Originally published at DidYouCheckFirst.
Seems that too few of us stop to realize that people – you know, human beings – who do some of the most essential jobs to life itself – harvesting our food, placing it on shelves in stores, or preparing and serving it to us in restaurants – are some of the lowest paid people in our society.
Even fewer of us seem to care enough to know the facts and to support and vote for progressive politicians who want to force corporations to share more of their earnings through living wage legislation.
How Immoral Are We?
Let’s start with a basic fact. It’s not like any of us can live very long without food. The people who make sure we have it deserve better.
And for those who would disregard or ignore the supply chain of food and, instead, want to make the argument that dining out is a luxury and not a necessity, I would ask them this question. Doesn’t dining out as a luxury mean that the service has great value? After all, every restaurant worker in every job position does a job we don’t have to do, and they do it all so that we can enjoy the “luxury” of one of the things essential to life. Eating.
Why, then, would anyone in a civil society be in support of policies, politicians, ideologies, and legislation that serves only to treat the people who feed us with so little regard and with so little dignity that their wages don’t even “rise” to the level of poverty even when they work at these jobs full-time?
That strikes me as treating them like servants; a class of people who can only exist in an immoral society which values money over people.
We’re the Problem (Well…Some of Us More than Others)
No matter how nice we are to our next waiter or waitress (and I hope we all go out of our way to be friendly and appreciative to these people serving us); no matter how big a tip we may leave (assuming that we’re not eating fast food, of course, because society has deemed them not worthy of a tip); and, so long as any of us support and vote for politicians who oppose raising the minimum wage to a living wage, we need to understand this fact.
Some of us are at the root of the problem that is this stagnate economy and the imbalance in its recovery more than others.
Wall Street has recovered. Main Street has not.
Here’s the problem as I see it.
2/3 of eligible voters didn’t vote in 2014. In this writer’s opinion, even greater blame rests with those Americans who allow themselves to be duped by the likes of ALEC and the Republican Party into voting against themselves and their own economic self-interests.
Look at the maps below. See any correlation?
While there are tons of factors at work in an economy as complex as ours, what I see are red states, especially in the Deep South, voting against themselves, their fellow citizens, and against their own economic self-interests.
Some Companies Get It; Others “Get” Something Else
Companies like The Gap, Costco, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s get it. They seem to be doing ok and even quite well despite – and probably because! – they voluntarily pay entry-level workers between $10.00 and $13.29 an hour.
Other companies – the ones with REAL money and influence, and who have duped conservative America into being against federally mandated living wages – get it, too. What they “get” is far different and far more threatening to us and a society that relies on a strong, thriving, and growing middle class.
Make no mistake about it. The largest and richest companies in the world – Walmart, Yum Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC), McDonald’s and others – are the ones who employ the most minimum wage workers. They are going to do everything possible to suppress wages.
You have to be willing to understand and acknowledge that their money-trumps-people business creed means that they are going to use their Big Money to buy politicians who will kowtow to them.
Make no mistake about this fact, either. It is thanks to the Republican-appointed conservative activists on the Supreme Court that our campaign financing and electoral processes are in such shambles that Big Money can now literally take over our system of government.
Liberals did not do that. Conservatives did.
And, dear reader, that is how Big Money has been allowed to play the game and play some of us for fools. It won’t change until we change our attitudes and our behaviors.
The Questions Opponents Can’t Answer
So, the next time you hear a politician – or a friend or family member or social media connection – complain about “big government,” or the burden of a minimum wage, or how we need “less regulation” and more “free markets”, understand this: You are listening to either a spokesperson for Big Money (the politician), or someone who has been duped into believing them.
Perhaps the best way to handle that situation would be to ask them a question or two. Maybe something like….
What does it say about our morals and our ethics as a society when the people who feed us are treated this way?
Does it not diminish their humanity and our own when we vote for politicians who want to pay people – PEOPLE, not workers, PEOPLE – wages that don’t even get them to the level of poverty in America?
They feed us, and still some of us vote against them……and ourselves.
How is that even possible? The answer as I see it is the corruption that is Big Money.
What Can Be Done?
First, educate yourself on the facts.
There’s no excuse in the 21st century not to be able to distinguish between reality and agenda. If you’re still getting your information from the likes of Fox News, The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, Breitbart, The Drudge Report, The Wall Street Journal, AM talk radio (is that even still a thing?), or any other right-wing organization or media outlet, you are nothing more than advertising fodder who is being played for a fool.
By the way, the so-called “liberal media” of TV, radio, and newspapers isn’t much better. Witness the recent fall of Brian Williams. At least NBC is investigating. When can we expect Fox to do the same with Hannity or O’Reilly?
Second, don’t stay silent.
Share your concerns – both economic and ethical – with friends, relatives, acquaintances, and social media connections. I believe that little by little we can have a positive influence on society and make America truly a country in which ideals like fairness, equality, and economic prosperity are within reach for everyone.
Third, give your support.
Support means whatever you can do. Whether it’s your time or your money or both, there are lots of tireless volunteers working their asses off for organizations that deserve our help. They are the ones doing something about getting money out of politics and to making America better for all of us. A few of my favorites are listed below.