Wages Aren’t the Only Factor in Determining a Job’s Worth


Few would say that teachers, firefighters, soldiers, hospice workers, and others who perform these types of mid-level jobs are motivated primarily by money…and yet, those who defend unfettered capitalism repeatedly imply that it is money alone that drives people to perform the labor of any sort.

Republicans are unapologetic about their support for capitalism and its associative narrative, but why don’t their political opponents ever point out this particular disconnect?

Why don’t Democrats ever hold up these professions as examples of why we should build a system that works not just for people looking to squeeze every last penny from their labor, but also for those choosing jobs based on an accompanying sense of self-worth?

Maybe it is because many Democrats have actually bought into this twisted tale to some degree, but their electoral prospects depend on obscuring that reality.

Whatever the reason, the party’s failure to challenge this market-based maxim has played right into the GOP narrative that social programs are a waste; that using taxes to address wealth disparities discourages innovation and rewards ‘losers & takers’ at the expense of ‘doers & makers’; or that government is always the problem and never the solution.

Similarly, constantly insisting that everyone should pull themselves up by their bootstraps and work to make themselves wealthy ignores the fact that there are plenty of people who don’t want to be wealthy…never mind the many ways those particular laces are constantly getting snipped by those at the top who are unwilling to share, effectively blocking even the subset of people who do want to join the upper echelon of wage earners.

Sure, there is the occasional individual who overcomes this dynamic and successfully climbs the wealth ladder, but this is the exception, not the rule. Of course, that doesn’t stop those in power from using these increasingly rare examples as a carrot to be dangled in front of those striving to advance, blinding them to the long odds they truly face.

Many of those occupying the top rung treat wealth accumulation as a GAME to be won regardless of cost, ignoring the very real harm their pursuit of imaginary accolades inflicts upon others.

Perhaps instead of repeatedly lowering taxes for the wealthy, which has done nothing to improve life for the rest of us despite promises to the contrary, we should instead raise them to 1950’s levels and hand out trophies to the people who ‘win capitalism’ each year. However, it is done, putting a stop to the many ways this ‘competition’ destroys people’s lives needs to be a priority.

Image for post
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

​Teachers, firefighters, and similar professions remain perpetually underpaid because the ultra-wealthy don’t do these jobs and generally don’t share the same values as the people who do.

Similarly, the political donor class doesn’t much care about the public institutions that non-wealthy people often rely upon to make their lives a bit more bearable.

This is why it seems there is never enough money for parks, public schools, recreation facilities or any of the other programs & spaces used primarily by the working/middle classes, while there never seems to be any shortage of funds for the facilities & institutions frequented by the wealthy.

We need to quit rewarding only certain select professions at the expense of everyone else and stop behaving as if the privilege that wealth conveys is somehow rooted in morality.

The American Dream isn’t everyone gets wealthy.

The American Dream is everyone gets to define success for themselves and has a fair opportunity to achieve it.

Democrats (and their supporters) often focus on individual issues, but rarely take a much-needed step back to see how failing to challenge the Republican pro-market narrative diminishes the ability of government to actually solve the problems they claim to care about.

We can fight for policies that lead to increased equality, but until we collectively & vigorously attack the notion that the pursuit of wealth is all that matters, or that money somehow equals morality, we will continue to wage an increasingly uphill battle.

Originally published at https://www.equalityofopportunity.com.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post