The other day someone asked me about a little rant I wrote last year during the Fast Food strikes and it dealt with my feelings toward people who are against raising the minimum wage because they don’t want fast food workers making as much money as they do. Reading over it again, that piece works a lot better in the context of two other things I wrote, and together the three of them sum up how I feel hearing about the strikes and the lack of widespread support.
You think you’re better than the cashier at McDonald’s.
Why should the single mother with a GED taking your money at McDonald’s make $15 an hour? She didn’t go to college. She didn’t pay her dues at internships. She doesn’t have a mountain of student debt as her reward for getting a magical piece of paper that opens doors to a job interview. Why should she get paid as much money as you do?
That’s the hurdle the minimum wage battle is facing.
Corporate America has got us all shaming poor people.
The generation before us could buy a nice house, two cars, and raise three kids on a high school education. They could get a job as a bank teller or a store manager or machine operator, make a really decent living, and participate in the American dream. That’s over.
We have to stop fighting each other and start fighting the structures of capitalism and greed that put us here. The cashier at Wal-Mart today made the same decisions and had the same opportunities as the store clerk of 50 years ago, but that guy was able to make a living and raise a family while today’s cashier has to wait in line for government assistance. We didn’t change. That job didn’t change. Their education levels didn’t change. Corporate greed did.
The American Dream is not real.
The inherent flaw with The American Dream in a capitalist economy is the fact that not everyone can be successful and not everyone can be rich. Somebody has to make minimum wage sweeping the floor. I’m not sure if Republicans are too dumb to realize that, or if they do realize but feign ignorance to paint themselves as hard workers who deserved every penny they made. Every successful person seems to think they did it all themselves, with no luck involved in the midst of just the right set of circumstances. They conveniently ignore all of the other people who worked just as hard yet failed to get anywhere.
That’s my problem with looking down on poor people.
None of us will ever be paid more until the ones on the bottom rungs are finally given a living wage. If that means that you with your degree and Billy ringing up orders at Wendy’s make the same amount of money for a few years, so be it. Putting their strike in terms of your paycheck is basically saying they don’t deserve a living wage because YOU aren’t living in luxury and that’s selfish. We need to work together to take down greed at the very top, not fight against each other to make sure we’re doing better than the next guy. American capitalism is the rich convincing the middle class that they’re doing so much better than the poor, and that’s the only way to keep us distracted from seeing how wealthy the rich really are. This isn’t about uneducated or untrained workers making as much as you are. They deserve a living wage regardless of the corporate greed that saddles you with pennies for a paycheck against the enormous wealth of our CEOs.