As a Sacramento REALTOR who works on commission — and earns every dollar she makes — (I’d say pennies but pennies are useless unless rare; in fact all coins are useless because you can’t insert them into a casino slot machine anymore much less a parking meter), I am not astonished that a Seattle CEO slashed his million salary to $70,000 to give his workers a big fat raise to the same income. We need more people like this in the world. Yah?
We need the guys who will chain themselves to a tree, protest at nuclear power plants and actively support native American rights. We need the people who form committees to protect delicate and extraordinary nature such as the efforts to save Mono Lake and our national parks, and to try to save the sea lions and whales washed up on our California shores. We also need the people who will financially support those efforts. I figure I put in my time when I hitchhiked to Washington D.C. in 1969 to march against the war, among many other protest efforts over the years, so my involvement these days is mostly financial. But I can also write about inequities, and human rights is high on my list.
It seems to me that when people are paid a decent wage and earn what they are worth, they are happier, more productive and feel like supporting their employer, which can be pretty important to a soul-less corporate entity. You get honorable efforts for social commentary from some companies, like that goofy thing Starbucks tried to do with its coffee cup messages to discuss race relations, but not many will put their money where it leaves the coffer.
There are some things that are worth negotiating about, especially if you’re a person on a fixed income such as buying generic brands of cereal or tomato soup, maybe haggling over the price of a necklace at the jewelry store, but you might want to think twice when it’s a human being who is providing a service. There are people who won’t even leave a tip at a restaurant. Lots people do not get paid what they are worth.
People in service-related industries are sensitive to income. My former hairdresser, who moved away to Winters to have a baby with her wife, says she always leaves a $10 tip when she goes to a restaurant. Didn’t matter if the bill was only $30, she left a $10 tip. I do pretty much the same thing and always tip at least 20%. Heck, we gave the housekeeper a raise because she never asked for it and was worth more. I see what happens when people, like some of my short sale clients, take jobs they don’t want to take but have to take because they need to put groceries on the table. Their enthusiasm falls, self esteem suffers and their performance also tends to diminish. I see the cracked results when a contractor uses cheap cement and leaves footprints in a driveway because the homeowner squeezed him.
I guess my message today is we might to reconsider how we look at people who earn an income in a service-related industry, and stop trying to nickel and dime them to death. That is all.