Making a difference in voting booth

On the surface, a U.S. Census report Wednesday that household incomes rising for a third straight year should be good news.

It was reported that the typical household, adjusted for inflation, rose 1.8 percent, from $60,309 in 2016 to $61,372. However, that is still below the 1999 level of $62,000. There are a number of variables that play out here, such as part-timers converting to full-time status.

Also, the household income average is being boosted by rising incomes for the rich. While more people are rising above the poverty level, there are still nearly 40 million Americans who remain poor by the Census Bureau’s count.

And it’s just not private sector workers affected by trickle-down economics. Government agencies are struggling to provide competitive salaries to employees. On Tuesday, the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners debated over a labor/wage market study that was conducted.

“Is there any way we can do anything to move this forward to look at the market survey?” Commission Chairman Ron Antony asked. “We’re experiencing a lot of turnover.”

Sheriff Bill Flaten said his department was experiencing a high turnover of 9-1-1 operators because of the discrepancy in wages.

“They can get $15 per hour flipping burgers,” Flaten said.

“We’re almost 17 percent below average at starting level,” YMC Administrator Peg Heglund said. “We haven’t kept up with market or with job descriptions.”

In Lyon County, the Lynd Public School District board met later that evening. Teachers and parents protested during public comments the fact teachers have now been working 437 days without a contract.

Teacher Martin Boucek reminded the board that teacher salaries and compensation packages in the Lynd School District are third from the bottom in the entire state and one of the worst in the country.

“It’s absolutely below average and absolutely does not provide any dignity for us as teachers, who have gone to college and gotten degrees — and some of us, advance degrees — and are not even compensated for that,” Boucek said.

These two agencies paint an unsettling economic picture. Americans across the nation are seeking help and looking up to our politicians to come up with some answers.

The midterm elections are just a few months away. If you are not yet registered to vote — register now. And don’t forget to vote. The last presidential election has proven your vote does matter. And we just can’t blame the president and Congress for all the problems. Important decisions are made at the state level, county level and in our cities. Political offices need to be filled at all levels.

Make your voice heard and vote.