Income Inequality, Hard Work and Rand Paul

By Dan Schmitt | August 15, 2015 A few years ago, I had a new roof put on the house. Watching the guy methodically but artfully rem...

By Dan Schmitt | August 15, 2015

A few years ago, I had a new roof put on the house. Watching the guy methodically but artfully remove the old roof and lay the new one during the swelter of our Sacramento summer heat taught me one thing – roofing is damn hard work.

I got thinking about the roofer recently as the Republican presidential candidates wander the country discussing their solutions for what ails our nation. If you listen to these candidates, all aspects of our country have been in a state of decay ever since Obama got himself elected President.

I don’t see it that way.  Much of what is being uttered by Republican hopefuls is nonsense, and I’m not just talking about Donald Trump. Certainly, Trump leads the pack in talking stupid. The Republican frontrunner is nothing more than a wealthy schoolyard bully in a grown man’s body, but he’s got good company when it comes to uttering nonsense. Scott Walker recently said we shouldn’t focus on racial discord because it’ll only create more. That’s sort of like the married couple attending therapy, and the therapist telling them they dare not talk about what brought them to the couch in the first place! Therapy 101 suggests a problem can’t be fixed if the causes aren’t identified and dealt with!  

But it was Senator Rand Paul’s take on income inequality that really got my attention. According to Paul, “Income inequality is the result of some Americans working harder than others, rather than economic policies.”

Humm! It’s pretty easy to research jobs and incomes, so I did. Here’s what I learned about some average yearly incomes as of 2014:
  •             Hotel maid - $20,000
  •             Auto mechanic - $37,000
  •             Roofer - $39,000
  •             Public school teacher - $45,000
  •             Marriage counselor - $46,000
  •             Wine Maker - $108,000
  •             U.S. Senator - $174,000

Truthfully, I’m completely baffled with assessing how hard people in varying professions work based on their income, but it’s clear Senator Rand has it dialed in. In Paul’s world auto mechanics work nearly twice as hard as hotel maids, but not quite as hard as roofers.  Public school teachers work just a tad less hard then marriage counselors.  Wine makers work approximately two and a half times harder than marriage counselors, but none of the people listed above work nearly as hard as U.S. Senators! I’ll bet Senator Paul a six-pack of Bud Light (now there’s a hard-working person’s brewski) that he’s never spent a minute cleaning hotel rooms, repairing automobiles, roofing a house, or teaching children. I bet he’s never thought about the people working in those professions either.  But he thinks he knows the monetary value of hard work!

He doesn’t. Paul has created his own delusional take on the connection between hard work and income inequality. It’s wrong on many levels and disrespects the integrity of millions of Americans who toil every day at their jobs for wages considerably lower than those of people like Paul who have “made it financially”

Take the retail business for example. I do a fair amount of shopping at Target and Costco. There’s no difference in the work ethic of employees at the two box stores. They’re efficient, respectful, and helpful, just what they get paid to do. One huge difference, however, is the average yearly income for their full-time employees: Target store workers earn about$19,000; Costco employees make around $43,000. Costco employees don’t work harder than Target employees, but they do work for an owner who understands the value of paying employees a living wage. Even if the Target employees could work harder, it wouldn’t matter. The mindset of the corporate elite dictates low wages for their rank-and-file worker.

And what about the hotel maid who enjoys and takes pride in her job despite the low wages? Senator Paul spends lots of nights in hotels while crisscrossing the country trying to garner popularity. I’m sure he enjoys a nicely made bed, clean sheets, clean towels, and clean toilets. I doubt, however, if he or others of his mental ilk, have ever thought about how difficult the job is and how little it pays, and how important it is, and how those who choose to work cleaning hotel rooms deserve respect for a job well done and the dignity of a living wage.   


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1 comment

Unknown said...

Low paying jobs are a result of supply and demand. There is a large supply of people who can remove a roof, I did it for years. Not nearly as many people who can engineer one, hence the variance in wages.

Go ahead and pay a roofer an engineers wage as see how much incentive the roofer has left to go to school and get a better job.

I'm thankful I was able to learn hard work by doing construction for several years to pay my way through junior college and make myself more valuable so I can do what I love to do.

I am sure in the spirit of fairness and equality you made the difference up and paid your roofer the wage you believed he deserved, for that I commend you.


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