I got a call on Friday with an offer to do a day of flagging on Saturday. It paid $12 per hour, which is pretty good for flagging. I would be one of those people in bright vests that endeavors to get people to park in straight lines at a fairground event. I really should have worn a hat, and I was told at one point that I was so polite I must be from the South. For my 6.5 hours of chasing cars, directing people, and not sitting down once I made $78. Assuming a 25% tax rate- the least individuals pay that are living off of work not investments- I get to walk away with $58.50.
With all of my job hopping lately, I can tell you that $12 per hour is considered a half-way decent amount. It’s certainly far above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 or the Maine minimum wage of $7.50. I, personally, look at $12 and see an amount that’s big enough to work with. That $58.50 that I made? That’s almost 3 bags of chicken feed (yeah, I get the pricey stuff) or two pairs of jeans bought new. It’s a week and a half of what I set aside for my food and supplement budget.
But let’s look at that $58.50 from the other direction. The President of the United States makes $400,000 per year. The government uses 2,087 hours per year to calculate hourly pay. According to this calculation, the President makes $191.66 per hour. In other words, I spent all day making the amount he makes in about 18 minutes. Unfortunately, most Presidential candidates are looking at a pretty severe pay cut to take office.
In 2015 the CEO of Coca-Cola made $14.6 million- or $6,995.69 per hour. Just typing that makes me a little nauseous. What took me a day to make, he makes in about 30 seconds.
The CEO of Time Warner did a bit better at $18,051,386 in 2015- or $8,649.44 per hour. He pays his customer service representatives as little as $9 per hour, but averaging around $13. What I made in a day- and what his customer-facing employees make- is worth 20 to 25 seconds of his time.
The CEO of Citigroup took a hit in his pay for 2015, only making $13 million while over at JP Morgan, the CEO is going strong at $20 million. The people that crashed our financial system and had to be bailed out by, well, you and I, are making $6,229.04 and $9,583.13 per hour. A good solid sneeze will see them paid what it took me 6.5 hours and a sunburn to earn.
How many people do you know that make in the $10 to $15 range? Or less? For better or worse, a whole lot of our personal self worth is tied up in how much we make. The more we make, the more we’re “worth” to society. Certainly the more we’re worth in our current democracy where there are more lobbyists in DC than politicians.
I am worth more than a CEO’s sneeze. I spent my day keeping order so that small business people and individuals could exchange goods and money. There is no way that as many cars could have parked in that field as were there if it weren’t for the team of us keeping order. I’m not saying that I need to make a CEO’s salary for something like this. However, I think there is a big problem when what I’m looking to make in a year is what the JP Morgan CEO can make in 3 hours. Or less.
Like so many others in the precariat class, all I want is a home, the chance to reduce or eliminate my debt, and the chance to maybe not work until the day I die. Why is that too much to ask for when there is a not insignificant portion of our society that needs to decide whether to buy a second yacht, a third house, or, the heck with it, both! I need to hold on to the idea that I’m worth more than a CEO’s sneeze. Because I am. Considering the behavior of a fair number of CEOs over the last 10 or 20 years, I have more to give to this world than the CEO does.