Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Romero's a Tax Payer Too

Almost exclusively, talk about the effect of the $700 billion bailout on the American taxpayer, usually implies the cost to the middle class. The most recent reports of AIG excess trouble us all, but more than the middle class is affected.

Take Regino Romero, a cook at the Crystal City Hilton Hotel outside of Washington, D.C. Romero works full time, makes $13.84 an hour, is a single father with three children. His job comes with benefits, pays $450 a week. He's renting out the basement of his town home for $400 a month and has listed the third bedroom of his apartment to rent at $350 a month.

Regino is struggling to reach the middle class, but the break up of his marriage, low wages and the mortgage meltdown have him stuck. He's not alone.

"Romero's dilemma is not unlike that of many low-wage workers struggling to cope in an economy that has left them behind. A national survey by The Washington Post, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University found that large percentages of low-wage Americans struggle to pay for life's staples. Eight in 10 find it hard to pay for gasoline or save for retirement, while more than six in 10 said it was tough to afford health care. And roughly half said they were having difficulty affording food and housing."

"Workers are more productive than ever, as the output per person has hit new highs in the past eight years. But rather than funding wage increases for most employees, the fruit of that new efficiency has largely bypassed all but the people in the best-paying jobs, as inflation-adjusted incomes for typical Americans edged downward from 2000 to 2007."

"Now, as the global financial system strains to absorb its biggest shocks since the Great Depression, the once faraway world of Wall Street is making things worse for low-wage workers."

Regino Romero is a tax payer. He is not middle class. Repeated bailouts while helpful in the short term, also result in Regino and others like him falling further and further behind.

Many people are quick to point out how the working poor ought to be more responsible, plan ahead and be more self reliant. Doesn't that go for the corporations whose government aid could reach over a trillion dollars?

After all, that's Regino's money too!

1 comment:

belinda said...

I'm luckier than most. As a government employee, I have a retirement. My 28-yr. old daughter isn't so lucky. She gets by. Nothing more.