The American Dream of our parents day is not the American Dream of our day. Once upon a time, people were able to sufficiently live on one income. Back in the later 40’s after the war, the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and some of the 80’s. Dad went to work, mom stayed home and kept the house clean and dinner on the table. Homework done before the kids went out to play. These days you cannot survive on less than two incomes. Unless you have a great paying job. But, let us focus today, on those that do not have great paying jobs. Those who are WORKING just to LIVE. Those are our:
- Entry level workers
- Fast food workers
- Convenience store workers
- Janitorial staff
These workers, unless they’ve been working someplace for years. And sometimes not even then, are not able to afford housing costs, let alone utilities and food. Did you know, when the minimum wage was set up in the 1930’s, it was meant to be a LIVING wage? People were able to survive on that salary. People paid their rent/mortgage, buy food, and their utilities on that salary. If you made more than the minimum wage, you were sitting pretty.
So, what prompted me to write this post? I recently read a story about a woman who was pregnant, she worked as a home healthcare nurse. She signed on with Uber to make extra money but ended up even more broke. The day she went into labor, she bought a scratch-off ticket, hoping to win $777. Instead of being able to focus on the joy of her child’s birth, she was scratching off a ticket hoping to win money. Because she had no money to bring this child into the world. Her job in the home healthcare field had cut back her hours, which is why she went to Uber to earn money.
Now, before people go on a rant that she should never have gotten pregnant if she couldn’t afford it. The pregnancy was a joyous surprise. She always thought she couldn’t get pregnant. She moved out of her apartment and moved in with her mom. This woman is a prime example of people working just to live. Doing what we have to, to survive and pay our bills. Nothing extra. We are not meant to live this way.
This started changing around the 80’s and into the 90’s. Mom’s started working because families could no longer afford to live on one salary. Divorce was becoming more common, so moms were starting to work more than one job just to get by. Maybe earn a little extra so little Johnny or Susie could do extracurricular activities.
Now, in 2017, it’s common place for people to work more and more. And don’t get me wrong, there are MANY ways that we can earn money. We no longer go from one brick and mortar building to the next. We can come home and earn money from our computers. But, we are still working just to live. Minimum wage is no longer viewed as a “living wage”. People say those types of jobs are meant for teenagers. They are not meant to be career jobs. But, in fact, a minimum wage job was intended to let you live on that salary as an adult.
There are people who cannot get better paying jobs. You have those with disabilities and cannot become a chemist or an engineer. Those with Autism, Down Syndrome or those who are slow learners. They cannot help the hand they were dealt. If they are able to work, should they be forced into poverty? No, they should be proud that they have a job. Not beat down because they can’t afford to live on their own. Forced to still depend on people for help.
The article of that woman scratching off a lottery ticket, hoping to bring in some money, instead of enjoying the birth of her child struck a chord with me. Prompting this post. It made me angry that we live in a society that this is the norm. It made me angry that my child will most likely grow into something worse. There is nothing political in my agenda here. This is society and business driven. Cost of living has increased, but our salaries have not. Businesses do not have the loyalty to their workers as they used to. Therefore, employees no longer have loyalty to the companies they work for. Businesses have the mindset of “Do not ask what your company can do for you. Ask what you can do for your company”.
This is something that we need to get out there. Bring awareness to businesses that this is not ok. We may be employees, but we deserve respect and should have salaries that we can live on. That we should not be working just to live. Salaries that allow us to enjoy a vacation away from home. Salaries that allow us a drink at Starbucks, or a night out with friends. Businesses in other countries have time that allows employees time away from work. Check out my post on where the US ranks for vacations.
For myself, I worked a full-time job. Recently laid off, but I worked 40 – 50 hour weeks. Came home and worked on my freelance business to earn extra money. I can hustle with the best of them at this point. I’ll do anything that allows me to earn extra money to put towards the car my teen may get this summer. I earn money to pay for braces. But, I do put aside some money that allows me to go out with friends or on vacation. Otherwise? What is the point? I don’t believe we are meant to work, come home, work, come home.
What do you do that allows you a little extra spending money to enjoy those extras? Do you feel that times have changed and that maybe the minimum wage is no longer a living wage? Do you know anyone who is working just to live? Comment below, or stop over on my Facebook page and share your story!