Soma Today: Giving Tuesday

It’ “Giving Tuesday,” the day when our civil religion prescribes a token pause in our buying crap so we can resume shopping tomorrow with our consciences suitably whitewashed.

I don’t think it will work for me. I’ve been looking at the family budget, wondering “how can we be spending that much?” and then “how in heaven’s name can a family of four live on 80 hours of $7.25 per hour minimum wage by two workers – mom and dad both?”

There’s talk of a “living wage,” which is “the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their needs that are considered to be basic” and a click or two up from subsistence. It’s thought to be sorta kinda progressive.

But it’s time for a periodic reminder of the idea of a “family wage,” which is “a wage that is sufficient to raise a family” as distinct from a living wage. It is advocated by the Great Reactionary Oppressor, the Roman Catholic Church, or so I and some Catholic intellectuals read it. The current status quo is supported by business interests, politicians, and sundry others who profit from it in sundry ways:

Be it remembered, however, that once upon a time, in a land far, far away spiritually, it was not thought that universal participation in the money-paid workforce was a thing ardently to be desired. Indeed, the “Family Wage” was the progressive desiderata for a time, and I consider it a mark of our gullibility and collective amnesia that we now pine for a “living wage” and think that life is incomplete without the goods shit we can buy if we – Whoa! What a great idea! – pool two or more living wages under one roof. Look! Kim Kardashian! Chaz Bono! American Idol! Shiny! (HT Mark Shea)

The beast feeds itself. Mrs. Jones goes to work, the first on her block to do so. Before the Jones kids have become notably delinquent, the Joneses have compiled an admirable pile of goods shit we could buy if Mrs. Tipsy would go to work, too. And then the next family down the block follows suit, and before too long, nobody feels they can survive on a single wage. And maybe they really can’t (unless the Missus aggressively gardens, cans and freezes, and what kind of middle-class family still does that?! It’s barbaric!) because the extra worker supply has driven down wages.

And retirement savings? Out of the question! What say we just keep on working? Life is meaningless without a nice paycheck anyway.

(Your Humble Scribe) Remember how Dubya admonished us to get out and shop, to show the terrorists they could not beat the indomitable American spirit? How pathetic we’ve become!

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.