Material World
Families & Homes The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy…


Andrew, a manager in a large food business in the Midwest, told me about the moral dilemma of employing people who can’t take care of their families even though they are working hard. This was something that he couldn’t pretend was okay. He came to the decision to “do what [he] can” even at the risk of being accused of stealing. “I pad their paychecks because you can’t live on what they make. I punch them out after they have left for a doctor’s appointment or to take care of someone … And I give them food to take home….” He described how it changed his job, tainted it, to be supervising people who couldn’t get by on what he paid them….
Today, one in four U.S. workers earns less than $9 an hour—about $19,000 per year. Thirty-nine percent of the nation’s children live in low-income households. And African-American and Latino families are much more likely to be poor or low-income and are less likely to have assets or home equity to offset low wages.
… when I spoke with Jonathan, a middle-aged “top manager” in a chain of grocery stores in the Midwest. I was asking him about the stresses of running a business that employed lots of low-wage parents. He acknowledged there were plenty. I was getting toward the end of the interview and he seemed to sense that, so he stopped me and asked, “Don’t you want to know what this is doing to me, too?” …
He spoke of parents whom he got to know pretty well, who headed home each week with less than they needed to feed their families. Yes, he said, it is the “going wage”—America’s “market wage”—that doesn’t cover the market cost of basic human needs. Still, it didn’t seem right to Jonathan. He described how it changed his job, tainted it, to be supervising people who couldn’t get by on what he paid them.

via The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson

Families & Homes The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy…

Andrew, a manager in a large food business in the Midwest, told me about the moral dilemma of employing people who can’t take care of their families even though they are working hard. This was something that he couldn’t pretend was okay. He came to the decision to “do what [he] can” even at the risk of being accused of stealing. “I pad their paychecks because you can’t live on what they make. I punch them out after they have left for a doctor’s appointment or to take care of someone … And I give them food to take home….” He described how it changed his job, tainted it, to be supervising people who couldn’t get by on what he paid them….

Today, one in four U.S. workers earns less than $9 an hour—about $19,000 per year. Thirty-nine percent of the nation’s children live in low-income households. And African-American and Latino families are much more likely to be poor or low-income and are less likely to have assets or home equity to offset low wages.

… when I spoke with Jonathan, a middle-aged “top manager” in a chain of grocery stores in the Midwest. I was asking him about the stresses of running a business that employed lots of low-wage parents. He acknowledged there were plenty. I was getting toward the end of the interview and he seemed to sense that, so he stopped me and asked, “Don’t you want to know what this is doing to me, too?” …

He spoke of parents whom he got to know pretty well, who headed home each week with less than they needed to feed their families. Yes, he said, it is the “going wage”—America’s “market wage”—that doesn’t cover the market cost of basic human needs. Still, it didn’t seem right to Jonathan. He described how it changed his job, tainted it, to be supervising people who couldn’t get by on what he paid them.

via The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson

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