Tag Archives: Equal-Pay-Day

Government Employees Should Be Stipend-Receiving Civic Servants

mrpresidentI’ve been impressed by a number of initial moves by Obama as he’s assumed the presidency. One of them was a pay freeze. There’s a nice video where he addresses that and a few other executive orders, but I was able to pull this quote from the memorandum on Whitehouse.gov:

Many have accepted the call to serve in Government and to assist me in restoring a sound economy and in improving the lives of average Americans. In this challenging economic period, it is only appropriate that senior officials on the White House staff forgo pay increases until further notice.

Accordingly, as a signal of our shared commitment to restoring the country’s economic vitality and because of the serious economic conditions we are facing, I intend to freeze the salaries of senior members of the White House staff, to the extent permitted by law. I direct you to report back to me within 30 days with recommendations for actions to implement this freeze.

The memorandum was directed to the Assistant to the President, but since it was out there on the interwebs and he does ask for a “report back” with recommendations, I figure it’s my duty to give him a response as well.

In 2003-2004, right after I was married, my wife and I went to serve for one year with AmeriCorps in Atlanta Georgia. AmeriCorps is our government funded Civic Service program encouraging volunteer civic service (like the PeaceCorps). It’s a one year program where you serve full-time, usually with a government program (school, park district, etc) or a non-profit (for me, Hands On Atlanta). For your commitment you receive a living stipend, which is enough to provide you with adequate housing and transportation cost in your area, you receive an education reward of about $4500, and you are eligible for food stamps. Most volunteers are overworked and clearly underpaid (figure probably less then minimum wage). It’s a commitment and sacrifice to choose to participate in this program (but, don’t ask me, ask Dr. Jackson, whom I worked with, a phd educated woman with a daughter and grand daughter still under her roof).

I give you that background as my research for what I think a ‘freeze’ should look like for the White House and the rest of your government leaders. I don’t mean this as a criticism of their work, rather, I believe if politicians are going to true servants of the people, then we need to take away some of the other incentives (namely: money).  So, here’s my brief letter to Obama.

Mr. President,

I believe, effective immediately, all members of government should cease to receive salaries and instead receive living stipends based on federally recognized ‘living-wage’ standards for the area in which they serve (i.e. Washington D.C. or Minneapolis, MN). This stipend can take into account family size and other household incomes, but should remain reasonably based on data. The stipend need not account for food costs, as explained in the following paragraph.

All members of government, will be eligible and enrolled in the EBT-Foodstamps program in their state. Again, this would account for family size, but should follow the same paramaters as all other citizens of their state. For example, regardless of the government employees income, if the combined household income is greater then the qualifying rate, they need not be eligible since according to state standards they can afford to cover their food cost out of their own pocket.

Finally, similar to incentives in AmeriCorps and Teach For America, I think government members should receive some sort of education incentive. Since many in our upper levels of government have already pursued and exhausted their education advancement, they should have the option to use their education incentive for their children. This would help balance out some of the sacrifice of the living stipend rather than a salary.

Pay freezes on already overblown salaries is a small step to walking in step with the American people. If this administration is truly committed to “the call to serve” then I think this pay change would be a true step toward civic servitude.


Ariah Fine

Active Citizen

Equal Pay Day: It’s Time Women Get Even

My wife will soon be entering into a full time professional career as a Family Nurse Practitioner. And I’m not ashamed to say, she will be the primary wage earner in our family. She’ll be the one pulling in the big bucks and putting bread on the table. I have no doubt will survive just fine and be able to support a family. What’s disturbing though, is to know that, without intervention and advocacy, it is very possible she will be denied a fair and equal wage. I believe the wage gap is wrong and you can be assured I will stand up for the rights of my wife and other women to receive proper pay for their work and talents.
The Chart below is from The WAGE Project and uses US Census data. According to the chart, Mindy will earn $30,000 less a year then if, say, I went ahead and had gotten a Master’s degree:
Wage Gap by Education

Today is Equal Pay Day, a chance for Women (and the men around them) everywhere to stand up and demand that our bosses, supervisors, CEO’s and businesses put aside the discrimination and inequality and begin paying Women an equal pay. If your a husband, father, or son, I suggest you try and sit down and do your best to put your listening ears on and ask your female loved ones if and how they feel they have been discriminated against. If your a business owner, boss, or anyone with any authority over pay scales, I suggest you start doing some research and agreeing to take action on this issue today.

I’ll be writing more about this later, but for now I’ll just close with this brief summary from The WAGE Project.

Why Is There A Wage Gap?

The wage gap is the result of a variety of forms of sex discrimination in the workplace, including discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay, sexual harassment, occupational segregation, bias against mothers, and other ways in which women workers and women’s work are undervalued.

Hiring, Promotion, Pay

First comes what most people think of as sex discrimination: the simple and straightforward refusal to hire, promote, or fairly pay women who are just as qualified as men.

Sexual Harassment

Few people realize that sexual harassment also constitutes wage discrimination. After long and repeated sexual harassment, women leave or lose their jobs, potential raises, promotions, opportunities, emotional stability, ability to work, and sometimes their lives.

Occupational Segregation

In 2000, two-thirds of all US working women were still crowded into twenty-one of the 500 occupational categories. And, then women’s work is consistently paid less than men’s work. Are janitors really worth more than nurses’ aides, parking lot attendants more than child care workers, construction laborers more than bookkeepers and cashiers? According to American payrolls, they are.

Taxing Motherhood

Many people believe that the wage gap exists because women choose to care for children. But do they really choose to be paid less for doing the same work they did before giving birth? Forget the mommy track: too many women find themselves shunted unwillingly onto the mommy sidetrack. Frustrated women talk about how, once they came back from maternity leave, colleagues began to treat them as unreliable and unpromotable—almost willfully overlooking any evidence of productivity

Undervaluing Women Workers

Everyday, women workers suggestions are dismissed — only to be discussed seriously when made by a man. Or when employers turn to old boy networks rather than public postings to recruit new talent. Or when interviews or screening tests prize male strengths or deeper voices, even though women’s strengths and communication styles could accomplish the job just as well.

Read more from The Wage Project