Least-paid Worker (LPW)

An idea that offers a plausible regulatory fix for economic disparity, slave wages, and other inequalities of the economy. A simple, prominently displayed value that lets you know how well the workers that contributed to a good or service were compensated.  The basic idea is pretty straightforward, though the implementation details may be a bit troublesome to devise.

For each seller of a good or service there exists a set of suppliers.  This is basically “upstream.”  Each also has consumers (“downstream”).  So the LPW algorithm is simply:

  1. Receive LPW data from upstream.
  2. Compare upstream LPW to local LPW.
  3. Forward downstream the lower of the two.

A few caveats include the exclusion of volunteer labor (for example, open source software) and the marking of whether the given LPW value is direct or indirect.

The tricky part of the algorithm is what the actual LPW data should be. The most obvious, the actual hourly or yearly wage, is faulty because of differences in the living wage. That varies from region to region. An alternative that accounts for this is needed.

So the second choice would be something like the percentile of the worker. This may be more effective in most cases, but it could still fail in cases where there is a large majority of impoverished workers. It also requires significant research on the region.

There may be others, requiring more or less effort to discover, and more and less accurate. The hard part is figuring out the most readily understandable and available value to use.

Now, you may or may not be wondering why this data should be published at all. The idea is simple: given the choice between two otherwise-indistinguishable goods or services (same in price, quality, etc.), one could decide to choose based on which either directly or indirectly pays their workers better.

Again, if possible it will show the difference from a living wage, so that wages aren’t necessarily inflated when workers are fairly compensated.

As a closing note, I’ll simply point out that the MPW (Most-paid Worker) could also be included just as easily.

What do you think? Could simple information, when propagated, solve wage inequality?