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You're being paid too much. Really.

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2011-01-24


Kevin Hassett wrote something a while ago that appeared in the morning paper. It didnít go unnoticed by other people, especially pro-labor types. He wrote that the reason things were so bad is that workers were being paid too much. Yes, too much.

A few days after that column appeared, I saw a front-page headline saying one in seven people live in poverty. I gripe that Iím poor, but Iím certainly better off than I was two years ago. Why? Well, I work three jobs. Yeah, my house is a mess, with laundry all over the place, stuff stacked on stuff on top of stuff, but fast food is within my budget and Iíve actually got a bit of money saved. Cutting back on stuff has helped, but having three incomes is the key.

I take home a modest sum, however. My pre-tax earnings are well below the median income for Indiana. People ask me why I work three jobs (and they always ask where I work, or what I do) and I tell them. Do I HAVE to work three jobs? Well, that depends. While I donít have expenses like a mortgage, rent, car payments or cable, I did get myself into financial trouble that Iím trying to deal with. It will take a few years, but hopefully Iíll get there. Meanwhile, working three jobs enables me to save a bit of money. If I didnít work three jobs, Iíd be able to scrape by, but I wouldnít be saving anything. So, Iíve made the choice. Instead of relying on credit cards to boost my buying power, I choose to save money so I can spend real cash. If I could find just ONE job that paid as much as the three Iím working, Iíd probably quit a couple of them. But Iíve looked for a good job the past 20 years or so, and with the skills I have, havenít been able to find anything. So I work my ass off, and conserve.

For example, my dryer went on the blink. It wouldnít heat. So for most of the summer, I hung clothes out on the line and all over the house. I dreaded having to buy a new dryer. I had the money for it, but just didnít want to spend it. Thatís what got me into trouble before. Iíd buy something, then something else would go on the blink, Iíd fix that, and before I knew it, I was a couple thousand deeper in debt. However, one of my students said heíd take a look at the dryer. It took a few weeks for our schedules to mesh, but a couple months ago, he put in the new part and now my dryer is heating again. I saved the environment by not throwing away a repairable dryer, kept my money local (I gave the student $100, plus $20 for gas money) and felt gleeful that I didnít take my hard-earned money to the big box appliance store for something that no doubt would last 10 years, instead of the 10+ years this Amana gas dryer has.

I still love spending money, but I know my weaknesses, so I try to treat myself on occasion, but realize money is more important than things. I try not to browse in stores anymore; thatís how I ended up with a coffee table to put my television on. Did I actually NEED it? It wasnít like it was an emergency, but having a place to put a television (that I got for free) on, plus additional storage space makes me happy. Iím in the process of finishing it. Thatís a new experience for me.

But getting back to wages being too high: uh, yeah. If youíre a CEO, yeah, YOUR wages are awfully high. Why is it the poor ALWAYS have to sacrifice? I work a crazy, exhausting schedule at my day job. Some weeks I work seven days in a row before I get one day off. Because I work first AND second shifts at my day job, it means I have to schedule my prep work for my other jobs around it. And by no means do I feel rich. Yeah, Iím not starving, but if Iím lucky, on my vacation I may take a day trip to an Ikea store. No Toronto vacation for me. I worry that the next time I need work on my Metro, I wonít be able to afford the parts because they are scarce.
If they want to drop wages and have us all work for minimum wage, hereís an idea. Have us work for $5.15 an hour, but letís set prices circa 1957. That way, the wage cuts wonít be so bad.

Of course, it wonít happen. The next step is slave labor, but I wonít get into that. Thatís so 1861.

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