City Journal Summer 2014

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Summer 2014
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Stephen Eide
Operation Get Galante « Back to Story

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Also, Beverly...

I happened to work for Queens Library some years ago and Janitors were doing a BIT more than just "mopping floors". They would have to clean up poop and other gross things in the bathrooms and nooks & crannies around the library. So, although you might say it is an unskilled job, I doubted you'd feel so happy clean up strangers crap for $15 an hour.

Just saying...
Actually, Beverly, no, my parents never told me that the world doesn't owe me a living. They probably would have . . . if I hadn't lost them when I was 6 years old.

But my grandmother, who raised me, taught me that--both by word and example. So I've worked since I was a kid. When I started my professional career almost 25 years ago, I earned less than you're currently making. And the work I did--the work I continue to do--has never been easy. The world owes me nothing, and it's given me nothing.

I'm sorry that you make only slightly less than a janitor. As much as I think wages and salaries (yes, even for janitors) in the U.S should be more equitable, they're not. So no, it may not be fair that you make only slightly more than a janitor.

But, then, didn't your parents ever tell you that life's not fair? My grandmother told me.
Well, David, speaking as someone who gets a paltry $20.00/hour from one of the world's foremost universities -- to edit academic books, clearly a job that requires a BIT more skill than mopping floors [!!], I have to say that I shed no tears for janitors who get just a bit less than I do, for unskilled labor. It's up to me, of course, to shift myself to another gig.

Didn't your parents tell you the world doesn't owe you a living? Ours did.

Footnote: there are No Circulating Copies of Whittaker Chambers's famous book "Witness" in the New York Public Library system. The Leftists have purged it from the stacks. Mr. Chambers would not be surprised.
"They refused to acknowledge the tension that can exist between serving patrons and being generous toward employees." Not to sound leftist in my remarks, but this kind of thinking is exactly why the wealth gap in this country continues to grow unabated. Perhaps $35/hour to mop floors is a bit too much. But people, no matter what their job, need to be paid an adequate living wage. The notion in this country that "being generous towards employees" is somehow wrong is, itself, counterproductive to the goal of most businesses and institutions: namely, serving patrons and customers. You get what you pay for, and, too often, people are unhappy with the goods or services they receive notwithstanding the fact that the people producing those goods and services are, themselves, poorly paid. I will readily concede that unions (especially public sector employees unions) have done more harm than good to the finances of many of our nation's cities and states. But this shouldn't be laid at the feet of the employee who, just like anybody else, would like to earn a decent living. Union bosses (whose salaries are completely out-of-line with the good they produce) and the politicians they support (with union dues) should be the targets of voters' wrath. But the very same voters need to remember that if somebody tried to cut their jobs or their wages/salaries, they would scream like banshees. Somewhere along the line, we seem to have lost sight of what's reasonable and just. Lining the pockets of union officials, CEOs, not-for-profit stewards, and politicians is not reasonable for the value they produce. Paying a janitor, a teacher, a cop, or a retail store clerk a decent wage/salary (however much that may be) only benefits the rest of us. If our so-called "leaders" realized this, we could rid ourselves of so much of the strife and division that seems to be a part of this country's discourse as of late. Probably too much to expect, though.
Only in New York.