It’s Time for a New Beginning – and a Living Wage

By Patricia Milner

Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month?

We are all under stress right now. “Stress affects everyone. Although we cannot eliminate stress entirely from our lives, we can minimize it by choosing to live in the least toxic environments,” according to Adam McCann, Financial Writer for WalletHub in 2020’s Most and Least Stressed States. Their recent survey listed the coronavirus as the biggest source of stress followed by political climate, mass shootings and healthcare. Curious, I wanted to see where New Mexico placed.

New Mexico rated #3 overall in the U.S.’ most-stressed category, starting with 2 for family-related, 3 for money-related, 11 for work-related, 17 for health- and safety-related, with a total overall score of 52.68 for stress-related factors. Other categories mentioned were #1 in Highest Crime Rate per Capita, #2 in Highest % of Population Living in Poverty, and #3 in Highest Divorce Rates.  Do you see a pattern here? It is obvious that money and stress go hand in hand.

While having ‘enough’ money means different things to different people, it’s the management of money that influences our lives. Will I have enough groceries to last the month? How long can I live on unemployment checks? Money management is a necessary evil in good times and in bad. 

Many of our dedicated healthcare and ‘essential’ workers live paycheck to paycheck. Yes, they care for us and help us during the COVID-19 pandemic. But some don’t have a choice. They can’t afford not to work. Each day it’s either a paycheck and endangering themselves and others or not working and facing its consequences.

Grace Panetta of Business Insider refers to Pope Francis’ Easter Letter: “This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.” He is joined by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and European Central Bank Vice President Luis Guindos, who all believe it’s time for a universal basic income in the face of the global economic crisis.

The New Mexico Democratic Party platform states: “Economically, the party supports a balanced budget made possible by progressive taxation, and promotes fair trade and fair labor practices.”

Representative Deb Haaland (NM First District) told me: “I know what it’s like to be a single mother who struggled to put food on the table, pay rent, and the bills. I believe in fighting for working families and that includes a $15 minimum wage, worker’s rights, and an end to corporate wage theft. Americans deserve a livable wage in today’s world.”

As governments worldwide are struggling to provide for their citizens both in healthcare and daily sustenance, perhaps now would be an ideal time for them to establish a uniform basic income for all. It’s time to stop the stress and start living a healthier, more fulfilling life.  

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Partnership for Women & Families, Gallup-Healthways, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kaiser Family Foundation, The Road Information Program and WalletHub research. Business Insider, April 12, 2020