The Gross National Debt

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Occupy protestors don't get it because they can't


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Yesterday I played beer god for the Chamber of Commerce golf tournament. In cruising the course delivering hydration to the golfers, I passed a man in the pine trees.
Manual pine straw baler. His did not have wheels.

He had a wooden compactor. He was baling pine straw by hand.

I offered him a beer. He accepted.

A while later I rolled through again. Offer and accept. This time he talked. He spoke of how hot it was, how demanding the labor was and how uncomfortable it was.

He also said he was paying his bills.

This man appeared to be a good bit older than me. There's no doubt in my mind he's old enough to be the father and probably grandfather of most of the "Occupy" protestors.

As I understand it, these protestors are demanding wage equity.

What they ask for and what they really want are far different things.  They have not lived long enough to understand the difference.

As I watched the old man bale pine straw, which will sell for $2,50 a bale, I wondered how much he was making an hour. Minimum wage? Probably. Possibly a tad bit more. Not a lot more.
Real work.

Nonetheless, he was making his way in the world.

I've been there. Done that, sorta. I never baled pine straw. I have pulled onions, cut collards and cabbage, pulled turnips, laid miles of irrigation pipe, thrown watermelons and cantaloupes. My first job, wherein I actually got paid, was daily labor. I was paid a varying amount for the day. I think the lowest I ever made in a day was $6. That was for more than 8 hours of work. Less than a dollar an hour.

At the time, pay by the day was legal on farms.

Over time, the pay scale shifted to either hourly pay or by the piece, as we call it. By the piece means you get paid based on how much you produce. Good workers can earn more than $100 a day in some seriously heavy duty physical labor.

Myself, I REALLY REALLY like this kind of pay. The more you work, the more you can earn. Don't work, don't get paid.
Are you willing for work for that kinda pay?

The occupy protestors could learn a lot from this kind of wages. They'd learn they really don't want pay equity.

If they really wanted this, the old man baling pine straw would be making just as much as a bank vice president. And that means the cost of maintaining their elegant yards would be the same as their mortgage payment.

They'd learn something else. They'd learn what real work is.

Bet you the "protestors" could not hold out until lunchtime in a cucumber field. Bet you they are not willing to protest on behalf of the old man baling straw. When they eventually get a high-paying job, they will turn their back on the protests. Betcha.

They are not protesting for wage equity. They are protesting because they do not know how to work.

I have cousins who grew up next to me, throwing watermelons (right Masa?) and picking tobacco. Their children will not work in the fields. They say it is too hard.

When I grew up I didn't have that choice. I worked in the fields. I learned what hard work is all about.

If my kids join these "protest" movements, I'll bring that to a grinding halt. They will spend their summers in the watermelon and tobacco and cabbage fields of my cousins who still farm. They won't be able to quit and they will get paid what they earn.

They will learn what the other occupy protestors will not.

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