Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why do Front Line Positions Pay So Little?

Although, soldiers face the most danger, soldiers aren't the only ones on the front line sacrificing themselves to line the already lined pockets of the American elite...the front line extends all across America, and it is a necessity that we pay these employees very little, meanwhile draining as much "blood" from them as it is possible to get away with.

Yes, "we" claim to admire and respect those who occupy the front line positions that literally keep America safe, secure, educated, wealthy and most of all free. However when it comes to putting our money where our mouth is and paying these hard working people a decent wage, we draw the line, conveniently believing that generous payment somehow detracts from the service these positions provide.

Of course, the soldiers, police officers and firefighters are the "vanguard elite" of the front-liners, but there are those, who although may not face the same degree of risk or level of sacrifice, nevertheless expose themselves to an elevated possibility of suffering loss or injury while receiving very little compensation, such as teachers, social workers, aids in nursing homes, and even bank tellers and mall employees etc.

Bank tellers not only risk the real possibility of coming face to face with a bank robber (3 out of the 3 career bank tellers I know have been robbed) they also risk facing relatively severe consequences should they inadvertently violate bank policy, since bank tellers are the bank's first line of defense regarding compliance with all the federal laws that govern them, not to mention screening out possible terrorists...tall order for $10 bucks an hour.

For instance, years ago, during my bank teller training, I was told that tellers could be prosecuted for adding or subtracting one penny in order to come out even at the end of the day. Adding one penny to your drawer is grounds for prosecution!

So, why does America accept the inherent unfairness built into our system of compensation? The simple answer is that it is essential for the rich greedy corporate whores who control most of the world's wealth to employ millions of fall guys at low wages so that their golf courses remain green and golfable. The American elite depend on it. To do this they count on, at the very least, three-quarters of our population, to value their "comfort" zone above all else.

Inasmuch a person's "comfort" zone is normally based on an arbitrary belief system he's internalized from his surroundings; the wealthy and powerful realize they must do all they can to keep the majority of Americans ignorant enough not to question why we pay some people exorbitant salaries to wine, dine and play golf all day and pay others next to nothing to save lives, defend our country, take care of our children, elderly relatives etc. Of course, if those in the "zone" were to become enlightened, the boogieman will surely appear repeatedly until "We the People" "safely" return to the stifling boundaries we have become so accustomed.


PheistyBlog 01:10  

First of all, I think you need to state what you consider to the the "wealthy elite". What kind of money are we talking about, here? $125,000 a year? $250,000 a year? I think you need to make that distinction, then state your claim that the "foot soldiers" are underpaid.

Secondly, you disregard the fact that 90% of the "wealthy elite" have risked it all. They have invested their own money and selves into their position in the economic world, and have a hell of a lot more to lose than a "foot soldier". Make no mistake, there's nothing wrong with being a front-line employee. If you're happy having little to no responsibility, and not risking something by investing in the business, or don't want to work your way up the ladder, then you should be content with the fact that you have a job.

Thirdly, you categorize all high-income earners into the category of the "American Elite". Did you know that a growing number of the high-paying jobs in this country ($150K or more per year) are those working for non-profit entities and government? They aren't even producing anything, or investing any of their own money into their "tax exempt" business, yet they are raking in hefty salaries while they depend on the good nature of people and taxpayer money, so that they can keep the best job they've ever had. That is what should be appalling to you, private market producers should be the last on your list to criticize.

In order to make more money, you need to be willing to risk. That may be risking money, that may be risking time with your family, or working long hours where you do little else but sleep, eat, and work.

I don't care WHO you are. If you work hard, get along with your co-workers, go above-and-beyond to try and make the company better and show up for work every day, you will move up, if that's what you want. If you aren't willing to do that, and be patient while you do it, then you don't deserve to be paid more.

This isn't even touching on the issue of market rates, and what jobs are worth. Jobs aren't worth more simply because management or the owners are bringing in more revenue. Jobs are worth what they're worth, and they shouldn't depend at all on what the company's bottom line is. That's like saying that a cashier at WalMart should be paid more than someone who works at a mom and pop store. A cashier is a cashier. I could give more examples, but this is getting long-winded.

Ernie 12:08  

The wealthy elite are those whose assets exceed $10 million. You are right…I should have clarified that from the beginning. I don’t include those who make less than $250,000 year simply because that kind of salary today buys a family a middle – upper middle class lifestyle at best, especially when alternative minimum tax is considered.

I totally disagree that 90% of the “wealthy elite” have risked it all. How can you say an investment banker or CEO is risking more than a policeman, fireman, and soldier? They’re risking the ultimate…their life and the security of their own family. And as far as little responsibility goes, again I disagree. It’s not what you know it’s who you know and most Americans do not know the “right” people. The “foot soldier” whether he is a soldier, fireman or the “lowly” bank teller carries the responsibility of protecting other people’s lives at most and/or our valuables which most people consider as valuable as another person’s life, as materialistic as this society is.

I won’t even go into the soldier example because it should be obvious. The CEO of Halliburton and all the other people who are making a fortune off this war ain’t out there taking the bullets, bombs etc. The bank robber doesn’t confront the CEO or the senior vice president…he confronts the bank teller who makes a little more than a McDonalds employee. In addition, if the bank teller doesn’t follow proper procedure, that person has almost no chance of it going undetected whereas those higher up can get away with far more with very little consequence. There are bank tellers who are responsible for supporting their entire family on what he or she makes and losing a job can be totally devastating. A CEO loses his job and more than likely it’s no big deal…he can support his family on the assets he’s accumulated.

I’m not against personal responsibility but I am against reducing the complexity of what we deal with to, “all you have to do is work hard and show up for work” simplicity. There are 50 million Americans who work their asses off and do not even have health insurance, can’t pay their bills etc. When are they supposed to invest all this time in educating themselves? Life circumstances and situations are different for everyone. There are many who grow up in households where “poverty” and violence is the only thing they know.

Growing up my family barely scraped by. We never went on vacation, never had money to do anything “extra curricular” but my parents were both educated, white (privilege in itself) and took care of us the best they could. That kind of environment gave me a huge edge on 99% of the world and well over 50% of most Americans and we were not even “comfortable” as far as finances go.

As far as those who make $150,000, working for a non-profit organization go…they should probably be making a lot more than they do and their chances of catching up to the hyper-rich is infinitesimally small. $150,000 is pocket change as far as the people I’m referring to go. I should have definitely made that clear from the beginning.

Thanks for pointing that out.

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