Breaking The Chains of Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage

There are generally two types of Mexicans living in Cancun; those who speak English and work in the Hotel Zone, and those who do not and live in city proper on the mainland. The ones who can’t speak English and have no education are generally in the service industry are working the low-end of the totem pole, making around 4,000 to 5,000 pesos per month on average. If you have an 80 to 85 percent grasp of the English language, however, you can earn double that in the Hotel Zone working as a concierge or waiting tables, not to mention tips.

Out of the two types of Mexicans who live here, they can further be separated into those who have been living here as part of the pioneer families who first came here 40 years ago and thus have homes which are paid for and handed down from the parents/grandparents, or the Mexican migrant workers who come here from places like Veracruz and Chiapas and Tabasco to find work and are thus renting accommodations.

For someone growing up in the middle of the jungle of Chiapas, for example, there aren’t a lot of opportunities aside from farming and agriculture to make money, so if a person wants to save up to buy a home or a car or provide for their families, many of them will migrate here to Cancun to find work. There are more than a few brothers and sisters who have come to Cancun as a group and stay on for three to five years, saving up their money before returning home, as well as husbands who come here and work seasonal jobs and send the money back home.

The staff are subject to one of the downsides of Mexico; lack of labor laws and a low minimum wage, which is around 60 pesos per day. An example of the different labor laws here is that once workers reach the one year mark working for an employer they are eligible for a type of unemployment should they be terminated beyond that point, so what many employers will do is hire their employees on as temporary workers and then make sure their contracts end before the one year is up.

Many workers will thus work in Cancun for eight or nine months out of the year on a temporary contract, then return home to their families for a few weeks or a few months out of the year before repeating the cycle. Cris’ sister, for example, has gone through three contracts in two years. Each time she takes time off between the contracts and goes and visits family, takes a vacation, then comes back and finds a new contract.

It’s no different than what is happening in the United States right now, with employers across the board cutting working hours of employees to  25 or less per week, in order to avoid being forced to pay the healthcare tax…which in turn becomes the responsibility of the individual, and if they can’t pay, they can be put in jail for tax evasion. So not only have U.S. workers seen their wages drop over the past decade to abysmal lows, essentially reducing a first world country to third world living conditions, but now their working hours are cut in half and the burden of a brand new tax has arrived. One that you can go to jail for if you don’t pay. Minimum wage slaves who are indebted to their slave masters from the moment they are born. Social security number in hand, they are born and bred right into a system of debt.

But despite the fact that the wage here is very low, Mexicans are an extremely frugal people. They live together with room-mates, for the most part, or family members. They save their shopping for discount days which, for the majority of supermarkets, is Tuesday or Wednesday. Known as dia del Mercado, or day of the market,  (sometimes dia de verduras, or day of the vegetables) this is when you can find 50% or more discounts on fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, places such as Farmacia Familiares have 15% discounts every Monday, while many restaurants have specific days set aside for 2×1 discounts on combo meals, with many movie theaters having Tuesdays or Wednesday nights as 2×1 movie ticket night.

It’s all about the myth of net worth and net revenue. Before my brother passed, back in the fall of 2011, we were discussing how his cost of living in Chicago was over $4,000 per month. I’ve mentioned this in the past, in other blog posts. I have numerous Mexican friends who are in the 6,000 to 10,000 pesos a month bracket; basically $500 to $800ish a month in USD in terms of income. They would never be able to afford a life in Chicago, not on their income. But they live frugally. And most of them are putting the vast majority of their money in the savings…because they don’t have debt.

When you remove that $$2,000 to $4,000 per month cost of living (the averages for singles/couples; families are far more in many cases), what you uncover is a world of absolute freedom. A world where someone making what most Americans would scoff at is in fact putting away more money in their savings every month than the average person in the U.S., especially when you take into consideration local prices and the exchange rates. In essence…most Mexicans have more net worth and more net value than the average American. But very few people take the time to understand this reality.

Thankfully, the rise of global Internet has allowed the “typical” and the “traditional” way of doing things to begin fading into the past. People are becoming more educated and realizing that when they can make money in other countries, they can enjoy lives that are beyond what are average and ordinary. There are numerous job opportunities in the online arena, which allows them to not only make more money, but also completely bypass the Mexican employment system with its low minimum wages and questionable labor practices and reliance on credit that it has adopted from the U.S.

The English language had about two decades of a head start on everyone else in regards to the Internet and online enterprises, but as more and more countries around the world catch up in the online arenas such as website development, SEO management and article marketing, more and more online opportunities are springing up…in Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Hindu, German, French and beyond. The online marketplace has been saturated with English-language content and now it is the other languages which are emerging in the online revolution.

While jobs might be scarce in the English-speaking sector for web development, writing, website design, editing and SEO jobs, the Spanish language market (for example) is booming as South American markets are emerging at a breakneck rate. Businesses and websites in the Spanish language are valued and targeted towards the Spanish-speaking people of the world, allowing the perfect opportunity for Mexicans (along with all the other Spanish speaking countries) to rise above the standards of living most of them have been trapped in for the past few decades and catch up with the West in terms of an online presence.

A person working in a service job, for example, might make 150 to 200 (13 to 16 dollars, roughly) pesos per day if they are lucky, if they aren’t working for minimum wage. Taxi drivers make between 200 and 400 pesos per day, after expenses, on a good day. If a Mexican speaks English and can get a job in the Hotel Zone at one of the resorts, they can make upwards of 500 pesos (40 dollars) per day with an 85% grasp of English. These are traditional jobs for Mexicans working in Cancun.

But working in the online arena they can pick up a freelance job at a place like Fiverr and make $15 to $20 an hour on the low end, without any experience. Or they can pick up translation contracts for website content or write for Spanish-language content mills and start out at around $15 and $20 an hour as well. Suddenly the person who was washing dishes making 12 dollars a day can literally make more money in an hour than they did in a 10 hour shift previously.

Or in the case of those who go on to learn how to become SEO specialists, website developers, freelance writers, graphic designers and digital entrepreneurs working in the online arena in the Spanish language market, the wages are similar to what other veteran freelancers and online entrepreneurs have been making in the English language for years.

And it’s not just Spanish-speaking work they can find. Websites such as Fiverr and ODesk and Elance and beyond have opened the door to global freelance pools where people can find work in a wide variety of languages and where you are based at has nothing to do with your ability to perform the job. Beyond that, social media has allowed for anyone, anywhere, the ability to build a blog, start a Facebook and Google+ page, and create their own realities through the power of freedom of information, finding clients on a global basis, without ever once relying on slave wages. 

This is the power of globalization, and as more and more job opportunities transition out of the English-only market and into the other languages of the world, more and more people from various countries around the world will be able to find online jobs in their native tongue.

Mexico is just one example of a country which is making that change. The entire world is changing as you read this, and more and more people are finding out that they don’t have to rely on the antiquated notion of “minimum wages” or state dependency. Instead, social media and the power of the Internet is allowing people to create their own realities, their own wages, with their own clients and friends from around the planet.

Locality is no longer a barrier. Neither is language, as translation programs only continue to get better and better, ranging from text-based to the voice-based applications you find on the current smartphones. Degrees that you had to pay $150,000 and four years of your life to earn just five years ago are now offered completely for free on the ‘net. Anyone, anywhere, has access to the same level of information, free and without barriers.

With that freedom has come change. The proof is in the fact that brick and mortar businesses are failing around the world. Newspapers are folding left and right, in all languages, all around the planet. Everyone is online, in the digital realm, living and breathing stardust and fiber-optic dreams. And with that digital transformation has come the evolution of the species, beyond the antiquated reliance on a system of 40 hour work weeks, 15 minute breaks, 30 minute lunches, and only 2 weeks of paid vacation per year at the federal minimum wage…beyond the need to stay down on your knees and keep your nose to the grindstone.

The people have awoken. We are living in the digital era. Reliance on a broken system is a thing of the past. The most successful people in the modern era are those who have a global outlook, a global vision, and a global connection of business partners, friends and allies. Those of us working in the online arena, using passive income and social media to find clients, customers and working relationships around the world, we aren’t suffering from the so-called “global” crisis. There is so much work to be had on a global scale…you just have to think outside the box, within the digital realm, where there are limitless opportunities for those willing to invest the time in learning multiple languages and going global.

Waiting on handouts and federal aid is a loser’s game. Just ask the millions of unemployed in the United States and United Kingdom who have been waiting for 3, 4 and 5 years for jobs that just don’t exist anymore. You are placing your fate in the hands of someone who isn’t interested in your actual health, wellness, happiness or financial success. You are a tiny ant in the great cog of the machine, one of hundreds of millions of wage slaves with nothing more than a tax code associated with your identity, prey to the feeding frenzy of credit, banks, rising costs of living, job redundancy and genuine third-world living conditions in first world countries. 

Because the issues with minimum wage aren’t specific to Mexico. The U.K. and U.S. are two of the worse-off countries in the world ; just take a look at the homeless families living in tent cities and bed and breakfasts, unable to find work for years, still sending in job applications and “hoping” that one day the system will fix itself, that their resume will once again become valid, that they will go back to making the same wages as before the “global crisis”. Or ask the law students in Boston who are working for less than minimum wage jobs. Not only are they begging for the opportunity to be violated on a daily basis, they are actually happy to be doing so!

In the words of George Carlin, governments don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. That’s against their interests. Instead, they want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and and do the paperwork without ever questioning anything. People who are dumb enough to accept their “fate” and passively sit there continuing to grind out their days with the ball and chain wrapped around their leg. People who succumb to the lies of “federal minimum wage” and reliance upon a system whose only best interests lie in keeping the people locked in their cages, slaves to the system.

No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, what your background is or what language you speak, global Internet, freedom of information and social media have allowed for infinite possibilities. All you have to do is make the conscious decision to unplug from The Matrix, create your own reality with digital media, and you will find that the entire world is ripe with opportunities that are just waiting for you to take advantage of. Beyond the lies of minimum wage and state-issued mandates that attempt to define your value as a member of society.

We are The Universe experiencing itself in human form. We are so much more than mere numbers on a page, so much more than cogs on a wheel. Every one of us has the power to change the world…it’s just a matter of breaking the chains that are holding you down in the murk and the muck and lies of minimum wages and control.


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About T.W. Anderson

T.W. Anderson is the founder of the Marginal Boundaries brand. He is the writer, editor, videographer, photographer, and social media guru alongside Cristina Barrios, the other half of the brand. In his spare time, he is the creative director of the Saga of Lucimia, a forthcoming MMORPG from Stormhaven Studios, LLC.

2 Comments

  • Thanks for the comment Manuel (and the conversations while you were down here in Cancun!)

    Coming from the Philippines as you do, you’ve had first-hand experience at how digital jobs have been able to change the lives of the people you know.

    The Internet is a powerful tool in the hands of those with the will to wield it.

  • Manuel says:

    Tim,

    Thanks for this timely blog post. I hope people will have the courage and perseverance to listen up and work on what you’re espousing here at Marginal Boundaries. Becoming a virtual worker has been around for so many years and I personally knew that if you are a minimum wage earner in countries like the Philippines and Mexico, you’ll be better off promoting yourself as a freelance virtual worker. I know a lot of Filipinos who are living a middle class life in the Philippines, thanks to freelancing.

    You are right in saying that opportunities are getting scarcer in the US for its citizen, one of my relatives being a victim. That’s why before anything like what happened to the US happen in Canada, we are already looking overseas for other opportunities. Being prepared will keep the ball rolling for those who are forward looking.

    All the best,

    Manuel

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