eatsoylentgreen (eatsoylentgreen) wrote,

Yes, fast food workers, you are worth $15 per hour

I'm writing this in response to an article posted by a dear friend:

and written by Matt Walsh, who in other articles tries to ship a black rapper to Nigeria, calling them less than sentient. And calls Obama voters stupid. You get the idea.

In this article he basically says that fast food workers don't deserve wages higher than construction workers, police officers, or more than he made in his earlier jobs.

He misses a lot of points though. Foremost is the fact that if a large number of fast food jobs got a wage increase, a lot of other jobs would have to increase their wages too.

Me, for instance, I make less than $15. Would I leave my job to work fast food at $3 more per hour? Probably not, but enough people would, that it would put upward pressure on my own wage (and on the "basic clerical wage" which is around $12 per hour). I'd probably end up making more, but perhaps less than $15 per hour.

And I'm actually ok with that, as my job is cushy, and fast food workers stand all shift, get hot and greasy, and get treated poorly by the customers.

$15 per hour is possible, it's already happening in Norway's McDonald's. And they are still in business. I met a guy who moved from Chicago to Norway, and he did complain that it was expensive to eat out. People do eat out less often. A restaurant doesn't have too many extra employees, but that's certainly not a problem in a country that has Little Caesar's hiring people to wave signs at the road side. They're paying humans to act as signs!

But you have to contrast this idea of less people eating out, with the fact that this wage boost would mainly help the poorer half of the population, and those people eat a lot of Big Macs. Net result, whenever minimum wages have risen, the economic realities are... not much. Sometimes the businesses do better, as did an owner of a Washington State hotel chain. ( )

There, Ostrander complained that he would be forced to do some firing if the minimum wage rose, instead, his business expanded a lot.

This is mainly because the 1% is notorious for not spending. (They don't eat many Big Macs, and if you gave an extra million to a millionaire, they might stay at that hotel once or twice, and put $900,000 in the bank, but if you gave a thousand each to a thousand people, you'd get many people staying at that hotel, and maybe $200,000 ending up in the bank.)

When you take these economic arguments (that aren't actually true) out of this article, you have opinions left, that fast food workers should be paid less than EMTs, policemen, dental hygenists, and the like, because they are intrinsically worth less than more "professional" people (no one would argue that a hygenist works harder than a fast food worker, it must be that the hygenist as a person is worth more, because they are smarter or more trained or what have you).

Now the idea that fast food workers aren't worth $15 an hour, it's just an opinion, and it's based on how our culture views fast food and fast food workers. It's just a notion of our culture, just like the ideas we once had that black people are similar to monkeys, or that gay people don't need to marry.

Another question Walsh asks is, why study for a job that would pay less than fast food? The answer is, simply because you want to... many people study things that don't lead to jobs at all. Or because they love the study, or the job, and the money isn't very relevant.

But in the back of the writer's brain, and in all of our brains, is the idea that we all spent a lot of time earning less than 15 dollars an hour, it's only right that these people do as well.

I have worked service jobs, and have worked better jobs too. And me, like Matt Walsh, got my job because the things I say and do are palatable to the wealthier half of the population. In other words, I present myself well. Professionally. I have good manners.

A lot of my pleasant exterior, though, has nothing to do with my choices. I'm cute. I'm not very old. I'm white, I'm a man. My parents loved to read and so I have a huge vocabulary and a variety of interests. It's pretty easy for me to get hired in a lot of places. What about people who don't have my advantages, who can't have my advantages?

My value is based on how much my boss has decided I am worth, and every person's salary is decided in the same way. A CEO makes his millions based on the fact that the board likes his pleasant but striving demeanor. Quite often, intelligence or training is not even required.

What about the people who aren't as suave as me? $8 per hour, working part time, forever?

The idea that I have worked bad jobs in the past, for no money, and therefore others should do the same, is like adults who were beaten as children, turning around and beating their children too.

And there's an even worse level to this. Fast food has a lot of black people working in it. Saying that the fast food system doesn't need improving is basically saying that the typical black woman doesn't deserve a raise. Which doesn't make you a racist, but makes you smiling and helping a racist system to continue. There's no sense in putting $20 in a church offering if you're paying $20 to a fast food company to keep poor people down.

Martin Luther King fought against segregated buses and dinner counters. We don't now have segregated buses or dinner counters, but we have many places with an all-white clientele (with a couple wealthy black faces) and lots of places where the poor go, and the rest sniff at. If we are serious about continuing his legacy, we have to consider making the life of the typical black worker a whole lot better than it currently is. 15 dollars an hour is a good way to start.
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