Anti-union Yahoo!?
November 4, 2002 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Anti-union Yahoo!? A former janitor at the Yahoo! offices wrote to The Mercury News about his experience: $16K/yr, no benefits, no union. Reads like a page from Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed." In the wake of the e-bubble and Enron economy, cleaning out the wastebaskets still gets no respect...or does it? Discuss. (Thanks to J. Romenesko)
posted by serafinapekkala (82 comments total)

 
The underappreciated need to appreciate their place in society.
posted by mikhail at 8:18 AM on November 4, 2002


The concept of unions is good -- protect workers from exploitation, ensure safety standards, etc.

But the real-world of unions is an abomination. It's about extortion, bribery, and pressure for ever-higher salaries. Anti-union Yahoo? More power to 'em. Should a janitor really make $75,000/year for emptying wastebaskets and mopping the floor?
posted by oissubke at 8:20 AM on November 4, 2002


Hm, if only Yahoo.com didn't suck so much, I almost would have wanted to start using it now.
posted by dagny at 8:22 AM on November 4, 2002


This letter reminded me of a story one of my law school professors told, about working at a labor law firm (employEE side) in a building serviced by UNICCO, the infamous union-busting custodial company here in Boston which recently precipitated a somewhat successful citywide janitorial strike. The firm partners didn't see the irony of underpaid, overworked janitors cleaning out the recycling bins full of briefs *about workers' rights* from under their nice mahogany desks every night. It may be that a capitalist economy is necessarily built on the backs of low-wage service industry workers...but isn't there something to learn from the whiplash economy of the last ten years? Now that the go-go 90's are over and nothing has changed for most folks, what can be done to lift all the boats for once?
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:23 AM on November 4, 2002


BTW, show me the janitor (not on 'The Sopranos') pulling down $75K. puh-lease.
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:25 AM on November 4, 2002


Should a janitor really make $75,000/year for emptying wastebaskets and mopping the floor?

Probably not, oissubke, but I think they should make enough to support a family, or at least have health benefits, since almost all health insurance (besides Medicare/Medicaid) is tied to employment in this country.
posted by gramcracker at 8:27 AM on November 4, 2002


One wonders why someone making 16k (or even twice that) would have children in modern America.
posted by owillis at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2002


One wonders why someone making 16k (or even twice that) would have children in modern America.

A lot of adults (and kids) who make nothing have kids in America. The notion has bothered me, too.

But I agree with gramcracker.

On a side note, the more-or-less-Dot-Com that I worked for simply fired the janitorial service all together. We eventually figured it out :(
posted by ae4rv at 8:44 AM on November 4, 2002


Oh, gawd, owillis . . .
posted by hackly_fracture at 8:46 AM on November 4, 2002


I don't think it's always a conscious choice, owillis. They don't use or can't afford birth control, men don't think they should have to use a condom, they don't have access to contraceptives... there's lots of reasons.
posted by gramcracker at 8:54 AM on November 4, 2002


Owillis - It depends on where you live. Where I live (Wyoming), the cost of living is really low, so two parents making 16k or one making 32k would be able to provide a decent quality of life for children. They probably wouldn't be able to send them to private school or anything like that, but they would be able to afford good food, dental care, medical attention, and transportation. Even a decent amount of entertainment, if they weren't too wasteful with their money.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:54 AM on November 4, 2002


I have not seen my wife or children in many months. They are waiting in Mexico for the day I can afford to bring them here. When I was at Yahoo, I made $16,000 a year with no health insurance, which was not enough to raise a family. In April, I began working with other Yahoo janitors to have a union. Union janitors in Silicon Valley make $20,000 a year and have family health insurance.

Which shows he wasn't shooting for 75k in the first place, if you happened to read the article.
posted by angry modem at 9:00 AM on November 4, 2002


Maybe they need their kids to help them with the cleaning - the more kids the more income and the less they need to be paid - you could run a country with such enlightened employment laws - maybe Sierra Leone, Burma or the US.

Oissubke your logic is fantastic: Unions are good unless they pressure for higher salaries.
posted by niceness at 9:06 AM on November 4, 2002


Only the rich should have children

Only the rich should have health care

Right?

This way, all that sad poor-person-DNA would be lost forever, and the gene pool would only get better.

Right?

btw, oissbuke, maybe a janitor shouldn't make 75k, no. But he/she should at least be able to make a decent living, and should not simply have to die as a roach if he/she ever gets sick and can't afford health care

I'm _so_ communistic, man
posted by matteo at 9:07 AM on November 4, 2002


I lost a job because the company (a university!) brought in sc]bas without credentials. Only S. Africa and the US allow for permanent replacement of workers on strike. What good is a union if you can get fired if you don't give in?

The real issue is not how much this or that worker makes or ought to but rather the huge and increasing gap between management and labor...Look at Enron executives and what they walked away with after screwing over the country. Or Mr. W of GE!

Too, the issue of illelgals willing to sork (and to be hired), green cards to get skilled workers to replace American workers. Goodies being made overseas etc etc.

To say merely that unions are run by thugs is plain sily. Yes. There are crooks in some unions; and yes, we now know there are crooks in govt,in top management, and in the accounting forms that were to keep them honest. Too many films viewed to say: management good; unions corrupt.
posted by Postroad at 9:25 AM on November 4, 2002


Only the rich should have children ... Only the rich should have health care

sounds like the United States of MeFi to me: "We the technoliterate in order to form a more perfect union have decided to put all those poor shlubs who don't make rational decisions like us on the moon, so we won't have to pay taxes again, ever." i find it interesting how the discussion has leapt so blithely from wages and benefits to moralistic pronouncements about "those people" who can't get a "decent" job, etc etc etc. i don't want to blame "the system" for everyone's troubles, but it seems to me that basic earning power in this country has eroded to the point of no return, unless more people start to care about and address the inequity.

it would be interesting to see what would happen if non-service-industry jobs started pulling these kind of tactics: low wages with no opportunity for advancement, no health coverage, whimsical lay-offs...oops, wait, that's *already* happening! i'm an attorney, for pete's sake, and i don't have health insurance b/c i'm a contractor, so the company i work for can save a buck or two. of course nobody should be able to manipulate the system, through a union or otherwise, to unfairly enrich themselves, but that's not the rampant problem here: stagnant wages and poor standard of living are. how about all the execs who make 1,000 times what their employees make and then bail out of companies when they start to tank? that sounds like extortion, bribery, and pressure for ever-higher salaries to me. forget about USMeFi, maybe we're living in the United States of I Don't Give A Shit About Anybody But Myself, hmmm?
posted by serafinapekkala at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2002


I don't think it's always a conscious choice, owillis. They don't use or can't afford birth control, men don't think they should have to use a condom, they don't have access to contraceptives... there's lots of reasons.

It isn't always a conscious choice, but sometimes it seems people don't use common sense or make the proper precautions (not saying so in this case, because we don't know the details). You can get free birth control at Planned Parenthood, so I don't think the "access" excuse works.

I think its also safe to say $16k in the Bay Area won't go very far.

Only the rich should have children

No, but we also live in the real world and people need to be practical.
posted by owillis at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2002


BTW, show me the janitor (not on 'The Sopranos') pulling down $75K. puh-lease.

You need to come to Detroit and learn more about the UAW. Anyone in the UAW can make over $100K a year with little effort, and many do.

My Father-in-Law is an electrician, and worked out of the IBEW hall for many years, and struggled to make ends meet. (Work wasn't always easy to find, when there are 3-400 people on the work waiting list) But, he got a chance to get into the UAW with one of the Big3, and now is making probably $100K a year with overtime, and he is amazed by how much sh!t he gets for trying to do too much work, and how he won't take 3-4 days to do a job that should really take 4-6 hours. He works afternoons now, so he doesn't get as much heat, and can do his own thing. It's sad.
posted by dirt at 9:35 AM on November 4, 2002


"One wonders why someone making 16k (or even twice that) would have children in modern America."

Because sex can be one of the cheaper (in the short term) forms of entertainment.
posted by websavvy at 9:36 AM on November 4, 2002


I think the janitor is missing the point: he's an unskilled labourer. As harsh as it may be, anyone can do his job. Same goes for me, right now, I'm easily replaceable.

If this janitor had applied with some sort of education in "janitoral services" or "waste disposal" (or whatever the Hell applies), then I could see his gripe.

The reason the higher-ups get paid more, and recieve benefits, is because they are valuable to the company. Yes, I realize I'm being pretty cold here, but I'm an unskilled labourer myself (at the moment), and you don't see me gripping because the general managers all have benefits, RRSP programs, and higher wages. I know I'd have those things if I had a a culinary arts degree, or years of business savvy (I don't know the wait-staff managers well -- let alone their academic accolades).

Point being: unskilled labourers really have to leg to stand on, IMO. This is a capitalist society -- you advance on YOUR merits. If he didn't want to live on a janitor's wages, then he should've completed higher education. Or, if he did and still can't find work, then he should realize that life is often times hard, as owillis said, needs to "be practical".
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:37 AM on November 4, 2002


two vaguely related points:

16k doesn't sounds that little to me - it's nearly ten times the minimum wage here in chile (about 160 dollars a month) and the cost of living surely isn't 10 times lower here (cheap bread might be 75 cents a kilo - does a cheap loaf of bread in the states cost 5 dollars?). people raise kids with that level of income (obviously, both parents try to work, perhaps they'll also try to have more than one job, but in the current economic climate, i doubt they'll manage that) - they seem to survive.

how is it anyone else's decision whether someone should have kids or not? i suspect most of you would be surprised at the level of poverty in which people survive and have, apparently, happy lives. in "poor" countries people don't start killing themselves just because they have no money - so why should they not exist in the first place?
posted by andrew cooke at 9:42 AM on November 4, 2002


"One wonders why someone making 16k (or even twice that) would have children in modern America."

He's in America, they aren't. Did you read the article?
posted by user92371 at 9:43 AM on November 4, 2002


serafina, postroad

(NYT link, registration required, blah blah blah)

You can't understand what's happening in America today without understanding the extent, causes and consequences of the vast increase in inequality that has taken place over the last three decades, and in particular the astonishing concentration of income and wealth in just a few hands. To make sense of the current wave of corporate scandal, you need to understand how the man in the gray flannel suit has been replaced by the imperial C.E.O.
The concentration of income at the top is a key reason that the United States, for all its economic achievements, has more poverty and lower life expectancy than any other major advanced nation. Above all, the growing concentration of wealth has reshaped our political system: it is at the root both of a general shift to the right and of an extreme polarization of our politics.

posted by matteo at 9:50 AM on November 4, 2002


btw, oissbuke, maybe a janitor shouldn't make 75k, no. But he/she should at least be able to make a decent living, and should not simply have to die as a roach if he/she ever gets sick and can't afford health care

Oh, I wholeheartedly agree. I don't disagree with the concept of unions as watchdog, unions as protecting worker rights, etc.

But I'm absolutely against what most unions evolve into, which is a way of extorting heaps of money to pay the salaries of workers whose jobs could be performed by trained animals. Those workers would be better off if the government would simply lay off the taxes (instead of slicing away the majority of their income for pet projects that sound good on paper and keep getting them elected).
posted by oissubke at 9:56 AM on November 4, 2002


I think the janitor is missing the point: he's an unskilled labourer. As harsh as it may be, anyone can do his job.

Not really. Only healthy, dependable people who are not particularly prone to corporal tunnel, tendentious and other repetitive motion diseases should apply for that job.

I'm pretty middle-of-the-road politically, having been blessed/cursed with the ability to see both sides (sometimes more) of most issues. But I think that anyone who spends most of their waking free time to work a hard and/or boring job for a successful company should be compensated with enough money to live on.

Perhaps 16K goes farther in San Francisco than I am aware of.
posted by ae4rv at 10:09 AM on November 4, 2002


he's an unskilled labourer. As harsh as it may be, anyone can do his job.

Yeah, except anyone won't do it. It's a tough, thankless, and (literally) shitty job, but someone has to do it, and for that they deserve the right to a living wage and the ability to be taken care of when they get sick: most likely from, oh I don't know, the fact that they're job involves handling filth constantly, maybe?

While I agree in some respects that the drive to unionization can get overzealous, I loathe the ignorant ideology that "anyone can do this job" coming from those who never have, and likely never will.

A lot of you talk about the "abuses" of unions; maybe you should focus on why we still need them in this country. Considering the refusals to raise the minimum wage, the fight against national health care, and various decisions such as lowering OSHA standards and trying to pass "tort reform" that limits employee's abilities to sue their neglegent bosses, has it occured to anyone else that maybe just making the genreal standard of labor in this country better would stop people from being "se easily convinced" that they need to unionize by the allegedly corupt-and-exploting union leaders?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:28 AM on November 4, 2002


XQUZYPHYR: my job ain't too pretty either. I get sick. I get cut. I get burned. I handle filth too. (Albeit, mostly food waste, but I'd argue that lugging around garbage bags full of restaurant waste would probably equal anything an office janitor is going to have to deal with.)

But I think that anyone who spends most of their waking free time to work a hard and/or boring job for a successful company should be compensated with enough money to live on.

No one forced him to take that job. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think anyone would ever walk into a janitorial job and expect to make big money.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:36 AM on November 4, 2002


oissubke: Those workers would be better off if the government would simply lay off the taxes.

Those workers only pay social security and medicare taxes, no income tax. Are you saying they would be better off without social security and medicare?
posted by JackFlash at 10:40 AM on November 4, 2002


No one forced him to take that job.

Name's George. Lives in a big house in Washington, and him and a bunch of his co-workers have this thing called "an economy" that sort of requires everyone who isn't them to actually work for a living. The least they can do is give him a living wage: something the mimimume wage currently isn't.

And oissubke, I almost forgot: was this what you meant by "jobs that could be performed by trained animals?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:42 AM on November 4, 2002


oissubke, the point of our labor laws is to solve what is otherwise a collective action problem. Individual employees cannot negotiate effectively with management because they are in an unequal bargaining position. Management can present them with a crappy contract and say "take it or leave it," and the individual employee is stuck. (For unskilled workers, quitting is usually not an option for a whole host of reasons). If the employee is rational, his next step would be to band together with other employees and say collectively "none of us will sign your stinking contract unless it contains x, y and z." Labor law simply prevents management from interfering with this completely market-driven process.

Think about it this way: if wages for non-union workers were truly set at market rates, then there would be no disparity between the wages of unionized and non-unionized workers. The fact that union wages are generally much higher indicates that employers do tend to use their unequal bargaining power to force non-unionized workers to accept below-market wages
posted by boltman at 10:51 AM on November 4, 2002


oissbuke: ...workers whose jobs could be performed by trained animals...

Protection from bosses with such bigoted and disgusting views of honest human labor is what makes unions so necessary.
posted by JackFlash at 11:00 AM on November 4, 2002


While I was working at Yahoo, there was a grassroots sympathy movement amongst the employees for the salary and benefits of the janitorial staff. I say the employees because, no matter how it's spun, the janitors and such aren't Yahoo employees; they're hired, managed, and paid by a corporate cleaning service that Yahoo contracts with.

But of course a janitor complaining that their cleaning service company isn't paying them enough doesn't make news, so it get spun like Yahoo is screwing him over.
posted by kfury at 11:05 AM on November 4, 2002


Those workers would be better off if the government would simply lay off the taxes (instead of slicing away the majority of their income for pet projects that sound good on paper and keep getting them elected).

Not true at all .
posted by y2karl at 11:08 AM on November 4, 2002


And if their income is being sliced away by taxes, it's because, as linked above, their share of the tax cut was already given away to the top 1% of earners--there's your class warfare, buddy.
posted by y2karl at 11:11 AM on November 4, 2002


Boltman, the equation you reference stands better for the unequal bargaining power is exercised by the union, not the employer. If you think of unions simply as syndicates for the sale of labor, then they are allowed to do things which would be felonious violations of the anti-trust laws if done by syndicates for the sale of any other good.

No serious person denies that immigration laws and organized-labor laws erect massive barriers to market forces in pricing labor. However, many serious people (inlcuding me) regard this as a tolerable incursion into the market -- in essence, a social security "tax" that we levy upon the economy to purchase income and job security, and which, like all taxes can have ultimately positive returns in public welfare.

The problem comes, in my view, when the unions begin to interfere with the business, not merely with the costs, e.g. in public education and the power of the teachers union. The UAW doesn't tell GM what kind of cars to sell or how to price them, but the NEA certainly has a lot to say about every aspect of education policy.
posted by MattD at 11:17 AM on November 4, 2002


... er, which like some taxes, can have ultimately positive returns to the public welfare ...
posted by MattD at 11:18 AM on November 4, 2002


Not true at all.

And for evidence, you link to four liberal editorials? Come on, you can do better than that.

And if their income is being sliced away by taxes, it's because, as linked above, their share of the tax cut was already given away to the top 1% of earners--there's your class warfare, buddy.

What does their share of the tax cut have to do with whether or not their paying too much taxes in the first place?

And the highest earners should get the biggest tax cut, since they put the most money into the system.

And before you make a straw man out of me, you ought to know that I think government should charge a flat 10% income tax and abolish all other taxes.
posted by oissubke at 11:26 AM on November 4, 2002


Y2karl: obscure linking totally sucks.

I am a fan of unions, if only because corporations have proved that they will hurt people for money, over and over again. If the work performed by union employees was so unnecessary, then striking wouldn't have any effect.

That said, it would be a good thing if it were possible to take the good things that unions provide and somehow filter out the excesses that can occur whenever power gets concentrated.

On the other hand, I live in Utah, land of pitifully underpaid workers who, sadly enough, are all too willing to vote for their oppressors.
posted by mecran01 at 11:26 AM on November 4, 2002


XQUZYPHYR: I meant that specific job. I don't make minimum wage, myself (unless minimum wage equates to $10.50 / hour), but I'm still an unskilled labourer at my current job. But, hey, shopping around for a job, that's unheard of.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2002


Those workers only pay social security and medicare taxes, no income tax. Are you saying they would be better off without social security and medicare?

Excuse me? On what precisely are you basing this? I would love to make $16K — it's a nice bit more than I'm making now at my job which requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, Perl, XML, XSLT, design (print and web), not to mention a plethora of library-related standards and skills(EAD, AACR2, Dublin Core, writing finding aids and doing reference for researchers) — and I still pay nearly half my rent in taxes each month. About 60% of that is SS and Medicare; the rest is state and federal income tax. Sure, I'll get some of it back, maybe all of it, but let me tell you, landlords generally don't take it well when you tell them, "Don't worry about the rest of the rent, I'll have it next April."

When I was an independent contractor and evaded my taxes — at the same salary I'm working now — I could afford to survive. Now, I can't.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:34 AM on November 4, 2002


I love discussions like this - oh the delights of living in the Land of the Passionate Victim ... where one only needs to decide in their own mind what they think they deserve from "the system", and then claim oppression if they don't get it.

A guy who has apparently not exerted the effort to learn to do anything other than mop a floor, believes that someone owes him an income that will permit him to raise a family, and provide them all with full access to the health care system. Better get Oprah on this injustice right away!

And if their income is being sliced away by taxes, it's because, as linked above, their share of the tax cut was already given away to the top 1% of earners--there's your class warfare, buddy.

Back atcha with an equally obscure link:

"The argument most oft used against tax breaks are that they benefit only the wealthy. It is clear from even a cursory look at the numbers below that the 'wealthy' will receive the majority of any income tax reduction because they pay a disproportionately huge percentage of the income taxes! "
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:39 AM on November 4, 2002


A guy who has apparently not exerted the effort to learn to do anything other than mop a floor, believes that someone owes him an income that will permit him to raise a family, and provide them all with full access to the health care system. Better get Oprah on this injustice right away!


You took the words right out of my mouth.

The purpose of government is not to provide for it's citizens. It is not to feed them. It is not to educate them. It is not to ensure that they get a proper salary. It is not to take half of our income and spend it on feel-good issues that have nothing to do with us.

That's our job as individuals. It's our responsibility to feed, clothe, house, and educate our own darn selves. Government is there to prevent death, destruction, and anarchy -- the rest is up to us as individuals. If we fail, well crap, we have to deal with the consequences.

This nation will be great again once people stop considering "Government" and "Mommy" to be synonyms.
posted by oissubke at 12:02 PM on November 4, 2002


applause
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:04 PM on November 4, 2002


MattD: Labor laws simply facilitate what rational employees would do on their own in the absence of employer coersion. They are not anti-free-market. There were unions before the National Labor Relations Act, you know. They just had to contend with police and hired thugs beating their workers up whenever they tried to strike. Would you say that the low wages that resulted from this behavior on the part of employers were an accurate measure of the employee's value?
posted by boltman at 12:27 PM on November 4, 2002


Upstairs, Downstairs. Whoo, another commie!

You may not have notice, oissubke, or rather you chose to ignore, that in the first link--the liberal was one William Easterly, formerly economist for the World Bank. Wow, that's practically the same as being a Trotskyite.

Upstairs: In 2000, the average CEO earned more in one day than the average worker earned all year.

Downstairs: In 2000, 25 percent of workers earned less than poverty-level wages.

Upstairs: Between 1990 and 2000, average CEO pay rose 571 percent.

Downstairs: Between 1990 and 2000, average worker pay rose 37 percent.


10% flat tax--that's a much faster way to transfer income to the already over-subsidized top 1%, who, as we can see, have earned it. Ah, simple solutions for complex problems--It beats thinking, doesn't it?
posted by y2karl at 12:29 PM on November 4, 2002


A guy who has apparently not exerted the effort to learn to do anything other than mop a floor

pardon me, but how do you know this about this man? he mops floors, but it does not therefore follow that he is only good at, interested in, qualified to, trained in, or worthy of floor-mopping. maybe he would make a great architect or policeman or god forbid a computer programmer, but he doesn't yet have the language or job skills or the money to go to school to learn them. or maybe not. who knows? i think he, like all workers (that's right, WORKERS, not those shiftless welfare layabouts, remember), should be compensated fairly. nobody "owes" him a certain wage, and i don't think that's what he is saying. the idea is that as hard as he works he cannot get ahead because his job is undervalued.

feel-good issues that have nothing to do with us

who is this "us"? the self-sufficient landed gentry?

Government is there to prevent death, destruction, and anarchy -- the rest is up to us as individuals.

last time i checked, "individuals" could certainly stir up a lot of death, destruction, and anarchy...does this mean the Gov. is in place to stop us from fully actualizing ourselves as individuals? and isn't it these "individuals" who actually carry out the functions of the Gov.? they must have some special "altruism gene" which allows them to put aside their own interests between 9 and 5...
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2002


10% flat tax--that's a much faster way to transfer income to the already over-subsidized top 1%, who, as we can see, have earned it. Ah, simple solutions for complex problems--It beats thinking, doesn't it?

The poor are poor because they haven't the ambition to become anything other than poor. They blame the government. They blame the "establishment". They blame "the Man". But never does it cross their mind to blame themselves.

How do I know? I grew up poor. I grew up homeless. I lived in campgrounds and cars. Everyone I knew was poor. I would have loved the opportunity to grow up in a trailer park. I know poverty because I grew up with it. I understand the mindset. But I decided that I wasn't comfortable with it, so I stopped. I got an education, I worked hard, and now I have a house and a pretty decent income.

The notion of the tragedy-stricken poor individual who really wants to work hard, but just doesn't have the opportunity is generally a fallacy. There are a handful of such people, but they are certainly in the minority. Anyone who wants money can have it. Anyone who wants to get out of poverty, can do so, but sheer force of ambition and will.

If they choose not to, however, because they're sufficiently comfortable with their current circumstances, they shouldn't expect to be subsidized by others.

If you know someone who is poor and struggling because they don't have an opportunity, send them my way, and I'll get them on the road they need to be on.
posted by oissubke at 12:55 PM on November 4, 2002


last time i checked, "individuals" could certainly stir up a lot of death, destruction, and anarchy...

Correct.

does this mean the Gov. is in place to stop us from fully actualizing ourselves as individuals?

Correct.

and isn't it these "individuals" who actually carry out the functions of the Gov.?

Sometimes.

they must have some special "altruism gene" which allows them to put aside their own interests between 9 and 5...

If we vote for the right ones, yes, that's right.
posted by oissubke at 1:00 PM on November 4, 2002


I meant that specific job... But, hey, shopping around for a job, that's unheard of.

Again, that's beside my point. Someone, somewhere, is going to need to take the job. A major problem in the wage dispute is that people do not recognize the difference between an "easy to do" job and a necessary one. The fact that it might be "easy" to clean floors or haul garbage doesn't change the fact that someone's got to do it, and whoever has to do it deserves to be able to sustain himself at the safe time.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:02 PM on November 4, 2002


The poor are poor because they haven't the ambition to become anything other than poor. They blame the government. They blame the "establishment". They blame "the Man". But never does it cross their mind to blame themselves.

So the idea that total employment (as opposed to the theoretical notion of "full employment") is impossible is discounted by you, I presume? Should the discount rate not be raised when inflation fears raise their head, due to low unemployment?
posted by raysmj at 1:11 PM on November 4, 2002


The fact that it might be "easy" to clean floors or haul garbage doesn't change the fact that someone's got to do it, and whoever has to do it deserves to be able to sustain himself at the safe time.

I get the gist of your point, but the fact that a job is "necessary" doesn't mean that any one person has to do it if they don't feel comfortable with the wages. People don't get unwillingly sucked into jobs in order to fill a vacuum -- they do so because they consider the effort worth the wages. A janitor (and anyone else) is a human being, with free will and agency. He makes the call, not his employer.
posted by oissubke at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2002


Government is there to prevent death, destruction, and anarchy -- the rest is up to us as individuals.

That's not what the U.S. Constitution says, or even the texts in most standard political theory courses. I like James Madison's idea better - that the end of government is justice.
posted by raysmj at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2002


How do I know? I grew up poor. I grew up homeless. I lived in campgrounds and cars... Anyone who wants money can have it. Anyone who wants to get out of poverty, can do so...

Ah, the nouveaux riche. In the UK these are the members of society who grew up receiving free healthcare, social security and housing if and when necessary. Then they did well for themselves, bought a house and private healthcare and dedicated their lives to making sure they never need to pay taxes to ensure others get the same help they had. Easily recognisable by their simplistic and judgmental attitude.

Maybe the caretaker wants the pay rise to buy some schooling?
posted by niceness at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2002


If we vote for the right ones, yes, that's right.

i have to admit, oissubke, you got me there, this cracked me up. ;-)
posted by serafinapekkala at 1:18 PM on November 4, 2002


This nation will be great again once people stop considering "Government" and "Mommy" to be synonyms.

This Hobbesian SuperCop Government you apparently have wet dreams about belongs to a 18th Century economic and political theory that does not seem to work very well in the Modern Era (ask your buddy Herbert Hoovers' ghost, he'll be glad to tell you about that)
And define "will be great once again".
What is exactly this past greatness? The 1850's?
Is it all FDR's fault?

Not even the new, All-Republican government we'll probably see tomorrow night may turn your dreams into reality -- Welfare will still exist, at least for corporations. Huge expenditures will still be there -- only for the Pentagon OK, but still

Also: I'll shock you now. The poor aren't all lazy (I don't exactly buy the elegant "Welfare queens" Reagan line, sorry)
posted by matteo at 1:22 PM on November 4, 2002


The notion of the tragedy-stricken poor individual who really wants to work hard, but just doesn't have the opportunity is generally a fallacy

okay, let's take a single woman of color living in an inner city neighborhood with lots of crime and few jobs. She's made a few bad decisions so far in her short life, maybe in part because she lacked any positive role models growing up. She dropped out of high school after having a child and has since had two more. The father left town to elude his child support obligations which is maybe just as well because he was abusive towards her. We take away all the job training, child care subsidies, transportation assistance and other help that is currently available to her thanks to Uncle Sam along with all her cash assistance, food stamps and health coverage.

Where are her opportunities?
posted by boltman at 1:23 PM on November 4, 2002


If we are talking about citizens of America, then the janitors should have every right to form a union. Citizens of this country, and there ancestors built this country, and in a sense, are part-owners, and have a right to reap the profits therefrom.


You don't go up to some owner of a gas station and demand that he help his employee clean the driveway, instead of sitting on his butt. As the owner of the gas station, he should have a right to do as little as possible, should he so desire, and still reap the benefits of ownership.
Any jobs that are here in America are here b/c we citizens and our ancestors built this country into a place where capital investment is safe. So therefore we have a right to reap the benefits of ownership.

Now, if these janitors are immigrants (legal or illegal), I say that they do NOT have a right to form a union; they and their ancestors did not build this country, and so they are not owners, and so they do not have the rights of citizenship....
posted by bannedThrice at 1:33 PM on November 4, 2002


Some plutocrat wrote:

If you know someone who is poor and struggling because they don't have an opportunity, send them my way, and I'll get them on the road they need to be on.


Lemme guess---you'll put them to work in your car wash....
posted by bannedThrice at 1:39 PM on November 4, 2002


Hobbesian SuperCop Government

sweet! John Ashcroft's new dream job description: Commandant of the SuperCops!

on this Government/Mommy dichotomy (which i tried to gingerly step over above), I also wonder if that second half is not the real problem. this scheme posits government as an abstract, laissez-faire, regulatory force, the cyclone fence around the individualist, free-market playground upon which all the "individuals" will play out their (Social?) Darwinian destinies. the things those individuals need to prepare for and triumph on the playground (food, clothing, shelter, values, capital) are to be provided and inculcated in the family unit, or at worst scrounged up somehow by the scrappiest individuals before climbing the jungle gym of success. where it falls apart for me is, what of those who don't have these family resources? do we really expect people to "educate themselves," a la the homeschooled Abe Lincoln, to get ahead? we don't all start out with the same advantages; why can't we spread the wealth and try to at least equalize *opportunity,* not reward? i don't think government, particularly federal, does this well or fairly or at all, but to me it's still a worthwhile aim.
posted by serafinapekkala at 1:40 PM on November 4, 2002


Now, if these janitors are immigrants (legal or illegal), I say that they do NOT have a right to form a union; they and their ancestors did not build this country, and so they are not owners, and so they do not have the rights of citizenship....

How long is it necessary to have been a legal immigrant before you deign to allow their involvement in society? Do Native Americans have a greater say in this? After all as indigenous people they are far 'purer' under your system of citizenship.
posted by niceness at 1:42 PM on November 4, 2002


Where are her opportunities?

She finds some work, saves some money, takes some community college classes (they're usually inexpensive), learn a skill (computers are good), gets a better job, and moves on.

Can she have a new car, a nice apartment, a DVD player, a Playstation for the kids, and a wardrobe from Macy's? Probably not, at least not yet. Maybe she even has to ask friends, church members, etc. for help, or spend a while at a homeless shelther.

But if she works instead of resigning herself to dependence on the government, she can become self-reliant and provide a better life for her and her children.

But we can play "what if" all day. What if she's crippled, and blind, and illiterate, and doesn't speak English, and...

I've never said that we should abolish all programs that help those in need. Some people are in a prefectly crappy situation and need some help.

But helping someone is different from subsidizing them. The government absoutely shouldn't fund people whose lives are exactly where they were six months previously. That's where the problem with welfare is -- people regard it as "money for nothing" instead of as an opportunity for them to become self-reliant.
posted by oissubke at 1:49 PM on November 4, 2002


some detail-oriented person wrote:

How long is it necessary to have been a legal immigrant before you deign to allow their involvement in society?


9 years, 7 months and 2 weeks and 2 days, precisely.



Do Native Americans have a greater say in this? After all as indigenous people they are far 'purer' under your system of citizenship


Notice I said "country". Notice that there WAS no country when the Amerinds were the only ones here. Notice that I mentioned "capital investment." Notice that there WAS no such word when the Amerinds were the only ones here.
posted by bannedThrice at 1:53 PM on November 4, 2002


Again, oissubke: what about subsidizing corporations? Is that cool?
posted by matteo at 1:54 PM on November 4, 2002


Notice I said "country". Notice that there WAS no country when the Amerinds were the only ones here.

Ah, detail-oriented too? but with nonsensical bollocks thrown in - you're very good.
posted by niceness at 2:05 PM on November 4, 2002


Um. Obviously, setting salaries on the basis of need *cringe* is backwards. The wages of the job should be what the job is worth on the market of potential employees. If that's too little to support a family, tough -- that means fewer people will take the job, and the employers will have to consider raises to attract employees. That's how it works.

I have neither a problem with Yahoo offering a $16K salary, or with the janitors organizing and attempting to boost it to the shockingly high sum of $20K. We do know that there will be some job losses in this process, as employers will have to (say) raise rents to cover higher maintenance expenses, limiting their lease customers. If unions push too hard, they will find that their employers simply shut down.

It's a little trickier in the case of a government employees union. The Chicago Public Schools are undoubtedly better since Daley got control of the board and reformed the place. Before that, the person most obviously "running" the schools was the teachers' union boss; and the custodial staff had cushy rules that let them give the finger to principals. Sometimes they wouldn't even open up the schools for mandated Local School Council meetings -- or if the principal managed to get in, he'd find the boilers off. That's too far.

The only thing that's wrong here is that Yahoo was violating federal law by dicking around with the workers who were trying to organize. Some of that may have been legal, but most of it probably isn't, and they should be due some close scrutiny.
posted by dhartung at 2:09 PM on November 4, 2002


Again, oissubke: what about subsidizing corporations? Is that cool?

In general, no. If a corporation doesn't provide people with enough benefit that it can stay in business, it should cease to exist. The government shouldn't support companies with money taken from citizens who didn't want to give the companies their money in the first place.
posted by oissubke at 2:16 PM on November 4, 2002


The only thing that's wrong here is that Yahoo was violating federal law by dicking around with the workers who were trying to organize. Some of that may have been legal, but most of it probably isn't, and they should be due some close scrutiny.

In that case, may the wrath of the law be upon them. I don't like unions, but that certainly doesn't justify breaking the law to circumvent them.
posted by oissubke at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2002


I've never said that we should abolish all programs that help those in need. Some people are in a prefectly crappy situation and need some help.

Actually, in my experience working with women on welfare, just about all of them would fall into this category. Unfortunately, in many cases, their problems run deep and cannot be solved in six months or a year. There's also the pesky little problem of raising kids that tends to significantly interfere with finding and keeping a job, especially when there are not options for affordable and reliable child care (which is nearly always the case).

People on welfare live extremely complicated lives and there are no easy solutions to their problems. If you take away their benefits, most will be able to find some other way to scrape by, but in most cases it will not be through a legitimate job with prospects for advancement. A much more complex approach is necessary, but unfortunately such an approach is much less condusive to sound bytes than time limits and personal responsibility.

This relates to the union issue beacuse a key element of moving people off welfare is to make work actually pay enough to live on. More unions = higher wages for starting employees. What better way to encourage people to seek independence from welfare than to ofer them wages that they could actually live on?
posted by boltman at 2:24 PM on November 4, 2002


oissubke: You completely ignore the fact that not everyone will be able to find work. It's not possible, theoretically or in reality. Subsidized or make-work employment is an option, if taxpayers are willing to foot the bill, but not everyone will be able to find a real job.
posted by raysmj at 2:46 PM on November 4, 2002


She finds some work, saves some money, takes some community college classes (they're usually inexpensive), learn a skill (computers are good), gets a better job, and moves on.

Easier said than done, oissubke. Read a few pages from Nickel and Dimed, a book on child care issues, or any number of sociology books (There Are No Children Here and Ain't No Makin' It are two of my faves).

She finds some work... and then gets laid off. Or gets a chronic repetetive injury, and can't continue working. (Or can't find a job, because they're only in the suburbs, and there's no transportation out to the burbs from the cities.)

She saves some money... but then has to spend it because she or her loved ones get sick (remember, no health insurance!), or her car gets towed. When you're barely making it, it makes a lot more sense to spend the $40 you have left on something that makes you feel good or helps you escape from the world than to put it in the bank, getting 2 cents interest. People aren't long-term like that.

She takes some community college classes... if they're available. Or offered when she's not working. Just gotta hope she can find someone that can take care of her kids or her parents while she's off in class.

Learns a skill... starting from no computer literacy, it would take years to get to a point where you have competitive computer skills.

I agree with your notion. It'd be great if it'd work. But it's way too idealistic. This is the real world we're talking about. The middle class have all these extra 'outs' if they make mistakes--they generally have at least small cash reserves to pay for emergency situations, they have better transportation options, better access to jobs, better housing, better health care, better education. I'm all for people pulling themselves up from their bootstraps, and working hard, but geez man, give them a level playing ground on which to start. And I don't buy the "See, this one guy out of 2,000 made it out from poverty, you can too!" stories. That's called luck. That's the exception, not the rule.
posted by gramcracker at 3:01 PM on November 4, 2002


oissbuke: Those workers would be better off if the government would simply lay off the taxes.

Again, let's go through the math. Here you can find spreadsheets detailing the federal budget. You get to be king for a day. Tell us where you would cut and how much it would save? First off notice that 35% goes to the military and it sounds like you approve of government spending for defense. Second is Social Security/Medicare for another 35%. We can't cut that off. We made a pledge to millions of seniors decades ago and if we cut them off today, many will be in instant poverty. Third is the 11% that goes to pay interest on the national debt, thanks to the Reagan era. We can't do anything about that now. Fourth is Medicaid at 7%. This pays for medical care for the truly indigent -- people who we help or they die. Some people might debate whether we should do this or not, but lets leave it aside for now and get to the real fat.

First is 6% for means-tested entitlements, basically welfare. You could get rid of Head Start programs, school lunch programs, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, etc. After all, they're little more than "trained animals" anyway.

Finally the remaining 6%, so-called mandatory spending, because it is mandated by congressional action. This is where all the rest of your tax reductions must come from. So let's assume the libertarian wet dream -- we'll get rid of it all. Among other things this includes the following:

No more Whitehouse.
No more Congress.
No more federal judges, U.S. attorneys, or federal marshals.
No more State Department (no foreign aid for Egypt or Israel, sorry guys)
No more Agriculture Department (no farm subsidies, no food testing, no logging roads -- hey this libertarian stuff is fun)
No more Interior Department (no mining subsidies, no cattle grazing subsidies, no dams -- woohoo)
No more Transportation Department (no interstate highways, no air traffic control, no Amtrak, no Coast Guard)
No more Commerce Department (no small business loans)
No more Education Department (no aid to schools, no student loans, no Library of Congress, no Smithsonian)
No more Justice Department (no FBI)
No more NASA, no National Science Foundation grants, no AIDS research, no cancer research)
No more Energy Department (no subsidies to oil and nuclear energy companies)
No more EPA (no Superfund subsidies for polluters)

So there you have it. We eliminated the ENTIRE federal government except for defense and we saved 6%. That's it, all your favorite bloated boondoggles you get to pick from that 6%.

Combine that 6% with the 6% we saved from kicking everyone off welfare and we've got 12%. So do we all have an extra 12% to spend. Not so fast. You've only reduced your taxes by 12%. The average person pays about 25% in federal taxes (because of the graduated income tax you only pay 15% on your first 25K, deductions, social security cap, etc.) Therefore you only increase your net income by 1/4 of that 12%.

So the bottom line is that after eliminating all welfare, all the wasteful programs, hell the entire federal government, you have an extra 3% in your pocket. Wow, that's really going to change my lifestyle in a significant way, though I suspect it will all be gone in a month due to increased food, transportation and utility costs.

Now I don't expect there are many people who advocate eliminating the entire government so the next time you hear someone say that we can reduce the tax burden by getting rid of just those "wasteful" programs from the 6% of the budget, ask them to tell you exactly which ones and exactly how much would be saved. It's all there in the government's spreadsheet.

As for the 10% flat tax, you were joking, right. Or is there some sort of fuzzy math involved. Just take the total U.S. income and divide by 10. You won't come anywhere near to the current revenue, not to mention the regressive distribution of burden.
posted by JackFlash at 4:04 PM on November 4, 2002


Beautiful.
posted by niceness at 4:09 PM on November 4, 2002


the idea is that as hard as he works he cannot get ahead because his job is undervalued

Actually, if he is getting 16K a year for mopping floors, it sounds like his job is slightly over-valued. That's just my opinion though. His opinion is that it's worth 20K. The point is, though, that the market values jobs. Not opinions. You don't decide in your own mind what you think a job is worth, and then complain because you're not getting it.

I employ a few janitors. Most don't want to be janitors. Its a dirty job that pays poorly. None of them are wasting energy griping, however. All but one are doing some form of schooling so that they don't stay janitors. And the one whose personal situation doesn't permit school right now is coming in early to learn secretarial/computer skills (and many - if not most - firms in the US do make accomodations for people that want to better themselves).

If you do something that is of value to your fellow human beings, you'll generally get paid at a level commensurate with that value. If you want to exert energy, and learn to do something of greater value, the opportunity to do so (most of the time) exists in America - and in most capitalist economies.

If you want to do nothing but low-skilled, low value work, and your solution to the low pay is to demand that someone owes you a "living wage" ... you're likely to have an unhappy life. In America, and - in fact - virtually everywhere else on earth as well.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:16 PM on November 4, 2002


That was excellent, JackFlash.

If you do something that is of value to your fellow human beings, you'll generally get paid at a level commensurate with that value.

Generally, Midas, yes. But don't forget about teachers that make next-to-nothing, and corporate CEOs that make billions. (Nope, sorry, they're not that valuable. No one is.)

And I don't think anyone's making the argument that janitors want to stay janitors, Midas. We're saying that while they're janitors--and if they have to stay janitors--they should be making a living wage. Just because people, like the man that wrote the letter to the editor, have to start at the bottom of the ladder doesn't mean they should have to suffer at the bottom. It doesn't have to be a rite of passage. My great grandparent immigrants probably had a rough life, but that doesn't mean today's immigrants should have to have one.
posted by gramcracker at 4:31 PM on November 4, 2002


Oops. The non-discretionary funding is 19% not 6%, but you get the general idea. When it comes to cutting spending, there is really a small portion of the budget to play with.
posted by JackFlash at 4:56 PM on November 4, 2002


So, bannedThrice, are you saying that immigrants aren't allowed to, or don't, own businesses they started with their own capital? Are you implying that legal immigrants who have become citizens are somehow lesser citizens than those who were born in America? You write about "building this country" as if it's not STILL being built every day. I find it highly ironic when Americans disparage immigrants, as if every American (aside from Native Americans, obviously) isn't an immigrant somewhere down the line, yes, even you. Your country was built on immigration and the acceptance of immigrants wanting to live the so-called "American Dream", and still has policies to encourage it in certain cases, so I don't really see what your point is. Legal immigrants don't have the same rights as native-born Americans? I have problems with unions in some cases, but the birthplaces of the union members isn't one of them. I took your remarks to be sincere, and hope I'm not feeding a troll here.
posted by biscotti at 10:09 PM on November 4, 2002


If the janitors that clean the Yahoo! offices can get a boost to 20K a year good for them, it won't cost me any more to access Yahoo! than it does now.

A good rule of thumb: If you're not top management you never complain that someone else who is not top management is overpaid. You may complain that you you are underpaid in relation to them but no "working" person is overpaid.
Think about it, if your employer replaces 20K/yr union janitors with 16K/yr non-union janitors will you be better off? Do you think the "The Man" is going to pass along that labor savings to you and your co-workers in your weekly pay envelope? Dream on.
The bottom line is people need decent pay to survive. You may not think a janitorial job is worth much but I'm sure the value would increase if your employer axed the custodial staff and demanded that all employees took turns scrubbing out the shitters.
posted by MikeMc at 10:26 PM on November 4, 2002


If you do something that is of value to your fellow human beings, you'll generally get paid at a level commensurate with that value.

Ha! If only this were the case. I suppose the $50 million that Mattel gave CEO Jill Barad after she ran the company into the ground reflects the value she added to the company. Or the 4300% increase in CEO compensation since 1980 reflects the fact that good CEOs are worth 43 times more now then they were in 1980.

Let's be reasonable here. The values assigned to various workers may in fact reflect the going rate for their services, but surely that should not be equated with their contribution to the economy. I know lawyers that make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for doing nothing more than getting a court to take money from one corporation and give it to another corportaion (which then gives a sizable chunk of it to the law firm of course). Does his work really add more value to the economy than a top-notch teacher who, over the course of a career, inspires and equips thousands of students to excell in any number of professions?
posted by boltman at 11:49 PM on November 4, 2002


The fact that it might be "easy" to clean floors or haul garbage doesn't change the fact that someone's got to do it, and whoever has to do it deserves to be able to sustain himself at the safe time.

To sustain himself. Yes that makes sense. And I'd go out on a limb and suggest that $16k is enough for someone to sustain oneself. But then you throw children and spouses into the mix, and suddenly, we're hearing that a fair wage is not a wage which will support the wage-earner, but a wage which will support the wage-earner and their family. Where does it end? The wage-earner, a spouse and a child? The wage-earner, a spouse and two children? The wage-earner and three children? Four? How many lives are supposed to be supported on one low-skill job, and at what level? What's fair? And what's possible?

If unions push too hard, they will find that their employers simply shut down.

Bingo. This is the lesson of the so-called "Steel Valley" in the Pittsburgh area. After they struck their mills out of existence (in the face of rising domestic prices necessary to pay for all of the perks and benefits that they were getting while foreign costs continued to fall) the people in those areas went into full out victim mode. There are towns up and down the length of the Monongahela river to this day that have never ever recovered. And they are full of people who continue to whine and cry about how the steel companies screwed them (no responsibility accepted whatsoever) and now they need help from every source possible, save their own efforts.

I'm all for people pulling themselves up from their bootstraps, and working hard, but geez man, give them a level playing ground on which to start.

Leveling the playing ground would be damn nigh unto impossible, because people are saddled with the circumstances of their births. But everyone in this country has an opportunity to make good, smart choices and the leading causes for ongoing poverty on an individual basis are almost entirely the results of bad choices.

How do you level the playing field when people are still being stupid about education, stupid about procreation, stupid about recreation and stupid about victimization?

One of the kids that I mentor (who was born and raised in poverty that would make the average MeFites eyes bug out of their delightfully middle-class head) said it best in an essay she wrote for a scholarship competition. I have it pinned to the wall in my office, because it is such an exception personal statement. It reads, in part: "I have to make the choice whether I want to have an easy road or a hard road. I can place obstacles in my way by doing things which will not do me any good. I can remove the obstacles already in place by gathering the tools I need to get over them, around them or through them. But I cannot and will not wait for anyone to come to my aid. I cannot risk losing my momentum while I wait for help to catch up with me. I have support, people cheer me on and inspire me when the going gets rough, and that and my own determination will have to be enough. I have places to go. Don't stand in my way."
posted by Dreama at 2:28 AM on November 5, 2002



So, bannedThrice, are you saying that immigrants aren't allowed to, or don't, own businesses they started with their own capital? Are you implying that legal immigrants who have become citizens are somehow lesser citizens than those who were born in America?


Yes, that is along the lines of what I am saying. So what?



You write about "building this country" as if it's not STILL being built every day.


Yes. So what?



I find it highly ironic when Americans disparage immigrants, as if every American (aside from Native Americans, obviously) isn't an immigrant somewhere down the line, yes, even you.


You cannot come into the house I own and paid for with my own labors, and yet, just last year, this house was not mine. In fact, in 1974, this area was a cow pasture. And yet, you cannot come into the house I paid for. Amazing, isn't it?



Your country was built on immigration and the acceptance of immigrants wanting to live the so-called "American Dream", and still has policies to encourage it in certain cases, so I don't really see what your point is.


I am an"immigrant" into my own house. But it is MY house now, and you cannot come into it.




I took your remarks to be sincere, and hope I'm not feeding a troll here



Whatever....
posted by bannedThrice at 4:14 AM on November 5, 2002


Again, let's go through the math.

I support government funding for defense, but that doesn't mean that I think 35% of the budget should be allocated toward it. We no longer have the sort of wars that require a massive number of troops and equipment. The majority of the possessions of the U.S. Armed Forces are simply shuffled from place to place without ever being used. That would be the very first place I would start cutting the budget. We could have a strong, well-run military on 15% of the budget.

The rest of your "math" is well-researched, but based on erroneous assumptions. You're putting forth a mix of what you assume a traditional Republican or traditional Libertarian would do to the budget. I'm neither of those. I'm a bad Republican in the sense that I'd be perfectly happy to slash the military budget, and I'm a bad Libertarian in the sense that I think that there do need to exist some government offices to benefit the public welfare.

If you're really and truly interested in what I would do with the budget, e-mail me and I'll let you know.
posted by oissubke at 4:46 AM on November 5, 2002


You may not think a janitorial job is worth much but I'm sure the value would increase if your employer axed the custodial staff and demanded that all employees took turns scrubbing out the shitters.

Actually, this is how *I* would run things. Everyone would take turns, even the people at the top.

I love how easy it is to point fingers at other people and claim that they're not trying hard enough. And to claim that $16k/year is enough, when you know nothing of rent costs and so forth.

This economy is ugly (at least in this town, Austin, TX) and getting worse. It's not as easy to find a job as you think. Ever have the experience of applying to fast food places who won't even deign to call you?

What about people who used to have a good job, but lost it or got laid off? Many of these people have mortgages, car debt, credit card debt, and families to support - things they acquired when they had the income to reasonably support such things. After the unemployment money (if any) runs out, and they can't find a job anywhere near what they had before, much less *any* job, what on earth are they supposed to do?

Oh, they're supposed to use "personal initiative" and "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" and just sort of magic themselves a new job or something, right?

We're all in this together. It bothers me how quickly people lose sight of that. People who have it easy are oh-so-judgmental of those who clean their toilets. How poetic.
posted by beth at 7:37 AM on November 5, 2002


« Older Am I the only one who doesn't think this is news? ...  |  "Deep-fried chicken livers, cr... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments