Who Raised My Salt?

Are you worth your salt? 

Well, ARE you? Do you receive your salary, your pay, your commission, your fee, with great satisfaction, knowing that you have delivered much more than the pittance you received? I hope you do. As one wise man once said “There are two tragedies in life. The first is not getting what you want. The second IS getting what you want.” Getting the remuneration you want without the great satisfaction that comes along with the certainty of knowing that you have done a fantastic job is a tragedy, isn’t it? For, like as not, you’ll be spending a great portion of that remuneration on things you don’t need and might not even want.

People have been talking about Ministerial salaries in my home state of Singapore recently. Many seem to have the notion that Singapore’s ministers aren’t worth their salt. Others feel that salaries need to be maintained at a commensurately high level so that people will actually be attracted to take up such posts. What do I think? Well, I think salaries have very little to do with it. What is more intriguing is WHY we as a nation feel compelled to pay our ministers so much, comparatively speaking.

I am of the view that the government of any nation, in whatever form, is in reality a reflection of the people that spawned it. Singapore is only 53 years old at this writing. There simply hasn’t been enough time for her to gel as a nation. While she has done incredibly well so far, she has yet to feel secure as a nation state. A city-state, at that. Her second and third generation citizenry have been highly exposed to the world at large, but perhaps have yet to feel in their bones the stark realities where the self-interest of nations is concerned. Talk about it, yes. Realize what it means? Perhaps not yet. For then, would there still be questions about the seemingly highly disproportionate amount of defence spending? Integrating new citizens into the economy? Extravagant Ministerial salaries? Maybe not.

Maybe the high salaries are a symptom of desperation. Of feeling the crushing weight of the paramount importance of having people of high moral fibre and competence in the nation’s leadership and not knowing how to get them there. Of looking to past leaders for answers and not understanding what they are saying. Of looking all over the world and not seeing any answers.

I say the answer is simple. It’s us. Us raising our own levels of character, competence and value. Supporting instead of censuring. Engaging instead of criticizing. Stepping up to the plate and not expecting someone else to do the job.

When we stop feeling unworthy and stop asking “Who Raised My Salt?”, then we can start appreciating our collective remunerations. Including Ministers. What say you?

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