First Christmas, despite involving my in laws, went pretty well. There was only one little glitch; turns out I'm a communist. Here I was thinking that I'm libertarian, but luckily I have my mother in law to inform me that I am in fact a giant pinko commie.
Do you want to know why? I'm a communist because I make my kids share their toys. Oh, she's not kidding. The fact that I require my children to take turns and share toys undermines the foundation of the American political system and liberty all across the globe. After all, making children share toys is the last step before government controlled job placements.
Call Beijing so that I can learn the super secret communist handshake.
Funnily enough though, she's not the only person to recently equate me with the sickle and the sythe. I made the mistake of talking about living wage with my hard-core Republican sister, so I guess it was inevitable. My argument was that the market value of a full time job should be a living wage-that people should require living wages from companies before agreeing to full time work. Living wage, not minimum wage. Living wage is what it would take-based on minimal housing, food, utility, and transportation costs-to live in a certain area. We're not talking about what it takes for families to buy Christmas presents, or go on vacations, we're talking about a roof over their head, food in their bellies, electricity, and getting back and forth to work to pay for these things. Minimum wage in my state is $7.95, but the average family in my state has three people in it and living wage for families of three in my area is $23.23 per hour. I'll tell you right now, we're a family of five and we make a whole lot less than that.
My sister decided that if someone who worked full time at McDonalds made a living wage that it would only be the result of communism since "their job isn't worth that". According to my sister, if you want to be able to earn a living wage then you should have to go to college and get a professional career (you know, like she did). Forget that college is not always an option, if you want to feed your family-according to my sister-that's what you should have to do. All I know is, communist or not (though I suspect not), if a person dedicates themselves to working full time for a company they should also be able to set up an agreement with their employer to be paid decently for their services. A living wage should be the market value of a full time job.
Of course I realize in this economy people don't have much to bargain with-a job is a job no matter how little it pays and it's better than nothing. However, since people don't feel secure enough to ask for living wages, I see it as my responsibility as a consumer to make the lives of people who work low paying jobs easier any way I can. We live just under the poverty level for our family size, but I still round up when I put gas in my car and give the change to the attendant. When I go to the store I don't ask the clerks to stop what they're doing and walk me down the isles to find things. By doing whatever I can do to make their jobs easier, I feel like I am acknowledging that they don't get paid enough for the services they provide...and if I'm easier on them maybe their boss will be too.
I have my personal opinions about how to get our country going in the right direction, but I'll keep them (mostly) to myself. I just want to recognize that there are so many hard working people who can't afford to feed their families. So, so many people laid off and literally losing the roof over their family's head. So many little ones asking just for socks and new jackets for Christmas. The U6 unemployment rate (including people that were laid off and have since given up looking, and people who were looking for full time but took a part time instead and still can't afford their bills) is 17.5% by the Labor Bureau statistics which, if you calculate unemployment the same way they did 80 years ago, is about a 23% unemployment rate (compared to the 25% unemployment rate during the Great Depression). It really is hard times everywhere.
So, as a libertarian-apparently-turned-communist, I say go easy on the person bagging up your Christmas presents--they probably can't afford to buy presents for their own families. Share what you can, give what you can, and above all be thankful for whatever you do have no matter how small.
I hope you all are having a blessed holiday season.