The Value of Your Family

I grew up in a single parent household. My parents divorced soon after I was five years old and my mother had the responsibility of raising five children. Most often the only jobs she could get without a college education was as a waitress or bartender. Neither of which is good pay for a single mother.

Needless to say, I grew up poor. We got food stamps to help feed us. When we moved to places that we could get housing vouchers, we lived in subsidized housing. Other than that, we lived in rented houses and mobile homes.

There were times we had to use food stamps to pay for gasoline for mom to get to work so we could afford rent and utilities. There were times we went hungry because five growing children eat a lot of food and the food stamp program has decided that less than $2 a day is enough for poor people to eat.

As a waitress or bartender, my mother could only expect about $2-4/hr not including tips. And if you had to work for tips in some of the places she worked, you would starve. When it came to her time to retire, because she didn't make much, despite working her ass off, she is not collecting much.

Like myself, my mother did not have many opportunities to improve herself. She finally was able to go to college by the time I was in high school and she managed to graduate and find work. Yet she still found it very difficult to support herself with declining wages through the 1990s and early 2000s and despite the alleged "great economy" we have been seeing over the last few years, she was not able to find sustainable employment.

I work with veterans on a daily basis, helping them find work, get training or certifications. Despite the dedication and discipline that veterans bring to work, many of my clients are having problems finding work that will sustain them. Some have turned to working multiple jobs, others have resigned themselves to applying for disability and trying to survive on the meager funds they had to fight the VA for over a minimum of five years for them to secure. Others, frustrated with the extended process of applying and multiple denial of claims from the VA seek to apply for Social Security benefits.

Families were able to have one income to support their household in the 1940s-60s. One parent was able to stay home and care for the family and maintain the household. Why? Evidence suggests a strong minimum wage and progressive taxes on businesses.

Since that time, we have seen the government and the courts side with businesses over labor time and time again. Government has decided that the economy is more important than those who contribute the most to the economy.

We do not have freedom if we are tied to wages that keep out liberty at arms distance. Where is the justice in allowing business interests to dictate our healthcare coverage?

Poor people and the Middle Class do more to sustain economic success and create more jobs than the 1% of wealth holders or other businesses.

If you don't believe me, ask the kids who are out mowing laws in the summer who created their job. Was it the corporation that made the lawn mower or the kid who went out and sought a wage from his community?

What do we do to reverse the loss of financial security for families in the United States? Here are my suggestions:

1. Increase Minimum Wage for full-time workers to $25/hour

2. Improve and expand the Family Medical Leave Act to include mandatory leave for each parent following birth

3. Institute Nationwide Gender Pay Equality

4. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and eliminating taxes on the first $20,000 of earned income

5. Establish a Maximum Wage to prevent business executives from fleecing employees and off-shoring jobs

6. Reinstate progressive taxes for businesses

7. Provide more resources for small business start-ups

8. Increasing the payout of Social Security retirement

9. Eliminate the limit on collecting Social Security taxes on income over $130,000


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