Last week, thousands and thousands of American fast food employees went on strike because they feel they deserved higher wages. As it turns out, fast food jobs aren’t nearly as glamourous or high-paying as we have all imagined. After a little bit of research, I found that the average employee makes about $14,000 a year with no benefits or vacation days. For those of you who aren’t accountants, that isn’t even enough to buy a single helicopter. While many people are backing the strike, I have seen a staggeringly large number speaking out against it. The general consensus seems to be that they feel they don’t get enough money, so someone else probably shouldn’t either. This is the same sort of logic a selfish child uses when they don’t get their way. If they can’t have that ice cream, toy, or gold chain that they’ve been wanting, they aren’t going to be okay with any other children getting one.
“Only liberals, democrats, socialists, or some fools working in fast food places believe that the reason people open a business is to hire and pay people. Sort of like Cuba. The rest of the world understands working for a living and job skills.” -Mike Clark
While Mike makes a good point on how businesses are not about ensuring the finical wellbeing of their employees, he makes an even better point on how someone can exist as a complete monster without any empathy for his fellow human beings. Mike’s comment, and those like it, received almost entirely positive feedback on the Yahoo and Fox news websites. Other commenters went on to call the strikers fat and lazy, again to bewilderingly positive feedback. While the article he is referencing attempted to illustrate the hardships of being a minimum-wage employee in New York City, people across the nation responded with anger, confused economics, bizarre patriotism, vague racism, and absolutely no solutions.
“The great thing about this country is everyone has the same exact minimal opportunities. Sure, some people are born with more opportunities than others, but we all have the same minimal ones. We can all graduate high school and go to college. We all might not be able to afford it, but you have to roll the dice and take out loans. If you choose to live conservatively you better expect to have to grind everyday and barely make it by.” -Justin Samland
Justin’s strange views on “the great thing about this country” were followed by a quote from Ozzy Osborne to really bring the concept home. For some the solution to all of this country’s problems has always been to make sure their American flag is flown higher and truer than all the rest. It’s as if they are absolutely convinced that their national pride will somehow see them through. Turn your vehicle into a monster truck, paint an eagle wearing a spacesuit on it, and hope that will be enough to ensure a prosperous future for the Unites States. While I am not even going to consider arguing against the many merits of owning a radical monster truck (or having a totally bitching mural painted on it), showing national pride doesn’t actually change anything. A lot of people are proud of their children too but that won’t keep them from growing up and doing despicable things someday. As much as I love this country, I know I have to work to ensure it’s not going to slip into serving a small number of clever individuals with a financial advantage. Sadly, I may be alone in that.
“People should be grateful that places like McDonald’s even have jobs to offer. You should be LOYAL to your employer and unionizing isn’t a right. Unions should be criminalized! They have ruined teachers AND our automotive industry.” -Tina Yarborough
McDonald’s revenue is astronomically high and their net income is in the billions. Earlier this year, they nearly tripled the pay of a recently hired CEO by giving him a package worth roughly thirteen million dollars. So why shouldn’t the base level employees have the right to organize and request more money too? After all, the company has been staggeringly profitable for the better part of a century and they owe much of that to their historically underpaid workforce.
“I’m sorry you’re [sic] paid what your worth but a fast food worker isn’t worth anything, fast food is a want not a need. Taco Bell etc is a starter job or part time job for college students period.” -Paul Stewart
This would be a great argument if it were even remotely true or coherent. Even if it were a starter job, it’s a starter job at one of most profitable companies currently in existence. But a lot of people actually do work in the food services industry as a career or after they’ve lost a much better paying job. In fact, there are fast food employees in other parts of the world already making the wages the striking employes are requesting. Similarly, not everyone goes to college and those that went to college are not guaranteed to be more intelligent. I should know because I went to college and immediately noticed it was full of idiots. Also, saying that non-essential jobs should be paid non-essential wages would leave everyone but farmers and carpenters making next to nothing. Is an advertising executive essential? Do we really need politicians? What about the entertainment or sports industries? Those people can make salaries in the millions. I love a good slam-dunk or action scene just as much as the next fellow, but are they really worth the investment?
The more I read about this, the more it just feels like everyone hates the idea of someone doing better than they are, which makes human nature seem pretty lame. They’re terrified that they won’t be at the top of their little heap anymore. But all that animosity and fear is blinding a lot of people from the real issue. We are living in a time where adults take these jobs in order to get by and simply aren’t earning enough money to survive. Why shouldn’t exploited workers have the right to unionize and negotiate better pay? At what point did we decide to throw in the towel on a better America and just assume that big business knows best or that “cutthroat and shitty” were going to be the new status quo? Our government has bailed out a banking system that severely damaged our economy and credibility by engaging in greedy and willfully illegal practices. When people organized and protested against that reality, it was only a matter of months before it lost all focus and accountability. They were being effective, they were also barred from organizing and arrested for disturbing the peace. Eventually it all fell apart. There were no new banking regulations, no criminal charges brought up against corrupt business leaders, there wasn’t even much of a continued dialogue about what to do next. Just thinking about it makes me sadder than Eddie Murphy’s rap career.
The bottom line is that people do not go on strike, protest, or make a lot of noise unless something is actually wrong. Not making enough money to feed your family is a problem and being insensitive and telling them to shut up because you’re having a rough go of it too isn’t really a solution. I find it tedious to see so much unverified and blatantly phony information posted online and reported on television for us to be scared of. Our obsession with entertainment has reached debilitating levels. Instead of educating ourselves and discussing world issues, we’re watching marathons of fake big breasted women argue about nothing in particular. We willingly give up our rights as citizens because we’ve been convinced of this perpetual danger coming at us from every conceivable angle. If you want my take (and if you’ve read this far you probably do), I believe we should stop accepting all of this nonsense. America is not great because it just is, nothing works like that. We owe it to our country to be smarter, well informed, and more vocal because it deserves better. This fast food wage issue isn’t so much about wanting more money as it is about an entire of group of people being devalued. It is well past time for us to stop being so afraid, angry, and complacent. The people of today should all start striving for more before we are all the mothers and fathers of the next horrendous generation.