with that, BUT I am not in London, and I have never had that amount a year in my life.
I suspect, with London being very expensive (well it was when I was last up there in 2004)that it would not go so far as it would in other areas... Not when you think rent, utilities, food, etc.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:44 pm (UTC)

Re: £28,000

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Yeah, that's what I was wondering. Every kiwi I know that's worked in London has said it's quite steep to live there, and if you're not in central London, the commute is both time and money-expensive.
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From:goffburd
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:50 pm (UTC)
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It's ages since I rented anywhere, but I got about £28,000 during 2007/2008 and survived. However, I was paying a mortgage, not renting. Speaking to a cab driver a few weeks ago, he was going to rent a place for him, his wife and son, and it would be £900 a month. That is in my area, which is about 20 minutes away from Central London, so I'd say it's possible but not easy.

It doesn't seem much for that job to be honest, but a lot of jobs I see seem underpaid for the skills required.

Oh, and I'm not sure if this is the case anymore, and have no idea how it works, but apparently a lot of Australians/New Zealanders would set up their own companies and take advantage of tax breaks whilst they were working over here. Like I say, no idea how they did it, but that was something that happened - quite a few years back though.

Edited at 2013-01-10 09:51 pm (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 09:58 pm (UTC)
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I hadn't heard of that tax break thing. I wonder what that was all about? I guess if you were working as an independent contractor you could claim expenses against all sorts of things and reduce the tax you paid...
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From:richdrich
Date:January 11th, 2013 03:50 am (UTC)
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It's much the same as being a contractor here, except that the corporate tax rate is a lot lower so you can save on retained profits. The UK tax authorities are a lot tougher on contractors who are really employees as a result.

Also, a non-brit could abscond owing tax that wasn't deducted at source. The morality of not paying for your share of Britain's hospitals/nukes/royal palaces like that is debatable.
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From:bekitty
Date:January 10th, 2013 10:07 pm (UTC)
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Just a small thing, but it's something that niggles at me...

[...] employers seem loathe to disclose salary up front.

It's "loath", meaning unwilling, rather than "loathe", meaning hate or despise.

I kind of see a little mistake like that the same way you'd go "gnnn!" at someone saying "giving free reign". :-/
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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 10:09 pm (UTC)
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Or being discrete about something, which is my latest *gnng* thing.

Good to know, thanks! ;-)
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From:bekitty
Date:January 10th, 2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
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You could also change it to "employers seem to loathe", because that would work too in the context. :-)
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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 10:15 pm (UTC)
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I'm not going to change it. That would be sacrificing humanity for perfection. Instead I'll just learn and get it right in future. ;-)
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From:tatjna
Date:January 10th, 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, from what I gather it seems to be in the lower paid and part time jobs that it's more common here, too. Maybe they are embarrassed to admit how paltry their offers are?
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From:t_c_da
Date:January 11th, 2013 12:11 am (UTC)
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It's also possible that in response to (current) government prodding employers are figuring "there's so many unemployed out there that if I offer peanuts, someone will be desperate enough to take it".

Rather like the "negotiation" that took place under Ruth Richardson & Jenny Shipley and their employment laws...
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From:pythia
Date:January 11th, 2013 12:19 am (UTC)
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Lee seems to think that 28K is a decent wage but not *great* - but this isn't taking into account living in London. He said according to his experience, living costs come out as *roughly* equivalent, with rent being higher there but food etc being considerably cheaper.
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From:richaarde
Date:January 11th, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
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I think that not publishing the salary is the norm in most places around the world (unless it's a government position). Sometimes, a range of potential salaries might be posted, but it's almost always vague at best.

Usually salaries are negotiated based on a person's abilities. If you are capable of more, then you get more.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 11th, 2013 02:48 am (UTC)
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I think that statement should come with a massive qualifier about how it depends on a number of factors, and industry seems to be one of the major ones. For example, up there ferrouswheel talks some about the software development industry where what you're suggesting seems to be a relatively common approach. In my industry, there are salary bands and while salary may be negotiated based on ability, it's strictly within the band as applied to your job description.

Meanwhile, my friend who is an administrator often has to ask and the salary is not presented as negotiable, and when I was in education, it was almost a dealbreaker to try to discover the salary before being interviewed (probably because educators are supposed to love the work so much they don't care about money, and also because the pay's shit.

I wonder how much they pay for run-on sentences..
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From:richaarde
Date:January 11th, 2013 03:10 am (UTC)
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probably because educators are supposed to love the work so much they don't care about money, and also because the pay's shit

I'm pretty sure that's true for every industry. Every employer is looking for an excuse to pay its personnel less.

I don't know about the rest of the US, but at least in and around New Jersey, education is highly unionized. Teachers make good money. (I'm in the wrong business. Oh well.)
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From:helianthas
Date:January 11th, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
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Seems like in the US, salaries are more likely to be negotiated on your ability to negotiate, not your actual abilities in the job. Yes, your experience counts for the range given and I'm sure there are exceptions, but generally every company will offer the lowest they can. Women with the same skill set as men often get lower salaries because they generally haven't learned to negotiate as well as men. </p>

About to start the job search myself (US), most ads don't have salary listed.

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From:caycos
Date:January 11th, 2013 07:20 am (UTC)
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When applying for jobs my first question is always 'what's the salary range'. And like you, if they don't say I don't apply because I don't like unknowns.

Interesting tip for NZ - both Trademe and Seek make advertisers specify a range even if it's not in the ad. It's part of the metadata for the ad. Then if you search (for example) between 80k and 100k then only jobs with that range will show up. Not perfect but not bad for an indicator. They might also span higher and/or lower but at least you know.
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:January 11th, 2013 08:18 am (UTC)
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28000 GBP sounds low for a full time job and for living in London - but I have no idea what the taxes are in the UK. It's the social field, which I have no clue of and which is low paid in Germany as well...

Germany does the same dance around the money in interviews as NZ, apparently. There is never a number in the ads. Instead, they ask you to apply with your own salary expectations listed. Whenever I did, I either skipped that point until I got a feeling if they wanted me (badly) or not so much before deciding my salary. The trick is that this way they can always haggle you down or buy you for lower because you *need* this job. That just sucks. Self-employment has put a temporary stop to that. I say my rate up front when giving an offer. Of course, should I be out of engagements, that comes back into play.

The pharm corp I work for right now blew it when they said they'd want to hire me full time and announced carefully "you'd probably earn less than you do now..." WTF? Where's the incentive when I have to work 40h instead of 32 as I do now, and get less money? Turns out it would have been more, only they calculated my current income vs. their bonuses wrong... *sigh* A clear number would have helped.
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From:empresskylon
Date:January 11th, 2013 10:22 am (UTC)
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I have just finished employing two people and on the questionare the company requires me to use it asks both what are you paid now and what income are you expecting.  I felt very odd asking the first question, but everyone answered.  The second question was routinely answered with "I don't know" or "Whatever you're offering" or "I'm not doing the job for money"

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From:Will Marshall
Date:January 11th, 2013 11:15 am (UTC)
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If you're not doing the job for money then I guess we don't need to pay you! Handy.
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From:empresskylon
Date:January 11th, 2013 10:31 am (UTC)
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I'm a qualified teacher, my beginning salary was less than the administrator salary listed above.  We get shit pay!  Currently I manage 2 childcare centres, that's 170 children, 20+ teachers, in two different areas of town and I only make $59,000 per year.

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From:sorceress
Date:January 12th, 2013 01:12 am (UTC)
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On interviewees having to act like money doesn't matter and they're just so passionate about the job that they want it regardless? This is SO true. I hate this. I tend to look for jobs with a salary range published, I've noticed that it seems to be becoming rarer and rarer though. I hate that awkward moment in the interview when they bring up salary. It's so... yep, awkward.
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From:pundigrion
Date:January 12th, 2013 03:05 am (UTC)
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In the US and Canada not only do they normally not tell you what they are offering, more and more companies want *you* to put in your salary negotiations right in the cover letter as mentioned above. And yep, salary mostly seems to be based on how well you hardball them, not what you can actually do. In my last job I made over double what everyone else doing the exact same job did. Now, I am awesome, I mean really really undoubtedly awesome, but *twice* as awesome? They weren't even making as much two years later as I did when I started there. Ouch!
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From:neverminetohold
Date:January 12th, 2013 10:34 am (UTC)
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The only thing I ever hear about England and London in particular is how expensive it is, but I'm not sure if that pertains to tourist's only or living there...

As for Germany, the salary is never disclosed in adds and not part of the information you get at the employment agency either. I learned in school to ask for salary and everything, but in reality, smaller companies don't like those questions on the first interview, so we do this dance to.

To be quiet honest, I never applied anywhere for a job that I really wanted, I'm literally just did it for the money, to make a living. I always felt bad about it, pretending to be excited, when in fact I was lying through my teeth and wanted only to walk back out the door ^.^"
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2013 05:44 pm (UTC)
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I think most people work primarily for the money. The lucky ones get to do something they are passionate about, or at least enjoy. The rest of us are putting on our game face most mornings.
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From:neverminetohold
Date:January 16th, 2013 10:29 am (UTC)
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True, but I'm a hopeless idealist and (worse) romantic at heart, so it makes me sad that we can't all have that, a job we enjoy doing... I want a Star Trek like ideal society, with no money and working only to better one-selves/for fun...
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From:tatjna
Date:January 16th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
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I support the idea of a universal minimum income that is provided to everyone regardless of social status.
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