Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 5, 2013

April 5, 2013: Letter to the editor

Living costs rise; wages remain flat

I hope everyone saw the article on MSN.com, “The rent is too damn high for minimum wage workers in every state”. It showed a graph of each state, and how many hours a minimum-wage earner would have to work to pay the average rent.

Indiana was listed as taking 76 hours of work to pay for the average rent — four hours short of a two-week paycheck!

There are only 168 hours in a week, and you have to sleep sometime. That doesn’t leave much time for kids’ school or sporting events, mowing the yard or anything else. It also does not leave much extra in the pocket to pay for any extracurriculars, gas, utilities or just everyday living expenses.

It’s a shame that Congress will vote in raises for themselves but deny helping out that young couple who are just starting out, or that single mother who just had a baby, by raising the minimum wage.

Most of the business owners are shaking their heads right now, saying they can’t afford to pay more per hour. I guess this is where the separation of rich and poor enters in. If that single mother doesn’t make more per hour somehow, then she must do without or enter the system — and the taxpayer ends up paying for her.

These business leaders who can’t pay the extra are the same ones complaining about entitlements. The only way they propose paying more per hour is by cutting the workers’ hours back. That is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. The system is broken, with no fix in sight.

This takes me back about 20 years. I was earning then what the new hires at most of the auto plants across the country are starting out at, including Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Chrysler and GM. I had a great job at a machine shop here in Kokomo that was not a unionized shop.

If it wasn’t for the union, I would not have been making the wage I was. My employer had to pay competitive wages or lose its workers to higher-paying union jobs.

Chrysler hourly employees haven’t had a raise for 10 years, and most don’t complain or even think they deserve one, when presented with the minimum-wage dilemma or second-tier wage system. Most of us want to bring the standard of living up for all. Cost of living is always on the rise, but the wage has stayed steady or gone down, driving people deeper into poverty, eliminating the middle class and separating the rich and the poor.

If you don’t belong to a union or understand what unions do, please research to find out all the positive effects they have, as opposed to the negative effects that are spread by those who don’t belong or have never been in a union. I am not saying the union is a perfect entity by any means, but its agenda is perfect in every sense.

Last but not least, think about these words, “United we stand, divided we fall.” This holds true for every marriage, sports team, band, church or any empire or military ever known to exist. Think about it! It is time to stop cutting throats and thinking of ourselves, and come together in unity for the United States of America, Indiana and whatever little town you live in for the betterment of people!

So the next time you go out to eat or drink, if you have a job making a decent wage, be sure to tip your waiter or waitress well, for they are still earning less than minimum wage, plus tips. My wife and I have both waited tables, as many of you reading this have, and we understand the work and pride involved in doing a good job at waiting. Don’t pass judgment on them. You don’t know what their life situation may be or what hardship they may be facing.

They didn’t cook your food, either, so that is no reason to stiff them! Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you earn compared to what they may be earning.

Support your local businesses by buying local as well, so that jobs may be created that your grandson, granddaughter, son, daughter, niece or nephew may have a chance to be put to work. It really kind of boils down to what the Bible tells us with the Golden Rule: “Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.”

Larry Norfleet