I’ve known for a while that the United States’ distribution of wealth was one of the worst in the world, but coming from an upper-middle class family, I always assumed that I wouldn’t be affected by this crisis. My parents both have very good jobs, and we’ve always been solvent. I grew up in an affluent neighborhood, where financial woes simply were not a part of the community’s consciousness.
As a senior, our bleak reality is looming. I’m still hoping that the depressing results of my Internet job searches are a result of my searching skills and not the city’s reality, but it does beg the question: does our generation understand the impact that the economy we’re inheriting will have on us? As up-and-coming members of the working class, will we understand the challenges faced by our peers and our fellow citizens, or will we simply inherit the apathy of preceding generations?
For all of you up-and-coming corporate hopefuls, let me break it down for you. You remember your romanticized dreams of starting out in the mailroom, and slowly but surely moving your way up the corporate ladder through hard work, dedication, and sheer mental prowess?
I hate to burst your bubble, but they’re sawing off the middle rungs.
That’s what a gap in the distribution of wealth means.
The poverty line? You know that thing your parents either hoped you’d avoid or dreaded you’d hit? The formula of which, coincidentally, was conceived and last updated in the 1950s, and is therefore severely outdated? Last I checked, the line was at $18,000 per year. Working full time at 40 hours per week for a year, or about 52 weeks, you’ll have to earn $8.65 per hour to hit the poverty line. Although if you want to survive, you’ll have to at least earn a living wage. The living wage in Miami-Dade County is $10.56 with benefits, and it’s over $12 without benefits. And entry-level positions simply do not pay that much.
Financial solvency is becoming a distant memory of the working class in Miami, and given that most of us will be part of the working class within the next few years, maybe we should take heed. Per capita, Miami is at the poverty line-and that’s using census data, which basically means that that statistic assumes that there are no undocumented immigrants in the city -ha! Miami is quickly becoming one of the least-livable cities in the country, which is terrible, because I love the city and it’d be nice to be able to live here after graduation. Thanks a lot, business community.
Quite frankly, here in Miami, something’s got to give, and my hope is that it will be more than just a free hot meal. Most of Miami’s powerful don’t seem to get it. Their Nash-equilibrium approach (remember “A Beautiful Mind”-the “pretty blond in the group at the bar” theory) to wages and prices has imprisoned not just their employees, but the city itself, and as we near graduation, the soap’s about to drop.
Bethany Quinn is a senior majoring in Latin American studies and photography. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org