What is the value of work? $3,558.00 v $3.41/hr

To put it all into perspective, let’s look at some numbers.

It was reported this week that twenty-five of the 100 largest U.S. corporations paid their chief executives more last year than they paid in federal income taxes

According to today’s Sun-Times editorial, “The vast majority of U.S. workers are fighting over an increasingly small shot at the American dream. America’s gaping income gap —the gulf between top earners and the rest of us — hasn’t been this wide since just before the Great Depression. More than 20 percent of the nation’s income now goes to the richest 1 percent of Americans. This is up from 7 percent in 1980. And the top 10 percent of earners pull in almost half the total income, a level higher than any year since 1917. Meanwhile the middle class, the working class and the poor are treading water.”

The Sun-Times’ front page story is titled “Long-term unemployed are trying to take any job at any wage.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is offering our teachers $3.41 per hour to work an extended day, according to the CTU. Many feel that teachers are just being greedy, and that this is the real problem with schools and society. People like Mayor Emanuel and Arne Duncan are out there every day pushing that very message, with support from Bill Gates and his PR millions.

So, it might be a good idea to compare that with the approximately $3,558 per hour Mayor Emanuel made during that amazing 2 1/2 years he was working as an investment banker between gigs in the White House. That’s more than ONE THOUSAND times what he’s offering the teachers for their critical service to our children.

Last year, the Sun-Times asked candidate Emanuel what his credentials were to go to work in investment banking after a career raising campaign funds for Mayor Daley and President Clinton, then advising Clinton on policy issues. Here’s what he told them:

“There is, in that culture, two types of bankers: a person who knows the numbers, industry specific; and a person who kind of also deals with relationships,” Emanuel told the Sun-Times editorial board. “I was what was considered, at that time, although I don’t think this is really interesting, relationship banking, and that’s what I did.”

Well, I guess it’s time for the rest of us to get out of real work and into “relationship” jobs because that’s apparently all that will keep us from the poor house. We can start calling today “National Relationship Day.”

Or, we can just get a bunch of new leaders who understand the value of real work.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.