Working Poor

A friend and I were having a discussion today about jobs.  She has been working her rear end off at two jobs just to pay her rent, bills and food.  Every time she turns around the cost of something goes up but wages are not keeping pace.  Remember the good old days when people only had to work 40 hours a week to keep body and soul together?  Those days are long gone.

If you can't afford to go to University or are just not University material and not everyone is, then you can expect a job with such low pay you may make less than someone on Welfare.  At least on Welfare you get dental and health care not at a minimum wage job. 

And even if you can afford to go to University expect to come out with thousands of dollars of student loans to have to pay off.  It's a rare parent who can afford the total cost of a post secondary education for  their children.  And forget about working for a few months and having enough for tuition.  Most students can barely get a job at minimum wage during the summer months.  If they can't get free room and board then pretty much all their income will go to living costs.  Forget about saving for school.

In Canada there are few full scholarships like seem to be available in the US.  I remember getting a scholarship for something and it was only $250.  I could maybe buy a couple of text books for that.  Sure the money was nice but working that hard for such a small scholarship made it not worth the effort.  Only the top student got the good money and the rest of the good students got pennies.  In other words most kids didn't get enough scholarship money to really make going to University possible.  So your work a summer job living with your parents.  You get student loans and your parents help out a bit but it's so much stress and no guarantee that when you graduate you'll get a job making enough money to pay back your loans.  The stress of that not to mention the usual school stress can be too much for many students.

Employers are finding new ways to keep costs down by having mostly part time employees, thus saving them costs on health and other payroll deductions.  That forces employees to have to find more than one job to pay the bills.  Sometimes they have to work all week with their hours being 4 hours here and 4 hours there making any kind of rest or relaxation time impossible.

At the hospital my husband works at they employ just as many casual workers as they do full time and part time ones.  There are always jobs they fill with casual workers for a temporary time and they don't have to pay benefits to these people because they are not classified as full time or part time.  My husband was a casual on call employee for over 10 years and worked almost full time hours doing that with no benefits paid.  Ya, that is a real nice way to treat people.  Make sure to keep them poor so they are thankful they even have a job.

When I was a kid we all thought we would work less hours than our parents did.  What the hell happened?!!  We now work more hours for less pay (pay being buying power of a dollar).  Every year costs for fuels and food goes up but wages are pretty much flat.  Employers are telling employees that they can't afford to pay them more.  Take a look at the wage difference between CEO's and the average employee.  You'll see that some people are getting wage increases and huge million dollar bonuses and yet there is nothing left for the people who do the bulk of the work?

What's really happening is that a few people have figured out how to skim the cream off and keep the rest of the people from revolting too much.  Who has time to revolt when you have to work two or more jobs just to pay the rent?  Who has the energy when you are constantly stressed trying to pay your bills and put food on the table.  They like to tell us the "economy" is bad and "foreign workers" who are paid less make competition difficult and the company just can't afford to pay their workers more.  But they sure can pay millions to pay a few of the top people.  If those top people were better at their jobs then there would be enough money to pay the workers more!   It only makes sense. 

I know in business it's all an equation and everything is based on the bottom line but isn't it time we grew beyond that outdated business model?  Isn't it time we considered not only our employees but the environment?  Instead of creating only wealth to the few why can't we create something more?

David Suzuki said that the economy is not a living breathing entity.  It was created by us and can be controlled and changed by us.  So when economists talk about the economy like it had needs and wants that's just a load of crap.  We made the model and we can take it apart and make a different one. I believe it's time for something different, something better and most importantly fairer.

I could write more on this topic but I won't.  There is way more to this topic than what I've covered here.  Many people have said the same things before me and said it better.   The times that we are living in are slowly going backwards.  Pretty soon there will be Lords who have several mansions and many servants who are paid barely anything.  There will be serfs who work the land for the Lord but don't own it and only make barely enough to survive.  The servants and serfs could never afford to own land or property and the wealthy land owners liked it that way.  In other words the majority of the people lived in abject poverty while the wealthy used them to make their wealth.  Yup, we are going backwards and I only hope I'm not alive when that time comes.

Sorry for this downer post but every bill I'm getting has gone up this year as has gas and property taxes.  Sure property taxes are only going up by $43 a year but add to that the 3% for natural gas, 2.5% for electricity, food and gas increases and everything else and you pretty much upset my apple cart.  All I can do is to post my frustration and work harder.  All I can do is to buy less and make more for myself.  All I can do is dream and hope for a better future for my kids and everyone else.


Mama Pea said…
Well written post. Your next to the last paragraph pretty well says it all. The powers-that-be are striving to make it that way.
judy said…
I agree with you totally,my son is working 2 jobs to make ends meet and they still don't. i hope our country and your get up and revolt before anyone becomes lords and serfs ,but it almost feels like that now.who can eat healthy unless you grow it your self and if were as dumb as i was to loose ,y home and now i am making a guy we went to school with a millionaire-he buys homes on short sales ,lets you "rent " than tells you to sign a contract for deed we pay$1475.00 a month-just about all our income -so our kids live with us because they can't afford to live anywhere and they pay utilities-they let the water bill slip a bit ,now its up to$1300.00 again grrrrrrrrrrr I'm mad ,mad as hell- i grew up middle class -no such animal anymore!we could move--where to a apt for almost the same and for someone to tell me when and if i can breath. we did that,I'll go live in the forest before i do that again.I don't have hope or faith-the greedy s took that too
Erin said…
It's crazy indeed. The reason we stay in the military is for that steady pay and benefits, even though the pay isn't great, it comes like clockwork. That is now changing too, though with the drawdown and so many being cut. Full scholarships aren't that common, actually the norm is about 250-500 for those who would qualify and seek them out. I'm not going to push my kids into college i don't think, it's looking like trade schools have a better job outlook with less school time and expense. If they want to go they can join the military and have them pay for it, just like I did :)
Prairie Cat said…
I graduated from college in 2010, and have since not been able to find a job in my field, but have still been paying around $300 a month on my loans. Luckily my parents were able to cover some of my schooling, because otherwise, I don't know how I would have afforded it. I even went after scholarships and had a decently high GPA... and yet that still only cut a few thousand off.

Because of layoffs, people with way more experience than recent graduates have been applying for the entry level jobs. I know of only a few people in my graduating class who have managed to snag anything.
Sparkless said…
Judy - The middle class has gone missing and I'm hopping mad about it too!

Erin - The military is looking like a good option for kids wanting to get an education but not being able to pay for it or willing to go into huge debt.

Prairie Cat - Those student loans are killers. It took me over 10 years to pay mine off and I never found a job in my field although I should have gone back and done a Masters but couldn't afford it.
Sparkless said…
Mama Pea - I just hope we can turn it around before things get much worse but I don't see anyone really doing anything that makes any difference. Just a few protesters that people label as radical nut jobs and some lone voices in cyber land complaining.

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