The first job paid me $8.25 an hour and the second job was $8.15.
I’m not going to complain too much – the jobs are the easy, ‘stand-around’ types.
But still…that only comes out to $79.50 for those 10 hours of work…and less when you take out the taxes
If I worked those 10 hours 4 times a week, I’d make $318 and for the month I’d be making $1,272.
We know the living wage for a single adult is pegged at $13.21 an hour.
That comes out to $528 a week or $2,112 a month…or about $840 more a month that I’m making with the two jobs I pointed out.
But hold on – that living wage is for California. If you go by this calculator you find that Missoula’s living wage is just $11.07 an hour.
That’d still mean I’m coming up $341 a month short.
FYI…Billings’ living wage is listed as $10.19, Great Falls’ is $10.22, Flathead County is $10.05, and Lewis and Clark County is $11.12.
Now…this is just an example.
Both of those jobs I mentioned get me about 35 to 40 hours a month…if even that. They’re part-time jobs, and were advertised as such.
I didn’t expect to make a living with them, nor do I expect to in the future.
Once again, I just want to use my platform to tell you how hard it is to get by in America today.
I think all of our social and political problems stem from this.
In 2014 Pew Research told us that “For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades.”
“But after adjusting for inflation, today’s average hourly wage has just about the same purchasing power as it did in 1979, following a long slide in the 1980s and early 1990s and bumpy, inconsistent growth since then. In fact, in real terms the average wage peaked more than 40 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 has the same purchasing power as $22.41 would today.”
I personally don’t know anyone that’s making $22.41 an hour here in Missoula.
I know of people that are making that much – some lawyers, politicians, doctors and even plumbers. You know…skilled trades.
Um…maybe we should exclude politicians from that ‘skilled trades’ category, eh?
That’s one of the biggest frustrations – no matter if it’s a D or an R…our wages haven’t gone up since the end of the Carter administration.
Another big problem were the 1986 tax rewrites put forth by Reagan and Senate Republicans, and supported by House Democrats.
This 1986 Tax Reform Act – the second of Reagan’s major tax reforms, the first having come in 1981 – wiped-away the gap between what workers and what investors paid in taxes.
It’s why today, billionaires pay the same marginal tax rate as someone making $40,000 a year.
And then there are the unions.
Just last month we were told that 16 million Americans belong to a union.
The Economic Policy Institute put out the report and told us that “union decline can explain one-third of the rise in wage inequality among men and one-fifth of the rise in wage inequality among women from 1973 to 2007.”
Just 9% of manufacturing workers now have union backing.
So we have a situation where rich people no longer pay as much in taxes as they used to, and workers don’t either.
- Rich people manipulated politicians into doing their bidding, and that’s how they got their way.
- Workers got screwed by losing jobs, losing union representation, and making less money as a result…which in turn paid Uncle Sam less money in taxes.
Back in 1979 – the year our wages went stagnant – our national debt was $827 billion. Today it’s $20.1 trillion.
In 1979 the federal government was spending $504 billion on things. In 2016 we spent $3.8 trillion.
Maybe employers would be able to pay workers more if they had more of their tax money and the government didn’t have it.
With big corporations, I think they have the money to pay workers more now.
But small businesses, like the one I worked for last night? I don’t really think so.
Maybe if they had a few extra thousand dollars a month, they could. Maybe if they didn’t have to pay an equal amount of payroll taxes to match each worker’s wage, they’d also be doing better.
Or maybe the best result will come from reducing taxes on the rich further, while decreasing worker wages further.
That works really well for 1% of this country, but it doesn’t help the 99% of us.
And it could be that there’s a painfully obvious result I’m totally missing.
Feel free to throw out your ideas, though I don’t think you or many others will.
I don’t think most of us have any ideas about what to do about this…and even if we did, there is no political will to carry them out.
Like I said – it’s frustrating.