Waging a living

I just saw POV on PBS: Waging a Living, and I am ashamed that I am ever in any way discontent with my life or my job or my salary.

Waging a Living follows the lives of 4 individuals who are “working poor.” (More details about them.)

One’s a security guard in downtown San Francisco, making $9-10/hour. A raise of 25 cents an hour is a big deal to him. One is a nurse in New Jersey who supports 5 people on $11/hour. Another is a waitress whose husband left and didn’t pay any alimony or child support. Another is a woman who was abused through childhood and has slowly, painfully been getting her education and increasing her standard of living: 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.

These people are inspiring. But their stories break my heart.

I’m a social, political, fiscal, and moral conservative, but:

  • it is not right that some make hundreds of millions and some make pennies
  • it is not right that a waitress could be paid less than $3/hour in New Jersey
  • it is not right that the gap between executive management and rank-and-file is wider now than ever (200-400x more, I think)
  • it is not right that many of us make so much money we don’t even think about spending it, or even know how much exactly we have, while others have basic living expenses that outpace their wages
  • it is not right that people die because they cannot afford medical insurance
  • it is not right that single mothers working for very limited wages have to spend half a week’s pay for over-the-counter medicines
  • it is not right that we have so little respect for people that we think we can pay them a wage that reduces them to living in inhumane circumstances

We can call a spade an implement for digging, or we can just simple say that this is evil. And – yes, I’m a Christian too – God will judge us for this sin.

That said, if I was counselling young people in school today, I would say the world is not fair, and you should never expect it to be. Get your education. Get your education. Get your education! It will improve your life.

And I would say to spouses: divorce will not only kill your relationship. It will not only scar your children for life. It will reduce you to poverty. All of the people profiled in this POV were divorced, and it adds greatly to the strain of trying to make a living.

May God make us thankful for what we have, and generous to those who have not been so blessed.

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And, PS: I’m glad to live in Canada, where anyone, anytime, anywhere, is guaranteed to get the medical care that he or she needs, to the best of our ability to provide it, regardless of the size of his or her bank account. Choosing not to help someone who is sick because they can’t afford medical care is revolting.

[tags] POV, PBS, waging a living, working poor, poverty, america, minimum wage, ceo compensation, social justice, health insurance, john koetsier [/tags]