"It's complicated."

by I. Liberalis

Where to begin...

In 1999 I started college at a very liberal private liberal arts college.  Not Hampshire, but close.  While I was there, my mom died from breast cancer.  I stayed in school for 2 years.  Then, I lost my momentum and had to actually deal with it.

I dropped out of college and entered the workforce with no discernible skills.  What followed was a string of jobs in retail, inventory maintenance, temp work.  Anything I could get to pay the bills - student loans, anyone?

In 2008 I fell ass backwards into a good job that I did not deserve.  I so did not deserve it that I actually didn't get it, but the woman who wanted me to have the job insisted.  In this job, I made more money than I ever dreamed of making, even when the student loan company started to garnish my wages because I had been so poor for so long that I had maxed out my forbearance options.

I went back to school.  Here I'll specify and name drop, because I think The Harvard Extension School is the best kept secret in American education.  Dollars to credits, it's the most bang for your buck, and if, like me, you have a degree that needs finishing, it's the best (only?) way to do it.  They just want your money.  Find a class you want, pay to play.  In town.  Online.  They've been doing it for 100 years, and it's worth it.

Now I have a nice job, the sort of job a 'new college grad' gets, nevermind that I am one of the eldest in the office.  This job is not as nice as the one that got me back to school, but... well... it's complicated.

Our answerers must always be complicated.  A couple weeks ago I was at brunch with my (conservative) in-laws.  She looks at me and says:  Minimum wage jobs are for high school kids and other people who need pocket money.
She doesn't know much about my past because, well, it's complicated.

In an effort to a) not be rude, and b) not get into it, and c) point out how it's not 1993 any more, I say:  Well, it's complicated.

I live in Metro Boston, and let me tell you - there's no middle class.  Where I live, specifically, it's $750k for 1200 sq ft, and half a mile over it's low-income, government housing.  The influx of students every September means that any apartment with 2+ bedrooms is filled persons aged 18-22, not a family.

Oh, and it's not 1993 here.  It's 2016 for a little bit longer, and adults who once had good jobs are now working whatever they can to piecemeal a living every month.  Metro Boston needs a 15 dollar minimum wage.  And some unions, especially for retail workers, but that's a chat for another day.

But, as my father-in-law, who owns his own small business (2 employees, I believe) points out - $15 dollars an hour is unreasonable for him to pay.  He's spent his whole life working hard, he's a professional, and the admins in his office aren't exactly going above and beyond (facebook, snap chat, and who knows what else).

And I agree.  A $15 dollar federal minimum wage is wholly unnecessary, inappropriate, and would only drive inflation.  As a worker looking for a job, I'd rather there be two 5$/hr jobs over one 10$/hr job, because I have just needed a fucking job before.  Also, if the minimum wage goes up, the price of bread goes up, and on and on until all we've done is inflated the currency and the people who are still earning the least are still struggling.

All of this chatter is just to demonstrate that reducing ideas into bylines or snippets or 240 characters is counter-productive.  This world, this economy, this paycheck thing is complicated.  We have to approach problems (and people) with the complexity they deserve.