We The People
Here’s what I asked over on Facebook:
Here’s the question I’m pondering: what should we expect for a person working full-time in our society? Should they be able to feed, clothe and house themselves on the money they make? Should they be able to support a child? Pay for medical care? Heat? Lights? Transportation?
Do we have that expectation, or is it a Grapes of Wrath situation where there’s no low too low? Talk to me.
I started thinking about it when I heard that most of the people who get food stamps are working people, whose benefit averages $133 per month.
One of the security guards at my old work was a proud new daddy. His big regret was that he didn’t get to see his son much – after 8 hours as a guard, he went to work for another 6 hours in the kitchen of a chain restaurant, and then on weekends worked two 8-hour days in a warehouse store.
He had zero days off and zero health benefits. He was a hard worker but not well-educated, or, it struck me, as someone capable of benefitting much from higher education (to put it bluntly – he just didn’t seem very bright).
So I wonder about this guy and about people like him. Is it ok that he worked 88 hours a week to make ends meet? What do we do with hard-working but not particularly intellectually capable people? Should a lack of abstract thinking skills keep him working 80+ hours a week his whole life?
His lack of health insurance is bothersome, too. Of course he and his family will need medical care. If his employers don’t offer it, who pays when he or his wife or child gets sick?
I’m really wondering what minimum wage means when it doesn’t cover the minimums of life – food, clothing, shelter. Some politicians want to abandon the minimum wage. Would we be ok with a society where there is no bottom, like China or other countries where people work for pennies an hour?
What do we want? What should we expect? I’m full of questions on this Labor Day. What do you think?