November 27, 2013
Earning a livable wage
This week, many of us will sit down at the table and feast on turkey and dressing and other various great foods while having fun with our family for the holiday. Why do we wait until a single day to give thanks for all the great things that has happen to us since the last Thursday in November from last year? Having a job, in these times, is something to give thanks for which brings me to the workers at the Walmart store in Canton. The Ohio store employees are receiving Thanksgiving food donations from their fellow workers to ease the burdens. Now, I do understand the reasoning for the drive but I guess, when you stop and think of why they have to do it in the first place, that’s troubling. If Walmart paid higher wages, some would not have to depend on the handouts. I am proud of the workers who united to stand together and help but, with all the money Walmart is making for the holidays and all year round, couldn’t they just give the workers a holiday bonus? I always wanted a job where they offered you a cost of living increase to make it through hard times. But this isn’t just about Walmart. In a recent report, three-fourths of Americans support increasing the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $9. This report examines the connection between these opposing extremes of stagnant wages and soaring corporate profits. While a great deal of attention has been directed at the role of Wall Street and the financial sector in driving economic inequality in the U.S., it is important to recognize that the top low-wage employers also bear responsibility for the growing disparity between corporate profits and worker compensation. The 50 largest employers of low-wage workers have largely recovered from the recession and most are in strong financial positions. Ninety two percent were profitable last year; 78 percent have been profitable for the last three years; 75 percent have higher revenues now than before the recession; 73 percent have higher cash holdings; and 63 percent have higher operating margins a measure of profitability. A minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers. Equivalently, it is the lowest wage at which workers may sell their labor. Although minimum wage laws are in effect in many jurisdictions, differences of opinion exist about the benefits and drawbacks of a minimum wage. Supporters of the minimum wage claim it increases the standard of living for workers, reduces poverty, reduces inequality, boosts morale and forces businesses to be more efficient. We know so many people are living paycheck to paycheck and, if they miss one day, it’ll be difficult for them to pay their bills. No matter how much money you make, you have to be able to cut back on various items in order to make ends meet. If you make McDonald’s money, spend McDonald’s money. It’s bad to be in a position where you have to depend on someone to help you. But if someone steps up and tries to help you, be thankful. I have seen some who get help and then dog the person helping them. Always have some type of medical insurance because an unexpected emergency or even routine medical care can leave you owing thousands of dollars in medical bills. For many individuals, a single trip to the hospital can result in financial ruin. A 2009 CNN Health report notes that over 60 percent of the bankruptcy cases filed in the United States is a result of medical debts. Finding help managing your overwhelming medical debts can help you avoid bankruptcy even if you lack a steady income. Don’t have pride if you need help with your utility bills, Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is out there for you. Having heat and electricity is important for your health and safety in several ways. Some medical devices used by people with chronic illnesses need electricity to run, putting the people in danger if the power is off. Also, not having heat can prompt you to turn on the oven for heat, which can be a fire hazard. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps with heating and cooling costs. Since this program helps low income people, you need to meet the current income guidelines to get help. The maximum income varies by state. The program is funded by the federal government through local nonprofit agencies. So this holiday season give thanks for whatever you be it big or small and enjoy the little things because those are probably things that will give you the best memories. Remember don’t drink and drive and I will be ‘minding my business.’
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Write Wade at the Call & Post, 11800 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland, OH, 44120, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.