Thursday, September 6, 2007

Social Welfare 101

Today, Alex and I did a whole lotta shopping at Asda, the UK equivalent of Wal-Mart, which is in fact owned by Wal-Mart. There's one major difference between the two stores: Asda's employees are covered by the government when it comes to healthcare, whereas Wal-Mart employees are not. I've noticed that the Asda employees are generally much more friendly and knowledgable than their American counterparts too - and here in Norwich, the store provides aisle after aisle of organic produce, perhaps because this is what the citizens demand.

Having been in town for about 4 days now, it seems that most jobs in Norwich are paid around minimum wage (5.35 pounds per hour - the equivalent of $10.83 according to current conversion rates). This isn't too shabby for people, and it seems that people working menial jobs are much more content (rather than bitter, uptight, mean, or incompetent) as they tend to be back home. Perhaps this "living wage" actually improves worker productivity.

At the same time, Trade Unions haven't been popular in the UK since Maggie Thatcher killed them back in the day. And having watched construction workers in Philly lay about one brick on average per day on any of Penn's buildings, and having witnessed New York's MTA Strike a couple of years ago, unions make me sick to my stomach. How can token collectors at subway stations make $50,000 per year while police officers, soldiers, journalists, political aides, and so many other noble people make far less? It's a crock. The one exception I make is for teachers - the teachers need a union, or they would make about 4 cents per year and never be appreciated by the masses...

A less serious and more humorous post either tomorrow or the next day: To London Town tomorrow!

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Confused by this:

"How can token collectors at subway stations make $50,000 per year while police officers, soldiers, journalists, political aides, and so many other noble people make far less?"

police officers have a union.
so do journalists.
political aides are federal government employees, and are therefore members of the most influential and successful workers' union in the country. soldiers make less than token collectors? this is news to me.