Saturday, May 23, 2015

Duda

Casi llegando a la vejez, he descubierto que Dios me ha otorgado el don de ver los verdaderos límites de las cosas.  Los jóvenes piensan que las cosas empiezan y terminan de manera súbita, clara e inambigua, mientras nosotros sabemos que el mundo trae muchos mas grises que blancos y negros,  que las letras no terminan de repente dónde se acaba la tinta, dejando más allá la hoja virgen. Hacen lentes que permiten extender la ilusión,  pero eso es todo lo que es.  Así como el día y la noche,  que son claros y opuestos, y aun tienen variables entremedios, así es todo. La vida entera es borrosa, lo que se hace más claro solo con la certeza del olvido, y la duda natural a la que llamamos vejez.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wages

The United States has about 4.5% of the world’s population, but commands 21.8% of the world’s GDP.  The average per capita income in the US is $42,693 (or $20.53/hr for a regular, full-time job).  The poverty line is about $23,050 (or $11.08/hr).  Not a single state has a minimum wage that meets or exceeds this poverty line. Of the states, Washington has the highest minimum wage at $9.19/hr (or so, which means $19,115/yr or about 83% of the poverty line even when working 40 hrs/wk).

Considering:
1)      Productivity has increased significantly; part of this is technological, but the greater portion of it came directly from employees.

2)      Corporate profits are at an all-time high.

3)      Wealth distribution change leans heavily towards the wealthier people.

4)      These trends appear set to continue.
Also:
a)      Real income for employees is much lower than it used to be (adjusted for inflation).

b)      Poverty lines were developed from subsistence-only survival wages, and are not reality-checked to changing living priorities or automatically adjusted for inflation.

c)       The majority of employees on minimum wage are not teenagers or secondary wage-earners; for them (for better or worse) that “menial” job is a career, not just a stepping stone.

d)      The majority of employees on minimum wage are not working full time (32hrs or more per week), and many of them do not have regular schedules that would permit having multiple part-time jobs.
e)      The vast majority of minimum-wage work is not exportable and cannot be automated easily, as it’s manual or service work, leisure and hospitality.
I think:
A)     No employer should receive incentives to reduce hours worked by an employee—such as preferring two part-time employees instead of one full-time employee to avoid paying for benefits.

B)      No person working a full time job should need government assistance, regardless of the low qualifications.

The fact of the matter is that there are some people who simply won’t be able to “negotiate” a better wage based on their importance to the company’s mission, their unique qualifications, or any other criteria.  These employees may be very replaceable, in menial jobs of very little visibility.  This does not justify in any way the employer paying substandard wages that will not support a basic but fairly stable life.  Nobody suggests these people should make wages that support Cadillacs and 85” 3D LED TV’s, but having a minimum wage that is lower than the poverty line when the poverty line was specifically designed merely to cover the minimum calorie intake required for survival and was never meant to be maintained for anything but a very short term, is on the one hand shameful and on the other a terrible business practice.  Suggesting otherwise implies agreement to subsidizing those wages with government assistance to meet basic needs, or rejecting those people to the scrap-heap of humanity where we know they cannot support themselves and we’re ok letting them starve to death.  This is not an exaggeration.

A decision needs to be made one way or the other: support them and suffer the weight of the less educated, less capable and less smart around your neck as you work hard at your job; or let them starve and carry their deaths on your soul.  Only 4.5% of employees make minimum wage, though plenty more still make less than poverty wage though they be over the minimum wage.  Are there alternative solutions that might improve the economy so either effect is minimized?  Sure, plenty, and one day we might move past the petty politics to determine where we want to draw the line.  But, in the end, in its worst possible terms, these are the choices: support them or let them starve.  Maybe there will only be hundreds a year, instead of thousands or tens of thousands, but that’s it.  Some people will always need help.  Just hope it’s never you, waiting for other people to decide.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

CASI

Fuiste el sueño
que se tiene
al despertar
y ver
que aún es noche:
Ni sueño, ni memoria,
ni verdad ni ilusión.

Eres la perversión
de una fantasía
que llega en piezas
como promesas
de un gran total
que nunca ensamblas,
y nada más.

Serás, cuando mucho,
falsa memoria de algo
que creí pudo haber sido
sin saber si así lo fue,
como la sombra
que el ojo guarda
por un instante
cuando la luz se va.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

The Good Interred

Bury me not
in a box
reduced
to feed the hungrier denizens of time
a wilting
withered
wasted remnant of what was
even in life
a shadow
degraded reflection of what might have been.
Bury me instead among the weeds
to feed the flowers not yet grown
and stare into the sun
till the stars come back.
Feed me to the seeds of fruits I ate
when last we enjoyed a lazy fall weekend.
That is the end that I prefer
that I may leave the evil that I’ve done
and have the good interred beside me.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Perception

Today, I ran an errand down by the airport. On my way back, I drove as usual, 5 miles over the speed limit, not wanting to get a ticket in my new hometown so soon. Some of the locals drive 70 when the limit is 50 and they don't like me blocking the slow lane of the four-lane freeway--how thoughtless of me. A beat-up blazer, held together by bubblegum, wire hangers donated by Mommy Dearest, and a whole lot of prayer, drove around me in a cloud of smoke while the driver spewed obscenities in my direction.

Then, a land boat made by Cadillac in the mid-80's eased its way around me going about 25 miles over the limit. The driver merged back onto my lane a bit too close, making me think he had intended to cut me off. I uttered the obligatory profanities under my breath, thinking him not merely rude, but dangerously so. Despite his going that fast, I caught up to him at the exit. He was the third car back on the second lane, waiting to turn left. Before I made it to the end of the left lane, he merged in front of me. Again I thought "how rude." But I was surprised by what he did.

It turns out he merged because there was a homeless old man at the corner. Before the light changed, he rolled the window down and handed the old man a bag with what I am assuming was his left-overs from lunch. The old man grabbed the bag, opened it, inspected the contents, put his sign down and started to eat with a big smile on his face. During the thirty seconds that remained before the light changed, I reevaluated my perception of the man in the big car in front of me.

We presume, from the briefest observations, to know the entire character of people we run into in our lives. We call these intuitions, first impressions--all euphemisms to mean assumptions. We do it when we meet a nurse, a priest, a republican, a Mexican. We think we know them because how far can each of them be from the norm we know, anyway?

It is only in the luckiest of cases that God gives us thirty seconds at the stop light to show us how truly stupid we can be--how truly stupid I have been. And I thank Him for it. I will try to do better.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Can you tell me

How to get...

Sunny day...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Life, revisited

Change. It reinvigorates and terrifies. I hope it works. More to come...