Teachers, Cops, Wages, Children, and Silly Metaphors: Gender & Ethnic Equity in Work

By Michael Monasky | June 7, 2017 | When I mentioned that I would be attending a community meeting about gender and ethnic equi...

By Michael Monasky | June 7, 2017 |

When I mentioned that I would be attending a community meeting about gender and ethnic equity in Elk Grove's public employment sector, a couple of retired school teachers weighed in. Most school teachers are women; most cops are men. Yet, a school teacher cannot work without multiple years of education, at least a bachelor's degree with additional academic credentials. Cops are only required to attend a few weeks or months of an "academy." The same is true of firefighters...who are mostly male. 

The Dun & Bradstreet employment figures for Elk Grove, cited for the city council last year, emphasized two primary areas of job growth. One is retail sales and restaurant work, both of which are based upon minimum wages. The other is single proprietor/single employee companies. Both represent the growing class of workers know as "the precariat." 

Equal employment expert Don Jeffries suggested that the public sector analysis be expanded to private employment in Elk Grove. I agree; included in my platform, on which I ran for mayor last fall, was a $15/hour minimum wage in a city that could actually afford it.   Job justice will never happen without wage justice. No one who works should be poor.

I disagree that "children" should not be included in this discussion about work. Fourteen year olds are mature enough to enter conversations and debates about, among other things, making a living. They'll be expected to do so in four years anyway.

I was 14 years old, a sophomore in high school, when I competitively debated this national topic in 1966-1967 with many other kids my age: Resolved: That the foreign aid program of the United States should be limited to non-military assistance.          

More than half a century later, the United States as hegemon spends more on military exploits and "national security" endeavors than the rest of the world...combined. No wonder we have no money remaining for domestic social programs...for instance, universal health care, which would make jobs affordable for people and businesses in the first place.

There's no nice way to put this: unwillingness to expand and open the debate about work, community development, and the inequity issues we face, to the rest of the community is an errant path of governance. Council member Patrick Hume described a metaphorical funnel through which the process would stream, an ersatz political sausage. Elaborating his realpolitik, it was ironic inasmuch as it accurately described the alienating, penurious, infundibular results he seeks to achieve. Rejection, by this council and its citizens, of monthly, public district assemblies as a forum for conversation and debate for this and other topics, demonstrates recreant failure.

Deep courage and great effort are required to include everyone in, to make transparent and available, the process of writing, interpreting, and enforcing laws and policies for the common good.

At this point in time, that's a process I happen to trust more to our absentee fourteen year olds than all of the "adults" in attendance at Tuesday night's meeting. Especially suspect are "the smartest guys in the room"; remember Enron

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