Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Kollel Life

Oy. Wolf gives a fantastic response to the following letter, which appears in the Yated, regarding the salaries of wives in Lakewood.
Dear Editor,

I must say that the salaries that women receive in the city where I live - Lakewood, New Jersey - are pitiful. It is a disgrace that they get little more than $10 an hour. I am not sure what the situation is like in other places such as Brooklyn, Monsey and the Five Towns, but in this city, where so many upstanding people are struggling financially, it is simply disgraceful that our wives can't find jobs that pay decently.

Some people now highly regret that their wives, when they were single, didn't get some sort of degree to enable them to get jobs that pay decently. I don't want to get into a whole discussion about whether a girl should or shouldn't get a degree, because that really isn't the point here. The point is that, in a city where the concept of "hashkafaToraso umnaso" can be applied to so many people, the fact that wives can't earn a half-decent salary to keep their families afloat is a serious problem that has not been discussed sufficiently. In most cases, even where the husband is the primary breadwinner, the family needs the mother to earn a decent salary to help cover ever-growing expenses.

In Lakewood, apparently, $10 an hour is supposed to cut it.

$10 an hour is what you give the guy off the street who you hire to clean your backyard.

$10 an hour is what you give Maria, your cleaning lady, for scrubbing your floors.

Because of the large number of young (and not-so-young) married wives who need jobs, storeowners and business owners can - and do - dictate how much they will pay their employees. And let me tell you, they are taking full advantage of the situtation. I know of two companies that are seriously contemplating moving to Lakewood for one reason only - cheap labor.

Not Mexican cheap labor.

The cheap labor of our neshei chayil, who can be hired for "bubkis."

It's a shandeh.

Eli Parkowitz
As Wolf responded, salaries are given based on value. A person with little formal training trying to get a job where numerous other people would be willing and able to get the same job will demand lower pay - period. It is not the responsibility of businesses to pay someone more than they are worth and cost themselves money to support the employee. If a person wants to earn more money, they should get more training, a better degree, both spouses should work, or something along those lines. If a community has established itself with certain characteristics, mainly that there are numerous young women available to work for very little due to lack of education, skills, training, and the like - and they are willing to accept jobs because they either need the money or want to work (get out of the house, etc.), that will result in smart businesses utilizing that situation to their advantage. This is not a shandeh, but reality.