[mai] is the Chinese characeter for "buy"
Some while ago the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) began reporting the "working time required to buy" a Big Mac in major cities around the world. The notion of substituting a Big Mac standard for the gold standard began, they say, as a joke. Several dissertations have been written about it and the Economist reports it annually. The logic is that global production is so standardized that the sum of the average labor time in a Big Mac purchased anywhere is approximately the same. And unlike gold, this commodity of universal equivalence also can be seen as embodying the necessary labor (world average labor time) embodied in an average worker's minimum subsistence. There are actually more calories in a Big Mac than the minimum required to sustain the body weight of a moderately active human adult for 24 hours. Now the UBS and World Bank compare the "working time required to buy" a kilo of rice and a kilo of bread as well as a Big Mac in different cities around the world.
Considerable work has been done by Sister Ruth Rosenbaum, USAS students and others to determine minimal liveable wages in maquiladoras so that the "working time required to buy" the weekly necessities of a family of four does not exceed 40 hours. Despite progress by a few economists (cf. Economic Policy Institute papers by Richard Rothstein), an International Minimum Wage, much less a Liveable one, remains years away as a matter of law. But as a matter of public information, ordinary humans as workers and consumers have a human right to know what the corporations demanding transparency and public disclosure from the WTO, could make transparent. Comparable data (freed from currency exchange rates) in units of average labor time added [zhi/pin], and average labor time in the minimal subsistence [cost of daily meal/hourly wage] of the worker(s) adding it, would help the ILO, government agencies, non profits and anyone accountable to workers and consumers for negotiating and monitoring fair trade agreements and fair contracts. We can fill in some of the info and stick on the labels ourselves to get the process going. The where and when part is really needed.


kilo of rice
kilo of bread
cost of a daily meal
___divided by___
....1 hour's pay