Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Well To Do

Lowest funded state

One, even an adult, can learn a lot from childcare. Just the other week I had a conversation with a carer at my son’s childcare that turned out to be quite illuminating.
Somehow we got to talk about teachers, and then we got to talk about the salaries teachers receive. My partner in chat was quite proud: as a senior, she reported to earn “in the fifties”, boasting that our particular childcare was a relatively high paying one. She was proud: she was making more than her partner, she told me; then again, “he’s working in manufacturing”.
With that I received a cold reminder for just how screwed up our society is and how detached people like yours truly can be from this rather messed up nature of things. I can complain about this and that but, overall, I know I am doing well: while I would like to go traveling around the world several times a year, flying first class all the way, I am not really short of any material need nor want. I took a severe paycut when I moved to Australia, but still: I am, for example, typing this on an f-ing MacBook Air!
My life has me worried so much about work, being a good parent, the latest gadgets and my best tactics for my latest Mass Effect multiplayer character that I forget what it’s like for many – the majority of people around me – that are not as privileged as I am. People whose contemplations probably do not include the virtues of the latest iPad or whether or not their new smartphone will support AirPlay.
The trouble is that too many of us happen to be as forgetful. That is exactly how we end up living in a society where the people we hand the caring of our children, our most valued “possession”, to people earning peanuts. Surely we cannot expect to get good results in return? After all, the CEO earning hundreds if not thousands what her employees do justifies it on the need to motivate her performance; assuming that is correct, we are actively demotivating carers and teachers. Not to mention nurses and many other people to whom we often owe our lives.
No, I do not think CEOs need to earn much more, if at all, than their employees. I do, however, think that inequalities in our society are one of the biggest dangers we are facing, right up there with global warming. And I think I got further evidence for the sad reality our world is ruled by an oligarchy of well to do male oldies that cares only for itself and couldn’t care less about the people that actually do the work. We, however, should be better than this.

Image by tubagooba, Creative Commons license


Sarah said...

Having been a teacher it annoys me no end when people have those misconceptions that teachers have a good life with their 10 weeks of holidays a year and their 9-3.30 job. Then complain that they are inconvenienced by strike action when the teachers are asking for better pay. I think people feel as they have been to school they understand what goes on there and they are qualified to comment on everything about it.

The reality of teaching is it is all consuming when you are not in the classroom you are preparing for the classroom or lying in bed thinking about what to do with student a or b. Then you are asked to do the professional development in the holidays or weekends.
I think the best example I can provide is when I was teaching I needed every one of my holidays as I was mentally exhausted but when I got an office job I struggled to use the 4 weeks I had as I just didn't need it as much. In the office job I worked from 8.30 and walked out at 5 taking nothing home with me it was such a contrast to the never ending tasks of teaching.

It further amazes me that kinder teachers are paid less than primary teachers and child care workers even less so. Knowing how hard it is to work with little kids and how important it is to have good people in charge of the smallest members of our society you think that would they would be greater valued and paid accordingly. However it seems there are pay issues with a lot of caring professions (nursing, age care, disabilities) and whether it is related to them being female dominated caring professions and still not having pay equality. It is just wrong really.

If you want to attract and retain people of excellence you need to pay them accordingly and value them rather than having a go at them.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I agree with everything you're saying, but I would also like to emphasize what I consider an important factor in this equation: in general, I think that people should all be earning roughly the same. Sure, some people can earn more than others, but there is not much reason to earn much more than others. This implies insane CEO salaries, like the ones we've been seeing over the last decade (or two, by now) do not make sense. This also implies higher taxes on the richer brackets, resulting in Scandinavia like environments. In my opinion, other than their cold weather, these seem to be the healthiest nations.
I know I will be argued against on the grounds of motivation. My answer is: first, Scandinavia doesn't seem to be doing too bad. Second, I think the link between pay and motivation is grossly exaggerated; we all like to be paid more, but it is also clear we are NOT motivated primarily by money.