I’m an attorney, and I’m perfectly okay with people making $15 an hour as a minimum wage.
This doesn’t make me feel sad or ripped off or that someone is working less than I am but making more than they deserve.
And just to explain: I’m a public interest attorney, and we don’t make the big bucks. We get those deep discounts on paying back our school loans, but we all get that elusive thing called the work/life balance. In fact, very few lawyers “become rich” these days, and those who do usually have no life that’s worth spending that money on.
But even as a lower-paid attorney, I’m perfectly fine with the guy at McDonald’s making $15 an hour.
You know why?
Because I don’t want to work at McDonald’s.
Because for someone like me, working in fast food is actually more stressful than being an attorney.
Yes, I had to go to school, get the grades, take the bar, pass the bar, pass the character and fitness, pay my license fees, take continuing education, and follow the rules of conduct for my profession (because unlike a special few, most of us do). And maybe it takes more conventional intelligence to do what I do than it takes to work at McDonald’s.
But you could say that for a lot of professions. For example, it takes more conventional intelligence to do what I do than it does just about any trade, or to be a good salesperson, or to be a really good singer, or lots of other professions in which people might make more money than I do at any given point in my profession.
But it is so much more stressful to work in fast food, especially for someone like me, that makes me think $15 is worth it.
You have to deal with people. Awful people. Angry people. Disgusting people. Drunks. Karens. Racists. Con artists. Children who hover over and piss on toilet seats at the direction of their Karen mothers.
You have no control who you have to deal with.
And unlike with my job, there’s no security to keep you safe. No one with a gun will step between you and screaming Karen at a McDonald’s the way they would between you and screaming Karen in a court room.
You have to deal with timers. Timers going off all the time.
You have to deal with a never-ending cascade of orders to make the same things over and over again.
You have to deal with many small details all at once, like a cash register, and memorizing various numbers, meals, foods, and specials.
You have to deal with environmental hazards, like scalding hot oil, greasy floors, chemicals, roaches and rats. I can’t think of anyone I know who hasn’t been injured on the job working in fast/cheap food.
You have to come into contact with gross things, like dumpsters and bathrooms that some drunk vomited in.
You have to wear a polyester uniform that you will sweat your ass off in.
You have to work there a very long time before you get a regular shift, if you ever do.
You have to deal with managers treating you like shit because they can’t escape the fact that in the grand scheme of things, being the manager of a fast food restaurant is just being another crab in the bucket as far as the rest of the world is concerned.
And for all of this, you will be treated like a slave in the greatest of the free nations because the unspoken rules of capitalism and the anti-American sentiment of ThE cUsToMeR iS aLwAyS rIgHt means that if they’re paying money and you provide the service, they can treat you terribly and you still have to smile or you will lose your job.
And for all of these reasons, people who work in fast food/cheap food should be paid at least $15 an hour because that’s a lot of shit the rest of us never have to deal with, because if we did, we wouldn’t be able to use our conventional intelligence at our jobs because of the stress of simply staying afloat.
Stress is worth paying for. If someone goes through all the stress of working in fast food regardless of whether it takes talent or a degree or learning, then the stress alone is worth compensating for.
Stress is not responsibility. Those are two different things. For example, I have a lot of responsibility. I have many masters. However, I’m not afraid of the things I have to do at work: that’s stress. I have a lot of work. That’s responsibility. I don’t have the stress of having to clean up a meal turned over on the floor by a crazy person and hoping they’re not waiting for me outside when I go home. I don’t have the stress of being stuck behind the counter while someone talks down to me because I made a mistake or because they’re deciding to take their bad day out on me and feel better about themselves by threatening to get me fired over something innocuous.
Because when an asshole I have no business with calls me up and wants to try me, I can just hang up. That’s all. Or, I don’t actually have to coddle a non-party demanding privileged information or humor someone who suddenly calls themselves a pro-se litigant and makes demands on me but hasn’t even filed suit or appeared in court so they can become a pro-se litigant. If someone pushes, I can push back, and I won’t get fired on the spot.
In fact, in the job I have, I’m supposed to say things like “I can’t discuss that with you. I suggest you hire an attorney.” or “I represent X, and I think…” and that’s okay. It’s actually a lot easier to have a job where you have agency as opposed to no agency, even if you have a lot of responsibility.
If you’re still against raising the minimum wage because you’re worried about your Big Mac costing a few extra bucks, might I suggest expanding your culinary horizons, or maybe taking a business course?
McDonald’s and every major food corporation can easily absorb the cost. I don’t see you demanding that they lower executive pay and perks so you can have a cheaper Big Mac, so that really can’t be the problem, can it?
Do you feel threatened that someone you think is beneath you is making a wage closer to what you’re making? If they can make more money, how are you going to feel superior? What else do you have in your pitiful life to give it meaning if you can’t shit on fast food workers?!
You might have to examine your life decisions, and you don’t want to do that. You just want a hamburger, a beer, someone on the news to tell you that you’re right and that yes, you are superior for whatever reason you think you’re superior.
It makes sense though: if we’re angry that fast food workers could make $15, but the public isn’t saying “wait…that means I can quit my white collar job and go work at White Castle instead,” then we’re not angry about an inherent inequality forcibly made equal with a higher minimum wage.
It’s a class issue for a country where everyone is either “middle class” or “RICH!”
After all, you’re not supposed to work in fast food after high school, right?
I wish someone would show me where that rule is statute, because I don’t know where it’s written that you’re not supposed to do anything when it comes to a job. In cities like the one I grew up in, working in a restaurant for minimum wage is a typical job for a grown adult, even college graduates, because there’s little decent work unless you kiss ass for years or have the fortune to have been born into the right family in order to have one of those jobs handed to you or to be installed in a job you can’t be fired from. If you want to make more, you have to move away, and the costs of living go up. It’s not unusual for adults who don’t go to college (and even some who do) to work in fast food/cheap food to make ends meet, especially in a gig economy, especially when there’s fast food/cheap food everywhere. For many new graduates, for many young parents, for many students, this is often the only work that allows them to do what they need to do and live.
Because PhD stipends don’t actually cover all the expenses, and the last thing you need is a job that won’t work around your school schedule.
Because the GI bill doesn’t pay the rent while you’re getting that bachelor’s in business administration.
Because daycare can cost a minimum of $18,000 a year per child in many places (not including any additional time a parent pays when they’re late) and two parents working full time at salaried jobs in the Loop without set hours could actually end up costing a family more in total expenses than just having one parent picking up some hours at the sandwich shop.
Also, fast food workers aren’t the reason we have a minimum wage. Minimum wage existed before there was fast food as a way to ensure that all workers receive a minimum livable wage so their employers couldn’t swindle them out of their labor.
Because we understand that doing dirty work is hard, especially when you don’t have a lot of control over what you do, how you do it, and for whom.
And if you think a minimum wage is communism, you need to turn off Fox News and go back and finish 8th grade because that’s not what communism is.
But won’t businesses have to shut down because they raised the minimum wage?
This might totally blow your mind, but since the federal minimum wage was enacted in 1938, there are still businesses, and they have all had to comply with the minimum wage laws.
And yes, some businesses go out of business because they can’t keep up with expenses. It’s called being in business, and while all businesses are interested in keeping costs down and profit up, if you’re going to be any good at this, you have anticipate costs going up at some point, including wages.
And many businesses raise wages voluntarily for employees they want to keep around.
And if you’ve ever been designated an independent contractor who was essentially an employee, you know that employers get around this stuff.
Or they do other shady stuff, like cut your hours to 34 from 35 paid hours, or they force you to work through your breaks, or they use a rotating shift so you can’t plan for anything in your own life, and you’re always at the mercy of your employer, or they do something fucked up like spread your hours over 7 days (I had this happen when I was at The Citizen, and it was legal because I was a customer service rep), so in order to take time off to do something you want or need to do, like celebrate a holiday, you have to take a pay cut.
And all of those ways employers can exploit you are (mostly) legal, but what almost all employers cannot do is pay employees less than the minimum federal wage, and there is little getting around that.
Krogers just closed three stores in Los Angeles in lieu of giving $5 an hour as hazard pay to their workers. If you’ve never run a business or worked for a business, or even make a budget for anything before, this may seem like the only solution. Interestingly, considering how much profit this corporation makes and what it pays it’s top executives, it could actual absorb this cost if it did this magical thing called accounting.
And this is Los Angeles, perhaps one of the worst places in America to be during the pandemic, and one of the most expensive places to be.
And I can’t think of a single minimum wage worker who can commute.
We should also talk about the economy of small places like Auburn, NY where I grew up, where it’s more culturally and economically isolated from the rest of the country, where even a person who has a master’s degree and is hired to do a professional job may make so little money that they’re on government assistance.
Because I knew families like that.
I knew families where the breadwinner had a master’s degree but made less than a drywaller or a machinist because the industries they worked in could exploit them like that and did. I knew families where the parents had MBAs and worked full time at jobs with titles like “assistant director,” but were taking time off to go stand in line to get WIC and Medicaid for their wife and kids because they couldn’t afford to add them to their employer-sponsored insurance.
But even the ones who were single were struggling.
Imagine having a master’s degree and being in charge of an art gallery but making $27,000 a year and having to pay $800 in rent each month. That’s a reality for a lot of people in the United States, not just my hometown. Hell, there’s law jobs in Chicago in private practice starting at a $50,000. You can barely pay your law school loans and rent with that. You’d have to live far out of the city, and you’d never get to go home anyway because of all the work you still have to do as an associate in your first few years of practice. But, unlike in a place like Auburn, NY, in Chicago, a lawyer who works hard and gets a lot of experience can actually either expect 1) that their employer will pay them more to keep them around, or 2) someone else will pay them more, and they can always work for a different law firm. However, in places like Auburn, NY and in many small cities and towns in the United States, the employers are often the only games in town. Don’t want to make $30,000 as a lawyer with $200,000 in law school loans and a baby on the way? Try your luck in another city you have to commute to back and forth every day. Don’t want to have the job title of “clerk,” make $26,000, but have as much responsibility as an office administrator, including weekends and events? GTFO, and good luck convincing anyone outside of town that you’re worth more money since you’ve been a “clerk” for five years and have only made $8 an hour despite whatever you write on your resume.
$15 an hour minimum wage would elevate ALL those people. It would help ALL of these people make a living wage, because all of these people are making less than $15 an hour for full time work. This keeps the powers that be from having a take-it-or-leave-it salary base of can-barely-afford-rent to “I have the freedom to leave this shit job because now my fascist employer has to deal with a competitive marketplace.”
And the minimum wage in New York state is currently $12.50 an hour, and will be eventually be $15 an hour. And if you think that’s a lot outside of New York City, keep in mind that 1) they all pay the same state taxes, 2) the rents are fucking ridiculous all over the state, even during a pandemic, and 3) you need a car to get everywhere, and if you don’t have reliable private transportation, you don’t have a lot of choices. There are no trains. There are very few buses and they only run periodically to certain areas of town, and maybe once a day to another city. Taxi companies in small towns are notorious for ripping people off, because again, only game in town, and everyone has a story about getting ripped off, abandoned by, or harassed by a driver at Deluxe Taxi Cab.
My story was when I worked at Perkins. I was 19, and I was working a rotating shift just before college, and I was just finishing up a graveyard shift hosting, so I didn’t have any tip money. Normally I walked home because it wasn’t far away. However, that night, I took a cab home five blocks because I was scared to walk home because a patron at the restaurant had been harassing me earlier, and street harassment is a normal part of the culture in a town like that, and people just get away with it (if they’re white). The cab ride was about $5, I tried to hand the guy a $20, but he told me he didn’t have any change, which I knew was impossible because cab drivers always had to have change and small bills because it was a cash business. I told him I wasn’t going to just give him $20 (my last $20), and maybe he can drive back to the station to get some change, and then drive me back. At one point, I was desperate to be let out of the vehicle and even offered to pay the fair back to the station that was about seven blocks away and back just so I didn’t have to pay him all the money I had left until pay day.
He said he couldn’t do that.
So, there I was, trapped inside a taxi cab in front of my parent’s house for about twenty minutes arguing that I wasn’t going to just give him $20, and that I should be allowed to go in the house to get change.
And then a light came on in our living room and someone opened the blinds and looked out. See, in a small town like ours, if there’s a car just idling in front of your house for 20 minutes, you look and see if it’s trouble, and if you had a kid who just finished a graveyard shift, you looked to see if maybe that idling vehicle had your kid in it.
I ran inside and got change for my $20 from my mother, and wouldn’t you believe the driver was angry that I didn’t tip him?
Anyway, the moral of the story is to believe everything everyone has to say about Deluxe Taxi and understand why it was the poor who were relieved to finally have Lyft and Uber available in the Finger Lakes even if the bourgeois who all owned their own vehicles and never relied on other forms of transportation were all in tizzy over the loss of local business.
But even at $12.50 an hour, a $8 Uber rideshare from Panera to your shitty apartment on the other side of town is an expense you don’t need.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, or about $15,000 a year before taxes.
If you live in Alabama and you don’t have kids, debt, or medical expenses, may that’s okay, but if you live in New York, or Alaska, or Hawaii, or California, or any major metropolitan area, you’re in poverty.
If you lived in Auburn, NY and only made $7.25, the current federal minimum wage, working full time, you would not be able to afford your own apartment and a vehicle. A couple making the federal minimum wage working full time would barely be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment and a vehicle in a town like mine. They could never afford to have children, or to save for a house, or for one of the partners to quit work and go back to school, and they could certainly never afford for one of the partners to get sick or injured to the point where they can’t work for any significant amount of time. They could not save for emergencies.
They certainly couldn’t afford to pay back college loans, much less save up to pay out of pocket for school.
And if you think the student loan debt crisis is just a matter of “pay up,” without a minimum wage increase, you need to explain how people with no money are going to pay these loans. There’s no debtor’s prison. You can only take so much from someone when they default on a loan. And frankly, if it becomes commonplace to default on your student loans, we’re going to stop holding it against people when they stop paying, and we’re going to normalize underreporting income to the IRS and alternative means of payment, like bartering services, to avoid reporting taxable income. You know, like how tattoos have been normalized and have become commonplace whereas they were once strange? We’re going to start seeing more people exchange labor for goods and services instead of cash or wages, at least in part, and every time a new commerce app has to report income to the IRS, a new one will pop up without that obligation.
Because I do that in part now. In fact, I would be happy to do astrology readings in exchange for food, clothing, gas (cards; please don’t bring gas cans to my building, as you will definitely terrify someone, and possibly not one of my neighbors that I would actually love for you to terrify because he’s a prick), furniture, gifts, and all other sorts of goods and services. I would totally do an astrology reading in exchange for a hand knit sweater or some jars of homemade jam, or a bushel of apples (although preferably in the colder months so I can leave them in my car instead of around my apartment), or getting my shoes re-soled, or an eyelash lift, or having a song written for me, or whatever else someone has that is of the same value but is not cash money. However, I can do that because I have a full time, wage-paying job that covers my needs.
Or maybe it would be easier to finally give people who do most of the jobs in the country a living wage?
And if you’re going to bring up the fact that a thousand years ago, you worked for a dollar an hour all week or some other shit that’s totally irrelevant because you can’t accept the fact that the world has changed a lot and that you’re really old now, might I suggest to you Matthew 20:1-16?:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
It’s not someone’s fault that they were born after you were, you know?
I’m not Stupid Just Because I Had a “Stupid” Job.
If I was stupid at my job at Perkins, if I made mistakes during the after-bar rush when we had to deal with fights, vomit, sexual harassment, people stealing tips off tables and purposely making messes for their own entertainment, it wasn’t because I’m dumb. It was because that’s an insanely hostile work environment and very wrong for a contemplative, creative individual.
Poverty, and the cultural institutions created for us to corral the social influence of poverty on the rest of society, is not for gentle souls.
And when I say hostile, there was a cop on duty in the restaurant every Friday and Saturday night, the same cop whose only weekend beat was that restaurant, and while it helped keep most of the violent crime at bay, it didn’t make us that much safer. But even if his presence actually helped, if I wasn’t good at my job, it wasn’t because I’m stupid and therefore undeserving of a livable wage. I mean, if that was who I am at 19 at my core, then how could I be the person I am now? It wasn’t because I was innately, essentially unworthy. It was because there was no point in doing my best when I wouldn’t get rewarded for it, and I’d be too exhausted to do my homework when I got home. It was because I was tired because I was working three different shifts a week while taking a full college course load while living in a house where I couldn’t even get a decent night’s sleep or my own bedroom to myself but couldn’t afford to move out. It was because even if I was a smart cookie back then and could argue the reason that it’s irrelevant that the drunk pieces of shit yelling at me at the counter didn’t like the mozzarella sticks because they ate them all anyway so they still had to pay for them, it didn’t matter, because either my boss would push me aside and deduct the mozzarella sticks to make them finally go away so they didn’t have to call the cops (because no one pulled that shit in front of the cops on the weekends), or my boss would yell at me the next night because someone else did the exact same thing and I followed her cue and deducted the fucking mozzarella sticks to avoid having to call the cops. It didn’t matter if I got good at problem solving as a hostess because the next night, Sue could randomly put me on dishwashing even though it was clear that I didn’t have the height or the strength to do the work fast enough and no one actually showed me how the dishwashing machine worked. It didn’t matter if I offered superb service as a server, because if I got put on the old people dinner shift, I’d only get tipped about a dollar per table if I was lucky, or if a late night table lingered for hours and I finally decided to go home, they wouldn’t tip because even though they’d been there for four hours, ordering meals, dessert, and coffee, I had the nerve to leave when my shift ended instead of waiting around for them. It didn’t matter if I did a good job taking phone orders, because if I put someone on hold for 30 seconds to see if what they wanted was still available at 5:30 a.m., they’d hang up and then call back angry that I kept them on hold “forever,” and if they called up high and forgot what they ordered and then argued with me when they came to the counter, I’d still get blamed for getting the order wrong even though I double checked with them, and I’m the one who is clearly sober.
I really don’t believe anyone could say that taking whatever job I could after high school to help me elevate myself meant that I was stupid and that it was proof that I wasn’t worthy of more money, especially because I was in college, doing the best a poor kid can, no help and no guidance, trying to figure things out on her own and for someone like me, with my socioeconomic background, there just wasn’t much else available. I tried applying to places I shopped at, like the pet store on Standart Ave. not too far away where I got a pet rat when I was a kid, or Eckard/Fay’s, which was around the corner, and Donovan-Luksa, and such.
At the time, I couldn’t figure out what was so different about my application from the applications of kids I knew who could find jobs, kids who would just switch jobs because they were bored or because they just preferred a different place. What was the reason they could always find work that I could not?
I now realize that it was probably a few things, like my clothing choices or the way that my applications were always smudged because I’m left-handed and a first name that for whatever reason, the local found unpronounceable, as this was the only place I have ever lived where people routinely struggled to pronounce Miriam to the point of giving up or renaming me some permutation of Mary, like Maryanne, Maryellen, or Marilyn (even in Korea, where it was pronounced “Milliam” due to Hanguk language conventions, everyone tried and got it more correct than any random person in Auburn ever did). but I think the biggest issue was my address, because that would have spoken louder than a supposedly incomprehensible first name or a smudged application would have done. That would be all you need to know about where I was coming from.
And I had a little work in high school, but it was a struggle, and by the time I was 19 and really needing money, I was faced with diminishing options.
I couldn’t work at Mackenzie-Childs listening to my walkman and painting checkered patterns on pottery without any thought or deliberation because it was too far away, I had no car, no one would drive me, and I couldn’t get a reference to get in. I couldn’t work at the mall in a jewelry store or department store, gossiping with coworkers, moseying around seeing if people needed help finding bras, ringing stuff up sometimes, because I didn’t have a car, no one would drive me, the mall was too far away, and I didn’t have the kind of wardrobe for that job. I mean, those were stores that I would normally be followed around in and told not to touch the merchandise, so working there? Yeah, right. I couldn’t work at a nicer restaurant with less tables to serve and higher tips, one that was not essentially a pig pen, because I didn’t know anyone who could put in a good word for me at somewhere better. I couldn’t get an office job because I didn’t know anyone who could hook me up with one, and again, no wardrobe and no experience. I couldn’t get a job as a nurse’s aid in one of the many old folk’s homes because of transportation and lack of references. Wegmans was always reputed to be an awesome employer, but because I once got caught shoplifting there when I was 12 and they kept my name on file forever, I couldn’t get hired as an adult, even when I finally did have a friend who could put in a good word for me. P&C wouldn’t hire me because when I was 11, a friend of mine was caught shoplifting, and I happened to be with her, and though I actually didn’t steal anything or even know that she had shoplifted, my name and address were kept in their files, so I couldn’t get hired there, either. All the other grocery stores were too far away to walk, so I couldn’t work at any of those.
But as far as Wegmans goes, it was about after a year of trying to get a job there that I found out why they wouldn’t hire me, so around that time, I resumed shoplifting there from time to time. After all I didn’t have a job, struggled to get a job, and I didn’t get money from my parents for stuff, so I couldn’t afford to buy stuff, because sometimes the little allowance I got was only in the form of packs of cigarettes, and the other grocery stores were too far away to walk, so…you know.
I’m not proud of it, especially because the idea of shoplifting carries with it the shame I always felt about my background and origin, and I haven’t since I magically stumbled upon the miraculous ability to become employed as an adult when I was hired at Perkins.
And I’m sure having a local reputation for being eccentric didn’t help, nor did having two parents who were notorious for their own bizarre, fringe politics and complete lack of self-awareness help either, especially because I look basically like the female version of one of them.
Perkins was actually willing to hire me, and I took it. I know they had a lot of turn over, so they would pretty much high anyone.
I consider it heroic and a testament to my resiliency that I managed to stay there for five months.
Five months in, I got a better job tutoring English at the college. It had set hours. It paid more. It meant not coming into contact with drunks or bodily fluids. I took that job immediately. No notice. Fuck Perkins, and fuck my boss. Sue was a crab in the bucket who didn’t want to admit it. Fuck my co-workers who thought it was uppity to go to college and that I was wasting my time. It’s not like it mattered — people quit and walked out all the time. I remember the old people dinner shift that both cooks up and walked out and Sue had to call in another and go back there herself to finish making the food.
Three weeks later, one of them came back to reapply for his job. He shrugged and whispered, “I’m stupid.”
Interestingly, the one job I wanted to try, the only one I was never allowed to try, was cooking, because Sue thought I was too stupid to do it. Somehow, my inability to handle the chaos of dealing with all the people up front meant that I couldn’t handle focusing on chopping vegetables and frying eggs, even though it was probably guaranteed I’d be the only cook to show up sober every shift.
But whatever, in retrospect, because I was good at tutoring English. I really enjoyed it. It was the first job I ever had in which I could actually use innate talent and skills. Even though I had to get yet another job, I still liked that one. I even did that again when I took classes at community college post-baccalaureate between the time I came back from Korea and the time I moved to Chicago to go to law school.
Sue was 40 when I was working at Perkins. I remember some of my co-workers aspiring to be manager, talking about the big money she was making, and the power she had. I remember one of them all excited that she was being trained for assistant manager.
I’m 41 now, trying to imagine how that particular type of damnation — working at Perkins for 21 years — would feel like.
When the Perkins corporation shuttered the restaurant in preparation to sell many of its New York locations to Denny’s, it fired its local and regional management because they became redundant (can’t be a Denny’s manager when you’ve never worked at one, right? And they had plenty of those already) but most of the servers who reapplied got their jobs back.
I actually do remember a few specific people who were extremely rude to me. I would see them around after I quit, or when I was home visiting from New York or other places. You know what they’re doing for a living now? Not much. No lawyers among them, for sure, but that doesn’t mean I want them to go without, or that I want their kids to go without, or that somehow, them having less means that I have more, because at the end of the day, my salary is what is, my expenses are what they are, and my life choices are the same.