Not Lovin' It: Fast Food Workers Strike
August 29 was supposed to be a day of rage for fast food employees, who make minumum wage with minimal options for advancement. They should take their rage to the polls
By Arthur Christopher Schaper | August 31, 2013
On August 29, a day of fast-food rage flooded (or rather, dripped like slow, dirty cooking oil) onto American streets. These workers were not happy, in spite of all the Happy Meals that they are selling Why were all the "How may I help you?" employees in a bad mood, unwilling to take any orders? They were protesting how much they are making. Most of these employees are barely getting buy on $7.25 an hour (in California, it's $8.00), about $15,000 a year.
Driving their point through to the masses, they want to make at least $15 an hour. To make their case to the country, and to every hamburger-loving patron, these fast-food workers have organized their frustrations, and out of thirty-five cities, these unhappy, Happy-Meal dealers are staging their protests.
One worker whined to a local television reporter:
"People have no idea what I have to do. I have to work long hours. I have to deal with rude customers."
Entry-level jobs are that -- entry level. No one is doomed to stay there, if they choose. That young lady had been working at the job for ten years, and yet she never went anywhere in her life.
Individuals with more reason, self-respect, and no self-pity would respond:
"It's called a job, not a career. It's called opportunity, not difficulty."
Like many younger workers in this generation, a mentality of "Where's mine?" and "Gimme" has become common place. Then again, other societal forces have made hard-working Americans work harder without seeing a generous return on their labor.
Where do the individual flaws originate?
The self-esteem cult of the 1980's and 1990's in our public schools created an unhappy crew of people who are giving out Happy Meals today. Their frustration with their current station has moved them to demand more, to go on strike, to claim that Ronald McDonald is taking them out, and not in a good way.
Let's discuss this in a seven-course meal fashion.
What good will it do to raise the minimum wage? Not much, and definitely less than anything that you can buy on the one dollar at McDonald's or Burger King.
Forcing businesses to pay more for their entry level workers will have consequences, none of which you can take out of the plastic bag and collect:
1. Businesses who have to pay more for entry level workers end up showing more workers the exit, as in unemployment. Free Market economist and Newsweek columnist Milton Friedman began one piece with: "The federal government has just passed a law that will raise unemployment." How? By raising the minimum wage.
2. Businesses who have to raise their minimum wage end up raising their prices. Now consumers are hurting. Imagine having to pay ten dollars for that Big Mac. Not so big, now, is it? And forget about the dollar menu. With inflation of salaries comes inflation of the prices of goods and services.
3. The same businesses forced to pay more of the entry level, the more workers there will be who do not learn the basic skills to thrive in a different line of work. Small business owners often complain that they cannot find workers who know how to do basic things, like clean a toilet or wash down a lunch room.
While fast food employers are fasting from their silence and marching on the streets for more pay, they ought to spend some time reading economics (if they can), or revisit their voting patterns over the past four years, for the current conditions are not merely the fault of entitlement, underworked, overly-demanding employees.
President George W. Bush signed into the law a federal minimum wage increase in 2007, a concession to the Democratic majorities of 2006 which reduced him to falling back into his more liberal ways and relying heavily on his veto power. He helped increase unemployment, despite clamoring from economists left and right.
Then came 2007, housing crises, massive recessions, and Big Bank, Big Business, Big Government Bailouts. CEOs do not strike for higher wages. They called Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (then Tim Geithner) for a multi-billion dollar help line. More fiat money from the Fed, more debt on this country, less wealth for everyone, (plus the inflation of college tuition and deflation of learning) and now everyone is making Big Macs instead of living large in a real career.
Let's not forget President Obama's hand in this fast-food fiasco. From the 2009 stimulus, to the Auto Bailouts, to ObamaCare, Obama super-sized Big Government. His insurance mandates (and higher taxes) have forced businesses to cut hours, lay off workers, and push working poor to resort to food stamps to get by (and buy little).
Fast food employees cry: "I can't live on this salary." They have a point, but raising salaries is not enough. With President Obama's high taxes, increasing food prices, and jobless recovery recovering very few, fast food employees are fed up. Instead of taking to the streets, they should take to the polls, demand free market reforms, and then they can say "I'm lovin' it!" about their options.
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