Josh Elliott Thursday urged state legislators to support a $15 hourly minimum wage.
But he didn’t do so in his role as Hamden state representative. He did so as a small business owner who believes that a higher minimum wage will cost him in the short term, but will boost the economy, and his store, in the long run.
Elliott was one of dozens of people to testify in Hartford on Thursday during a daylong state Labor and Public Employee Committee hearing on three proposed bills that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. The state’s current minimum wage is $10.10 per hour.
Over three hours into the marathon hearing, Elliott approached the microphone to address the committee. He told his legislative colleagues that he was speaking in support of the bills not as a fellow representative and outspoken member of the House Progressive Caucus, but as the owner of the Thyme & Season natural foods markets in Hamden and Shelton.
“I do not think about this in terms of the moral aspect,” said Elliott. “But in terms of the economic aspect.”
Elliott reiterated what many advocates for the minimum wage increase said over the course of the day: that when Connecticut raised its statewide minimum wage to $10.10 in 2017, the minimum wage reached the same inflation-adjusted value it was at in 1968.
More money in the pockets of low-income workers means more money circulating in the state’s economy, Elliott said. His comments called back to testimony earlier in the day made by the Economic Policy Institute’s David Cooper, who said that 70 percent of the American economy is tied to consumption. “If folks don’t have money to spend,” Cooper said Thursday morning, “that’s going to hamper economic growth.”
Elliott admitted that, as the owner of two natural foods markets that employ 45 people each, he does not pay $15 to all of his employees. Starting pay for some of his jobs is $10.50, he said.
“It’s very difficult to be a business owner and to be a progressive in this environment,” he said, “because, to a lot of people, that means being hypocritical.
“To me, I would like to see a change in our system, to see the base wage change for everybody across the board. As a small business owner, we will get hit first, but it will filter up.”
For every year that Connecticut does not increase the minimum wage, he said, that minimum loses 1 to 3 percent of its value due to inflation. He called on the committee members to tie the proposed $15 minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), so that it will be raised automatically along with inflation.
Echoing one of the many concerns raised over the course of the day by skeptics of the proposed minimum wage raise, Watertown State Rep. and committee member Joe Poletta asked Elliott if he will have to raise prices at his stores if the minimum wage goes to $15 per hour.
Yes, Elliott said, some of the cost increase from a higher minimum wage would indeed be passed along to customers. Some of the cost increase he would likely have to take out of his own pocket book as the stores’ owner.
But, he said, because his employees will be making more if the bill passes, then they and all other low-income workers throughout the state who happen by his store will be spending more as well.
“It ends up being a virtuous cycle,” he said. He may take the hit in the short run, but people will spend more and buy more in the long run.
Poletta asked if passing a $15 per hour minimum wage along with other Democrat-backed proposals like highway tolls and increased sales taxes simply means giving more money to low-income people with one hand, and taking it away from them with the other.
“Aren’t we in essence robbing Peter to pay Paul?” he asked.
“We wouldn’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul if we would just pay Paul,” replied New Haven State Rep. and Labor and Public Employees Committee House Chair Robyn Porter.
According to one estimate, she said, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would add over $1 billion per year to the paychecks of the lowest-wage works in the state.
“At the end of the day, businesses will benefit,” she said. “Initially, some small businesses will take a hit. But the working people of this state have been taking a hit for decades. I think it time that we answer the call that we heard at the ballot box in November.”
To allow local traffic authorities to establish lower speed limits on streets under their jurisdiction by holding a public hearing regarding such speed limits and providing notification of such speed limits to the Office of the State Traffic Administration.
To require a percentage of the cars, light duty trucks and buses purchased or leased by the state be zero-emission vehicles or zero-emission buses, establish a Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate Program and fund such program.
Elliott has been called out on Facebook for urging one thing, while paying the legal minimum to his own employees. He doesn’t have to wait for the law to change to do the right thing. After all, leadership should be about not just doing the legal and economically smart thing, but about doing the moral thing as well. That’s why Dr. King advocated for sanitation workers to get a living wage decades ago. His idea of pegging the minimum to the Cost of Living is a plus because we can’t count on business owners to share the wealth and continue to increase wages, even when productivity and profits are up. The top down mentality continues to act as though they are making a gift of their wage payments, but it’s the workers who create the value and the owners who keep the profit. Worker coops are a growing idea for small businesses, especially when an owner wants to retire or sell. We need more democracy in the work place and for workers to share in the profits they create.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 7, 2019 9:56pm
This will be next.
After Winning a $15 Minimum Wage, Fast Food Workers Now Battle Unfair Firings. Francis Gomez, 26, said she was fired without warning from a Taco Bell in Queens after she swore at a delivery driver who was harassing her.Its workers were the first to stage rallies demanding a minimum wage of $15 an hour. Then, they pressed for changes in the way national restaurant chains set their work schedules.Now, they are asking the City Council to shield them from being fired without a valid reason. That protection, the sort of job security that unions usually bargain for, would be a first for a city to provide to workers in a specific industry, labor law experts said.City Councilman Brad Lander said he planned to introduce a bill on Wednesday that would require fast-food businesses to show “just cause” for firing workers and give them a chance to appeal dismissals through arbitration. Mr. Lander, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said he was responding to surveys of fast-food workers indicating that “there’s a substantial percentage of employees that have been fired unfairly.” One woman said she was fired from a Chipotle restaurant for not smiling enough.
“We wouldn’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul if we would just pay Paul,” replied New Haven State Rep. and Labor and Public Employees Committee House Chair Robyn Porter.According to one estimate, she said, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would add over $1 billion per year to the paychecks of the lowest-wage works in the state.“At the end of the day, businesses will benefit,” she said. “Initially, some small businesses will take a hit. But the working people of this state have been taking a hit for decades. I think it time that we answer the call that we heard at the ballot box in November.”
And when slick Ned Lamont tolls and High Taxes come into play.That $15 per hour will be more like $7.00 a hour.
What’s hidden under the $15 minimum wage? Higher taxes.
At the end of the day, the proposed $15 per hour minimum wage is just another tax in a high-tax state.
posted by: missthenighthawks on March 7, 2019 11:50pm
I believe minimum wage workers need a raise but not to $15.
$15 is too much to swallow for businesses and its clients. Take a restaurant that has 10 employees working on average during the week. A $4.50 increase for a 40 hour week for 10 employees is a cost increase of $1800 per week. That’s going to come out of the patrons check. For a small restaurant, for example, one with 50 customers per night, that’s open 6 nights per week, that would add $6 to the bill for each customer ($12 for a couple). So, the restaurant needs more customers to spread the pain, but at those prices they’ll probably get less, not more.
Minimum wage businesses struggle as it is to keep on the lights; don’t make it harder. Remember, if the lights go out, those $15/hour employees dont have a job.
posted by: Russia Exit Crimea on March 8, 2019 12:41am
A few years ago, I saw President Obama give a speech @ CCSU, His point was that if you raise the minimum wage that the workers will end up buying things, And that helps the economy. I feel that $ 15.00/hour is a good rate.
posted by: NHNative on March 8, 2019 8:58am
The crux of the matter is whether a business (or non-profit) can pass through the increased labor cost to the consumer. If it’s a health food store in Hamden like the Elliott’s Thyme and Seasons, then yes, it can probably pass through the costs. But if it’s a marginal business in a less affluent part of the state, say Torrington or Willimantic, then probably no, customers will likely seek an alternative. That company will have to hire fewer employees, reduce benefits, or go out of business.
posted by: jepadilla on March 8, 2019 9:27am
Talk about unintended consequences — has anyone given a second thought to what $15 per hour will mean to low wage workers receiving TANF benefits?? $15 per hour will severely cut if not eliminate benefits worth thousands of dollars to the worker like Care4Kids, Food stamps, etc. For them, $15 per hour might leave them worse off.
posted by: missthenighthawks on March 8, 2019 9:45am
I’m not so sure Thyme & Season can afford it either. He says he has 90 employees. 90 times 40 hours per week, times $4.50 is $16,200 per week. He has to pass that on to his customers, but his customers probably number in the hundreds every day, not the thousands like Stop & Shop and Shoprite. Much easier for them to pass on those costs than Thyme & Season. I’m surprised his employees are only paid at minimum. Figured his employees would be union by now.
2. jepadilla: One of the arguments for raising the minimum wage has been that when employees’ wage are so low that they qualify for government assistance, the employer is, in essence, getting a wage subsidy, aka “corporate welfare”. This argument presumes that the employees are only working at the low wage government programs effectively increase their income: absent the programs, employers would need to pay more to attract workers.
4. Like Elliot and Whole Foods, most employers will either raise prices or cut labor costs, leaving workers with the same purchasing power as they had before.
posted by: Somewhere In New Haven on March 8, 2019 10:31am
@ jepadilla, you make a great point ...... $15 per hour will severely cut if not eliminate benefits worth thousands of dollars to the worker like Care4Kids, Food stamps, etc. For them, $15 per hour might leave them worse off.
My thoughts didn’t factor in the points you made but you’re probably correct. So give us $15/hr., adjust/modify the income levels for these benefits to allow eligibility. Who wouldn’t want to live a comfortable life on someone else shoulder, this is the American Dream, right? To get all that you can get.
posted by: George Polk on March 8, 2019 11:22am
@jepadilla. Good point, Studies say that the livable wage for New Haven needs to be $27 an hour, something many white collar and union workers don’t make. If the government raises the minimum wage would this end all housing, food and health insurance subsidies? How many workers question working extra hours for fear of phasing out of HUSKY? Will the extra money they have in pocket just go to the landlord? We can already see automation encroaching into those jobs and industries that the activists have targeted for low wages. Has anyone else seen or heard the Stop & Shop workers ad’s against the autommatic check-out counters?
posted by: Patricia Kane on March 8, 2019 12:00pm
@missthenighthawks, NHNative & jepadilla: It’s interesting to see so many commentators bemoan the fate of the workers and/ or the cost to the consumer, but no one even hints that maybe owners can get by with reduced profits. Why is that???? Wages have been flat for 50! years and people have either re-mortgaged homes (if they own one) or maxxed out on credit card debt to maintain a decent standard of living. Or they work “gigs” instead of steady jobs with benefits. In that same time, “Eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity” according to a new report published by Oxfam. The workers create the value for the owners, but no one here has yet suggested they should share in the wealth they created. Wage workers can be fired for any or no reason and most lack union representation or protections of any kind. This imbalance in the work place cries out for new approaches. Paying a living wage is just one of them. As for losing government benefits, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read that one. Seriously, someone thinks its better for us all to subsidize low paid workers rather than to have them get fair value for their work? At some point we, as a society, will have to look at a guaranteed annual wage for those people whose jobs went overseas so big corporations could get bigger by using cheap labor and avoiding environmental regulations. Picketty documented the fact that capitalism creates inequality. The only question is: what do we want to do about it? Maybe it’s too many years of watching “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and enjoying the myth of upward mobility, but we cannot tolerate the gross income inequality that exists. CT is #1 in income inequality in the US. Our politicians can only think of piling more burdens on the people (taxes and tolls), while acting as thought the rich were untouchable. Resist!
posted by: Patricia Kane on March 8, 2019 12:30pm
@Threefifths: Lamont’s Tax & Tolls proposals are anti-working class. Tolls will be nothing more than an additional tax and will impact people just trying to visit relatives or go to a museum. The Legislature should increase, not decrease, the Estate Tax which already has a multi-million dollar exclusion on inter-generational wealth transfer. The Legislature should increase the income tax on those earning more than $500,000 a year - something Malloy said he’d veto. The Legislature should decriminalize, regulate and tax marijuana and realize millions in new revenue. The wealthy are more into cocaine, but we can decriminalize that and other drugs on the next round. The Legislature should tax hedge fund income. They won’t even miss it! The Legislature should abolish the Conveyance Tax on the sale of residential real estate. This was supposed to happen when the State Income Tax went into effect. Another broken promise. The Legislature should abolish the exemption for wealthy non-profits with assets of $1,000,000 or more and income of $500,000 or more. Either that or fund PILOT at 100%. The Legislature should institute a policy of NO tax breaks to businesses like Amazon that want government subsidies for super rich corporate expansions.
posted by: wendy1 on March 8, 2019 12:56pm
Read NICKLED AND DIMED by Ehrenreich. Read MAID, THE AMERICAN WAY OF POVERTY, or EVICTED. $15/HR is not enough really. In the 60’s, $10/HR was considered a living wage.
posted by: Patricia Kane on March 8, 2019 1:27pm
PS When I had my law practice with a staff in the 1980s and 90s, $15 an hour was starting wage, with bump up to $20 in a few months. Generous time off policies (no sick leave; just health leave) and cash bonuses were included. I was the last one to get a check when cash flow was tight. This outmoded system where workers are treated as disposable is crushing. We can do better.
posted by: jepadilla on March 8, 2019 1:33pm
Ms. Kane: i think you missunderstand my earlier post regarding benefits. I for one am not indifferent to the plight of low wage workers, having been raised by one myself. And I agree wholeheartedly with your views on income disparities. The issue with $15 per hour for someone on benefits is that adjustments would have to be made in eligibility requirements, and for federal benefits like food stamps, that will be very difficult. People do not want to be on benefits the same way they don’t choose to be poor. People are poor because of choices and circumstances. Sometimes its choices, more often then not, it’s circumstances of which they have no control. I do not have a problem with paying for such benefits as a taxpayer when someone is working 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet and is still struggling. I think that’s an appropriate use of my tax dollars. Especially when rent and childcare can eat up your entire monthly income. And unlike what “Somewhere in New Haven” believes, no one gets to live a comfortable life with food stamps and TANF — you just survive.
posted by: Patricia Kane on March 8, 2019 2:03pm
@jepadilla: my apologies for mis-interpreting your point re: the potential loss of benefits. You are correct in pointing out the somewhat stiff income requirement for eligibility in many programs. All that will have to be addressed. There’s no reason not to update the eligibility levels to something realistic. But our grassroots support is the only thing that will make it happen. It’s cruel that Greenwich multi-millionaire Ne Lamont believes $15 an hour IN A FEW YEARS! s will be adequate. it’s not even adequate now, but so many people have accepted the excesses of the rich and learned to blame the working poor for their distress that even a so-called progressive like Josh Elliott sits on his hands until made, ordered, compelled by the law to do the right thing. We can choose not to shop at Walmart because our taxes subsidize their low wage workers with Food Stamps We can refuse to use the self-check out at the supermarket so a worker will not be replaced with a machine. We can refuse to clean our own tables and let someone have a job so they can work their way thru college. Having grown up in the working class, I’ve watched us devolve from a sharing approach to a selfish one. It’s nice to see some movement to return to sharing.
posted by: missthenighthawks on March 8, 2019 2:34pm
You have to laugh when a lawyer is admonishing everyone on fiscal policy. Think about the person who’s awarded just compensation for a wrong and has to give a third of it away to their lawyer. Talk about a regressive tax.
posted by: 1644 on March 8, 2019 3:55pm
My latest copy of my Shoreline Times newspaper has a huge, prominent advertisement for real estate: in Ocala, Florida. There are multiple large lot homes in the low seven figure ranges. Personally, I know several people who couldn’t afford such homes, but have nonetheless moved south for tax reasons. These folks generally have incomes in the low six figure range. Connecticut is losing population, and, more importantly, losing taxable income and economic activity as folks with resources flee our high-tax, high-cost state.
posted by: westville man on March 9, 2019 11:13am
Yes, missthenighthawks, let’s think about it. Someone gets hurt and hires a lawyer. Pays nothing up front. The case doesn’t settle and the lawyer spends $1,000 for file the lawsuit, etc. 3 years later, the client wants to settle and it’s resolved for $7500. The lawyer gets $2,500 for his/her fee after spending 50 hours or so on filings, motions, depositions, pretrials, etc. excluding paralegal and secretarial time. That’s $50/hr. If the case is lost or the client moves and drops the case, or incarcerated, or simply disapppears the lawyer gets no fee and loses the costs. It happens more than you know..
posted by: missthenighthawks on March 9, 2019 9:39pm
Westville, Lawyers aren’t the only ones who do a lot of work, often for nothing. What contractor out there doesn’t bid dozens of jobs that they never get, often spending days working on the bid. Home builders, road builders, office builders, do it all the time; and when they get jobs its typically with less than 10% margin, which often gets eaten up by unexpected events.
We got way off base from the subject here. The point was that some people need to look in the mirror before they tell others they can do better.
posted by: westville man on March 9, 2019 10:09pm
No, missthenighthawks, you went off subject going out of your way to criticize someone’s point simply because they were an atty. I was merely pointing out your lack of knowledge on it.
posted by: Russia Exit Crimea on March 10, 2019 1:09am
F.I.S.T. This 1978 movie directed by Norman Jewison starred Sylvester Stallone, the writer and star of Rocky, the Best Picture of 1977.Stallone played a Cleveland warehouse worker “Johnny Kovak” who becomes involved in the labor union leadership of the fictional “Federation of Inter-State Truckers.” Uber drivers might consider this method for fairness.
posted by: Perspective on March 11, 2019 8:16am
Interesting comments on how ALL these business owners are ‘rich’ and can afford to pay $15/ hour wages. While this may be true for larger corporations who have “record profits” and executives with extreme salaries, this is simply untrue for small business. The larger corporations will also simply normalize the increased wage across the company or automate processes while the small business may be unable to do so. The argument that increasing the wages will increase business traffic is also a fallacy as the increase in price will drive their customers to cheaper alternatives or do without that service. So if you want to say goodbye to small business go ahead increase the minimum wage. Last point is these small businesses take on MANY risks when they decide to open a business. If they do happen to make a profit and enjoy a lifestyle that others might deem lavish, do they not deserve it? Or are you willing to reimburse them for their losses when the business does not succeed as well
posted by: Patricia Kane on March 11, 2019 11:33am
@Perspective. Your focus is on the small business owner; mine is on the workers. No matter how profitable a business may be, the workers are not entitled to a share of those profits. All a worker has is her/his time, skills, effort to use to make a living. There is no justification - in my mind at least - for not paying people a living wage, whether it is $15 or $27 an hour. For a small business owner to pay less is to have the worker subsidize the business. And why should workers subsidize a business when they have no ownership interest? Having been a small business owner myself, I always paid better than minimum wage and shared the profits in the form of a bonus when we had a good year. We have become used to the idea that people should be grateful for a job, but not that employers should be grateful for good workers. Why should someone with some capital be valued more than someone who puts body and soul on the line, who sometimes ends up with job related disabilities or has to work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet? Where is the real risk? There is no business without the workers. Even automation will require workers to service the robots. We have enshrined greed and the mess we have is the logical outcome of unfettered capitalism. Fortunately we have a generation coming into power that has experienced the false promise of upward mobility and that idea that an education and a job = a good life. Pensions are almost a thing of the past. Student debt is the new reality. The system has to change because income inequality is greater than it was in the Gilded Age of US history.
posted by: westville man on March 11, 2019 11:41am
Perspective & Others- One thing I have noticed that is not mentioned here are the number of business owners who fail to be working on the premises once the business is up and running and profitable. I have seen it in Westville as well as hearing it from others who own, but no longer work at their small business establishment. My point is that there are a lot of small businesses that can afford an uptick in the minimum wage if the owner was more involved in the day-to-day operations. I do realize that this is not true of all small businesses, of which I am one.
posted by: Perspective on March 11, 2019 1:08pm
@Patricia Kane. My focus is that if these businesses fail then both the owner and the worker will suffer. I understand and respect your view on the workers and a business can/should share the wealth (wage increases/bonuses,etc) when business is good but can they in turn lower the wages/increases when business is bad?? Shouldn’t the owner be compensated for the risks they took (taking on enormous debt, more responsibility, exposure to lawsuits,etc) I’m sure you as a previous small business owner can appreciate as well there are very different businesses (size,financials,etc) so perhaps modifying the law to pertain to businesses over a certain number of employees or financial standing is warranted.
“Why should someone with some capital be valued more than someone who puts body and soul on the line, who sometimes ends up with job related disabilities or has to work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet? Where is the real risk?” We have law and regulations protecting workers rights to a safe working environment and the ‘global’ economy and ‘additional’ economic factors in the state of Connecticut and federal government have driven the necessity to work 2-3 jobs to maintain a living wage
” The system has to change because income inequality is greater than it was in the Gilded Age of US history.” Income inequality exceeds the timeline and boundaries of US history and geography
posted by: Patricia Kane on March 11, 2019 3:50pm
@Perspective: Your circular reasoning (getting better paid may make the business go under) means workers should subsidize a business in which they only get the bare minimum. I do give more value to a worker’s skills, bodily health and time on the job than I do to mere capital because a worker’s time to earn a living and acquire some assets is limited. Lose your health, get older or find your skills outmoded (all of which represent a substantial investment of time and resources by the individual, as well as the larger society) and there may be no second chance. Capital is merely a useful item for transactions. A loss is never good, but it is not on a par with a human being. “We have law and regulations protecting workers rights to a safe working environment and the ‘global’ economy and ‘additional’ economic factors in the state of Connecticut and federal government have driven the necessity to work 2-3 jobs to maintain a living wage” Sadly our Worker’s Comp laws are not only too low to compensate workers for their injuries, but generally take too long. Only someone who has never had to file a WC claim thinks this is a protection. As for safety regulations, more coal miners are dying all over the world. Black lung disease is up in the US. Etc. You seem to blame “additional’ factors for driving people to work 2-3 jobs. No. It’s employers like Walmart paying less than a living wage and limiting people to part-time, subject to call to duty on NO particularly schedule, solely at the convenience of the employer - that forces people to work multiple low wage jobs AND get food stamps that we, the taxpayers, subsidize. The Walton Family is composed of billionaires. They choose not to pay a living wage because neither government policy nor public opinion compels them to do better. Our major corporations pay no taxes, just like the current occupant of the White House. Is this the best we can expect?
posted by: Perspective on March 12, 2019 8:06am
@ Patricia- So why stop at a minimum wage? Why not implement a “standard wage” that everyone receives regardless of skill, background, role,etc. and every business is required to split any profits evenly with all the workers, but the losses are only the responsibility of the business owner. smh Lastly (and I do mean lastly) not every business is a large corporation rolling in profits and avoiding paying taxes,etc. .Some are merely hardworking folks who decided to form their own business and are scraping by. (local shops and services) But I see your true resentment when you bring the white house occupant into your argument as well
posted by: Patricia Kane on March 12, 2019 9:56am
@missingthenighthawks: Having been an employer, I know what’s it’s like to run a small business - in fact 2 of them. Slamming me for my opinion based on my profession is illogical.
posted by: Patricia Kane on March 12, 2019 10:00am
@Perspective. The first part of your last comment makes no sense. My quarrel is not with small business - although there’s no reason they should be exempt from paying a living wage. The owner can always do the work instead of hiring anyone. Our focus should be on the mega corporations, like Amazon and Walmart, paying as little as possible while their CEOs become mega billionaires. Paying a living wage is not a gift.
posted by: missthenighthawks on March 12, 2019 11:44am
My point was that you are always slamming people based on generalities. You don’t know Josh Elliotts situation but are happy to slam him for paying minimum wage. On the surface I would agree that his workers should be paid more if he’s going to say everyone should be paying more, but maybe he cant. Maybe his business isn’t as profitable as one would think. Also, all CEO’s are not greedy, cruel people as you would insinuate. Many do share the wealth and many more arent in a position to. Your generalizations are no more illogical than mine. I happen to believe the legal system is a capitalistic system that needs to benefit the clients more than the lawyers. The client gets two-thirds of compensation, while the attorney gets their often generous lifestyle. I don’t see a lot of attorneys living on lower Dixwell. I believe the loser should pay legal costs so the client gets fully compensated. It sounds like you were more generous than others but I’m sure your $20 per hour wasnt close to what you were making even though they worked as hard as you. Thus, my simple statement that some people should look in the mirror before telling everyone else they can do better.
posted by: Patricia Kane on March 12, 2019 12:18pm
@missingnighthawks: you will be disappointed to learn that I not only know Josh Elliott, but have corresponded with him on his advocating $15 an hour minimum wage while paying his own employees less. His business is profitable enough to allow him to spend substantial time in politics. He has choice. As for generalizations, I’ve focused on the egregious actions of multi-nationals and tax escape artists whose names are in the headlines. But the issue remains the need for a living wage and if owners won’t do the right thing on their own, then we can collectively change that decision via legislation. As to your new topic and gripe about the legal profession, the average attorney is not wealthy. There have been studies reporting on the stress levels of the work that can cause depression and dependency on drugs and alcohol to try to cope. It was pointed out to me that people in advertising - who make far more than the average lawyer - never have to worry about grievances. More money, less liability. Which would you choose? It would help to understand your defense of big business and your fantasy as to the average lawyer’s lifestyle more if you revealed what kind of work YOU do or did. There are plenty of things wrong with the legal system, but working in hope of recovering 1/3 of a recovery isn’t one of them. It enables people to get legal services without having to pay up front. So people who can’t afford a lawyer are able to get one. And you have a problem with that?