Goods & Services

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Mensch1351, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. Mensch1351

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    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.
     
  2. Principessa

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    Chil' please don't get me started. :irked: The same people that bitch about what a lousy job teachers do with their ill-mannered, demon spawn and how educators are overpayed {as if! :angryfire2: } are the same ones who think nothing about paying $75 per hour or more to get their BMWs, Hummers, and Volvos serviced.
     
  3. B_starinvestor

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    I understand your frustration, Mensch.

    What I have found is that it is extremely important to give a quote before performing any type of service.

    Setting expectations on both sides of the business transaction right up front, I believe, will spare you this type of scenario in the future.
     
  4. midlifebear

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    Hmmmm. . . yes . . . and no.

    If you're not a lay clergyman who, besides a degree in theology, also has degrees in sociology/psychology and you minister to a congregation that actively recruited you . . . then OK. You deserve fair reimbursement for your services for overtime beyond a regular 40-hour work week with benefits. But what you receive for funerals and marriages should be taken care of by individual families, depending upon their ability to pay in ratio to how extravagant or modest the affair/ceremony.

    If you're a lay clergyman (especially in the "christian" tradition of southern mega-churches), "you get what you sow." And while you're at it, please stay away from me and my loved ones. Although you may deserve a check for playing the organ (if you're a member of the musicians' local). And I'm dead (no pun intended) serious.

    When my mother, who was a devout mormon died, the local "ward" came over and took care of everything. My father was still alive and let the "wimmin folk" take charge except, of course, when it came time to pick out a casket and cut a check for the services of the local funeral home. He and I did that. Out of respect for my mother I was conveniently absent during the strange burial ritual most mormons have come to expect (a viewing the night before the funeral, another viewing before the memorial services, an often lengthy snooze-fest of a memorial service in the local church or funeral home, then a rushed funeral cortege to the cemetery where the ward bishop -- a lay clergyman -- says a few quick words about "eternal marriage, eternal family, eternal life, blah, blah, blah", after which everyone rushes to the ward house (physical church building) and revels in a delightsome buffet of "funeral potatoes", mystery casseroles, cold cuts, and things made of JELL-O served in the church's recreation center/basketball court. It's never implied that the bishop, or whoever presided over the the memorial service and grave-side goodbye, should receive anything because it is their "calling" as head of the ward to, among other things, marry couples and preside over funerals. Still, I've seen plain white envelopes exchanged at the end of these events. But it's not expected. I did, however, make certain that all of the women from the local ward who worked "funeral buffet patrol" each received a dozen roses thanking them for their time and hard work.

    When my father died I received a phone call from the same mormon bishop asking if I "needed help?" I thanked him and told him "no." My father was not a devout anything, especially mormon, and we had discussed what he wanted done when he died. We discussed it many, many, many times. And I discussed with him what I expected if I took the big dirt nap before him. I went out of my way not to use our 1st cousins who have run the only funeral home in my little ewetaw pueblo since it was founded in 1844. I had his body delivered to the funeral home in the next little pueblo to the west and picked out the exact same casket we'd picked for mom. The funeral director was amused that I'd called him (after all, we have our own in-family morticians) and equally miffed when I told him "no open casket viewing, no extended memorial service, just have X number of chairs arranged for a short graveside service under several tents at the cemetery by 11:00 AM. "Oh, and here's the check."

    Despite the brevity of the affair, I did hire two women who pose as the "stars" of the Ewetaw Opera Company to come by and do an a capella version of "Sous le dôme epais" from Delibes' Lakmé ($300 cash). It turned out rather nice. A beautiful, sunny warm October morning with a stunning unobstructed view of the Lone Peak Wilderness mountains. And a professional "live" performance by a couple of excellent sopranos singing something spectacular and beautiful other than the dour selections from the christian hymnal. But despite my pleasant phone conversation with the local mormon bishop, he showed up in his Levis, cowboy shirt and cowboy boots, ranch gloves stuck in his back pocket and carrying a book of mormon and a bible. The funeral director was a bit confused, because I'd already printed out several hundred post card size-photos of my father with a list of all the names of the pall bearers, who would say what and when, and who would give the final prayer on the back of those memorial cards. After it was announced there would be a moment of silence, the bishop wheedled in and started to do a bit of bible/book of mormon thumping which required me to calmly rise from my chair quietly escort him away. Still, without me knowing about it, the local ward "funeral buffet patrol" had been put on alert by a step-aunt and after the short eulogy and final prayer she jumped up and announced to those in attendance that the usual feed bag would be presented at the local church. Again, I got the names of those nice ladies and sent them each a dozen roses for their "good works." But when the local bishop came by my father's house several days later hinting that maybe I'd like to donate "a little something in cash" to the ward. I flatly said, "No."

    In the realm of what is loosely recognized as my personal belief system, what christians, Muslims, or Jews would try to pin down as a church or temple, it is considered a sacred duty and honor to care for the poor, the sick, and oversee the rites of the dead. The idea of money in exchange for services is considered obscene. Marriage rituals are simple affairs that include the whole religious community -- or not -- and regarded as a time for joy, relaxation, and celebration. The spiritual leaders in my religious community are recognized by most Western and many Eastern traditions as theological professionals. They have dedicated a great deal of the lives to formal religious studies and achieved various levels of spiritual peace and insight. Many of them have Western degrees in science, social sciences, and formal Western theology. By no definition are they lay clergy and they rarely lack the material needs to enjoy life and continue to teach, minister, and care for us as individuals or as a community. And when someone unfamiliar with our beliefs insults us with a check or envelope of cash, we kindly suggest they donate that money to a deserving charity. We never suggest which charity.

    To summarize, it depends upon what sort of belief system you've got your self mixed up with. If you regard your skills and services as "a herder of sheep" worth X-number of grickles, then by all means send the living family members of the person for whom you performed the memorial service an invoice. No one blinks twice when checking over the services and options offered by legally registered representatives of The State of Nevada when picking what kind of Vegas Wedding Chapel service they want. If that's how things roll in your religion, by all means let the current experience slide and work up a price list so people seeking your services in the future don't stiff you.
     
    #4 midlifebear, Apr 3, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2009
  5. midlifebear

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    Dear njqt: If I give you $75 will you service my hummer?

    (I joke . .it's a joke, OK? A lame joke! But I couldn't help myself :wink:)
     
  6. houtx48

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    get a hummer or give a hummer?
     
  7. midlifebear

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    hummmmmmmm. . . I'll get back to you on that?:biggrin1:
     
  8. Mensch1351

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    WOW -- that's some experience YOU"VE had --- and as I've sorted through it, I'll go back to your first paragraphs. I left the ministry in 2000 and became Activity Director at this facility in 2002. While I DID serve "under contract" one of our denomination's churches for 3 years after I resigned, in 2005 the Bishop decided NOT to renew my contract and I went to my boss and offered my services to the Protestants in our building since almost EVERY Protestant Pastor who came to do monthly services for our residents called me and said it wasn't worth their time to come for only 2 or 3 people showing up. (We Protestants are a VERY fractured community!) The FIRST thing my boss said was "Well, you know the company isn't going to pay for this!" BTWay -- I only offered my services because I had just lost $12,000 in income from this part time church position and my job as Activity Director didn't really pay me enough to have a life (I think at the time I made around $24K per year gross). I responded to her remark "I don't EXPECT the company to pay me for this -- we'll take up a collection and see what happens." I am an ordained clergyman from a mainline denomination (the same one as my boss in fact!) and I have a Masters in Divinity Degree earned after 4 years of college and 4 years of Seminary!
    I told the people who attended that 1st service 4 years ago this past February --- "I wish I could tell you that I'm doing this just out of the kindness of my heart AND my sense of call as a servant of God, but I'm NOT a rich man and it was either get a 2nd part-time job to make ends meet or hold these "generic" Protestant services and throw myself on the mercy of your generosity." Now please understand...........I consider it a great tribute that these people (our average age is 87) not only see me as their Activity Director, but also as their spiritual advisor. And in the 4 years since I started this, my boss has asked me to visit people in hospitals who have had strokes/heart attacks and are near death -- minister to their families, speak with families in crises etc. In fact -- when compassion is required for dealing with families in crises, I get called on. And when the BOSS calls on me to do this -- I my "upset" is that the company recognizes NONE of this service I perform AS Activity Director!! And this is TOTALLY TOTALLY out of the field of 99% of Activity Directors in buildings such as ours.............they don't have the skills! Most Activity Directors are women who have Associates Degrees in an Activity Director's skill program, their good with old people, and have kind hearts. I have always believed this company is indeed very fortunate to HAVE someone of my skill level to BE in this position because frankly I'm severely "under" employed. Now when it comes to performing these types of "services" related to my Pastoral skills, we Protestants have always had to rely on the generosity of our people...............and members of congregations ARE charged for their services of their employed ministers as they are asked to contribute from their incomes TO the church -- and the church then pays the Pastor! Roman Catholic Priests don't have to live in the "real" world because once they are ordained (and for as long as they remain in the priesthood) they are taken care of until their death: Free housing; free food; free car; free retirement, etc. We Protestants buy houses; have families; pay for college educations, etc. and the larger the church, the greater the income proportionate to the giving! In fact, in most instances where you are paid a "full" salary, it is FORBIDDEN for you to "moonlight" at another job as long as you're serving a church. Minimum salary requirements are established and churches are expected to pay decent incomes to their clergy. I NEVER asked my members for anything for Weddings and Funerals etc. but accepted their generosity if they were so inclined!

    In the situation I'm in NOW, my income does NOT come from the church, but from the company. And while I am MORE than willing to offer my skills for whatever is normally expected from any OTHER Activity Director serving in my capacity ------- it IS my expectation that when I perform "other" duties NOT in my job description, that I receive some sort of remuneration for this. I suppose MANY people feel that their bosses "use" them beyond what might be reasonable in fulfilling their duties, but how FAR this goes sometimes strains on me. My previous boss wanted me to do "marketing" to churches for example. For 6 months he bugged the hell out of me and when I finally said, "I would be glad to, but I've been waiting for you to tell me how much your willing to PAY for me to do this." His response, "You're paid your regular hourly rate!!!!!" I responded back, "So tell me how many OTHER Executive Directors in this town are asking their Activity Directors to do marketing to churches." And he gave in!! BTWay -- he was also using the maintenance director to do contracting work and paid him NOTHING extra for that as well so I knew he was a "user."

    Secondly -- while I play the organ by ear and don't belong to a musicians union ----------- I've been playing since I was 8 and I'm very good at it. One woman from our building requested that I play 2 songs at her funeral and her daughter gave me $150 just for that. The COMPANY meanwhile pays me NOTHING extra for providing this........it's part of my extra skill level -- although my boss at times has specifically requested that I play the organ when some of our entertainers don't show up or have called in sick. I'm a "last minute" convenient substitute. Don't get me wrong -- my boss is a very generous woman in many ways..............but when I do this kind of thing over and over and over and over again and it becomes expected rather than seen as an "extra" I start getting a little miffed. In her words to me, "Aw come on -- you know you do this out of the goodness of your heart." Gee -- wish my mechanic would fix my car for that price!! Anyway ------ I think the upshot from this experience from now on is going to be a set fee for my services for funerals and I'll continue doing the extra company stuff gratis because I get a LOT of positive feedback from our residents..........................

    however..........In a goods and services world it just really grates on me when those of us who DO provide a service that has no "price scale" are asked to "test our motivation" for remuneration. Wouldn't I LOVE to stay in a 5 Star hotel and when it comes to pay the bill have the concierge tell me "Oh just give us whatever you think it was worth!!"
     
  9. Principessa

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    I charge more than that for a hummer; but for you I would make an exception. :wink:

    I get the joke dear :biggrin1:
     
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