Saturday, February 16, 2013

More Nickels, More Dimes

File:Nickel and Dimed cover.jpg

Back in 2001 Barbara Ehrenreich wrote Nickel and Dimed about the difficulty of "making ends meet" at the low end of the wage scale. Highly educated herself, Ehrenreich worked at several jobs which were essentially minimum wage and concluded that it is myth that they are low-skill just because they are low-pay.

This book came to mind after the State of the Union address by President Obama earlier this week. He voiced a commitment to getting the minimum wage in the United States to the lofty level of nine bucks an hour from its current level of $7:25. Strike up the band!

Who could live on this? That's why we have the term, "the working poor." In Canada minimum wage is a provincial jurisdiction and the lowest is $9.50 in Saskatchewan and the highest is $11.00 in Nunavut. In Ontario it is $10.25 but I didn't just have these figures at my fingertips. I had to go online and check because in my blissfully privileged world minimum wage is not an issue. It is for some of the folk who join us for The Gathering Place community dinner. They are there because they can have a nutritious meal and as much as they want both for themselves and their families, all without cost. It makes a difference, as do foodbanks but it isn't a long-term solution.

There are groups in this province such as ISARC:Faith Communities in Action Against Poverty which keep pushing the issues of poverty into the public eye. I'm glad they exist and that Christians are involved. I don't know how they keep from despair at times.

Did anyone else notice this rather low-profile inclusion in the State of the Union address? I pay attention to the weirdest things! Do you every stop to consider those who are doing their best to get by on minimum wage?


roger said...

I do think about it, and realize how blessed I am too.

Over 20 years ago I worked in another field, and our company went under. Suddenly we were out of work, and in a panic, I took real estate courses and got my certification. I tried(and failed miserably) selling houses in Toronto. I could barely pay my rent.

That experience has ensured that I never, ever take for granted how fortunate I am now.

Laura said...

Often think about it as I grocery shop...fresh,nutritious food is costly for a family...I do wonder how many families manage it.

IanD said...

Here's a scary fact: the United States only enacted a $5.00 minimum wage in 1995 (!) Can you imagine?

I am forever thankful for my job, the breadth of my compensation package (in all of its forms) and for the relatively strong job security I enjoy.

The Gathering Place is something I enjoy doing, in part because it reminds me of how lucky I am.