Portland Pedestrian

Why is the pay so bad for people who care for society’s most vulnerable?

Posted in Uncategorized by Kate on March 9, 2010

It  makes me sad that caring for children and caring for the elderly are two of the most severely underpaid jobs/professions in our country. Starting pay for after-school teachers, pre-school teachers, child daycare workers, adult daycare workers, and assisted living caregivers in Portland is between approximately $8.40 (minimum wage in Oregon) and $10 per hour.


Scroll to the bottom of the webpage linked above, to see the starting wage for assisted living caregivers at this particular facility. This is what they are paid to care for senior citizens with dementia. My grandfather has dementia. To be blunt, having dementia means he can be a real pain in the butt sometimes.  I think the people who would be hired to care for him should get paid way more than what this facility would pay.

As a Planning Assistant at the City of Portland, I made $15 per hour. As an Associate Planner, I made $22 per hour. As a City Planner I, I made about $25 per hour.

I think caring for children and the elderly is just as important as city planning. Pre-school teachers’ wages top out at about $15 per hour no matter the years of experience and education one might have.

Children are most impressionable when they are at pre-school age. Their experiences at this stage of life will have more influence over the type of adult they become than experiences at any other stage of life.

Shouldn’t the people who teach and care for them get paid as much as city planners?

What does the average pay for various occupations say about our priorities as a society, about our economic system as a mechanism for harm versus good, about our future as a country?

I have decided that I want very badly to switch professions and become a pre-school teacher. The one thing stopping me? Knowing that I won’t make much money, no matter how hard I work, no matter my years of experience and education. I want to make enough money to do rehab work on our home, to travel to Louisiana on a regular basis to visit my family, to take a little vacation every now and then, to eventually buy a plug-in hybrid electric car. I can’t do these things on a pre-school teacher’s wages. Not unless I eat beans and rice every single night.

How many would-be pre-school teachers are there in the US? How many people would love to switch professions but they don’t because they’d be taking a substantial pay cut?


Good news for New Orleans

Posted in Uncategorized by Kate on February 22, 2010

(Originally posted on February 9th, 2010.)

The Saints winning the Super Bowl has been so glorious, for so many reasons. The males in my family have been waiting for this to happen for a long, long time. Too bad my grandpa and my godfather (on dad’s side of the family), both loyal Saints fans, died before they could see this day come. My younger brother went through a phase in middle school when he wore a Saints-themed shirt every single day for two years straight. My mom even bought him a Saints shirt with a collar, to wear to church each Sunday.

And more generally speaking, the victory is glorious because the City of New Orleans could use some good news. I think this will instill confidence and pride in people; these feelings have been in short supply since September 2005, and even before that. So few good things happen to New Orleans (besides the usual Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest), and to my home state in general. Usually we only make the news for bad things such as hurricanes, the federal government ignoring our suffering, violent crime, government corruption, getting last place on lists of good things (education, literacy, health, etc), and getting first place on lists of bad things (poverty, disease, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, etc). Finally, there’s something we can be proud of, something that symbolizes hope, not sorrow or shame.

My older brother and his wife live in New Orleans. He said the entire city is absolutely elated. He said right after the game ended, everyone in his neighborhood came out into the streets, screaming and cheering. He said neighbors he’d never met before came up and hugged him.

That this has happened during Mardi Gras season makes the victory even more joyous. I really wish I were home right now. This will probably be the best Mardi Gras ever.

Who Dat!

Thinking about the passing of Howard Zinn

Posted in Uncategorized by Kate on February 22, 2010

(Originally posted on January 28th, 2010.)

I feel like we’ve been abandoned, like I look around at the world without him and wonder, ‘Jeez, WTF will we do now?’ It’s as if our moral compass is slowly dying. When all the greats are gone — Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian, Ward Churchill, etc — who and what will we be left with? Will the children of today have such heroes as them, or will our vapid celebrity culture continue to envelop kids’ brains and numb them into submission? Who will urge them to question authority and fight injustice? WTF will we do without people like Howard?

R.I.P. Howard Zinn

Posted in Uncategorized by Kate on February 22, 2010

(Originally posted on January 28, 2010.)

Howard Zinn, labor activist, author, and historian of the people, has passed away. He died of a heart attack Wednesday, January 27th, 2010.

Biography of Howard Zinn from “Democracy Now!” blog:

Howard Zinn, one of the country’s most celebrated historians, died of a heart attack Wednesday in Santa Monica, California. He was 87.

His classic work, A People’s History of the United States, changed the way we look at history in America. First published a quarter of a century ago, the book has sold over a million copies and continues to sell more copies each successive year.

After serving as a shipyard worker and then an Air Force bombardier in World War II, Zinn went on to become a lifelong dissident and peace activist. He went to college under the GI Bill, received his PhD from Columbia. He was active in the civil rights movement and many of the struggles for social justice over the past half-century. He taught at Spelman College, the historically black college for women in Atlanta, was fired for insubordination for standing up for the women. He is now Professor Emeritus at Boston University and was recently honored by Spelman…. See More

Zinn has received the Thomas Merton Award, the Eugene V. Debs Award, the Upton Sinclair Award, and the Lannan Literary Award. He is the author of many books, including the People’s History Series; a seven-volume series on the Radical ’60s; several collections of essays on art, war, politics and history; and the plays Emma and Marx in Soho. In December, The People Speak a documentary based on the live performances of A People’s History of the United States and Voices of a People’s History of the United States premiered on the History Channel.

Howard Zinn on historical omissions of the labor movement in the teaching of American history:

It’s very important for people to learn about the history of labor struggle because otherwise they would think that whatever gains the working people had made (for instance the eight-hour day) they would think that it came from Congress or the president. No. Whatever gains working people have made in this country have come from their own efforts, from their struggles, from their strikes, their boycotts, their facing off the police and the National Guard. It’s a very important lesson for people, because it’s not a lesson just for the labor movement. It’s a lesson for all of us. It tells us that if we are going to achieve any justice in this country, we are not going to get it from the initiative of the government. We are going to get it because citizens organize, get together, and they agitate and they demonstrate.