I am collateral damage of the failed Republican policies which have impoverished the middle class.
I am 58 years old, retired and certainly not where I saw life for myself at this stage. I will be you are in the same sort of predicament regardless of your age.
This is what the Great American shrinking wallet has gotten us. We can thank a runaway capitalist system which rewards and values greed.
I am too young to collect Social Security and Medicare, although I paid into the system for forty years of my working life.
No Protection From Greed
I devoted my career to civil service. I retired from law enforcement from an on the job related injury that provides my healthcare benefits due to being in public safety. That burden is one I am blessed to not have to bear – although I despair for those who lack coverage.
After leaving life in public safety, I found a job as a state employee. I did a stint as a personal trainer on an Army National Guard base, and helped soldiers maintain weight and body fat percentages. My purpose was to maintain troops in a state of readiness. If soldiers fell out weight or body fat percentages, they were discharged from service, hampering troop retention.
While it wasn’t glamorous, I feel I provided a service to our country. I formed great relationships during those years. I was certified as a strength trainer which complimented my personal trainer certificate.
I planned on maintaining this career until the age of 62, but was forced out early. This same scenario played out to millions of us in the private sector. I am aware my story is not all the unusual.
My 40K annual salary was hardly an extravagant amount of money, especially when you are raising children that have the appetite of a pride of lions.
Behold the effect of the libertarian system. My job was “privatized” which resulted in losing my status and benefits as a state employee.
The small amount of security I had as a public servant evaporated overnight.
Like millions of other American wage slaves, I was not seeking to get rich from employment. I wasn’t looking for a new car every three years, or expensive vacations. I wanted a job which supported my family while offering stability and security, and would allow me to make a positive contribution to the world. Civil service seemed like a good option.
I was never looking for “more”, but merely “enough.”
The part where they poured salt in the wound was when they offered to keep me but the pay was less than half of what I was making as a state employee.
It was a “business decision” and justified by telling me that is what personal trainers made in the private sector.
I have since learned that the phrase “business decision” usually means what is in the best interest of the company only. It is a phrase similar to the excuse “we are taking the company a new direction” which implies your needs were not considered in this process, and you should not complain regardless of the consequences. For further clarification, see “nothing personal.”
Naturally, I told them to kiss my ass.
The math on this particular incident illuminates the problem of the rapacious capitalist sytem. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
For argument sake, let’s bring the numbers to light. You should understand that they money was still there. The distribution that had changed. In other words, my services didn’t suddenly become less expensive, or have lower demand.
Their Greed Cost Me $160,000
Half of my annual salary would have been $20K, and over the eight year period from when I was forced out until the time of my planned retirement amounts to $160K. That is the amount of income I have lost.
Again, those funds are not gone, they are nothing more than a transfer of wealth from the have-nots to the haves. To those who recently filed taxes, this should sound familiar. That $160K windfall was taken from individuals like me and are now in the wallet of some corporation in Scottsdale, AZ.
This is “trickle-down economics.”
Multiply this by the four total employees that were affected. That is a whopping $640K transferred to the corporation by suppressing wages. These are salaries alone, not tax savings, benefits, etc.
The Legacy of Reaganomics
“. . .The people who are sleeping on the grates — the homeless who are homeless. . .by choice.“
You should pause now and genuflect toward Ronald Reagan.
There is a hypocrisy in all this. When wealth inequality results in a demand for an increase in the minimum wage, these same companies argue redistribution is wrong. They circle the wagons and spread the propaganda that people just need to work harder and make better life choices.
These same pundits don’t have a problem with folks earning so little they can’t afford to eat so they receive taxpayer assistance in the form of welfare or emergency medical care. The problem isn’t that full-time employment is not providing enough money for basic life necessities. No, they argue it is that people “choose” to be poor.
People Choose to be Poor
In a capitalist system, it is expected that some people should lose. It is never the wealthy.
Those who win make the rules and always in their favor. If someone can’t earn enough to survive, then the individual should be blamed, not the unfair rules.
And time and again, it is Republicans in general spreading this propaganda. Specifically, it is the conservatives who are responsible for trickle-down economics. Lest we forget economics is a political issue. . .
There were other factors that were included in my decision to reject their insult of a job offer, but those are tangential to my screed.
What would motivate a company to do this, you ask? They researched a government contract, learned how many employees it had, their labor costs, etc. Then they figured how much they could earn by simply slashing salaries and transferring in the money “saved” into their pockets. Why pay people a living wage if you do not have to?
Greed is the answer. And no, it is not good.
This company had no problem taking money away from people and exploiting them. And it is should be apparent to everyone that the corporations are loath to do what is right by their employees. Hope of capitalism spurring a sense of responsibility to value workers and share the wealth is nothing more than bullshit they use to keep labor from picking up pitchforks.
Basically, it felt like I was being told, “we don’t give a shit about you or family”.
But really, does any employer really care or is their concern merely a Human Resources feel good pledge to entice people in the door?
They were fine with cutting my salary by 52%, and had a “take it or leave it” attitude. They knew they could find someone desperate enough to do the job for so little – and they only needed one for every worker who told them to shove it. Workers willing to be exploited are easier to find that jobs for the exploited.
I don’t have a problem with businesses making money off the labor of others, but I do have a problem with the rampant exploitation that seems to be growing and thriving in our existing system.
Thanks to gutting unions and “at will” states, employers are free to terminate anyone for just about anything. Because those agencies who protect the rights of workers have had their budgets slashed, we can see that only the most egregious violations will be punished.
Give Us a Solution, Einstein
The solution to this problem is two-fold.
First, we must start redefining what it means to be successful in business and viewing greed as a mental illness. This rampant materialism is destroying out country and ruining lives.
We need to bring the power of social media and opinion to bear on individuals with four yachts and seven private jets while their workers struggle to earn enough to eat. Public shaming needs to be loud, vocal and unrelenting.
We need to point out the absurdity of the financial raping of the very individuals responsible for the success of the organization. And when small steps are taken, even if they fall short, we need to applaud their efforts.
But ultimately, there must be a disincentive for greed. We need to push for legislation which caps executive’s earnings based on the lowest earning worker, we need to create a tax code which relieves the poor and places more burden on the wealthy. We need to unionize, create bargaining collectives and wrest the power from the hands of the few.
We need to start forcing politicians to acknowledge that people are the collateral damage from their failed policies.