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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Essential Revisited

essential: absolutely necessary; indispensable.

As the Covid-19 crisis drags on, each time I find my patience wearing thin, I try to remember to ask myself: When did I most recently pause to acknowledge my gratitude for or show my appreciation to the essential people who have been helping me prop up my daily life since mid-March? When was the last time you paused to do this?

Because I'm flawed, this strategy works some days better than others. But lately my reflections on the word essential  have been shifting. What do you imagine when thinking of someone indispensable? Put another way, how likely are you to think of a hedge fund manager as absolutely necessary? How about your favorite sports star? A corporate lawyer?

Now before the uber-capitalists, sports fans, or anyone who spent hard years getting through law school comes for my blood, let me clarify: All of those people deserve to make a living wage, enough to provide food, shelter, and clothing for themselves and their loved ones. Still, consider this: Don't the folks who empty bed pans and stock the supermarket shelves, you know, the essential people we're all depending on these days, deserve the same?

I'm not talking about a fair wage, or equitable pay, or even proportionately equivalent remuneration for all working people. Although that would be fine with me, were I to advocate any of those things, the dreaded "S" word would soon be hurled my way. But if other essential workers - e.g. police and fire personnel, nurses, doctors - can live comfortably raising a family on what they earn, isn't it reasonable for nurse's aides and supermarket cashiers to do so? If your answer to that question is "no, that's not reasonable" please explain it to me. Treat me like a dunce; I promise I won't get offended.

In the meanwhile, thank you again essential workers, for helping the rest of us to get through this.

4 comments:

  1. Amen! The answer for me is a resounding "YES!" Thanks for putting this in a perspective any reasonable person can understand. You are far from a dunce!

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    1. Ines; At the risk of being redundant, thanks again for reading and commenting. This particular mystery of modern day America is among the most baffling to me. I'm not surprised you share my befuddlement. What do you think are my chances of hearing from someone who finds this conundrum reasonable?

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  2. Another timely blog post. Not only because of the situation that we all find ourselves in currently, but also because this is a conversation I've had with my wife, family and a few friends. Sometimes it's taken the form of comments on Social Media but during these times I consider those as conversations.
    I agree with each point you have raised and the questions you are asking. One thing I feel needs to be said - not that it wasn't made pretty clear in your post - and what has been one of the primary points of the discussions I've had, is that I have found it somewhat difficult to feel badly when I read that someone who earns millions and millions (and millions and millions) of dollars has been let go, or is in a contract dispute, or, after having a good season/year, finds that the contract they legally entered into is no longer enough - based on that good season/year. And it doesn't matter if it's the first good year that they've had. They want to re-negotiate. Or .. they will strike, or sit out, or demand to be traded.
    And, yes, I admit to some jealousy there. I mean, millions and millions of dollars !!! But, as with everything else there are rational points that are made. Careers in sports, for example, are usually short lived. There is always the risk of injury. And I understand that but, to be honest, not enough to feel badly in most situations. I believe - and I may be way off base on this and totally wrong - but I believe that there had to be a decent amount of those millions and millions saved/invested to ensure a comfortable life for the person and their family. But, if I am wrong or missing something I apologize.
    OK .. I'll step down from my soapbox and get back to the point ... Everyone deserves to make a decent/livable wage. The inequality of wealth is, well, not equal. And not equal to point that it impacts just about everything. I fear using the dreaded 'S' word also, but wouldn't it be nice if everything was .. well, more equal? More fair? And I understand that more difficult professions should be able to earn more. But to have so many people living in poverty .. In this day and age. It's wrong. It's sad and it's wrong.

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    1. Anonymous; Thank you for your comment. I especially appreciate how you point out how difficult it is to feel "...badly..." for those sports stars with their "....millions and millions...". I acknowledge that their exceptional athletic skills justify their wealth in the eyes of many. But I also strongly agree with your point that those "...millions and millions..." need to be saved for the day when those skills no longer command the public's attention. You have no need to apologize for that sentiment. And I also share your belief that more income equality and fairness are long overdue. But for now, I'll settle for what I advocated in my post - a livable wage for all, especially those essential people who are sadly, invisible to many who have so much more and yet depend on them every day.

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