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Fast Food Workers and the Slow Death of Hard Work
By Tommy Batboy
“I deserve a living wage.” D. Merritt, a 24-year-old fast food worker.
I about spit coffee up on my computer when I read that quote in an article on Yahoo! explaining that fast food workers were going on strike to “demand” better pay, to the tune of a 108% pay increase over the Federal minimum wage.
I couldn’t help thinking: Deserve? Why?
Please explain to me what is owed to D. Merritt. What is owed to anyone because your parents completed the most basic biological function and procreated? Why are you owed a “living wage” here in the United States, or anywhere, and who owes it to you—the person(s) who gave you employment? Is it the American people who are sharing a society with you? Is it the government because you happen to be born inside this country’s border?
The answer: none of the above. You owe it to yourself to seek an opportunity and to work hard to achieve something in life. It’s not the other way around.
There is this increasing fallacy in our beloved land that the “life, liberty, happiness” section of the Declaration of Independence entitles us to something as Americans—it doesn’t.
All we have been granted under that writing is the notion that we can breathe the air in the United States of America’s territorial borders; attempt to make our way through this land as we see fit inside the confines of her laws, and that our government won’t unduly restrict our abilities to do so. Argue the last point if you must, but it muddies the water to the tragedy that some segments of our society are becoming.
Tell me, why does anyone deserve a 108% increase in their pay, for doing the same job, the same way, one day to the next? Your sense of worth and notion of entitlement doesn’t mean I need to see it the same way. You need to—to borrow an Unapologetically American phrase—Earn It.
The concept of working for something ties nicely into the second theme that seems to be pervading this latest movement of so called social justice.
“It’s not fair that the top managers of [fast food] businesses make enough to put their kids through prestigious colleges, buy houses, and live well, and I am on food stamps and need public health care,” S. Roberts of Oakland, California as told to the San Francisco Chronicle.
What the hell does fair matter? Life isn’t fair, lady. It never has been and it never will be.
Personally, I don’t think it’s fair that my teacher friends in the state of North Carolina (where I live), who had to earn a bachelor’s degree to get their job only make $31,200 a year. It’s not
fair that to make more than $31,200 they must get another degree or work more than eight years in the public school system.
Nor is it fair that my friends saving lives as EMS technicians and nurses with anywhere from 2-4 years of school in the state of North Carolina make just under or just over $31,000 a year to start. It sure as hell isn’t “fair” that everyone in our military system E-5 or below with less than four years are risking lives for less than that overseas—the same with most local starting salaries for law enforcement in North Carolina.
Fair has nothing to do with it.
Fair is the bullshit notion that people made up a long time ago to whine about something they didn’t like in the vain hope that if they cried about it long enough, someone or something might change the circumstance. Fair has nothing to do with right or wrong, justice or unjust, good or evil; it is simply an individual measuring stick that people hold up like a red card when they don’t like something. The dirty little secret about “fair” is while the 1st amendment gives you the rights to tell me you think something is “unfair,” it also gives me the right to tell you stick it up your ass.
Yet, in remarks published in the USA Today on Labor Day Thomas Perez, Secretary of Labor, said “The rungs between the ladder of opportunity for so many people are feeling further and further apart, and it’s our job to bring those closer and closer together.”
No Sir, it is not. Your job is to ensure that companies are not breaking the law by hiring children. Your job is to ensure that workers are treated with dignity and respect, and accorded the basic human rights outlined by our Founding Fathers and the laws of the United States. Your job is to make sure that America has a growing and vibrant workforce. It is not your job as a member of the executive branch to decide that we all need to be more equal to one another. You are the referee enforcing the rules, not the creator of the game we’re all playing.
It is the job of the individual to figure out what is special about them, what skill or skills they have that sets them apart from others and how to market those skills to earn a living. It is your job to make sure that there is nothing illegal to prevent them from doing so.