The Moment of Truth — August 1, 1998

Living Wage

I’m mejeffdorchen and welcome to the moment of truth. The Moment of soul nourishing editorial commentary that stands out in contrast to the sickening propaganda of the capitalist media commissars like the taste of a ripe, flavorful homegrown tomato compared to the nausea induced by chewing a wad of post-dated xanthan gum.

It’s been a week of equations. People have been making incredible equations. It must be surreal mathematics week. The most obviously numerically insane example was an equation expressed in the city council this week. The alderfolk gave themselves a ten thousand dollar a year raise. They now make $85000 a year. And the mayor now receives $192,000: to make my own equation, that’s the equivalent of almost six public school teachers, most of whom speak at least one language fluently – unlike the mayor.

To cover their enormously shame-swollen political buttocks, swollen with the shame of the corruption and federal imprisonment of their membership no less than by their incredible gall in fattening their wallets in the most rapacious way possible, to cover their shame-swollen collective buttocks, the city council also voted through a version of the so-called Living Wage proposal, a law that would force most companies doing business with the city to pay their workers at least enough to keep a family of four at about even with the poverty line.

So generous. It’s almost like having an entire city council made up of clones of Jesus Christ.

And don’t think the aldershmucks don’t know just how valuable they are.

They just don’t know how to calculate it. One alderman stated that, considering all the hours he worked, his salary probably worked out to about the living wage. That’s one example of the surreal mathematics I was talking about.

Let’s run down the figures:

At seven dollars and sixty cents a week, and working a forty hour week, if there is such a thing anymore, a worker earning the Living Wage would make about 304 dollars a week, before taxes. If she works all year without a vacation or sick day, she grosses $15,808 a year.

At 85,000 dollars a year, if an aldercrook were to work all year round without a vacation – the odds against that are worse than yours of winning Powerball even after the drawing has passed without you having bought a ticket – in that fantasy land where alderscum work as hard as real people, each would make about sixteen hundred thirty-five dollars a week. That’s more than five times what a Living Wage employee would make.

Doing the division exactly, an alderguano would have to work 215 hours a week at the Living Wage to make his annual salary. 215 hours a week! Since there are only 168 hours in a week, this is mathematically impossible. Even if an alderputz worked round-the-clock without stopping to sleep, he’d still be getting paid for an extra forty-seven hours of work more per week than his counterpart the Living Wage earner.

But maybe I’m being too literal in interpreting the mathematically insane alderman’s words. Maybe what he’s actually saying is that, somehow, an aldersphincter is 538% more important than someone who, say, works for a city contractor building a convention center or exterminating Asian longhorned beetles. Given that I could one day be working for one of those contractors and making that socalled living wage, I resent the equation. There is not a single aldercreep that’s worth half of me, let alone 538% of me. But if it meant living in peaceful and just world, I wouldn’t mind if we all made the same amount of money – since you really can’t put a price on human worth. Although, knowing what I do about politicians in general and the city council in particular, I think it would be only fair if, after the revolution, anyone who had ever expressed the opinion that they were so much more important than a working person that they deserved five times the ability to clothe, shelter, feed and educate themselves and their family – I think such people, while of course they should earn the same wage for an hour of work as all the rest of us, regardless of how evil they were before the revolution – nevertheless such arrogant people should be required once a month to lick the streets of Chicago clean.

I think that is a task commensurate in unpleasantness with the way they have stunk this town up with their filthy behavior. To express it mathematically.

Notes on other screwed up arithmetic: Clinton is with little doubt a liar, a slut, a sexual harrasser, and certainly – after bombing Iraq during his first term, a murderer of at least six people including an anti-Hussein feminist artist. Nixon killed millions, covered up burglaries he may have ordered, slandered people in order to ruin their careers, and possibly had his presidential campaign funded partially by opium smuggling. Reagan killed thousands, muzzled the press in Grenada, may have bartered hostages for an election, most likely gave the go-ahead to illegally fund terrorism in Nicaragua, possibly with the knowledge that some of the money came from crack sold to Americans in LA. Bush killed hundreds in Panama, possibly bartered hostages for Reagan’s election, and helped dump his son Neil’s enormous savings and loan debt on the US taxpayers.

Now out of these four crooks – Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Clinton – if Clinton is the only one who is successfully impeached and punished in the US legal system – well, Justice isn’t just blind, she’s math-phobic.

I remember listening to the G Gordon Liddy show once and hearing him whip a wussie-assed rep from Amnesty International into submission over the death penalty. The argument the wussy failed to make, which I shouted at my radio until I was hoarse, was this: "The problem with the death penalty is that black kids who can’t afford lawyers get executed for killing one person, while genocidal maniacs like you, Liddy, and your boss Richard Nixon, get off scott free, and go on living to a ripe old age as elder statesmen and talk radio hosts." Then this week I hear Howard Stern say with much white male anger in his voice that the guy who shot the two Capitol cops should be put to death. Here’s a schizophrenic who went off his medication, a legitimately and provably crazy person who tragically killed two people – and Howard Stern resents him getting medical treatment while Ronald Reagan, responsible through negligence if nothing else for the bombings of Nicaraguan harbors and hospitals, walks around LA eating lime popsicles.

I hate this phrase, but I’ve gotta say it: Do the math. There’s gonna be a lot of people licking the streets clean after the revolution. But at least they’ll all be making a living wage.

That’s the Moment of Truth. I’m mejeffdorchen, and I’m here every Saturday with your host Chuck Mertz on National Beer Presents This is Hell from 10 am to noon on WNUR 89.3 FM Chicago’s sound experiment.