Wednesday, November 21, 2012

American Wages

Holidays each year make me stop and think as I see so many people shopping and lining up for the latest fad to buy for Christmas.  America spends, they spend in the big box stores, claiming they cannot survive without those cheap goods in those big chains.  They have few jobs in this year, 2012, yet they still shop for items they could live without, contributing to the big box store empires.  

I also start to ponder on the ruining of American lifestyles, the middle class that was, the decent wages that once were and the unions that made decent benefits possible.  I have also been reading about the Hostess company and how it 'just has to fold mainly due to union demands.'  I wonder.

Let's look back at wages, mom and pop local stores and *sigh* what used to be pretty decent health insurance.  

This company once offered decent insurance to families.

The year is 1970, I was a very young newlywed.  We were able to purchase a nice little house for $9,000 and our mortgage payments were a whopping $60 a month.  Now, mind you, my parents had a mortgage of $12 a month when I was a kid.  (Oh the inflation!) Now you have to pay $500 rent for a dump, and $12000 to $3000 for anything semi-decent.  

 We were able to bring home a week's worth of groceries for $40 a week.  My then husband, was making $9,000 a year at his job and we had health insurance that covered everything, no damn co-pay and that included prescription drugs.  We still had mom and pop local stores to shop at.  Yes, some chains existed, but for local shopping, the locally owned stores had quite a lot to offer.

In 1970, the Small town of Penn Yan, where I lived, had industry.  It had Michael Sterns, a clothing factory.  Pennsylvania House, a furniture company.  Penn Yan Express, a local trucking company.  The Boat Company, owned by the person who invented the tunnel drive system for boat motors.  There were quite a few places to work.  Slowly but surely, each and every one of those industries closed up shop and left the town.

 Women were seeking more opportunities in 1970.

Now let's look at 2012.  In 8 years George W. Bush and his cronies managed to bring America's economy to its knees. Now if you make a lousy $9 an hour, you are supposed to be grateful for no health insurance and no benefits.  Just what amounts to slave labor in the 21st century.

In the 1960's, my now husband, worked a big grocery store in Lafayette, Indiana.  He started as a bag person, bagging groceries and actually helping people out to their cars with the groceries.  He later worked his way up to a manager position.  Hell, in 2012 you are not even given bags in many stores, you are lucky if the sales person gives you a smile much less help with any groceries to your car. You get to bag your own groceries when you do get a bag.  So technology, and cheap employers, getting rid of bag people to save a few pennies, is supposed to be progress?  Right!  

The store Steve worked in Indiana in the 60's and 70's.

Wages:  I remember in 2000, I had a nice Bachelors degree, but the crappy area of NY's Southern Tier had few jobs to offer.  So in desperation I had to take a home health course and during the course, the instructor said: "You can make $6.50 an hour doing this for an agency.  That's really good money."  Okay, well I'm not sure what planet $6.50 an hour constituted really good money, but planet Earth was another story.  That agency she spoke of, amounted to a lousy 30 hours a week max, you got to drive over 50 miles one way to a client's home to work, and the agency offered no gas mileage and charged each client $75 an hour for services.  Our slice of that million dollar industry, for doing all the work, was a whopping $6.50 an hour.  Be still my heart, I think I'm rich!

Mom and pop stores once thrived in America.

We could collect these stamps when buying groceries and swap them for really cool stuff!  Now, you don't get a damned thing from grocery stores or gas stations, except a 'go to hell' attitude.

Did I mention that I had to take that home health course out of desperation because I could not find any other employment, and had to obtain food stamps, having 2 kids still in school and having a college degree?  God bless American employers!  So now, when you feel sorry for Hostess, feel like you cannot live without big box stores, that by the way, have depleted America of decent jobs, remember the $9 wage of the 1970's and take a good look at your $6, $8 and $9 of 2012 an know wages have stagnated or gone down because chains cannot afford the new healthcare.  All the new healthcare will do is force those rich chains to offer what once was offered, thanks to unions, to hard workers years ago.  

"No one who works for a living should live in poverty"

Could not have said it better myself!  Remember this as you spend in big box stores.