American Workers Deserve A Pay Raise

Those opposed to raising the minimum wage should try living on it.

Those opposed to raising the minimum wage should try living on it.

Recently, President Obama proclaimed economic inequality to be “the defining challenge of our time” which coincided nicely with demonstrations by fast-food workers in over 100 cities demanding a raise in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.00 but  Republicans have consistently opposed any such increase.

The American worker has been outsourced, offshored, downsized, screwed over and kicked around as being lazy ingrates. A $2.75 raise for minimum wage workers wouldn’t put a stinking gallon of gas in the tank of the Mercedes-Benz E-class crew of defenders of downward economic mobility who bitch and moan that even a modest increase will kneecap the work ethic.

Corporations have done their damnedest to kill incentive, abandoned any pretense of loyalty to their work force, and exercise ruthless fealty to the Great God Profit while demanding more and more concessions from their workers and control over their lives. All the while expecting a “positive attitude” to being repeatedly screwed over and shat upon.

We exalt the entrepreneur and flip the bird to the worker.   Conservatives howl paying more in minimum wages takes money from the businesses to give to people who should be more motivated than to go out and make more than $7.25 an hour.  This is circular logic at its worse.  If everyone is making $20+ an hour, who is going to flip those burgers, wait those tables and wash those dishes?

We’re not loving it.

It costs McDonald’s about 70 cents to make a Big Mac and then they turn around and sell it for $3 bucks. It costs Mickey D’s more to sell salads than burgers which is why it always makes those commercials where young, hip, multiracial and slim people are happily chomping into a Big Mac.

McDonald’s global sales in the third quarter of 2013 rose to $1.52 billion. The only punishment the uber-wealthy and multinational corporations are suffering are possible backsprain from having to lug all those money bags around.

The only people against a raise in the minimum wage are those not making minimum wages. Here’s a quick four-question test that asks Could YOU Survive on Fast-Food Wages?

The American worker needs a pay raise and people working in the fast food factories definitely need it most. My daughter came home from college this summer and worked at a Mickey D’s. She got cursed out, called names (including the N-word) and threatened. She gritted her teeth and toughed it out, but she hated the experience. Working in fast food sucks and I do not understand why this is an issue.

minimum-wage-

Personal stories of success and failure are just that–personal. They can serve as object lessons, but they should not be taken as representative for the group . Somebody pulls themselves up by the bootstraps and is now pulling down six figures? Great! Good for you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, but that is your good fortune and your happy stroke of luck is yours and no one else’s.

Anyone who believes working a waitress, a cashier, or parking cars requires no skill has never tried to get the food and drink orders straight for a table of ten, toiled on their feet at a Wal-Mart checking out a line full of unhappy, unruly shoppers and their tired, cranky, howling kids or successfully navigated a luxury BMW into a narrow space between two massive SUV’s and still left enough clearance to open the door without scratching the finish.

Everybody enjoys dumping on the lowly wage slave until they need their coffee cup refilled.  Try asking a single mother trying to afford rent, childcare, food, transportation, utilities, clothing and medicine on a lousy $7.25 an hour what difference an extra $2.75 might make.

Telling other people they haven’t worked hard enough and they haven’t taken advantage of their opportunities sounds too much like Horny Herman Cain’s “if you’re not rich, blame yourself” line.

Giving a little more to the working people doesn’t mean taking a lot more from the wealthy people. Oh, and by the way? Not every waiter and waitress or day care worker or even the greeter at Wal-Mart aspires to go to college or start a Fortune 500 company and should not be looked down upon as being lazy and lacking ambition because of it.

It flies in the face of the rugged individualism hype to concede most successful people get that way with some help along the way, but sorry folks. It’s a fact, and as mad as conservatives were when the president said it, all he did was expand upon a thought previously expressed by Elizabeth Warren during her Senate run.

The Shero the Left's been looking for?

Sen. Warren is a class warrior. A working class warrior.

I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Word.  We’re all in this together.  Don’t believe the greedy and the selfish who claim they got theirs all by themselves and nobody helped them get it.  Giving a little more to those toiling for the minimum wage isn’t about to stop anyone in the top one percent from having a very Merry Christmas.

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3 responses

  1. Personally, I think the minimum wage in high-cost areas like the east and west coast should be at least $15.00. That’s 30K a year, and living on that in SoCal is a challenge at best. It’s easy to look down upon minimum wage workers when you’re in your 30’s, 40’s or 50’s and making a comfortable living (maybe even a spouse’s income added to it), but hey, got news for ya – that comfy job could go away at any second, and NO ONE is safe. People like to think they are. I hear it every day. “I have seniority”, or “no one else does what I do”, etc. etc. ad nauseum, but it CAN (and does) happen to you. Try getting a job paying what you were making before in this job market. Reality is going to rise up and bitch slap you.

    I’ve been there more times than I like to recall, and feel EXTREMELY lucky to have a good paying job right now, but I know that could change at any time. I loved the show “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery, before they canceled it in favor of more rednecks and hillbillies digging for gold, selling duck calls, or making moonshine. Anywho, Mike Rowe lauded those blue collar workers who got their hands dirty and were happy doing an honest day’s work. There are hundreds of blue-collar jobs out there, but we have become a culture of “you have to have a college degree or you’re NOTHING!” We look down on hard work; work where you get grungy and sweaty, but who’s gonna fix the plumbing or the electricity, weld the steel, build the houses, the roads and the other bits of crumbling infrastructure if every young person believes they HAVE to get a degree so they can wear a nice clean shirt and sit behind a desk? I read on http://www.MikeRoweWorks.com where Caterpillar has hundreds of (good paying!) jobs they are having a hard time filling. There are 3 MILLION of these types of jobs available, but very few have the skills to fill them. Trade school enrollment is down. What happens when all the skilled tradespeople retire and there is no one to replace them? This country needs to readjust its thinking about telling kids to take on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to go to college only to have them wind up in a low-paying job that has nothing to do with that degree they sacrificed so much for.

    I’m lucky to have any job at all. If things had been different when I was young, I would have LOVED to get a skilled labor job. I could see a younger me in a welding helmet. ;) But I’m too old and creaky to do any of that now.

  2. “The only people against a raise in the minimum wage are those not making minimum wages. Here’s a quick four-question test that asks Could YOU Survive on Fast-Food Wages?”

    That says it all my brother.

    The problem on how and why this doesn’t get a real push is because these News Networks depend on Wal Mart, Target, any fast food spot, Hotel name as well as chain and local restaurants to pay the bills so they’re not going to have this conversation last longer than a politician will allow it to be. As soon as Obama turns his attention to something else so to will the media who will be happy to do so because speaking for a higher wage is a conflict of interest. Something needs to change and should have been handles years ago.

  3. The only reason that corporations can get away with paying minimum wages is that there are so many people out there looking for work. If you’re unhappy with the wage or they’re unhappy with the way your face looks, no problem, we can replace you at a whim. But unemployment is not something that just happened. Unemployment was engineered by corporations and their buddies in government to give them cheap labor and make it easy for them to fire and hire. So next time a whole load of jobs are offshored to China, big corporations are double happy. One, they get the work done for less, two, there’s going to be more job seekers back home so no need to worry about plenty of people to choose from.

    But people are not commodities. It is totally sick to think people are a commodity you can use and replace just like writing paper. Politicians, even liberal ones, are hollering about how the middle class is going down the drain. But folks, get a grip. It’s the working class that is well and truly in the mire. Without a working class then can be no middle class. This is not a trickle-down society as these folks believe. It’s a trickle up society. If a tree is sick in its roots, soon the whole tree is sick. This tree is sick and it’s been sick since living memory. Please, time to start caring for the roots. Time to strat realizing the working class are humans too.

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