The 3 Myth of Pursuit of Ever Higher Wages in China

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More often than not, the hidden prices we paid for engaging a seemingly higher wages job were brought vividly home only after things we valued the most were taken away or being compromised. Therefore, having the right perspectives on wages one earns would shift our priorities like never before if we understand its misleading nature better. Some values we hold dear to ourselves shouldn’t be easily traded with wages without serious consideration and comprehension


China is a country with sizable influence in the world’s economy and its accompanying dynamic domestic job markets require huge number of aggressive and extraordinary individuals to deliver results is not unexpected. The remuneration of a high ranking executive position could easily double or triple of a similar job opening for the same qualified individual and if one decides to go for the higher paid position as a means for a meaningful life will often led to poor results as the former will inevitably requires excessive dedication, commitment and long working hours on the expenses of other pillars of sensible living such as marriage, health, well-being, children, social, community and so on. As a result, ceaseless job hopping solely for the ever higher salary in the competitive job markets in China would undoubtedly carry considerable risks.

On the other hand, one’s unilateral actions asserting his or her justification on the compromises due to higher wages have driven family tensions to a new high never seen before as the judgment of success in contemporary China had shifted to materialistic achievements for the past decades ever since She opened the forbidden gate to the world’s trade. Comparing, flaunting off and admiring wealth had becoming mainstream life goals against the backdrop of influences of increasingly materialistic mass media and relatively lack of strong religious practices which focus more on faith, commitment, devotions among other spiritual pursuits.

How would it tamp down similar impulses elsewhere should the single minded pursuit of solely high wages gain traction, the key lies on amortization of the annual and monthly salaries into hourly rate taken into consideration of extents of overtime, commuting, travelling and level of anxiety and stress associated with the job natures, the 2 job offer could had the same amortized hourly rates. In other words, the myth number 1 clarifies that salary package on paper strictly isn’t real and until it was broken down into adjusted hourly rate one should refrain from jumping into decision. i.e. Higher paid job could be just equivalent of squeezing 3 years of labors into one and many demanding  positions do comes with irreversible personal damages such as mental strains, health degradation, extended oversea posting and so on.

Can high wages alone fill the overall well-being gap in the face of spiraling work pressure, a growing demand of enterprises on workers performance and an aging population? The illusive respects and dignity one derives from comparing one another added an additional layer of strong motivation to accumulation of wealth in China where sales of highly visible and eye turning luxurious automobiles gains strong momentum every years with no signs of receding. Many are behaving assertively because wealth is treated as with privileges and it’s what everyone else believes in too.

The massive obsession on pursuit of higher wages overlooks the right balance in our lifestyle and there is no clearer expression of the kind of liberties enjoyed by an individual than one who makes career decisions based on correct appreciation of potential opportunity one could enjoys with the precious free time make available despite perceptively lower take home pay, the prices we pay are our limited free time left over to ourselves, indeed, free time are one the few finite resources we had which may bring unlimited potentials.

A high proportion of young and aggressive Chinese fails to grasp on this and exhausted all their physical and emotional capacity on the jobs in exchange of monetary returns and leaves no room to groom on the available free time which was the one thing the creator had given them abundantly to spend, waste, enjoy, explore and escalate its values in whatever ways they desire. This sums up the myth number 2; Wages = real time adjusted hourly rate + Potential value enhancement of the available free time.

There are fix and variable costs associated with any regular jobs; transportation, meals, entertainment, nursery requirement, income tax, clothing, miscellaneous allowance and so on could easily contributed 30% of the overall wages meaning one needs to incur RMB$30K in expenses in order to earn a RMB$100K annual salary and sometimes the formula didn’t work out to seek employment at all as a full time home maker not on regular payroll assuming the domestic chores including but not limited to foods preparations, home improvement, nursery of the young, sanitation and taking care of the elderly in need and each could potentially add up to a significant expenses if not more than the take home pay if they are outsourced accordingly, it’s the priorities and values majority of Chinese held which restricted the ranges of choices as many tends to place lower values on the inevitable chores and preferred activities that earn a decent salary the American way as compare to European who place emphasis on gaining more free time for their own discretion.

The third myth is regarding having higher wages and wealth will naturally lead to life-long inspiration of happiness, such anticipation is unrealistic as they have no bearing on their own built-in strong ability to achieve reasonable level of happiness just with the right perspectives. The country is facing a looming confident and ethical crisis. Without a fresh influx of highly robust fair for all welfare network for the truly misfortunes, more balanced redistribution of resources, demographic trends stand to endanger the community and family future of a country whose economy is built not only on massive abundant of natural and human resources shifting from agriculture to industrial transformation and also on thousands of state controlled enterprises responsible for much of China great leap towards superpower status.

With the empowering of internet and mobile platform, a majority of rumors swirling in major cities and towns targeting officials and the rich, underscoring popular resentment at society’s haves amid deepening inequality in China. However, with vast majority of Chinese already achieving middle income status, physical living conditions had improved in leaps and bounds, hundreds of millions had begun to appreciate both domestic and oversea holidays as part of recreation activities. In other words, except for the few blown out of proportion manipulated extreme deprived families and individuals. Everyone with their respective places in the society earning a decent living with reasonable wages can be as happy as they always desire if they knows what true living are all about.

In conclusion, salary shouldn’t be the sole purposes and it should be evaluated in adjusted hourly rate before making a decision to take up a job offer, wages should be treated as a means to achieve what one desires in life in their respective stages and it had to be predetermined upfront otherwise it risks becoming a bottomless and meaningless pursuit and having too much of the wealth can destroy lives and families if not tamed properly not unlike the obesity running rampant for young children in cosmopolitan Chinese cities where excessive protein intakes had become a normality due to increasing affluent lifestyle and sometimes indeed, less is actually more.

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

Mahatma Gandhi



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