Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Did It Start With Clothing?

This is going to seem like a rhetorical question, but what started our economic downfall and high end executive compensation and ignorance of the workers needs?

Was it when name brand clothing became popular? Was it when tennis shoes were costing more than groceries for a month? Was it the unions?

Growing up, I remember having everything we needed. Maybe not everything I wanted, but if you wanted something, you saved for it. Oh my, I remember my first portable AM/FM radio. It was a light blue with an all silver front and cost me around $14.00. I babysat making fifty cents an hour and when I got that radio, I had it for years! It meant the world to me.

I remember having a pair of shoes for school, one for PE or after school play and one for Sunday or going out and many times they were the same as my school shoes. We were taught how to care for our shoes and expected to take care of them because after all, money didn't grow on trees!

I can remember Sunday evenings sitting down with newspaper on the floor and having to clean, polish and shine my shoes for the week. Now, I am not even sure if I own a can or bottle of shoe polish (I did when I was a police dispatcher, because keeping my shoes shiny was important). To this day, I cannot just kick off my shoes without untying them, because if we got caught as a child doing this, we would be sitting down for an undetermined amount of time untying our shoes, taking them off, putting them on, tying them, taking them off!

I think I remember Keds, Converse, Adidas and Buster Brown. As I got older, I discovered Capezzio's. Shoe stores were Kinney Shoes, Buster Brown, Karls and probably a few others, but they were stand alone shoe stores and of course Sears sold shoes.

I couldn't wear jeans or pants to school until the 9th grade as my elementary school didn't allow pants or shorts unless it was PE. In the 9th grade, the high school allowed them, but my parents did not. I will never forget having my first job and buying my first pair of Levi jeans. I had bought the jeans and a pair of saddle shoes & put on a mans dress shirt a family friend had let me have.

My dad came home and saw me and almost had a heart attack! What was next? Wearing tee shirts with a cigarette pack rolled in the sleeve and NO, I was not going to be wearing Levi's, the usual teen vs. parent argument came around. Eventually there was a compromise, but Levi's back then were like $15 a pair.

Then one day I noticed people were talking about Nike and the cost of tennis shoes began to sky rocket and everyone seemed to be wearing them and not caring what they cost. What I never figured out was how parents could afford to buy them or would buy them while they wore rags?

Then came Jordache jeans and it seems it never stopped.

Perhaps it was the media that changed things or computers, I don't know. But I believe we as Americans and I am just as guilty in many ways began to think we were owed these things. We worked hard, we deserved these things!

I will say, I have NEVER paid $100 for a pair of shoes or jeans in my life. I have always been the type if I can't find it on sale and pay less, I really don't want it. This morning my husband told me he doesn't wear tennis shoes because he isn't going to pay $60+ for a pair.

CEO's have always made more than the workers, but when did it get so out of hand? When did it become a good idea to pay CEO's millions a year for wages, stock options, percs and even bigger bonuses if they destroyed a company and were fired? What about death compensation? Why should executives get money after they die?

I am not whining here, I am just asking where does it stop? People are loosing their jobs because our country got greedy! Boeing lost millions maybe billions of dollars last year and not because they couldn't sell airplanes, but because the union workers went on strike and production losses couldn't be recaptured! **This isn't about unions**

I just watched a video where Japan Airlines CEO takes a bus to work, eats in the company cafeteria with everyone else, pays for his meal like everyone else and in 2007 took a pay cut so the workers didn't have to. His pay? Are you ready for this? 90,000 per year.

Perhaps it began with overpaid sports players or computers in every home. I don't know, but I do know it is time to make some changes. When CEO's are making millions, getting millions more in stock options, bonuses while their companies are going down the tubes, there is something wrong! When we care more about bailing out banks and are letting our citizens become homeless, there is something wrong! When people are committing suicide and killing their families because of the bleakness in the economy, there is something wrong!

No, I can't find full-time work, but my job as a substitute teacher is full of hugs, laughs and touching others lives through mentoring. I can stay home when I want (no pay, but my choice) or work when I want. I have just as many or more degree's than some CEO's and board members but it isn't enough to help me find work.

We own outright a motorcycle and a truck and are making payments on my van. We are in debt and that I can blame on no one but us and our greed, our instant gratification and the move to Washington, but in spite of it all, I am not ready to toss in the towel and move!

I hope as a nation, we open our eyes, we see what is going on and we change. We have to! We can no longer afford to ignore the writing on the wall, it is here, people everyday are living it, loosing their jobs, unsure of what to do next. There are others who are still spending like tomorrow won't come!

I don't know where it all started, I am just concerned where and when it will all end!

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