How Much Can You Really Eat? | Singapore Informer

When the bean counters of the Norwegian company who bought over our Singapore operation came to visit, one of them told us that the salary structure at head office was pretty egalitarian. The general manager is paid only 5 times as much as the lowly receptionist. He must have read about the juicy emoluments of our ministers.

In the US, the average income of the wealthiest 10 percent of the population is 15.9 times that of the poorest 10 percent. By contrast, in Japan the difference is only 4.5 times – one of the lowest ratios in the world, according to Keiko Hirata and Mark Warschauer in their book “Japan, The Paradox of Harmony”. There is much less conspicuous consumption among corporate tycoons in Japan than in the US, and business leaders are often embarrassed to be paid too much. Hmm, maybe the disgraceful minister in the prime minister’s office should read the book.

Going against the vein, CEO Dan Price of Seattle payment processing firm Gravity Payments took a 90% pay cut so he could give his employees a raise after coming across a study about happiness. The happiness research came from a Angus Deaton and Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman. They found that emotional well-being — defined as “the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experience, the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant” — rises with income, but only to a point. And that point turns out to be about US$75,000 a year. David Marshall, who served as Singapore’s first Chief Minister from 1955 to 1956, has a…

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