What we don’t talk about can say as much about us as what we do discuss. The news item the mainstream here does talk about is the report of a task team recommending a national minimum wage of R20/hour. Given the nature of our divides, this triggered a predictable shouting match. Think-tanks and commentators who see the market as an object of worship rather than an economic arrangement insist that any minimum wage will kill jobs — on the other side of the debate, R20/hour is rejected as a pitiful amount and a sop to business. Despite the heated rhetoric, a working knowledge of this country says there will be a national minimum wage, its details will be negotiated and the key interests will grumble about it but live with it. Business negotiators are more interested in the real world than the one in the heads of free market zealots, and so they will compromise. Unions are the only champions of a national minimum wage with enough muscle to affect the outcome: they are likely to feel tha...

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