Some thoughts on income inequality.

One thing I’ve resolved to stop doing lately is complain too much about my own money problems. I can’t deny that I’ll cut it out completely. Aside from being only human I sometimes struggle for blog post topics. But I’ve done it way too much in the past. I’ve heard a lot about the income inequality and the plight of those struggling to make ends meet lately. When I look at my own life I realize that things aren’t really all that bad for me. Sure, I owe a large debt to my father again and I’ve been struggling to recover from some losses almost a year ago. My paycheck isn’t very high each week. But then again, so aren’t my bills. I get a great deal on my rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Kittery Point. When I look at all of the bad that’s going on in the country right now I have to remember that I’m actually pretty well-off in comparison.

Granted, I pay attention to a lot of left-leaning media, such as blogs like The Huffington Post and podcasts like “Moyers & Company” and “The Smartest Man in the World” with Greg Proops. I’m largely inundated with stories and opinions about the financial problems of most of Americans because I subject myself to it. The bias of the sources aside the sheer volume means that I’m going to come across the topic often. I’m not unaware of all of this. Nonetheless I see it, I hear it, and I’m becoming more aware of what’s going on out there. Say what you will about any of these sources of information you could still make the argument that it’s making me more conscientious about how I come across with my complaining.

I do believe that the minimum wage should get increased. It really should get pushed through as soon as possible. On a personal level, it would serve to make me still better off than a lot of people who are just barely getting by. My pay is two grades higher than the starting pay at my company. Even then it’s just under the proposed amount that Congress is considering. I’m the only one in my position at the location I work at, and therefore indispensable. So if the minimum wage increases I will be pretty well off indeed (well, considering what I’m used to, anyway). Of course, there’s always the danger of them cutting my hours, creating two part-time positions to take care of the one, or lowering the difference between the pay grades. I’m not accusing my company of any wrong-doing. I’m just saying that I’m keeping my mind open to possible outcomes.

I could go into the larger picture of how an increase in minimum wage would benefit the whole country. I could also offer rebuttals to the arguments against an increase. However, that’s been done to death elsewhere. I only offer one unfortunate possibility that I see with raising the minimum wage: it’s a quick and temporary fix. Sure, more people would have more spending money for a few years which in turn will create new jobs for others. But the rich would just keep getting rich over this. We’ll have to go through this same rigmarole again. It doesn’t help that the proposed amount that Congress is considering isn’t enough to start with. What we need are stricter regulations and punishments on corporations. We need to increase the taxes for the rich and force them to pay them. We need to tax the churches.

We also need to educate the lower classes about living responsibly in society. Not only do they need to understand that they have rights but they have obligations. I don’t mean propaganda to make them obedient to their corporate masters. We have cable news networks and malls for that. I also don’t mean voting. We’ll leave that subject for another time. What I mean is being able to work together and be civil to one other. Nevermind what larger goals these activities may serve, such as working in an office situation or planting their own food. Again, those are topics for another time. But we spend too much time teaching subjects such as history and math without giving any purpose for these subjects in real life.

What does this have to do with the income equality gap? On its own, perhaps nothing. But with these other measures we can teach students real skills that they could use in a society that is closing that gap. Otherwise, if we teach them the same way we have been all these years the same problems might present themselves. You could also look at it from the angle that the students will have the tools to take advantage of a more stable financial future, such as starting their own company. If the gap doesn’t close then at least we’d be teaching the students how to deal with financial hardship (such as growing a community garden).

Then again, the quantity of the left-leaning media that I’m listening to might be affecting my worldview. Maybe things won’t turn out to be so bad. But somehow I doubt it. There’s a reason that I expose myself to said media. While studying for my degree in Media Studies I learned how to discern the information out there and recognize reporting and intelligent opinion based on facts. So far, I haven’t found anything on the right that satisfies my sense of that.

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