29 Jan 2014
- Written by Herbert Lester/Special to The New Tri-State Defender
American humorist and social commentator Will Rogers once observed that we in America have the best government money can buy. I think he was right, and so did the Supreme Court.
Reporter and author William Grieder makes much the same argument when he points out in "Who Will Tell the People" that the distinctions between politicians of differing stripes are not nearly as pronounced as we might think. According to Grieder, they all have two things in common: constituencies and customers.
Constituencies elect them and customers finance them. Both theorists (Rogers and Grieder) would also probably agree with Abraham Lincoln that you can fool some of the people all the time; and you can fool all of the people some of the time; but (thank God) you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
It's time for those of us who take citizenship seriously not to be fooled or sold out. In his State of the Union message, President Obama announced that he would use the power of Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for federal employees to $10.10 an hour. He also challenged Congress to do the same for the rest of the nation. Thirteen states have already raised their own minimum hourly wage, effective January 1.
The President's argument is simple: People who work full-time jobs should not have to also depend on assistance from others (public or private) to make ends meet. His solution: decrease income inequality and increase social mobility. Makes sense to me.
We need to inundate our Congressmen and Senators with letters, phone calls, emails and everything else in support of this initiative. I would not put all my apples in any one barrel though. We also need to focus on what I call the "3 E's" (like we need the 3 R's: reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic).
Entrepreneurship – Find a need and fill it better than anyone else. Start your own business.
Education – Learn all you can. The average worker will be trained in as many as five different occupations in the course of a lifetime. Learn not only how to do your job, but make yourself indispensable. Do your job better than anyone could imagine.
Economic self-sufficiency – Pay your own way. There's no shame in needing a hand up; we all do from time to time. Handouts, however, are a different story.
Contact agencies, such as Kairos Services to take the beginning steps to practice the "3 E's."