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Out on the Limb

Slave Wages

Friday, January 19, 2007


Grandmom & Mom
circa 1940 sand dragon.
In her later years, my grandmother needed help with her shopping. My mother would take her to the grocery store once a week, and I sometimes tagged along. Invariably, my grandmother would pick an unfamiliar product off the shelves and read the ingredients. She would complain about the additives and put it back on the shelf, unless she couldn't find "her" brand. As it turned out, "her" brands were also cause for complaint. The prices kept going up. Sometimes the sticker price remained the same, but the package got smaller. Grandmom never failed to notice these things, and never failed to voice her complaint.

The weekly shopping excursion drove my mother a bit battier than the norm. [is "battier" a word?] Anyway, Mom would snap "Of course the price went up. Nothing ever stays the same. That's just the way it is."

Both women participated in this same verbal ritual for as long as I saw them together. In my younger years, I accepted the fact that prices do indeed continue to rise. Recently, I've noticed that I have begun to act more like dear old Grandmom as I look at the co-op shelves and shake my head with a troubled frown and a dejected feeling of resignation. Something just ain't right. Now, at first, I thought my changed attitude was because....well....I'm not getting any younger. I could hear my mother's voice in my head saying "That's just the way it is" and I would feel guilt about my unwillingness to accept things as they are.

Wait a minute. Maybe accepting things as they are has been programmed into us (me) just a tad too long. Maybe at some point the price tag will get ridiculously too big and those of us who are not glazed over by endless hours of TV programming will stand up and say "STOP IT". Of course, those of us who reach the indignation stage do so at different times and at different levels. Therefore, our pitiful cries of "foul" tend to go unheard.

Times are changing. Not so much in the matter-of-fact way my mother noted; but in a way that will at some point cause a groundswell of voices simultaneously shouting "FOUL".

If my wages had kept up with inflation, maybe I would still be chasing that worn-out American dream of being upwardly mobile with a secure retirement fund (sustainability being a whole other topic). I'm not talking about one year of falling behind through no fault of my own. I'm talking about several years. I'm talking about a system of often corrupt and/or compassionless CEO's who pay slave wages because they can....and do. (I know that sentence was redundant, but sometimes redundancy pleases me.)

I googled "slave wages" to see if I could find a good rant. Sure enough, it didn't take me long. In fact, I found a couple of good posts on the topic of slave wages. The first post points out a way that the Big Guys cheat the Little Guys out of some bucks in a sneaky condescending way. [I also note that the phrase Big/Little Guys might imply winners/losers in our big-is-better culture. That's interesting, because I tend to think the Little Guys are more likely to have kept their souls intact].

Where was I? Oh yeah, the second "slave wages" post I found paints a picture with a much broader stroke, and the subject is recreation fees on public lands.

The point I want to make is that we are getting squeezed and squeezed and squeezed and sooner or later it becomes impossible to stretch that penny any further. It's no secret that the middle class is disappearing. Guess which direction.

Sure...speak out, become an activist, write your senators, write editorials...all of that is good stuff. In my day-to-day life, I have been motivated to get creative and think outside the box before I'm forced by circumstance to go into unmanageable debt all the while daydreaming that I can somehow work myself out of debt with the low-end 9-5 slave wage.

So here I am...exploring options. In my previous post, Dreamer-of-the-Day suggested I diversify as I'm working towards self-sufficiency. I think I'll put up a survey along those lines on this blog soon-ish. One of my earlier plans when I first set myself free from the office cubicle was to show others how to be a modern day nomad, living as lightly as possible and ready on short notice to move to another location. I'm still in the process of lightening my load with material possessions, but I must admit that moving was a lot more involved than I remembered from years past. I'm starting to ramble, so I'm going to call it a day. Thanks for stopping by.
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word of the day from my dictionary of the vulgar tongue:

AMBASSADOR - A trick to duck some ignorant fellow or landsman, frequently played on board ships in the warm latitudes. It is thus managed: A large tub is filled with water, and two stools placed on each side of it. Over the whole is thrown a tarpaulin, or old sail; this is kept tight by two persons, who are to represent the kind and queen of a foreign country, and are seated on the stools. The person intended to be ducked plays the Ambassador, and after repeating a ridiculous speech dictated to him, is led in great form up to the throne, and seated between the king and queen, who rising suddenly as soon as he is seated, he falls backwards into the tub of water.

(man...the things people did to entertain themselves before high-tech toys!)
posted by Deb, 3:54 PM

5 Comments:

Hi, I just came accross this website of a kindred spirit of ours, perhaps it can help. It can certainly inspire.

http://www.computernomad.com/
commented by Anonymous Dreamer of day, 6:35 AM  
interesting link. Thanks, Dreamer. I'll be exploring it in more depth soon.
commented by Blogger Deb, 10:28 PM  
I'll never be a millionaire and that doesn't bother me, because I'll always try to pay my workers a living wage.
I left corporate America and went out on my own in business is the early 90s because I always had a different agenda than my boss. My agenda was taking care of the customer and doing the job right, and I was always punished for it and felt that my boss was a moron and in most cases I was right. When I went out on my own my former customers applauded. It was risky and I was financially unstable for YEARS (who says I'm stable now?) but necessary or I would have gone postal bonkers. I also knew that I could get a "Real" job again, and so can you if the going gets tough, don't feel bad about having to take shelter in a 9-5 job for a while until you get your bearings again.
commented by Blogger Caribbean Colors, 8:19 AM  
Thank you, CC. Just last week I was thinking what a failure I would feel like if I took a 9-5 office job to make ends meet. Then I re-thought and realized getting a temp job here-and-there doesn't mean I've given up on my goals. But I'm not there yet. Just trying to get my bearings, as you say. Thanks for stopping by...
commented by Blogger Deb, 2:06 PM  
I just up a new discussion forum at http://www.computernomad.com and thought you folks might be interested, since you mentioned it. I hope you can participate
commented by Blogger roamer, 9:01 PM  

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