I think the author is talking about those on very low wages, such as Walmart workers, who often have to accept charity to survive. At the moment in Australia, I think living on the minimum wage is not quite as tough as it is in America, but there is concern new industrial legislation will change that.
We lost a lot of jobs in this country a couple of years ago. But Capitalists point out that a lot of new jobs have been created since then. Unfortunately, flipping burgers or greeting people at Wal-Mart ? data analysis or programming. A job that pays $7/hour ? a job that pays $60,000 per annum.
In addition, U.S. workers typically lose their health insurance along with their jobs. According to 60 Minutes last Sunday, hospitals charge the highest prices to uninsured people – the very people who cannot afford medical care.
Imasquare, the letter you cited asks a simple question as to whether current IR changes will benefit the employers or the workers, and goes on to compare it to the situation in the US industrial arena where many workers are being payed such a base wage as to render them poverty-stricken, even though they are gainfully employed, as such.
I really dunno what you are suggesting. Should we all become Third World slaves, or should we shuddup because no matter how bad our lives become, they can never be as bad as those living in Niger or Somalia?
Or are you just being a fucking bougeoise dickhead, comrade?
The “just like in the US” line is a load of crap, but we are heading in that direction.
The next time someone talks about globalization as if it’s a good thing, consider this: if the US is supposed to compete with places like India and Vietnam, then workers in the United States (or at least a sizeable fraction of us) will have to live with wages that are comparable to places like India and Vietnam.
I don’t think the U.S. is a Third World country, and I don’t think we’re really heading that way. But the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and I think social services are inadequate.
Perhaps, in your case, the former would be your best bet. Spouting off certainly doesn’t seem to help your case. The average daily wage in 3rd world countries is often pegged at anywhere from $0.30 to $1.00 per hour. Unless the Australian business community is attempting to shave your minimum wage by some 92%, then the comparison to 3rd world wages is hyperbole bordering on insanity.
Actual, government mandated minimum wages for selected countries (list found here), based on 8 hour day or 40 hour week:
I am so utterly sick of this obnoxious factoid making its way into every conversation about wealth going back to the foundation of human civilization.
The average poor person in this country has inconcievable wealth compared to a great portion of the world and to the entire history of human civilization. Sure, life is a big ol’ bitch, but I’d rather be a poor American in 2006 than a European king in the middle ages, or even a college-educated bureaucrat in India.
I agree. People always spout off how much more poor people used to have. Actually, putting it in those terms it doesnt make much sense because the allegation doesn’t make any sense.
Go back to 1986, then 1966, then 1946 and what did any group have more of? Food is better and in abundance in supply and quality has increased greatly even since the 1990’s. The TYPICAL home in the 1950’s was a little over 1000 square feet. Now it is twice that. Watch the Honeymooners to see what a bus driver could live like in the early 1950’s. Cars are more reliable and packed with features and poor people even have one and usually more than one if they need it.
We have already entered into the Jetson’s age for electronics and people certainly get WAY for their money on luxury electronics than any time in the past.
The percentage of people going to college is at all time highs.
What was it that these poor people at any time you pick in the past had that they don’t now? What about the middle class?
Well, I’m having trouble finding any employment at all – certainly not at my previous salary. Another guy who got laid off at the same time I did only managed to get a job as a used-car salesman. Another one has yet to find a job over two years later. (He’s been doing volunteer work for the Democratic Party.) I personally don’t know a single person who has lost his job and has found a better one. In the meantime, large corporations (e.g., oil companies) are making record profits.
Did I say they didn’t? No. I said, ‘I don’t think the U.S. is a Third World country, and I don’t think we’re really heading that way.’
I found a better one but it took a long while. It is in IT consulting too. I don’t see what that has to do with anything though. Companies either need people in certain fields or they don’t. It would be a little insane for them to hire a file mapper/report designer and then find out they don’t really have a need for that kind of work your first day on the job. Other sectors are booming in the meantime.
It seems to me that the retail and service sectors are booming. But they don’t pay as much as IT.
As it happens, the company that laid me off has positions open. I’ve applied for two of them so far, but they’re in year-end so I may not hear anything until April. And I keep in touch with one of my friends/former coworkers. She told me today that they might have a couple of positions opening up. Of course, that would mean that I’d have to go back to California. That would make several people happy. Me? I like it up here. But after taking a two-year break from L.A. I think I could handle that too.
For now, I’m going to try for a part-time job at REI for 1/3 my previous pay and 1/2 to 4/5 my previous hours. (I like REI and I’ve been a member since '82.) Maybe I could move from there to IT in Seattle? And I’m interviewing for a job with the City Council to record their sessions. Three cameras to switch, plus some editing. Half my previous pay, and 1/5 the hours. But good for my other résumé.
That sucks, but anecdotal evidence from a couple people does not prove anything about the wealth of society or even a demographic group as a whole.
Well, you know me virtually. I’ve been fired twice and both times I managed to find a better job (with better pay) within six months. But again, my one anecdote doesn’t prove anything. On the other hand, I can point out many ways in which society as a whole is much wealthier than even ten years ago. For instance, nearly the entire US population has access to goat porn thanks to the Internet terminal at their local public library.
Oh, we certainly agree about that. I was only arguing with the inane “rich get richer, poor get poorer” thing.
Dobber. You just wait 'til I get you out behind the shelter-sheds at recess…
Actually, I do apologise and my language/putdown was uncalled for. I promise not to address you as ‘comrade’ again.
I am still a bit concerned by the point of your OP though.
I don’t think that anyone, anywhere would dispute that the goals of workers and employers are quite different and mostly mutually exclusive. The worker tries to earn as much as he can, while the employers best interests are served by reducing the ‘costs’ of production in order to maximise profit. One way of doing this is to minimise labour costs, and the lower the better.
Here in Australia (just to give an example) the nature of industrial relations has changed dramatically in recent times. I dunno if you have heard of ‘The Harvester Judgement’ (1907), but it set in legal concrete the notion of a fair days work for a fair days pay: that a wage for a (then male) employee must be adequate enough to support himself and a partner and two children in a decent and civilised manner.
The Harvester decision has been the paradigm under which wage and conditons resolution dispute has taken place in Aus in the years since. At least until now. A single wage is rarely enough to support a family in basic housing, living costs and food, and even with both parents working (in basic jobs) life is still fairly tough. Not Third World standards by any measure, but certainly on the decline. And how far might it go? The ‘working poor’ have never been an issue before. Unemployed folks, yup. People on Disability and other pensions, absolutely. But a job has always been seen as the way OUT of poverty, not (as now) as a shackle to bind you to it forever.
And I’m pretty confident the same can be said of the US situation.