I’m not being paid enough to lie

Yanis Varoufakis, Global Financial Markets Forum, March 2016
I’m not being paid enough to lie | Yanis Varoufakis, Global Financial Markets Forum, March 2016

“I’m not being paid enough to lie - Yanis Varoufakis”

Does this mean that I’m poor? Do poor people always speak the truth? 
Do the rich always lie? 

The current system we live in attributes a monetary value to goods and services we produce. 
We are rewarded, being paid, for the goods we manufacture, the services we provide to other people. 
The value attributed to those goods and services is relative to and regulated to a certain extent by supply and demand of those goods and services. 

Are we being paid enough for those goods and services? 
This is not only a matter of supply and demand but also of the context we live in.

A factory worker in China and a factory worker in Germany live in different contexts. 
The German factory workers’ salary may keep his Chinese colleague afloat for 4 months 
whereas the Chinese factory workers’ salary may not enable his German counterpart to pay for his groceries for a week.

Different living standards require different payment structures, which in itself is a bit awkward 
for let’s say a four room apartment in Tokyo’s Ginza district may not be all that different from an apartment with the same layout in Havana, Cuba.

A bank clerks’ salary in let’s say Hong-Kong may be just enough to buy him a new air conditioning 
whereas his counterpart in Reykjavik, Iceland may be paid enough to buy him two new airco’s, but he doesn’t need them. 

Being paid enough is a matter of context and perspective. 
Do we think we are paid enough for the work we do? 
What value does the society we live in attribute to the work we do?

A doctor in Johannesburg, South Africa and a fireman New York may earn the same equivalent salary. 
They both have professions that save other people’s lives, but at different personal risk to their own life.

Street sweepers and garbage collectors across the globe will most definitely earn less than operators in coal based energy plants. 
The former being part of the solution, the latter being part of the problem.

Women are being paid less than men performing the same tasks. 
That’s also a global phenomenon.

We face inequality in our personal lives, in our societies, on a global, universal scale.
We also face moral dilemmas, on a global, universal scale. 

Are we being paid enough to lie?

The short answer to that question is, or at least should be: 
No, we are never being paid enough to lie. 

The societies we live in, our cultures, the belief systems we adhere to, may be very different, 
but they are also very similar to very basic and fundamental moral issues. 
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not lie. 

Every child across the globe, rich or poor, girl or boy, black of white is brought up with the same set of moral guidelines. 

Poor people do not always speak the truth. The rich do not always lie. 
We may be poor in material terms, but we are all rich in terms or morality. 
It is what defines us a human beings and what separates us from animals, or at least it should be.

We are never paid enough to lie. Our morals, our conscience should prevent us from doing that. 
If we think we are not paid enough from preventing us to lie, then there is something wrong with our thinking, our perspective on life.

No monetary value can be attributed to a lie or the truth.
There are many lies, but only one truth, the truth.

There’s something wrong with our societies if policies that should serve the public interest are being paid for and determined by donors.
There’s something wrong in our cultures when politicians who have failed to serve the interests of their constituency are rewarded with seats on the board of directors 
There’s something wrong in our economies when bankers who have sold lies wrapped up in securities are bailed out
There’s something wrong with our moral compass when whistleblowers are being put in jail for speaking the truth.

The truth may be offensive, it may hurt national security interests, 
but it can never be contained, monetized or traded against lies.

Since when have lies become productive? 
Lies set in motion chains of events that only lead to destruction. 
They make us take a step back instead of going forward.

When a lie can be monetized, when you are being paid enough to lie, then you are corrupt. 
This corruption may fill your wallet but it will empty out your soul. 
Instead of asking yourself the question “Am I being paid enough to lie?” 
you may pose this question: “Am I being paid enough to lose my soul?”

Now you may consider yourself to being an atheist, not constrained by the spiritual concept of a ‘soul’. 
You may be right, but you are not freed from the moral concept that thou shalt not lie. 
If anything separates you from any other animal it is the moral concept of ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong’, 
whether you believe it was God or evolution that has instilled it in you. 
It’s a phenomenon that is part of our species, it defines our species.

Whether you believe it was God who created us in this way to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it, 
or whether you believe it was evolutionary coincidence.
You cannot escape from the truth. You will be held accountable in any court of law.

Are we being paid enough to lie?

It is a question that applies to us all, each and every day. 
It is a question that cannot remain unanswered…