I read in one Whirlpool forum discussion today on the average graduate computer programmer salary comparison between Australia and US. The median expected salary for a typical Programmer I in Los Angeles is around USD$51,708 as of June 2003, which converts to AUD$78,345. At the same time, the same graduate position will only bring you around $39k before tax in Sydney Australia. Interestingly that teaching jobs at schools pay about the same in Australia and in US. And in Australia you can get a casual rate of AUD$15.50 per hour working in the McDonald's, where as you probably can only get paid USD$3 per hour on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
So the question is, is it fair? I guess for many IT workers, it is easy to say no, it is not fair. It can be very tempting to move to US or UK to work. You earn two or three times more overseas doing te same work, and you can laugh all the way to the bank when you return home to Australia with all your savings. You complained that your skill set should qualify you with a much higher pay, but small economy and heavy taxation system seems to have buried many IT elites in Australia...
But what would you feel if you are one of these Maccas workers in the picture. Your work does not require any qualification, but you can still make decent money because your salary is protected by the trading unions. I wonder sometimes, isn't Australia a wonderful country? You go and spend your day at work, and you will be sure to receive enough for your living (provided you don't spend all of them on drugs, of course). You don't have to worry whether your 3 bucks an hour wage can even cover your rent. You work, and you get what you deserved. It is a fair country.
Sometimes I might feel jealous of how much a software developer can get paid in the Bay Area, but I also felt sorry for many in US who worked day and night but still cannot survive. It is not just in the states, but in many Asian countries, the rich just keeps on getting richer, and poor gets nothing at the end. Even in Australia, sometimes you don't get paid what you have deserved if you work for a Chinese company (or has a Chinese boss). This has happened to a few friends in MBF, and it is just sad to see how Asians squeeze blood out from poorer Asians in a western country like Australia :(