I have been pondering this for a while. A recent article that oddly mixed news of whale bones and Hooters waitresses in the same article got me thinking about it again. Someone at a Career day in a special needs school got offended that a person who was a waitress at a Hooters restaurant was speaking to the children about her type of work; that is, serving tables in a Hooters restaurant.
Wow. I thought. What is her problem? Does she never go out to eat? Maybe she only eats in fast food restaurants, or buffets, and doesn’t let anyone wait on her. Or maybe she only cooks at home and does all her own serving. Still, even if that were the case, why look down on someone who is taking food orders and delivering it to people who want it that way?
If this is because of the pay scale….. again, I say Wow. This is a subject that seriously needs addressing. The inequalities present in our system are there because we put them there. We choose to place one person’s type of work above another’s, in spite of the fact that we want all those different types of work to exist within our society. We choose to assign different levels of pay to those different types of work, in spite of the fact that all the types contribute to the smooth functioning of all our lives.
Does the person who works in the tall buildings with the corner window office actually believe they would be able to do their job as well without all the things provided him or her by all those people interacted with on a daily basis? What makes you think that the person serving you your coffee at the drive up window, to help you be alert and ready for your job,should be paid less than you? Or the person who cleans your suits to make you look presentable for your other interactions. Why is their job considered less valuable than yours? The arbitrary dollar value someone places on the different jobs is not actually a good indicator of the worth of either the person doing the job, or the necessity of the job being done.
The fact that some people had to pay large amounts of money out for a required education is sometimes used as a justification for charging higher fees for services. That is a subject for another day, but suffice it to say, that the founding fathers wanted our nation to be educated in order to compete with other nations. A College education should be free for all our people, all the way through a Bachelors degree, since that is what is required to be competitive.
If we take out the need to repay the educational dollars as a reason to assign an arbitrary dollar value, that leaves just the expense of doing the job. For doctors, that would mean more, since their equipment is more expensive (shared offices help with that), and the liability issues become another factor (torte reform).
Some people believe that the number of people served is a justification for an increase in pay scale. Does the person who thinks this live on an island, entire of itself? Yes, that is a reference to Don John. We do not exist without each other. There is no real independence except for hermits who live in caves in the hills or holes in the desert, and they don’t get paid by anyone.
The garbage collectors in New York city proved that they are a necessary and valuable part of your existence. They had to stop doing their job to make you acknowledge it, but you finally gave them their dues. Now they get paid a better wage. The person who harvests the food that you eat is also worthy of the same consideration. Alabama is now finding out just how valuable that job should be. No one who is Not an “undocumented worker” will stay with the job at it’s current pay scale. The tomatoes are rotting in the fields because there is no one to pick them.
The person who drives the bus to carry so many people to work is valuable, and so is the person who drives the bus that carries your children to school so that they may have the ability to properly co-exist with others both in the now, and in the future. Why should their pay scale be so low? Or the teacher who shapes their views of the world? Why should you think that the advertising executive should get paid so much more than the street sweeper? Does the advertising executive actually improve the most people’s live’s? The street sweeper keeps the streets in a state of clean that makes it possible for many people to walk about or drive on it in a reasonable condition. The successful advertising executive only improves the lives of those who work inside the firm that they work for. Why should you respect the advertising executive, and not the street sweeper?
Why should the worker who serves you the hamburger be despised for their work? Are they not giving you something you want? Are they not providing you with a valuable service? If you wanted to be serving yourself, you’d be in a different restaurant, or at home, making your own food. If you don’t directly benefit from someone who serves hamburgers for a living, then you benefit indirectly. The hamburger server provides a service to many people. All of them members of your society, in one context or another. When someone, anyone, provides any service to you or any member of your society, that you could not, or did not want to do for yourself, that service is valuable to you, and should not be dismissed as beneath you; neither the work, nor the worker. They have added value to your life, they are worthy of your respect.
I’m still pondering the ways and means of how we could change things in a fair way, to raise the pay of one type and lower the pay of another type of work until we all get paid the same for an hours work. Maybe this isn’t possible, given that no one would then harvest the food, being as it is harder work than sitting at a desk writing.
Hah! Wouldn’t that be something, when the food harvester gets paid more than the advertising executive.
© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.