Something happened last week that changed my life for the better. I started a new job in a place that I have loved since I was a child. The public library had a job posted that my girlfriend found on their website. She sent me the link and said I should apply since I qualified for the job. It was a mixture of custodial and maintenance and had the same hours that I was currently working. The position was closer to my home and gave me more freedom to do the things I enjoy doing rather than limiting what a person could do. In previous positions, I was restricted from fixing machines or doing repairs I found in my area. I applied for the job and after a series of interviews I was offered the position.
Finding a job like this in Trump’s America is a rare thing. The policies put into place by the Republican party since the 1980s have made jobs like mine a dying breed that continue to go extinct. Let me explain. The library has a union that has been in place since the days it was part of the Public-School system, because of that the library has benefits that continue on until today. I have better insurance than either of my previous jobs which included a local non-profit hospital and the county government. one would think the best of the best would be found at institutions like these, but sadly they follow the status quo and are short sighted on their thinking. The staff has gone out of their way to greet me and learn about the new guy in their facility. In larger organizations boasting thousands of employees one is overlooked and viewed as just another cog in the machine. The financial security I now feel comes from the jump in pay I received in my new job, almost doubling what both on my previous positions paid. Granted, that is partially due to added responsibilities I received with the expectation of doing repairs and keeping up the grounds around the facility but these are things I did at my previous jobs with no added pay. Simply put, if I repaired a machine I needed to perform my job somebody else was paid for it while I prevented a complaint from being received by my boss.
The policies and economics of my new employer are exactly what I had been arguing for since I left college and joined the workforce full time. Working at a hospital for 14 years taught me that most organizations, even the ones that boast how well they treat their employees, are quick to slice the pay of their workers before cutting own profits to save an image, the wrong image or prestige rather than charity. It always bugged me that the CEO of a non-profit hospital was paid over 3 million dollars a year while many of the departments of that hospital were understaffed and had equipment decades older than they should have been. When I left the hospital, the ER still had machines with 3.5-inch floppy disk drives for detecting heart attacks. Note to self, when an organization has to continue screaming about how great they are, they usually are far from it. Those who are great are too busy being great to fight for recognition.
For the past 17 years, I have been living off of a pay of twenty thousand a year, and the early years it only came from overtime if I made that much. The sad reality is that most people are unwilling to fight for more and how can they in a country that destroyed their unions and took away the rights of workers for fair pay. If one did complain about how little they made it wasn’t uncommon for employees in higher positions to say “be thankful for the work you have.” If the conversation continued they would become irritated or angry because I was questioning their position on the hierarchy ladder. In truth that wasn’t the case. I knew many nurses who worked endless overtime or had second jobs to pay the bills. They were required to continue their education with the payoff being little in the end with more responsibility and longer hours. This wasn’t just in the hospital either. In the County, we had republican economics playing out with a majority of Democrats in office. I never once saw a Union representative and when the Union negotiated the new contract with the County we received a higher cost healthcare plan with a higher deductible that ate up the raise we received. Our pay increase was only a few cents and the county approved the construction of a new courthouse at the estimated cost of 70 million dollars. Even Democrats run on the policy of investing in short term projects with little benefit instead of people.
So where do I go from here? I have a few plans. My little ambitions include filling my modest wine cellar. Stashing away some money in my savings account. Finally repairing my fence that currently fits the image of a ghetto alleyway. Finally, and the most important task, paying off my house years ahead of the thirty-year schedule. Most people either forget or don’t realize that if you only make the monthly payment you actually pay three times the amount due to interest. My $60,000 house will cost me $180,000 if I only make the minimum payment. That is not including the cost of interest and taxes paid on the property.
Why paying people more isn’t a national call of duty I will never understand. I have known so many people in my life that worked their asses off, sometimes to death, without ever having a sense of financial security. Charles Bukowski wrote about this phenomenon in several of his books. People think that the artist must suffer and be driven to write great works of literature. Bukowski argued that his best works were written when he was financially secure and didn’t have the pressure to rush something out. I found myself in that boat a few years ago after writing After the Day and rushing to finish the sequel Red Tide. Trying to stay afloat and keeping a roof over my head I continued writing and releasing books that were poorly edited, if at all, and lacked the rewriting they needed to make a better story. Currently Trump is cutting funding to the arts and in doing so will hurt the quality of our culture adding pressure to those who are trying to survive and therefore undermine the quality of their product for a short-term goal of paying the bills. Welcome to Trump’s America, the Republican wet dream of destroying that which the majority of people love.
While some will argue that I am being over paid for what I will be doing I will leave you with this. My pay will afford me to buy a bottle of wine I could not buy before, paying for the truck driver who delivered it, the wine maker to stay in business, the field hands that picked the grapes, the advertising agents that promoted it, the glass makers that produced the bottle, the graphic designer who made the labels, and the list goes on. People who make more money contribute to the economy, rich people do not. End of story.