How much is enough?
Yeoh Guan Jin | 17 Aug 2018 00:30
From beer and salt to cockle shells and cash, salaries have come a long way. Equally, so has the argument over quantum.

Obviously, everyone wants to be paid enough to cover all living expenses, and perhaps have a little to put aside for rainy days or for a bit of luxury. At the same time, businesses have to balance their wage bills against production capacity to ensure they continue to generate profits.

It’s uncertain when the practice of paying people for work done took root. Nonetheless there are many claims that date back thousands of years. One account states that the practice probably began in the Neolithic Revolution, when humans transitioned from a life of hunting and gathering into agriculture, dating back more than 10,000 years. Of course that is mostly speculative given that no physical evidence of such a practice has ever been found.

The first evidence of a formal system of payment for work done is probably that of a pay stub from ancient Mesopotamia. According to, a self-styled publication for “alpha geeks”, one such stone pay stub now resides in the British Museum. Scientists believe the cuneiform script on the tablet records the amount of beer paid to workers.

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