06 June 2008

Cutting off your nose to spite your face

Because that is what it comes down to, do we have to work ourselves into an early death to fund every single need everyone in the country has? The answer to that is no, that person is not worth that much to me and no we will not continue to work at the pace we are to earn what we are in order to pay more taxes to support more welfare programs.

But, it’s ok for me to work myself into an early grave so that I can afford health care for myself? It’s ok for one of my friends to put herself tens of thousands of dollars in debt doing the drug research that is providing you with good health care? (Do you know how much work grad students do in the research field? Practically for free.) See, this is what bugs me about this discussion. The assumption that I’m not working hard and I’m just living off your taxes and your hardwork. Guess what, I work my ass off everyday. And I always have. I don’t want your hand outs. I don’t want your charity. I just want to be able to go to the Dr when I’m sick, and get regular health check ups to make sure I don’t end up with the diabetes that every single person on my father’s side of the family has. (I can promise you that letting me get preventative care now will be a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for my care when I’m a diabetic and on a gov’t funded health care system because I’m so sick I can’t work.) I just want to be able to live healthy and happy. And that includes not having to work 10-12 hours a day 6-7 days a week. I have a full time job. I have a BA. I even have a fancy-schmancy title: department Manager. I make well below the living wage. The living wage around here (calculated by me before the hike in fuel prices) is about $12.50 per hour. And when I say living wage, that’s what I mean. That’s the average amount of money a single person needs to earn to be able to live. That’s rent (on an average 1 bedroom apt), heating fuel, electricity, phone, gas, food, car insurance, college loans. You’ll notice I didn’t figure in a car loan (because I’m smart enough to not get a car I can’t afford), nor internet access, nor cable tv, nor going out to eat once a month, or renting a movie, or buying a new pair of shoes, or any of the myriad of things that make a life. Oh, but I did include a pet because the stress relief is key. Guess what I make. $10.60 per hour. In order for me to afford to live, I would need to work my full time job (38 hours per week, with a set, but constantly changing schedule that already eats up 1 weeknight and every other weekend nights) plus another part time job. I’ve done this, and it is not a healthy way to live. I still barely made enough to pay my bills, I was constantly tired, over stressed and permanently sick. And I still couldn’t afford to go to the dr even though I had insurance. How can you possibly consider this a system that works? It doesn’t. It’s a simple fact. This system does not work.

The thing is, nobody has to stay at a low income job. You don't even have to go to school to move up from low income, you just have to keep a job for long enough to move up in your position there. Which brings up why I hate it that they keep raising the minimum wage. The only people this really benefits is the people who skip from menial job to menial job and have no desire to ever do anything better. It hurts small business. But that's another arguement (sic).

I’m sorry, but I find this deeply offensive. You think I’m choosing to stay at a low paying job? Do you think I really have that many other options? Seriously? And to suggest that education is not necessary is the most absurd thing I’ve heard. I guess I shouldn’t have wasted my time going to college. I could have started out as a school janitor and worked my way up to superintendent in no time, right? Because the higher paid positions rarely require further training, education, or skills. As a further example, I did exactly what you’re talking about. I started out as a part-time menial laborer. I helped put together the store I’m currently working in. I helped put in the shelving, set all the displays, put out product. I was lucky enough to be kept on as a peon cashier. Quickly moved up to a part time “titled” position. Then earned a full time “titled” position. Within 10 months of starting with this company I earned the position I currently have. Perhaps you’ll recall what my current wages are. And I’ve had my 1 year anniversary with raise. It was about 3%. That’s right, we’re talking a whopping 43 cents (give or take a penny). But, I’m sure if I just stay with this company long enough I’ll be just fine. Nevermind that they screwed me out of my health insurance.

Or, I could use the example of my previous job. Where I worked for 3 years, starting as a part time phone rep, and working my way up (rather quickly) to a full time full customer service rep. And even though I received glowing reviews, always learned all my tasks quickly and fully, worked hard, had near perfect attendance, and continually sought more responsibilities, management cut me off. Wouldn’t let me move up any further. Never saw my application for a higher position. When I quit that job I was earning a little less than what I’m currently earning. So, yes, the idea that you just have to stay with a company long enough and you’ll work your way up is perfectly valid.

Yes, I have qualms about putting the gov’t in charge of a health care system. Yes, I worry about those who will abuse the system. No, I don’t think we’re going to have a quick fix, or a miraculous cure. But, the status quo isn’t working. It hasn’t been working. It’s not going to start working. Staying with the current system just because you’re scared of the alternative doesn’t make sense.

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