This morning, I found yet another news story about fast-food workers striking for better pay. Like clockwork, the comments section of the story was filled with self-righteous hot air about how fast food workers are all lazy people who deserve what they get.
Well, excuse me! I didn't realize that working a menial job makes a person lazy. I worked in fast food while I was in college. Does that make me lazy, too, or was I lazy only during the time I worked there?
I look forward to the day that all menial jobs can be automated (assuming we can provide for those workers who are displaced), but this is the reality in the meantime.
Conservatives like to say that being a conservative requires analysis of relevant facts while liberalism can be embraced on the basis of emotion alone. In that case, please take a moment to reconsider your position. I can't say whether or not fast food workers should be paid fifteen dollars per hour, but I can say that they certainly don't deserve the judgmental scorn heaped upon them.
Conservatives rant and rave about “takers”, people who sign up for public assistance with no intention of ever becoming productive citizens; they say that such people should be required to work for what they receive. As far as I can see, this argument has merit, but fast food workers, who are the object of so much scorn, are, after all, workers! As a matter of fact, many of them work two or more jobs simultaneously! Fast wood workers who use public assistance do so because they don't earn enough money. Many of them also have an important thing in common with high-earners: they have families to support.
Some argue that public assistance to low-earning workers is like a subsidy to the companies that employ them; that the government is simply paying a part of the workers' salaries that the companies do not. Others say that this argument is bunk; they suggest that these companies would not pay a cent more were the public assistance to disappear. Whether or not that is true is pure speculation.
To me, what is wrong is how some people are so fond of hurling insults at low-earning workers, suggesting that they aren't trying hard enough. We all should know a thing or two about what it's like to try to earn a good living in today's US economy. There are many Americans who have earned four-year college degrees, yet cannot secure employment beyond McDonalds. I believe we should know better than to insult people who are barely getting by.
Furthermore, mocking Bob, who works a McDonalds, or Rachael, who works at Wal-Mart, takes the heat off of the people who are truly deserving of our scorn.
Would you like to know who deserves your mockery and derision?
I'll start with Tom Donahue, CEO of the US Chamber of Horrors Commerce. Tom Donahue has been relentlessly pushing for there to be an amnesty for all illegal aliens (or undocumented workers, if you prefer) in the US. This would make jobs even more scarce for American workers and keep wages low. I believe that if he had his way, all American workers would be low-earning workers (except his friends, or course).
Next on the list is Mark Zuckerburg, CEO and founder of FaceBook, and also one of the world's youngest billionaires. Mark Zuckerburg has created a political action committee called “FWD.US”. One of the chief aims of his organization is to secure passage of legislation allowing an unlimited number of H1-B visas. He claims that there is a terrible shortage of qualified American technology workers. This is a lie; he simply wants American technology workers to face unlimited competition from foreign workers who will work for much lower wages (even though this is supposed to be illegal).
Lest you think that this is about Demopublicans being right and Republicrats being wrong, allow me to point of that our last two US Presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, both pushed for such policies under the guise of “immigration reform”. In case you haven't noticed, they always call it “reform” when they advocate something that hurts Americans.
Here's another one for you: Eric Cantor, the recent US House Majority Leader. Eric Cantor recently lost a primary election to an economics professor and resigned from Congress. He was a big advocate of this “immigration reform”, which many analysts suggest was a major factor in his defeat in the election. Don't cry any tears for Eric, though. He recently accepted a job as Vice Chairman of investment bank Moelis & Company for an annual salary of $3,400,000. Perhaps the company could have saved money by hiring an H1-B visa holder to do that job had only “immigration reform” passed.
Next time you see a picture of a McDonald's worker striking for better pay, I suggest that you take a moment to imagine yourself in his shoes. Think of the undignified work he does for so little money. Think of the shame he likely feels for being dependent on public assistance to care for his family. Think of how hopeless he likely feels about his future. Then, think of the real bullies who would gleefully separate Americans from their livelihood; they want you working for minimum wage, too.