Saturday, April 09, 2005

Why pay a fare wage if the government will do it for you?

Blogger lost my entry...grrrrrrr. I wrote a nice and eloquent (as far as I know) entry about Key West's monopolist and tourism magnate Ed Swift. The owner of the Conch Tour Train and longtime "partner" to the City of Key West has taken up the cause of affordable housing in the most ironic manner. On the one hand, he is clearly pointing out that the sky-high real estate prices have squeezed out the workforce and created an impending crisis, not to mention torn the community apart. Yet, on the other hand, his help-wanted ads for Train Conductors offer a $10 hour salary. By my estimation, each train seats at least 30, and costs $22 per adult. I figure each train grosses over $600 for the 90 minute ride. And the conductor, the local worker who's boss is so concerned about, makes $15 for the 1.5 hours.
Housing is unaffordable for two reasons. One is the high prices. The other is the low wage. Ed Swift's cry for government action on affordable housing is an attempt to disguise his contribution to the problem.
Like this post? Let us know:


Aibe's Ghost said...

Before my demise I used to work for Old Town Trolley as a driver/guide. You forgot the extra $ 60 to $ 120 in cash a day tourguides make in gratuities above their hourly pay.

Cayo Dave said...

aibes's ghost: so let's say you made $120 in tips everyday, plus you made $13 and hour. That adds up to $224 an 8-hour workday (before any taxes). If you worked a 5 day week, and worked every week of the year, you would earn $58,240 before taxes. Affordable housing is computed as payments equaling no more than 30% of one's income. In this example, this works out to a rent/mortgage payment of $1344 a month. With the average home selling for over 1/2 million dollars in Key West, ownership is impossible for this employee of Ed Swift. The best the worker can hope for is to live in an affordable housing project - and these are scarce.
Also keep in mind, that I'm sure that many of the days didn't amount to $120 in tips, and so even a rental apartment may be out of their reach. My main point is that although I applaud Ed Swift's efforts to create affordable housing, I do not believe that he is paying his employees enough and instead transfering the problem onto government, and in the meanwhile gaining huge concessions from the city for the effort. If he really cares about his employees affording to live here, he should pay them a salary that allows them to afford the local housing.