12.07.2008

The Spirit of Christmas

In the spirit of the holiday season, but keeping with my current blog obsession of economy, class struggles, and equality I'd like to post about something anecdotal, and a bit wandering.

Tonight I got to go to one of those "tours" you take through the 1800's, a Christmas themed historical story that you get to participate in. First, it's very neat, very fun, and I really get into it.

However, tonight's "theme" was Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol". While we didn't go through the story, the theme used it to create a town that was in dire economic straights, and many townspeople were relying on charity to get by this holiday season. All but one townie, who was filthy rich and stingy - just like Ebenezer Scrooge. It was the character's introduction that struck me most (paraphrasing):

"Why should those who don't want to work hard reap the benefits of those who do? Charity? Donations? How lazy! What a joke!"

It was implied later on that he went through a literal version of the Dickens story, and became a "changed man" in the end.

But it struck me as odd at just how relevant it was to what I've been discussing now for weeks. Issues of poverty, social stigmas, capitalism and class struggles. The stereotype we hear often was perpetuated again right there, even if only an act, as a similar concept in that time period.

So I'll pose this question or two, and let you mull it over for a while.

Do low wage earners "work hard"? Think of the waitress on ha double shift, or the man who has to clean the coal cars in trains, or the man who picks up your garbage, or stands for hours putting tiny machine pieces together, or the backbreaking labor and sometimes dangerous labor of labor intensive jobs.

Now think about what a CEO does, or a manager. Gladhanding, computer work, board meetings, power lunches....sometimes the occasional tough decision. Do they "work hard"?

Does the statement that those at the top deserve, or are entitled to the massive compensation they get because they work hard ring false to you?

Lemme ask you this - if a massively wealthy person is entitled to gross over compensation for working hard, then why isn't the low wage employee entitled to the same gross over compensation for working hard, if not harder?

If it's only about "hard work" as many purport, then why isn't everyone entitled to the same wages?

Just thinking out loud here....

9 comments:

Susan said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Susan

http://www.car-insurance-choices.com

Anonymous said...

anybody willing to work should be paid enough to live with some degree of comfort and dignity.
anybody who disagrees with that is a classist douchebag.
loj...

Theresa H. Hall said...

Anok, Good day to you and Happy Holidays to your family. I liked this post. As always, you being the thinker, you have such a point to make. Indeed every person is equal, no matter what their circumstance, we are one and the same ... our connection to one another is a huge bond.

I would that the world were more in accord with their neighbors and thus with the nations of the earth. To do small things that touch others.

With this in mind, I have decided to bake cookies, bread, etc and package them in bright wrappings and bows. I will present them to the gentlemen who empty our trash receptacles and also for the gentlemen who take the recycle materials.

The most fun for me is to see the looks of pleasure and smiles which brighten their faces. I look forward to these smallest of treasures so that I may store them in my heart.

myundiary@gmail.com said...

Good day! Happy holiday! Great post and good writing.

Anok said...

Susan, Thank you for stopping in! I'm glad you've enjoyed yourself, and don't be afraid to comment more.

Jazz, you aint lyin ;)

Theresa - Yes! I agree. I also give cookies, and refreshments to the mailmen and garbage men etc not just on Christmas, but all year long too.

They work hard, they deserve it!

myundiary, Hey, happy holidays to you as well!

Dave Dubya said...

CEO's and other executives should be compensated to the degree they benefit the organization. And so should the laborers.

We really would be better off if the CEO/labor pay ratio was limited, even back to what it was in the Reagan era. That would be more fair.

The American Greed Ethic took over, unfortunately.

Betty said...

The idea that someone deserves more for less work is far more pleasing to the majority. Who doesn't dream of having it all and doing nothing for it but a few good deals and rubbing elbows with the right people?

Actual skill should be paid for highly. However I believe in the smallest ways we're beginning to see it. Have you hired a plumber lately? What about an electrician? I wish the Unions worked properly and actually became less of a club in most places.

Sally@MyriadLife said...

The trouble begins when there is little understanding between the CEO's and the workers and that works both ways.

In recent times there has been gross overcompensation for the higher echelons but there are CEO's who began as ground level workers and people tend to forget that.

I've worked with Chief Execs who have happily worked and listened alongside workers at all levels and made sure people are listened to and compensated for their work.

We live in an age where everyone seems to be looking to 'blame' someone else for their hardships.

The world is an unfair place and hard work doesn't always earn the benefits as it's purported to do. Unfortunately we also live in a greedy and envious world where people don't often stop to check out the details before they start complaining about their hard luck.

Also I am annoyed by the people who talk about living in poverty when all that means to them is that they can't afford the latest flat screen tv or designer trainers.

Yes a waiter can work as hard as a CEO and can add a great deal of value to a company but it's the overall financial value that is important to keep that company in business which therefore keeps that waiter in a job.

Communism doesn't work.

Great blog by the way, thought provoking!

Anok said...

Dave, Yup, I agree!

Betty, I agree with you about the unions. They have failed to do what they set out to accomplish, and hat is a detriment to laborers.

Sally, thank you for the compliment. I disagree with some of your comment though ;)

Yes a waiter can work as hard as a CEO and can add a great deal of value to a company but it's the overall financial value that is important to keep that company in business which therefore keeps that waiter in a job.

The value of a company does nothing but make shareholders money. A company is nothing, and ceases to exist if it's low level workers do not exist. Without a product or service, and the employees to produce for them, there is nothing to invest in.

Many companies do perfectly fine without investors and overcompensated CEO's smooth talking shareholders into investing yet more money into the company. But no company ever does well if they don't have a product to sell.

The people who make the products/services actually make the company. Without them, there is no company. They work harder physically, contribute more, and yet are paid less. A great deal less.