I read article after article blaming one President after another for the current fiscal crisis, the current use of China for our manufacturing needs, Walmart under paying their employees and Fast Food not playing a living wage.
I was born in 1951. My Dad bought his first house in 1948 for $8000 with a 30 year mortgage, a new Chevy in 1950 for $800.00 and had to bring his own tires as there was still a Natural Rubber Shortage due to WW2. He had worked for Bendix Radio since 1940, with a break to serve as a Linesman for the 82nd Division in France, Belgium and Germany. Then back to Bendix as a assemblyman until his retirement at the age of 65. By the way, for all those years, he was a faithful member of the Machinists Union.
I started working 1966, at the age of 15 as a dish washer, worked up to a cook, then at 19 was offered a job in Management with the Legendary FW Woolworth Company, Harvest House Restaurant Division at $12,000 a year. This was 1972. When my Dad died in 1989 I was going through his pay stubs, and found that the last year that he worked, raised a family of 4, bought a house, several cars (used) and put $30,000 away in the bank, and worked for a union only was making $12,000 a year. He retired in 1987.
I am now disabled, after working for over 40 years. My body, racked by a stroke and a skiing accident finally gave up. I get about $12,500 a year. I paid into the system a long time. When I actually retire, I won’t get much more. My wife, as a Critical Care Nurse, with many years of Education and about 35 years of work history makes very good money, but she, at 60, does a lot of physical work, as hospitals in this area don’t want to pay aides or LPN’s. They also under staff their floors to also cut costs.
With Obama care coming and the Boomer retirement, there is a significant care shortage coming. Most hospitals cut out their Nursing programs in the 80’s and are very slow starting them up again. Besides, they don’t want to pay these nurse much money.
On to Wages and Manufacturing.
In 1955, the minimum wage was 75 cents per hour, which was worth $4.39 in 1996 Dollars. Then ran $1.00 from 1956 through 1960, but the 1996 Dollars went from $5.77 to $5.30 so there was a down turn due to the start of out sourcing to Japan.
The highest Ratio of year to 1996 wage comparison was 1968 during the peak of the Vietnam War and that was $1.60 per hour to a 1996 ratio of $7.21 and it has been falling ever since.
We have been outsourcing to Taiwan, Korea, Bangladesh, India, Japan (again), Argentina, Mexico and on and on.
This is nothing new. However, the volume of current outsourcing is. Never before have so many business’s gone out of business or been consolidated. An entire industry has grown around liquidating marginal or losing business’s. Instead of trying to save older brands of Retailers or Restaurant Brands they liquidate them for pennies on the dollar, sell the Retail names to consolidators who revive the brands on the web under the original banners with one warehouse I/E Tiger Direct & CompUSA. And if their sales continue as predicted, you will see all the brick and mortar Best Buy’s end up exclusively on the web.
Is $7.25 an hour too low a wage? Yes, but, you have to consider the following things. The prices that are going up for you, as far as gas, food, and utilities are going up for business’s, as well. Restaurants and even Walmart are paying more for goods and services. I do think if working conditions are bad, they should improve those, but even in the past, health care was never a benefit for hourly workers and Medicaid from various states was not available until the 60’s and then not to people on Minimum Wage, as it is now in most areas. No, 52 inch Flat Screens, Cell Phones and Computers are not necessities, even now. Nether are credit cards, brand new cars or designer clothes.
People, including myself, over the years, have tried to live beyond our means. Welfare, starting in the 60’s, as a temporary relief program, has become a way of life for, at least, 3 generations and has been paid for out of Social Security.
Now the Boomers are retiring and the government is trying to take our benefits we paid into, all these years, away.
As much as I can blame the banks, the Government and the business’s for a lot of our troubles, we really have to look deep into the people ourselves who have bled the system dry for 50 years and demand that it continue to support a life style that was never deserved.