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Too many low-wage jobs supporting our families PDF Print E-mail

Letter to the Editor:

Are you aware that 53% of employees in Vilas County work in sectors of our economy that typically pay low wages, often with no benefits and subject to seasonal layoffs?

In the past, low-wage work tended to be done by teenagers or women looking for part-time jobs to supplement family income. That’s no longer the case. Now, more workers than ever are relying on low-wage jobs to support their families.

This change in the make-up of low-wage workers is a reflection of the growing disparity in income in the United States. Income inequality has worsened dramatically since the 1970s.

In Wisconsin, for example, the richest households in our state have dramatically bigger incomes than our poorest households — $245,800 for the richest 5%, $24,700 for the poorest 20%. In the city of Eagle River, 54% of our households have incomes less than $25,000.

I share these statistics in response to Cal Thomas’ column in the Dec. 18 issue of the News-Review. Thomas stated “income equality is a part of the greed-envy-entitlement philosophy promoted by liberals who want to addict more people to government . . .”

Is it because of greed (as Thomas suggests) that workers stuck in low-wage, no benefits employment want to earn enough to feed, clothe and shelter their families without depending on charity? Are low-wage workers really displaying envy (as Thomas suggests) because they may want to have a night out at Vilas Cinema or a couple days off from working more than one job? Is it “moral weakness” (as Thomas implies) for low-wage workers to be grateful they are entitled to SNAP (aka food stamps), extended unemployment benefits, Social Security, BadgerCare and other government programs that make up the social safety net?

If you would like to explore the issue of economic inequality further, I welcome you to attend the screening of the Sundance award-winning documentary, “Inequality for All,” on income equality, our shrinking middle class and how this has affected our economy and democracy. The film features Robert Reich, a professor, best-selling author, and former head of the department of labor in a passionate argument on behalf of the middle class. It will be shown Monday, Jan. 6, at 6:30 p.m. at Many Ways of Peace, 217 S. Main St., in Eagle River.

P.S. See the ad and news release on  “Inequality for All” in today’s paper.

Mary Jo Berner


MJ Berner Foundation for Peace and Justice Inc.


Eagle River

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 9:43 AM

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