One Way to Better Pay
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December 26, 2011
You'll often hear me talk about wages being low in this country. What jobs are left, even some of those jobs in what's left of the almost non-existent manufacturing sector do not pay what they used to in terms of wages, benefits, and pensions. That's in part due to the fact that we've relied too heavily on credit to buy the things we need and want. Access to credit has given people a false sense of prosperity, and I think it has also given people a false sense of security. If people feel they have access to money, irrespective of whether or not it's actual money they have in the bank, they are less inclined to seek more pay from their jobs. From the perspective of many Americans, buying power gives the perception that what they are getting is sufficient. At least for the most part. The perception, of course, is not always the reality. It's only what we see to be the reality. Of course we all want more. But do we actually have the power to get more?
So, aside from buying more American made goods, and restoring manufacturing, how do we give a boost to our paychecks? I think we need to save more, and I think we need to be able to better comprehend what we can afford, and what we think we can afford. The two are not one in the same. But not understanding the difference, I think, gives more power to the companies we work for to pay us less money, and makes workers powerless to command more. Saving money has to have a part in getting this economy back together again.
I've said many times that everyone has a role in getting our country, and our economy back on the right track. The government does. The companies do. And so do we. Saving money, I think, is one of the roles we, ourselves have in setting things straight.
The fact is that saving money, and moreover having money gives us the freedom to choose. It's a term I've been using more and more often. When we do not have money available in the bank we become locked into our circumstances. We tend to be more willing to simply accept what's given to us because we don't have the power, as individuals, to do anything about it. We have to pay our mortgages, and our car notes, and we want to have all the gadgets we can get our hands on. We can go to the boss all we want and tell them that we think we're worth more pay. We can ask for better benefits, and we can look to companies to "do the right thing" and think more about the needs of their employees, not only while they are working for them, but after they've left the workforce. But the reality is that so long as we need them, and so long as we continue to allow ourselves to need them, the less power we have to say, when they choose not to budge on the issue of better pay and better benefits, it's not enough and simply walk away for greener pastures.
How much more power would one have if they could afford to say no to their boss when the boss says, "This is what you're going to get. Take it or leave it?" How much more would companies find themselves in a position to place more emphasis on the needs and wants of their employees if getting and keeping employees was more of an issue?
In the housing market right now we are in a buyer's market. Sellers can ask all they want for their house, but the buyers hold the cards. The seller cannot say to the buyer, "This is my price, take it or leave it." If the workforce was self-reliant, and if the workforce had less immediate need for the employer, and was not forced to simply take whatever is offered to them, the employers could also not simply say, "This is your pay and benefits, take it or leave it."
Sure, it's nice to have a big house. It's nice to have the car you want sitting in your driveway. It's nice to travel around the country, and perhaps even the world and have those experiences. But again, what if we cannot truly afford them? Today. How do we get to the point we want to eventually? By living within our means, and saving and investing what we earn above our means, so that when the time comes that there is money in the bank, we can have what we want, and have the power and the freedom to actually enjoy them without being locked into simply taking what's offered to us.
You could say that taking this path means giving up a good quality of life. What I say to that is that being in debt, and having to accept low pay, and having no real prospect for an opportunity to retire comfortably is really giving it all up. The reason the companies have the power to tell us what we're worth is because they don't need us as much as we need them. Through poor financial planning, and through overspending, and through taking on more credit than we can really afford to pay back, we simply cannot risk commanding more. We have literally painted ourselves into a corner, and the companies know it all too well.