OK, continuing in the tradition of my recent blogging reruns, this little missive was written way back in October 2004:
The Working Poor Families Project just released a series of reports on the condition of “working families” in America.
The report is funded by the Anne E. Casey Foundation (AECF), the Ford Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation—all well financed “do-gooder” organizations.
Jim Casey, one of the founders of United Parcel Service, started the Anne E Casey Foundation in memory of his
In their opening statement of the Executive Summary, they offer the following passage:
"The United States of America is often called the “Land of Opportunity,” a place where hard work and sacrifice lead to economic success. Across generations, countless families have been able to live out that promise. However, more than one out of four American working families now earn wages so low that they have difficulty surviving financially.
These are families with responsible, hard-working breadwinners who want to get ahead but hold down low-paying jobs with inadequate benefits and little hope for advancement. Many lack the skills and education they need to move into jobs that pay better, even while the economy demands more highly trained employees.
And while our economy relies on the service jobs these low-paid workers fill—such as cashiers, janitors, security guards and home health aids—our society has not taken adequate steps to ensure that these workers can make ends meet and build a future for their families, no matter how determined they are to be self-sufficient."
First let ME (your lovely and talented blogger) say "What compassionate, sensitive, sincere words—on the surface."
Only when you look deeper into these utterances do you see the true meaning that lies (no pun intended) within.
Once again, here we find a reference to “working families.”
Working Families...working families, working families...
I demand to know what the term “working family” means.
Can any one tell me? (See Living Wages)
I believe that the term is intended to refer to a person with a spouse and kids to support who is trying to live on the wages earned working every day for most of their lifetime in a near minimum wage (what I call entry level) job.
What are they thinking?
Sure they may be “responsible and hard-working” but the best paid sanitation engineer (garbage man) still earns garbage man’s pay.
At least the report seems to acknowledge that the economy has good jobs available, but unfortunately there aren’t many employment want-ads for buggy whip makers and blacksmiths in The Atlanta Journal/Constitution newspaper today.
Times are a changin’, and we have to change also if we are to survive.
Where I come from, the incentive of “hav(ing) difficulty surviving financially" was both an everyday reality and acted as a powerful incentive to get off of your ass and make some serious changes.
I think that you would agree that most Americans have considered themselves to be squeezed financially for part of their working career, so what is so evil with this situation that government intervention should be mandated?
“Many lack,” they say, “the skills and education they need to move into jobs that pay better…”
Well boo hoo hoo, did they have to quit school before graduation to go to work to support themselves and their family like both of my Grandfathers did in pre-depression era America?
Most likely they slept through and played hooky through twelve years of free government education because they either didn’t care or didn't know any better.
The girls likely were certain that they were going to get married to a rich man and the boys were sure that they were going “Pro” in the NFL or the NBA.
Once they hit the big time they figured that they could pay someone else to do their ‘ritin, readin’, and ‘rithmatic.
“Let me ax you, do you know a good accountant? “
And then we are admonished that in fact our “society has not taken adequate steps to ensure that these workers can make ends meet.”
Upon utterance of this statement, my head starts violently spinning around uncontrollably.
How about asking these workers to take some steps on their own to ensure that they can make ends meet?
What else should we be required to continue to pay for without seeing some tangible improvement and/or actual results? I mean, after providing twelve years of free education and handing out additional financial support in the form of welfare and public housing, haven’t we done about enough?
No, they say.
Now WE need to somehow do whatever it takes to ensure these miserable, underprivileged souls move out of the ghetto and enjoy a lifetime of success. And God forbid that we attempt to tell our benefactors how to lead their lives in areas that are highly predictive of future outcome.
We can’t, for instance, criticize their lifestyle decisions like the company they keep, the way they speak, the way they dress, or their propensity to adopt expensive, self-destructive habits like alcohol and drug abuse.
No way, Jose.
And we can’t intervene in areas of intimate personal behavior like sex which inevitably have expensive side affects like producing unwanted/un-afforded children and/or the acquisition of sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS.
We are, as a society, supposed to close our eyes, toss our money at the problem, and hope for the best outcome.
Ab-rah Kadab-rah, poof.....success!
In looking into the AEC Foundation, I found this statement from the current president, Doug Nelson:
“Applying Lessons Learned. The generation of American children born in the last two decades of the 20th century has been blessed by a period of unprecedented national prosperity. For most of these children and their families, this has been among the best of times.
Yet for fully one-fifth of this nation's kids, the economic boom has quite simply passed them by.
In small towns, many suburbs, and especially in large cities, millions of children remain largely untouched by the good times, with little prospect for connecting with the benefits of a soaring economy. Our most recent KIDS COUNT data report a significant increase since 1990 in the number of children—5.6 million—in families of the working poor.
In all, more than 14 million, or 21 percent of all kids under 18, still live in poverty-a higher proportion than in 1975.“ IF the data supporting these statistics are accurate, we are as a society guilty of a great failure.
But I say that the government hasn’t failed; the recipiants have—in spite of a large amount of public financial support. Remember that President Johnson’s series of economic initiatives announced in his 1964 Presidential campaign, called “The Great Society,” was largely implemented by the “Fabulous Eight-Ninth” congress.
Among their mandates were:
1. Achieved the goals of the Fair Deal.
2. Achieved the goals of the New Frontier.
3. Introduced Medicare programs.
4. Passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
5. Legislated a Housing and Urban Development program.
6. Ratified the highway beautification act, a pet project of Lady Bird Johnson, the First Lady.
7. Installed clean air and water regulations.
8. Ended the immigration quota system of the 1920s.
9. Set forth new city planning programs.
"New Deal," "Fair Frontier," "Education", "Housing," "Environment," "Healthcare"—don't these topics sound a bit familiar?
Same old same old...
Just throw some more money at the perceived problems and implement government mandated solutions and everything will be ok, right?
That’s what they say.
“To do that (improve the chances for all to advance,) we must effectively invest our public resources so that low-income working families have far better access to education, training, healthcare, parental leave, and other benefits.
People earning higher salaries typically have access to those things; those who are paid less need the same…In the long run we will maintain stable communities and keep our businesses competitive.”
Let me dissect this paragraph for you.
“We must invest our public resources”…that’s government terminology for spending other people’s tax money.
Our “investment” will give low-income “working families” all the things (education, training, healthcare, parental leave, and other benefits) that my parents and I have already paid dearly for in time and money in order for me to be able to work somewhere other than the McDonalds’ drive through window.
And this parental leave thing—where do they get off telling a business owner that when he hires a walking set of ovaries or testicles with no restraint that he has to hand out unlimited (or at least ridiculous) amounts of “parental leave” in order to take care of five or six children that were neither planned for nor can be afforded financially?
Then they actually have the guts to come out and say that, regardless of your personal effort or commitment to your education and employment efforts, you “need” (and by default and government mandate you deserve) the same compensation rewards provided to better educated and more productive employees.
Well, I NEED a vacation home on a Caribbean island, a 100 foot motoryacht, and a Lear Jet to get there—can someone in Washington help me please?
“In the long run we will maintain stable communities and keep our businesses competitive.”
Is this a threat that if we don’t hand over funding, anarchy will result and the stock market will crash?
Me and my Smith and Wesson Revolver don't think so...
I have every compassion for the children identified to be in these situations living in poverty. It’s not their fault, but the problem I have is that the government doesn’t cut checks to minor children. They do cut checks to adults who consciously make crappy life decisions, reproduce without conscience and V-O-T-E.
For forty years “Great Society” politics has yielded little improvement and constant demands for increased funding.
Enough is Enough...but then again I guess that you can just call me insensitive.
UPDATE October 14, 2004 5:30AM
The implied solution to the problems of the "working poor" is to raise the minimum wage.
You might ask, who is actually paid minimum wage?
This link gives the answer better than I ever could.