Why is “Living Wage” a Bad Word?

At 5am, on my little blog, I posted that I was awake since 3am crying. I had also just gone to bed at 12am after crying myself to sleep.

Why?

Because I posted an article on my Facebook page in favor of the initiative on the Swiss ballot to rein corporate pay in to a 1:12 ratio.

In case you haven’t heard about this yet, this is an initiative that would mean that the top earner in a company could not earn more than 12 times more than the lowest earner.

You can go here:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304868404579191542062955968

or here:

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/11/15/swiss-outrage-over-executive-pay-sparks-a-movement-in-europe/

Once I laid out the argument in favor in terms of a living wage, at anywhere between $15-20 dollars an hour for a family of four according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator http://livingwage.mit.edu/, I was sure that even my most conservative friends would understand why this was a good thing.

A living wage means no more government hand-outs for basic survival subsidies like SNAP…something my conservative pals really hate…so of course they would be all for that. Right?

Wrong. Wrong! Wrong, and SUPER-WRONG!!!!!

Turns out that if you say “living wage” in a crowded room, you will be bludgeoned to death…even by your nearest and dearest.

No joke, even my husband, who currently brings in less than the projected minimum living wage for our area (according to a place he trusts like MIT), is vehemently opposed to starting workers off at a wage they can live on.

They said that doing so would cause the economy to collapse because prices would rise and the value of the dollar would fall.

Wait? Why?

The top CEO of WalMart makes more millions of dollars in a single year than WalMart has employees in the US (they employ 1.4 mil; he makes 20.7 mil annually).

He makes 1,064 times more than the lowest paid employee.

Why not just cut that salary, and others like it, and give everyone who is willing to work a fair wage for doing so? http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/15/ten-companies-paying-americans-the-least/3/

Holy WOW!

The cruel and hurtful things my own family and friends said to me when I presented this absolutely floored me.

Making it worse, complete strangers, people who were friends of friends, started taking it upon themselves to join in and tell me that I was lazy, worthless, and stupid for even suggesting such a thing! I was told to just get off my ass and get a job and stop bitching about not being GIVEN enough.

Stop expecting a handout for sitting on your ass!

Wait? What?

I’ve been working since I was 15 years old, I’m 36 now. Other than a few times, like now, when it was more mathematically sound for me to stay home instead of work (https://almostinterestinglyenough.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/the-high-cost-of-working/), I have worked. Even when I was homeless for two years I worked through day-labor companies during that time.

Get and education and move up!

That might change my situation, but someone else is going to have to come in and take my place. Then that person won’t be making a living wage either and will still be required to rely on subsidies to meet their daily needs. So how does that help the country and the economy in the long run?

I don’t understand, how can people not want a welfare state but also not be willing to see people getting paid enough to meet their daily survival needs?

But then it dawned on me…

People who think they make “good money” are actually only earning a minimum living wage, or less, themselves.

So when I say that I should be making a fair, livable, wage…then tell them that wage is around the same dollar amount as theirs…they think that I am putting a job that takes admittedly fewer skills, and makes fewer demands, on the same level as their more specialized, more skilled, and more demanding jobs.

They have been fooled into believing that they already make significant enough pay for their skill.

After all, most of them are making double what a lower skilled worker does, why wouldn’t they believe this?

But that’s just it.

Devaluing my wage also devalues theirs.

My husband, literally, earns double what I can right now. At the current wage level I have an $8 an hour wage earning potential; he makes just over $16. But for our family of four, this still isn’t enough.

According to MIT’s living wage calculator (http://livingwage.mit.edu/) we would have to earn $19.50 an hour to make our area’s minimum living wage….and this wage doesn’t include child care by the way.

Meaning that since my wage earning potential has so little value, a company can still double that and you will be fooled into thinking you are being well paid even though you aren’t.

Husband works for a been-around-forever communications company that raked in 7.3 billion in 2012.

CNN broke it down like this in 2012 http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2012/ceo-pay-ratios/

At 18.7 million in total annual compensation it would take 291 employees making more than my husband currently does to equal the CEO’s 2011 compensation. And that’s after a 4.2 billion dollar failure that same year.

For 2013, he’s expected to get more than 20 million in compensations. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/03/11/att-ceo-stephenson-21m/1979781/

But my husband and men like him…the guy on the ground, the guy crawling through basements and attics, the guy tempting fate under the power lines for him, and those like him, every day, that guy has been fooled into thinking he’s making enough.

Why?

Because he makes double what I make.

Essentially, what has happened is that these million dollar CEO’s have decided that CEO’s should earn millions of dollars.

In order to make those millions happen, they don’t pay front-line wage earners a wage they can live with…after all, why should they when there are programs like SNAP to support what they aren’t willing to let go of.

A few companies who offer more specialized services and need more skilled labor then get to use that lowest wage everyone else is paying as the starting point for what they get to consider to be a fair wage…while the top levels still bank mightily. And since the lowest level workers only make less than half of a living wage, they can look “generous” by doubling that number!

Of course, it’s still not enough to live on,

But I bet you think you’re worth something since you get to say you make double what the slaves in the trenches make?

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About pynomrah

I like stuff, and things.
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One Response to Why is “Living Wage” a Bad Word?

  1. Pingback: Christian based charities instead of a federal welfare program….not quite the way to go | Somewhere in the Middle of Everything

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