Let’s look at the numbers and see what I mean. What is the average salary for a Wal-Mart associate (the label is such a joke in itself)? Maybe he or she earns $9.00 an hour. OK, let’s make it $10 an hour for argument sake. They work 40 hours, meaning a gross of $400 a week. Take out the approximately 7% for FICA and then federal withholding and the take home is what? About $300 a week, just for argument. The employee has no employer paid health coverage to speak of. If they do, it is probably with a high deductible and CO pay. That means if the worker gets sick, money has to come out of pocket, and not just $10 . More like $40 or $50 and that doesn’t include the cost of medicine. If the Wal-Mart worker has a young child and is a single parent (which is over 50% of the workforce) the child has to have day care if not yet in school. That takes money. Then you have rent for a two bedroom apartment (or they both share one bedroom — most likely) and a car payment, gas for the car, repairs for the car, food and clothing. Need I go on? How in the hell is a single parent earning $300 a week take home pay going to afford all that !?
In the not so good old days they had company towns with company housing etc. In the feudalistic days they had the farm with the manor house and living quarters for the workers. Check out the fine Swedish film Pelle The Conquererto see how that looked. All in all, these folks were what we call indentured servants… In ‘debt’ to the employer. Tell me what is so different from that Wal-Mart worker? Unfortunately, many Mom and Pop businesses are not immune from this mindset. A friend once worked as a carpenter for a local cabinet manufacturing shop. The employer paid a few dollars above minimum wage to the 4 or 5 craftsmen he had working for him. In a union shop, the workers would have earned 25% more and received better benefits. This shop did not pay for health coverage. Of course, the owner made sure his two children and his wife (and himself) all had brand new BMW cars…. On the company nut.
Some reading this would say ‘Well, God bless him to take care of his family. After all, he started and built up the business and why shouldn’t he have the very best?’ My answer is what the Japanese instituted decades ago. It was called the 15 times system (now it may be up to 30 times) . It followed a structure that the very highest earner in a company could not make more than 15 times his lowest full time worker. Do the math, even at 30 times and see if that cabinet shop owner would be buying BMWs for the whole family. In America, the Fortune 100 companies have CEOs who average over 400 times the pay of their lowest paid full time employee.
As the economy tanks again and again, the question is how much longer will the indentured servants quietly trudge into work each day? When will the majority of us who make up the workforce say ‘Enough is enough’?
I love the idea of a “30 Times” law here in the U.S. We need to start evaluating companies by how they treat the lowest workers on the totem pole.
“Republicans generally describe themselves as “conservatives,” but they haven’t been truly conservative for decades. Republicans want to conserve some things they like and don’t want to conserve other things they don’t like. So the term “conservative” - which suggests a general predisposition to conserve things as they are - doesn’t fit. It doesn’t explain what they want to conserve and what they don’t. Look at their record: Republicans don’t want to conserve the environment - they want to allow corporations to consume (the opposite of conserve) natural resources to enhance short-term corporate profits. They want to dismantle - not conserve - the social contract that has bound Americans together for the past 70 years in the form of Social Security, public education, publicly built highways, unemployment insurance, sound regulation of the financial system, and the economic safety net for poor Americans. They don’t want to conserve the balanced, progressive tax system that has made possible the American Dream for middle-class Americans and distinguished us from third-world countries run by economic elites. Most significantly, they favor a radical restructuring of the relationship between the rights of corporations and the rights of actual human beings, that would astonish the founding fathers, who viewed corporations as a narrow legal construct designed to raise capital for building canals, not an out-of-control leviathan spending multi-millions to buy elections.”—Martha Burk (via azspot)