My youthful summer jobs were mostly consumed working the family farm and in my irascible father’s chainsaw factory… for 15-cents an hour. That was only for the first 40 – for the additional back 30 hours a week I got nuttin’… except hell.
Hmm… In today’s world my curmudgeon father would be a top-five reason why unruly children have the Department of Human Services set on speed-dial.
One time I actually overcame my fear of death to suggest to my dear ol’ bourbon sippin’ Pappy that he should at least pay my brother and me minimum wage.
He slowly decided to let me continue breathing as he exhaled one of his omnipotent puffs on his omniscient corn cob pipe:
“I do,” he snarled. “After food, clothing and shelter, ‘yew’ get what’s left!”
Hmm… So when did father-dearest suddenly leap from capitalism and its unequal sharing of blessings, to socialism with its equal sharing of misery?
I tell you, life ain’t nothing but a crime unfolding between conviction and compromise. That is, between getting what we want and what comes.
At the time Dad recounted that he usually paid people what they are worth. That was when minimum wage was a buck an hour. He explained that the employees
In other words, I think he was stipulating that people who work the minimum aren’t even worth what he just flushed down the john.
“But I can’t live on 15 cents an hour,” I protested as I obstinately demanded to know how in the heck I was supposed to maximize the American dream on minimum wages!
Again my father smiled and poked an annoyed finger into my forehead: “Most people find they can’t live on whatever they are earning, son.”
So he said that his job, like any man running a company, big or small, isn’t to solve ‘my’ problems.
“I am not here to make you rich,” he exhaled, “just to enrich you. My job is to manufacture the best quality chainsaws and lawnmowers possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible. But there is only so much money to make that possible. I am not Uncle Sam.”
Hmm… I think I need to get me one of them government jobs. You know, where Uncle Sam overpays you no matter what. For not working, for not hardly working and for not even being ‘essential.’ And furthermore, I ain’t ever heard of no government ‘worker’ getting minimum wages – not even the 800,000 non-essentials who still got their back pay from the 16-day government shut down.
The paradox today seems to be that we supposedly live in the freest country in the world. But only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages. And wages come from work.