I'm starting this thread just to make a point -- but your comments are always welcome. I'm certainly NOT an economist, but I do understand that our economy and individual financial well being is based on both supply and demand and goods and services. For many years, I was a Pastor.........and many people got pretty upset when budget time would come around and the discussion would turn to "Pastor's salary." I was always confused by this because although I know it's more difficult to place a price tag on a "service" than it is on "goods" -- I still felt that the effort and expertise I brought to my position deserved a good wage. It appears however though that part of the real problem that currently exists in our economic PERSPECTIVE is that "services" seem to be held in a much lesser valuation than "goods." Now some may argue that professional services demand a higher wage than "other" services (like housekeeping or waitress) -- but I wonder. Maybe it's just the "Mileu" of church based services. I NOW work for a Senior Citizens Retirement community. This is NOT a nursing home, but independent living. Last night I performed a Memorial Service for one of our residents and was wondering whether or not I would recieve an "honorarium" for my services. BTWay -- I not ONLY hosted the service but played all the hymns as well (as I play the organ). When I talked to my boss this morning I asked her if the family had mentioned anything about an "honorarium" and she said, "Oh yes -- I suggested $100." $100 bucks for my expertise AND organ playing when I pay out $100+ for entertainers to come into our building and entertain our residents for one hour. (Total prep time for this kind of a Memorial services is about 4 hours considering the time spent with the families, writing the eulogy, preparing the service folder, etc.) To say I was a little "miffed" would be an understatement. You see -- if I were a plumber and performed a "service" based on goods and charged $300 ------- people would simply grumble about the bill and pay it. They wouldn't argue about it, etc. And we just paid "Serve-pro" over $7,000 to come in and clean up after a minor fire we had. I have firmly believed for a while that a service based economy somehow is considered "cheaper" than a goods based economy. I can pay $2,000 bucks for an HD TV, but then turn around and pay my housekeeper $7.00 an hour for doing my laundry, cleaning up the shit in my toilet and all the dust, etc. And people don't find any disparity in that. Same way with the AIG and other "upper" echelon management who make MILLIONS (and then of course deny that they knew anything about the terrible condition of the company when it's in trouble!" (Let alone expect a bonus when it tanks!!!!) TV personalities (like Ray Romano being paid $1.8 million PER Episode) when a friend of mine who had a Masters degree in Education told me she figured out it would take her 122 years to make in teaching what Ray Romano makes in ONE episode of his show. And people think there's Nothing wrong with that. What gives? I used to have people spend $2,500 for a wedding dress, $1,200 on flowers, $700 for a band, $1,500 for a hall for a reception, $3,000 for food and drink at the reception. And then would have a fit when I said I expected $250 for my services "IN PERFORMING THE CEREMONY!!!!" And they didn't see the disparity in their thinking!! Anyway --- I am hoping that our economic crisis is going to "wake up" people into understanding that the reason WHY unions were formed is because "management" forgot that the very people who produce what the company sells should be every bit as much VALUED as the people at the top who make the decisions, etc. I wonder what our 6 figure management people in my current health care industry would DO if suddenly the $7.35 an hour housekeepers we have decided they were worth MORE to clean up the vomit, blood and crap that these Senior Citizens produce on a weekly basis. WHERE would the company be if the people on the FRONT lines of services performed felt that they too deserved a decent living wage for what they do?? Would our 6 figure people come down and clean toilets???? Maybe they SHOULD do that for a few weeks to just see that these people need to be paid a better wage. Mind you -- I'm not AGAINST a free market, HOWEVER, the breaking point gets reached when the disparity between those paid at the "top" and those paid at the "bottom" reaches such outrageous proportions so as to make it almost ludicrous to believe they all work for the same company!! Is it THAT hard to imagine walking a mile in a person's shoes who has no health care, a lousey wage, and who barely struggles from paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. Are those at the top in business so "out of touch" that they really have NO CLUE that you cannot raise PRICES without raising WAGES. Just who believed that those millions making minimum wage ------ minimum wage --- would be able to afford $180,000 homes??????? And how many at minimum wage putting into social security is it going to take to make up for ONE baby boomer taking "out" of it?" Hell yes I think the wealthy should pay more taxes ---- their lifestyle and needs aren't going to suffer ONE BIT for whatever it is the government can do in, for example, extending the unemployment benefits! Anyway --- enough venting...................as I used to say to my church members, "When was the last time you got an invoice from the church?" Services rendered should be every bit as much valued as whatever "goods" we can produce. You don't think so? Well -- how much is it worth to YOU to have someone come in an give you words of comfort and hope and peace and caring when your 28 year old son's heart bursts and he's laying dead in your easy chair? Put a price tag on THAT!! Or the value of a teacher who takes a slow learner and finally after months and months of hard work helps a child learn to read! ETC, ETC. ETC.