Ben and I watched this episode of P.O.V. the other night called Waging A Living which was a pretty excruciating documentary tracking the lives of several people trying to get by on just slightly more than minimum wage. I strongly recommend checking the listings for a rerun, or trying to rent it, and then maybe sending a copy to our president who doesn’t seem to think we need to raise the minimum wage. The thing that really struck me was that these people all work so hard, and that they actually like their jobs – they want to work – but the system is set up so that the so-called cost of living pay increases – sometimes a QUARTER A YEAR – TWENTY-FIVE CENTS, people, don’t even come remotely close to the actual cost of living increases. And for those receiving any kind of government aid – food stamps, section 8 housing – same thing – they maybe get a raise at work, then the government takes away some of their benefits – which seems like it makes sense until you realize that what they take away is not at all equivalent to what they’ve gained in pay. I lost it when this one sweet guy, a recovering addict and alcoholic and former homeless person, handed single dollars to some homeless guys on the street, even though he lived in an SRO and was scraping up his pennies to go visit his kids he hadn’t seen in nine years.
And you know, I’ve never been rolling in the dough, not for more than five minutes at a time, anyway, I’ve struggled quite a bit, especially in New York, I can certainly relate to low wages, never being able to catch up, but the truth is, I am so fucking lucky, and I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t just a little luck we all need because a hell of a lot of hard work isn’t adding up to much for a lot of folks.