Monday Ranting: Pay Inequality and the Lies We Tell Ourselves

Someone's singing a little tune all the way to the bank...it definitely isn't the workers!

Someone’s singing a little tune all the way to the bank…it definitely isn’t the workers!

{Editors note – I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and never posted, forgive me.} Over the past week my newsfeed flooded with stories about striking McDonalds’ workers. Under normal circumstances fast food would not be a topic of my daily actual factuals. Not because I refuse to dabble in ratchet foodstuffs but mostly because its not all that engaging. Well things changed last Friday when McDonalds’ workers from all over the nation took to the picket lines for higher wages and the right to unionize. I do loves me a 1960’s-esque struggle. I won’t begin to dive into the fine deets of the situation, that’s what CNN and MSNBC are here for however, what I will say, the workers have a supporter over here. Not because I frequent their establishments enough to dent the bottom-line but because more than anything I support paying people livable wages.

Before you label me a socialist and report me to your local GOP candidate, let’s be clear no one would be harmed by paying fast food workers a wage that allows them to wait for it…LIVE. All I see from paying folks more money are benefits but I’ll wait for you to explain how allowing a group the ability to take care of their homes makes for a bad decision. Please do not bring up that McDonalds will somehow have to make up that financial deficit by increasing the costs of their products. Why, so they can continue to have billion dollar bottom lines? Why is padding the already hefty pockets of folks who can afford to go without pay for the rest of their natural lives more important than the hundreds of thousands who’d be served by paying people their worth? I’m concerned and confused. With a bottom line in the billions I’m not crying crocodile tears for the head honchos of the Golden Arches. Isn’t one private jet more than enough? I could be wrong. I’m not here for people who have the most stepping on the necks of the people with the least.

Part of the problem with the conversation is the way we demonize poverty. It’s dirty. It stinks. It’s nasty. It’s what happens to those kinds of people. It lives on the other side of town in subway stations and under bridges. But that isn’t the only face. Many if not most of the folks living on the edge resemble you and me. Thinking of poverty as a life space someone deserves for bad decisions as if our own lives exist in perfection is beyond hypocritical. To err is human and hashish. The folks who don’t end up on skid row on the edge of existence are the ones with built in safety nets. Everyone isn’t as fortunate. Trust and believe someone working at McDonalds for 40hrs a week is the living poor. And being the living poor doesn’t make a person subhuman.

Beyond the demonization society devalues folk based on their lot in life. Society operates as judge and jury valuing an individual based on generalized caricatures of what it means to be poor. So to be poor means you’re lazy. To be poor means you desire less. To be poor means you don’t try to succeed which is the very opposite of what Americans consider worthy. But in actuality being an American entitles you regardless of your station to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property happiness. There are no disclaimers. The fine print doesn’t read unless you’re poor. Qualifying as poor in no way negates your right to a dignified life, a life that any reasonable person could live without overwhelming financial worry.

While the poverty guidelines indicate that a single person clocking $15,080 (gross earnings for a minimum wage job) per year sits just above the poverty line, $11,490, I find it hard to believe a single person in any metropolitan city would be able to survive without assistance. Poverty guidelines only take into account the cost of food not what it truly takes to survive. The last time I checked shelter was a necessity. And herein lays the creation of lifetime welfare recipients. I’m not sure how one survives sans shelter and let’s not talk about education. Welfare is no longer provided to individuals who choose to get an education; instead we felt it best to strip this part of the program to promote getting a job you know Welfare to Work. What jobs outside of minimum wage positions hire uneducated workers? Goldman Sachs ain’t in these streets offering front end offices to high school grads. We constructed the system we loathe so much. Coincidence…I think not!

If we want folks off the government’s teat we must provide a system that allows them to stop lactating. Refusing to pay livable wages not only promotes lifetime membership in the club we call poverty but also stifles a generation of children to even lower prospects. Poverty begets poverty. And please don’t lecture me about the exceptions. There will always be someone who escapes this travesty. However much like creating any business process we build for the 80% not the 20. Hell if 50% of the people living in poverty have children who remain impoverished clearly the system is broken. It remains broken when we refuse to compensate folks at a level that allows for life.

I’m in no way advocating rewarding folks who aren’t working hard. But who am I to assume my office life is any harder than scrubbing a floor, flipping burgers for the ever -demanding consumer, or cleaning public restrooms. In some circles the latter are all harder work than my cushy office away from the elements and far removed from the public. Difference, people respect what I do. They think more of me because I walk into a room with an air of white-collar professionalism and bullyshyt business cards. Not that I haven’t worked extremely hard to afford the life space in which I play but to assume it is harder than someone else’s life stinks of pure and utter ignorance and ignorance is bad for everyone’s complexion.

Yeah so basically there's no way out...

Yeah so basically there’s no way out…

But what says you Lovelies, livable wages with a system that provides programs promoting financial independence or the status quo? Speak on it in the comments and as always to share is to care and hashish.

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