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Things Could be Worse

Things could be worse, apparently. According to some people almost every complaint can easily be dismissed because whatever is being complained about is trivial compared with certain other similar situations.

For example, they say you shouldn’t complain about your conditions of work because there are other people with no job at all. And similarly there are people who do have jobs but are working in much poorer conditions than you.

And complaining about the government is pointless because at least it’s not as corrupt and dysfunctional as the governments of some some African states such as Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. And the same applies to complaining about the management at your place of work because at least you’re not a slave on a plantation, or something similar.

But these are really silly arguments put forward by people who are either too lazy to argue the real points or genuinely have some extreme feeling of entitlement which makes them think that they are so superior that they are above criticism.

No matter how bad things are elsewhere there should always be the opportunity to make things better here and now, and criticising existing conditions has got to be a significant way to initiate change. Or at least it should be because it seems to me that in most situations where there is one group in a position of power and another in some form of subjugation that criticism of one by the other is always seen as a personal attack to be repelled without any thought about its validity.

The “things could be worse” argument is effective because it puts the person complaining on the defensive and possibly even introduces an element of guilt. After all, if you wanted an increase in your salary wouldn’t you feel guilty when your relative affluence is compared with the situation of the poor working in a factory in China or India?

The natural endpoint of these arguments is that we should all be working for a subsistence wage apparently, which in turn will make us more competitive and force other countries to reduce their wages and conditions even more. It’s a classic “race to the bottom” scenario and it’s commonly advocated by modern right-wing governments such as New Zealand’s.

Of course it’s no surprise to anyone that this idea does seem to be applied evenly. According to the same people who encourage us to make sacrifices for the greater good of the economy the same logic doesn’t apply to the rich. If an executive, politician, or some other useless bureaucrat wants a pay rise they deserve it, even if there are people in similar jobs elsewhere making much less.

Apparently for these people things could be worse, but thanks to the immorality of the economic system we live in, in their case it won’t be!

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