An Honest Wage

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Yesterday while working out, I popped an old favorite into the CD player, U2’s “Rattle & Hum.” One of the tunes mirrors an old Irish tune about the working man, “Van Dieman’s Land.” In it, there’s a line that stands out, “A day will come in this dawning age when an honest man seeks an honest wage.” This leads to the question…what is an honest wage?
Right now, I’m working my way through Tom Wolfe’s “Hooking Up” and it’s asking the same question. “Hooking Up” is a collection of Wolfe’s essays on American liife at the turn of the century(the 21st century, that is). One point he makes is that even the most unskilled laborers in America (or what would have been traditionally thought of as blue collar jobs) earn a salary that is high enough to afford many of the luxuries of the “upper crust”; vacations, electronics out the wazoo, entertainment options…all while NOT having to sacrafice things like, oh, food.
Woolfe’s observance was that a job that, say, 50 to 100 years ago, would have been able to live(but not live with “extras”) is now standard, even below standard. So, what is an “honest wage” that U2 sung about? I mean, even the poorest of the poor in America(the homeless indigent aside) have automobiles, cell phones and entertainment options. No, not all-and that’s not what I’m saying, but if you look at the majority of Americans at or below the poverty level, there are still “extras” that make life better. Mirror that with what is considered poverty in a third world country and there’s just no compairson.
Where we live in the world determines how we see wealth and poverty. In America, impoverished is high society compared with those in Haiti. We, in America, are very, very lucky-and we forget that. Oh, how often we forget that…

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