Underappreciated social service jobs lead to a dehumanization of society

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Oftentimes in society, jokes are made at the expense of another person or group. When this argument is addressed, people’s minds may immediately jump to minorities, but the group that people don’t commonly consider are the people we see every day: our teachers. The joke of the century has become how little educators make, but this concept has become so normalized it has prevented us from finding a proper solution.

Whether you realize it or not, your teachers are the ones who shape your lives. Regardless of whether or not you are loaded with extracurriculars and stay at school, quite literally till after dark, or make a regular appearance at 7th-period support or are simply an extremely involved student during class, throughout the mandatory six-hour school day, you’re bound to develop a strong connection with your teachers. These are the people who have dedicated their lives to educating the youth of America, who have decided to look at a life instead of a high paycheck.

But the scope is wider than we realize. It’s not just teachers.

Think about social workers, first responders and public defenders, those who spend their lives in service to the public, to make our society a better and safer place.

Being public servants is not the only thing these jobs have in common, they are also extremely underappreciated and are considered low-paying jobs. The average annual income needed to maintain a comfortable life here in Ventura County for a two working-parent household is $79,209, which is still the bare minimum and does not include many utilities payments or children.

The average annual salary of a public defender being $59,594, a firefighter $78,156, a police officer $59,653, a teacher $65,284 and social workers, depending on the type of social worker, make an annual salary ranging from $51,600 to $73,970. None of these numbers reach the average annual income needed to sustain a “comfortable” life here in Ventura County.

You are probably all thinking, well, what about doctors? Lawyers? Don’t they contribute to society and make a lot of money? I would say yes they do but in a different way. The difference being how much consumers can afford.

Take lawyers. The difference between lawyers and public defenders is that lawyers can demand their price, while public defenders are court appointed for those who cannot afford legal aid but are protected under the 6th Amendment and still have the right to legal representation, no matter their financial standing.

Without suitable compensation to motivate people to take these jobs, and to no fault of their own, individuals may be overworked and succumb to a burnout, thus hindering the public service and contributions to the community.

Now, obviously these individuals have chosen their current occupations for reasons besides the salary they are paid, but nevertheless, they are not adequately funded which leads the people being raised in our competitive capitalist economy (aka us) to pursue jobs that are more high paying, but ultimately looking out for your number one (that’s you).

Not that there’s anything wrong with this, our economy functions on competition and ambition tends to be rewarded, however, the fact remains that these undervalued jobs are vital and make up the pillars of our society.

As sad as it is, money is crucial to maintaining a comfortable life, however you define that term, especially if you are looking to support and raise a family which leads people to pursue jobs they know will be consistent and high paying.

Lack of value and money may lead to a lack of interest in employment, therefore a shortage of workers. Just last month we saw the effects of this in our very own home. Workers within the Los Angeles Unified School District went on strike demanding smaller class sizes, a pay raise and more teachers. All of which reflect an overworked environment.

Simply put, without balance, the American sense of accomplishment and ambition will lead to complete degradation of our community values and sense of patriotism. In order to combat this and function as an economically stable and educated society, we must reevaluate our priorities and values to ensure the pillars of social service are upheld.

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