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What is a Living Wage and Does it Exist in the US?

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Earlier this week my wife and I announced that she will be a stay-at-home-mom when we have our first child in a couple months. We feel both blessed and excited to have this opportunity because we both know many people simply cannot afford to raise a family on one salary.

Our grandparents did it… why can’t we?

My dad’s parents immigrated to the US after WWII. They moved to California and raised 7 children on one salary. That seems even more amazing when you realize my grandfather did not have a college education – he primarily worked as a truck driver and delivery man. My dad told me they never had a lot of luxuries, but they also never went without the essentials. They lived a normal middle class American life.

In today’s American society, families with 7 children are rare. It would be even more rare to see a blue collar worker head a family of 7 children and not struggle to live a normal middle class life. So what happened between then and now? Why is it such a struggle to get by?

What is a living wage… and does it exist anymore?

A living wage is:

“the minimum hourly wage necessary for a person to achieve some specific standard of living… this standard generally means that a person working forty hours a week, with no additional income, should be able to afford a specified quality or quantity of housing, food, utilities, transport, health care, and recreation.” (from Wikipedia).

A living wage is not “the minimum wage.” Notice the definition didn’t state that a living wage is the “minimum wage” set by a government. A living wage is the minimum amount of money one must earn to afford a standard quality of life. Many states and localities have enacted a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage because the federal minimum wage is not sufficient for many people to live on.

Does a living wage exist in the US? There are millions of people struggling to get by in the US. I’m not talking about addicts or lazy people. I’m talking about people who work hard every day and strive to improve themselves and their situation. A good example of this can be seen in the documentary, Waging a Living. The documentary follows 4 individuals as they struggle to get by while working jobs at or slightly above the minimum pay level. Waging a Living was a powerful documentary and it was difficult to watch because you see how much of a struggle it is for many people to get by.

Why is it such a struggle? I can’t believe that people don’t work as hard today as they did just a few decades ago. But it seems like more people have trouble getting by. Why is that?

I won’t pretend to have the answer, but I would love to read your opinions.


Published or updated December 29, 2011.
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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 moot

I read an argument once that our current economic problems actually should have happened decades ago in the 70-80′s. During that period, there was a significant rise in inflation that would have caused serious economic turmoil, but it was avoided by the trend towards a 2-income household. People were able to continue their current lifestyle by having the spouse get a second job to help out with expenses. Today, though, there’s no one else to get another job, so we can’t mask the problems.

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2 Traciatim

The dual income household essentially destroyed the single income household. More people willing to work slowed wage growth. I would be willing to bet there are piles of people out there not getting ahead by having both spouses work. If these couples sat down and did the math to figure out who they are, then have the lower income spouse not work to allow another family that is currently unemployed have a one income family I would be willing to bet general quality of life would increase dramatically.

P.S. Please note, this is not a ‘women should be in the kitchen’ opinion.

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3 ChristianPF

You know my take on your question “I can’t believe that people don’t work as hard today as they did just a few decades ago. But it seems like more people have trouble getting by. Why is that?” is that we have become obsessed with stuff – our incomes have increased, but our expenses have dramatically increased – which of course makes things difficult – my 2 cents…

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4 Curious Cat Investing Blog

I think several reasons things create a different situation. We expect much more today. 50-100 years ago, air conditioning, cars, large houses, big TVs, lots of new clothes, eating out… were not expected to be available to everyone. A second issue is some aspects of recent times is the huge cost of health care. And a third issue is the ease of getting credit and the culture that leads people to think they should go into debt for next to no reason. Then that debt crushes them.

There also was a period in the 1950′s to about 1975 that the USA lived with probably by far the richest lower middle class the world has even seen. That such wealth did not continue, is not amazing. The amazing thing was having that period in the first place. Comparing to that period will almost certainly disapoint.

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5 Coupon Artist

This is a great question! I wrote a post about it, but basically I think that the problem stems from the fact that there are fewer blue collar jobs that pay well since we’ve either closed down the companies or sent the jobs overseas. This, combined with the increased importance of a college education (now required for so many more jobs than ever before) which means an increase in student loans; the high cost of health insurance, the high cost of child care, and the prevalence of easy credit, create a situation where it is very difficult to get by on anything close to minimum wage.

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6 Baker @ Man Vs. Debt

I’ve watched the documentary and have worked many different jobs for close to minimum wage. Personally, I think a lot of people are just plain spoiled. They think they deserve way more than they actually do.

If you are single, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to get by on minimum wage at 40 hours. You might have to move, but it’s certainly very doable. In addition, there are a lot of jobs even the least qualified people can do for above minimum wage if they look around.

My heart really does go out to single mothers and/or single fathers. People who have a family to take care of or some sort of disability. They don’t have to same opportunities and although there are places they can get help, often times it’s not enough.

Great article overall. Will enjoy the discussion that follows.

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7 Lynn

I think that a living wage is completely relative and it depends on where you live. Things are extremely skewed now that there are a lot of 2 income households in a lot of areas. There is no way that my husband and I could live where we do (in NJ) if we didn’t have a 2 income household. The housing prices and the cost of living reflect either 1 person having a huge income or 2 people working. Considering my husband doesn’t have a huge income, it means I have to work. Yes, I would love to stay home with our twins but it would mean we would have to live in a 1 bedroom condo. Uh, not happening.

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8 Living Wage

It seems to have gotten harder to find good paying jobs without a college education. I think real estate is one possibility but you would have to get a lot of specific training in the field before being proficient. Road construction and welding seem to be very decent occupations at this time but even welding takes a two year degree.

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9 Matthew

People who are struggling are probably living beyond their means, and I say this as someone struggling with that exact same problem. There was an article in the Washington Post about a family–Dad paints cars for a dealership, Mom is a secretary for an auto dealership–dealing with a 10% cutback in Dad’s pay (he’s lucky he even still has a job, in my opinion). Meanwhile they live in an expensive suburb of D.C., carry tremendous credit card debt, and consider “cutting back” to be cutting out pedicures for their 10 year old daughter. There are needs and wants in life and most people (myself included) often have difficulty distinguishing between the two.

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10 Chris

Why is it such a struggle? Often, it’s because people have become accustomed to the standard of living they have with two incomes and have organized their life around that standard. Houses, cars and vacations which were affordable on two incomes often cannot be sustained on one. On top of that, when you live in a neighborhood with a bunch of people making your old salary, you feel a lot of pressure to do the same things they do, even though you can no longer afford it.

The minimum wage should not be a “living wage,” for a number of reasons. First of all, many people don’t need a “living wage” — maybe they’re teenagers trying to make spending money or old folks just in the workforce because that’s how they like to spend their time. Maybe it’s a previously stay-at-home spouse, who’s working to save money for a new vacation. Secondly, increasing the minimum wage would have a devastating effect on people on the margins, who might not have any job skills. With a low minimum wage, these people can get jobs. With a high minimum wage, these people are the first to lose their jobs. Sure, a living wage would mean that some people start getting a lot more money. But, it would also mean that a bunch of others lose their jobs completely.

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11 Kristy @ Master Your Card

Hmmm, this is a great question and one I doubt has an easy answer. But, my thoughts on it are this.

1. The cost of living during your grandfather’s time was much lower.

Thanks to inflation and greedy capitalism, the cost of living today is much higher than it was two decades ago. The problem with that is the pay rates of the middle class have not increased enough to match these changes. As a result, what could have been afforded on one income several generations ago can barely be afforded on two incomes today.

2. Lack of middle class jobs.

With the advent of outsourcing jobs and companies paying illegal immigrants under the table to save money, that takes a huge chunk of the jobs away from Americans. Plus, with the expectation that employees now have a college education, it is limiting that pool even further.

3. America’s expectation of a higher lifestyle.

This may be one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. Our expectations of lifestyle have changed from your grandfather’s generation to ours. Where before they were content to enjoy each other’s company and play games outside, we have to have the latest gadgets and trinkets in order to feel marginally happy. But, that only lasts until the next thing comes out. So, our money goes to things of no value. We expect that luxuries are commonplace in our society today. We expect to own a cellphone, to have a TV and DVD player, to have two or more cars…all of these things are luxuries and we forget that because they are so commonplace these days.

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12 Ryan

Coupon Artist: Great article. For those of you who are interested, Coupon Artist wrote an article about the changing landscape of our economy over the last few years: Why is it so Much Harder to Thrive in America Today?.

Moot: Very interesting comment. Earning more money is a great solution until you run out of ways to do that.

traciatim: I’m sure adding more people to the work force diluted pay as well, and I also think the changing face of the US economy contributed to that. For instance, factory jobs used to be a huge part of our infrastructure, but now the US economy is dominated by service industries. I wouldn’t be surprised if that played a major role in driving down wages (or slowing their growth).

Christian Finance: I agree – what are considered “bare essentials” today would have been luxuries just a few decades ago. For example, many families have a color TV, air conditioning, a computer, two or more cars, and other “necessities.”

Curious Cat: Health care is a huge problem in our country. The cost for uninsured families is often prohibitive. This was one of the issues facing the families in the documentary Waging a Living. The ease of getting credit is also a huge problem as many people do not know how to use credit well. Regarding the period of 1950s – mid 70s…. I had never thought about that before, but that is an excellent observation.

Baker: Good point. I think the standards many people have cause them to get into financial trouble. But sometimes it isn’t a matter of just wanting to live in a nicer location, but in a safer location. My heart goes out to single parents as well. The word that best comes to mind is heroic.

Lynn: Location absolutely plays a major factor. Cost of living on the coasts is much higher than in the south or midwest. And moving isn’t always an easy or feasible solution.

Matthew: The example you gave happens all over the US. But for every person living beyond their means, I’m sure there is one who is struggling to make ends meet but it not squandering their income on luxuries. The cost of living in many locations makes it very difficult to get by on a small income, no matter how careful you are with your money.

Chris: I’m sure “keeping up with the Joneses” plays a large role in some of this. Regarding minimum wage, I’m not arguing that it should be a living wage… just noting the difference. Raising the minimum wage could slow economic growth and cost jobs, so it is something the government considers heavily before acting upon.

Kristy: All good observations. Of these, the last one is the one that people have the most control over.

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13 MoneyEnergy

I don’t know, I don’t think “minimum wage” is close to a living wage… you’d have to do more than 40 hours, although I agree with Baker’s general point that many of us probably expect more than we really need….

Anyone know any stay-at-home husbands/dads around out there, while the mother/wife works?

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14 Kirk Kinder

1. Needs vs. Wants: Our grandparents lived in smaller homes with used furniture. They drove old cars and did all cleaning, repair, and maintenance themselves.

2. Inflation: Back before 1971, we were on the gold standard. This kept inflation in check as the money supply could only inflate as more gold was brought from the ground. Once we went off the standard, the Fed has had carte blance to print, print, print. This is why we are in a huge deleveraging mess now. And, it is why it costs so much more to live. A dollar earned today is not worth a dollar six months down the road.

3. Taxes: the tax burden even on the lower income folks is much higher than it use to be. Today, someone who is in the 10% federal tax bracket still pays out close to 30% to the government – 10% income tax, 2.9% medicare tax, 12.6% social security (I know it is only half, but if your employer didn’t pay half you would technically get that money in your paycheck), 4% state income tax, 6% sales tax, and then 1-2% in other government fees (ancillary taxes like hotel taxes or car registrations, licenses, etc.). In the 50s, the social security tax was half of what it is today. Income taxes were substantially lower, and sales tax was half of what it is now. Imagine if each of us had an extra 10% in our paycheck each month. It would go a long way. We could save that and fully provide for our own retirement. Most people fail to acknowledge what a big role taxes play in our financial lives. It is massive and only getting worse.

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15 FFB

I think the two-income family helped make it more difficult. That and overspending. As more people worked then it diluted to workforce. At the same time the extra income from two workers allowed people to buy more stuff and get accustomed to that lifestyle. Two incomes also helped to drive up prices on things such as housing to the extent that’s it’s much more difficult today to buy a house on one income then it was in our grand-parent’s day.

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16 Abigail

I agree with what a lot of others said: There are simply more expenses in today’s world. (Some of the necessary, some of them not, but many of them universal, regardless.)

Even in my mother’s childhood, there was no such thing as cable or cell phones. Heck, there was no internet (or even home computers). People didn’t join gyms, generally speaking. Fitness wasn’t an industry back then. So no fitness club memberships or personal trainers to pay, or even equipment to buy.

Also, people made more of their own. It wasn’t unusual for my grandmother’s generation to grow and can fruits and vegetables, to sew clothes for the kids. Most households had only the one car, if any at all.

There also weren’t as many options for dining out. You ate at home. That was the norm. There weren’t so many fast food joints, no pizza delivery services that I know of, and generally your choices were a few local eateries.

Lots of people also had much smaller wardrobes. Lots of kids whose parents were just getting by had just enough shirts and pants to get them through the school week. Then those would be washed and worn again. Kids were bought fewer toys. They didn’t have activities scheduled all afternoon, so fewer fees there.

Of course, the cost of housing was lower back then, too. A few people pointed to inflation. That definitely doesn’t help.

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17 Dan

I believe the counterculture of the 60′s played a large influence in the economic shift of American families. One of the key tenants of the 60′s movement was to cast aside the conservatism of the previous generation. While the emphasis was on social mores and politics, frugality and self-discipline took a hit as well. American society was transformed into an instant gratification, me-first culture. This in turn led to over-consumerism and loss of practicality.

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18 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

I am of the opinion that with the advent of the dual income family, certain costs of living got bid up– housing for example.

Additionally, there are many costs and “necessities” that our parent/grandparents didn’t have . . . $100/month cell phone bills and $100/month cable bills come to mind.

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19 NatalieMac

I think there are many reasons why it’s become such a struggle. First, the rate of increase in the minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with inflation. Raising the minimum wage raises employer’s labor costs, driving inflation even higher, so something that simple can’t be the solution.

Second, our standard of living is much higher. Our grandparents weren’t worried about paying for mobile phones, multiple cars, and cable televisions, but those things have become so commonplace we think of them as ‘necessary’. I remember learning in economics class in college that the average family living below the poverty line in the U.S. has two televisions, cable, and a car. That’s hardly ‘poverty’ by the standards of other nations in the world, but we see it as poverty.

Third, urban areas have become much more expensive than small towns and rural areas. Where I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, it’s common to be able to rent a large 2 bedroom apartment for around $400/month. In Los Angeles, you’re lucky to be able to get a studio apartment for less than $1000. Two bedrooms are in the neighborhood of $2000 – $3000. And Los Angeles isn’t even the most expensive city for housing.

Fourth, the general acceptance of credit and buying stuff now and paying for it later has certainly caused major problems for those who don’t manage debt effectively. It’s hard to get a head or even cover basic necessities when you’re thousands of dollars in debt.

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20 Four Pillars

I think talking about color tvs or even lcs/plasma tvs being a luxury that didn’t exists “back then” might not be completely accurate. I suspect if you looked at the cost of a radio (in today’s dollars) back in the 50′s which could have been their “plasma tv” – it might not be that different than a modern tv. I have no idea if that is true or not but it would be interesting to know.

Also – Elizabeth Warren wrote a pretty good book (which I reviewed) called the “Two Income Trap” – well worth reading. The main focus of the book is the idea that having two incomes allows a family to pay that much more for a house in a good school area (if they have kids) which is one of the reasons for rising real estate prices and also for families to have stretched finances.

One of the interesting points she made is that outside of housing – most other costs in a modern family were quite comparable or a lot less than a family from several decades ago. Clothing, electronics, food are all much cheaper today. Her theory is that housing alone is the reason a lot of families are so in debt.

Her other big point (which I didn’t agree with) is that having two incomes means there is no fallback plan if someone loses a job or gets sick – she assumes that most two income families will spend both incomes on their lifestyle (mainly housing in a good school district according to Warren) and will then suffer greatly if one of the incomes is lost.

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21 Ryan

Four Pillars: Housing is probably the number one expense for the majority of American families, and the prices are extremely expensive in many cities, and along both coasts.

I understand Warren’s second point, but that is a very broad statement to make. It’s true that many people’s expenses expand to fill their income, but I also know a lot of people who live on much less than their income and have one or more fallback plans. I wrote about financial fallback plans and asked readers their thoughts. There were some great responses.

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22 Michelle

As the parent of two sons, ages 18 and 20, I see them struggling with wanting to leave home and live the lifestyle that they’ve grown accustomed to. What they fail to realize is that it took their father and I 25 years to get here on one income!

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23 Ryan

Michelle: I think that is a common thing among younger folks. They get accustomed to a standard of living but it’s only when they get out in the real world that they truly understand how expensive things are. Instant ratification is made easy by credit cards and easy loans… It can be tough to say no and take the long term approach.

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24 Mike

I was raised in a single earner family in the 50s. We had one TV, no air conditioning and no microwave. Dad and Mom had 8th grade educations and Dad worked 50 hours a week at a blue collar job. We never thought we were poor. We all (5kids) paid for our own college educations. I can’t speak for sure about my siblings but I think we are all millionairs.
Suck it up. Spend less than you make, and in 40 years you can be a millionair to. If you want to piss and moan about how unfair the system is, you will still be pissing and moanining 40 years from now.

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25 Sean from Chicago

Someone above said that the poor used to be richer. Yes that was true. It was true for a lot of reasons but the thing I saw was in the late 70′s and early 80′s was the rich got even. See it’s kinda simple. If you’ve got money and your considered “rich” and you’ve got kids you don’t want them around people that aren’t also “rich” so you get even.

My family was able to hang out in the Golf Clubs if we wanted to… we could hang around these kids of the “richies” and their parents were pissed. What the heck was the son of a City worker doing with my daughter was what was going on in their heads. What the heck is he doing at that University? Why can his parents afford to vist Europe? Why are they around us?

Oh they were pissed. Guess what? they got even. they raised their incomes so high that we couldn’t fathom. heck they made doctor’s become middle class. Just go to your posh golf clubs today and see who’s who.

They knew it all went to hell when blue collar kids were ending up with their kids so they fixed the whole system. A College degree isn’t special anymore. A masters isn’t. An MBA isn’t really that special. A law degreee maybe? No there’s no secret passes to the get with the richies anymore. They fixed that loophole.

America needs to go back to understanding they are not going to be rich. They need to stop chaseing the rich because it’s like going to Vegas.. the House has the advantage. America needs to live within it’s means. Follow it’s imigrant past and work hard, save hard, and know your place.

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26 stevestao

You have to be kidding: “I can’t believe that people don’t work as hard today as they did just a few decades ago”.

Have you been shopping in the last 10 years? The majority of “minimum wage” workers don’t work, and act like you are bothering them by being there. Customer service is basically non-existent. In retail industries, one is more likely to find a monkey pushing buttons behind a register than a knowledgeable person that could answer questions. Isn’t customer interaction part of the job? So, no, people don’t work as hard as they did just even a decade ago. Ask your parents about that.

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27 yep i'm gonna crash

Your opinion just indicates your age.

Fact is, people work more hours, work harder, and are more highly leveraged than any group of people in history. This includes minimum wage earners.

It is possible to conclude that you have a dim view of people doing these minimum wage jobs, because you expect the world while paying peanuts.

I’ll bet you even shop at walmart, and think you got a good deal because didn’t spend a lot.

Get a clue

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28 Ryan

stevestao: yeah, I was kidding when I wrote the entire article and I haven’t been shopping in the last 10 years. I don’t work hard either and don’t know anyone who does. I haven’t seen any monkeys while shopping, but again, I haven’t been shopping in the last 10 years.

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29 Joanna

Big business saw an opportunity to brainwash middle-class Americans into believing that their little Johnnies and Janes had to go to college (circa 1970) even though they couldn’t locate Europe on the map, that allowed the creation of many mediocre higher learning institutions to appear with more relaxed or less stringent admission requirements. In other harsher words, they made it possible for any idiot to go to college and actually get a degree in something. These so called colleges/universities made lots of money for courses that were not much more advanced than high school.
Instead of sticking to the more logical approach that demanded students have superior academic grades to enter a higher learning facility, they convinced parents and kids to forego the more technical fields of mechanics, HVAC, electrical or other such area (where a very good living could be made) and instead enter a college as a less than mediocre candidate to graduate with nothing of substance besides the high fiber content on the diploma. or they would better be served in a technical, artistic, or trades field.
Fast forward to the present: all the less than average students have obtained some type of college diploma yet they are minimally prepared to enter the business world and employers, recognizing these shortcomings don’t pay them more than the minimum wage.
These happenings beg the question: was this just a plan to minimally educate the masses (calling in a higher educational degree) when in essence it was nothing of the sort that placed many employees out in the world unable to work for a living wage thus benefiting the corporations that became transnationals with a super-need for cheap labor?

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30 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

@Joanna

You have hit on an under current here. I have often said that college is the new high school and grad school is the new college.

I will not stop any child of mine from pursuing a trade. They will not rack up debt, usually have steady work, be their own boss, and will more than likely be able to retire early– I know contractors who in a position to retire in their late forties . . .

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31 fremmasmind

I don’t know how many of you have seen Aaron Russos’ documentary, “Freedom to Fascism”. Google it and watch. In this documentary he spent the whole time asking politicians, economists, etc., where in the constitution is there a law that states American citizens have to pay federal income taxes? Well you know how Politicians ramble on and say nothing, same with all the other intelligent individuals he asked the same question and got no real answers. He finally found out that if a person has a business and makes a profit on selling merchandise or services, he is to be taxed on that profit.
If an individual has a job making a living wage, i.e.,a job that pays salary or an hourly rate he does not have to pay federal taxes on that wage. Check out the documentary. This, I believe was Aarons’ last work before he died. R.I.P.

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32 Dawn Spiering

Hmmm rich politicians hammering and stammering about our constitutional rights? Sounds just about right. And yet we vote in these representatives to govern over us. Many of those who represent us in goverment come from fairly rich backgrounds, lawyers, doctors, business owners. How did they get to the uppercrust? On the backs of hard working Americans. When a person choses a person to represent them in government shouldn’t they chose a person with the same values and background as themselves? We continue to behave like sheep and all we are going to have to lead us is wolfs. Isnt a undereducated and poor population easier to control than one that can actually defend itself and understand the implications of the rights of the constitution? When was the last time a hard working man or woman discussed John Lockes’ Right To Pursue Happiness?

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33 jim v

My dad raised a family of 5 on one auto factory income during the 60′s and never had debt, plus retired comfortably at 65. Ive raised a family of 8 by working several jobs while my wife stayed home with the kids and we have plenty of debt to pay off. I think that women should never have “fallen” for the idea of adding more income by working outside of the home. The same dollar just ended up shrinking so that it became normal to work two jobs to get by. (And by the way, why did our country allow us to leave the gold standard? We would not have the hyper inflation that we have now if our dollar was still backed by gold.) This was basically a trick to lower the standard of living (by my definition it means having all basic needs met with an in home caregiver there 100%-mom) Additionally,Nobody raises your children as good as you do. We don’t need all this extra stuff. Our children need our presence, period.

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34 Tree Girl

I think people did work harder back in the day. I know my mother-in-law used to get up before dawn to milk the cow. She raised 6 kids in a house with no electricity and no running water. She sewed many of their clothes from feed sacks. She raised a garden and canned on a wood stove. They butchered a hog every year and canned their own sausage. And this was back in the 50s and 60s. That lifetime of hard work has won her good health. She is 89 and still lives alone, doing all her own cooking and cleaning. Let’s face it folks. We are lazy and selfish and it hurts our health both mental and physical.

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35 Mr.Pibb64

here’s an example of how inflated prices are;
let’s go back…hmmm summer of 1978. myself, and some of my classmates went on a trip to Oahu, Hawaii for about 4 weeks. we stayed in tents on the beach and in youth hostels. we were transported around in a bus with a big body guard and the bus driver carried around a big boom box with one of those mini tv in it. we saw the dole pinapple plant, and some other tourist activities. i got to try out surfing on oahu beach.

the cost for the WHOLE thing; $400!!! heck we even had a disco party(my first and only one) on the beach!

today, it would not surprise me in the least that all of that would cost AT LEAST an order of magnitude more!

my two cents(or heck my two dollars – their pretty much the same thing)

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36 J.Lowery

I can remember when $10 per hour was considered a good-decent wage back in the early 70′s….most of the workers in the documentary Waging a Living were earning around $10-$11 an hour, and the doc. was made in 2005……….that’s pretty much all I need to know. Thirty Five years has gone by, people are more productive and working harder, yet real wages have actually gone DOWN for many. The myths that working Americans have been sold are some of the following:
1. Unions are bad…globalism will raise standards of living
2. The days of benefits and pensions are gone…it’s your responsibility to save
3. While wage increases and benefits are not acceptable….you can “borrow” the very money you should have been earning on a “credit” card system, with interest
4. The United States is not broke…..but large corporations are paying a smaller and smaller effective tax rate (between 0 – 18%)
5. Capital gains tax has gone from an income tax to a rate of 0-15%
6. A standing army since Vietnam…..cost of foreign aide, intellegence, weapons, personell, tricore health care, 20 yr and out pensions, housing and school assistance, international bases, cia, etc. has taken a larger share of the tax dollar, resulting in ‘competition’ with dollars used for infrastructure, education, domestic programs.
7. In 1960′s it was not a given that all medical school grads would become millionares and nurses with four year degrees would be making 6 figure salaries.
The ratio of doctors to people was much higher. Today only about 800,000 doctors in usa….if we exclude specialists like plastic surgeons and psychiatrists, the number is even lower. The largest medical union around “AMA” ensures that the number of docs is limited and therefore at a premium. Notice there are more and more doctors in the us congress elected each term, this is no accident but by design. Essentially you have lawyers and doctors running the United States government…..they protect their interests as well as the multinational corps. that funded their campaigns. In the United States if you do not pay, you do not have a voice.
8. The Republocrats are essentially one party. Notice that the Democrats absorp social movements, only to let them die….Clinton and Obama both supported large corporations as did every Republican after Eisenhower. The prudent thing to do might be to form a REAL LABOR PARTY …….one that the Republocrats can’t hijack and absorb…….and start changing State and Federal laws so that such a party could have a real leadership position.
9. Tariffs need to be placed on imports….70% of what comes into usa from China is made for us labels-companies…….if you want to make it in China and exploit peasants there, then sell it in China……you want to sell it in here, pay the tariff….this and DEMANDING that the usa pull of WTO, NAFTA and CAFTA would be a step in the right direction for American families.

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