Laboring Under Delusions

« September 2013 »

Memo to America's employers: MANY OF YOU ARE DUMB.

Happy Labor Day, everyone! A day intended to celebrate the American worker, by which we mean not the boss and not the manager. The other 364 days a year are Management Day.

Of course, these days, most of our laborers spend Labor Day making sure you can buy discounted TVs, sale mattresses, and get a 99 cent cheeseburger or five dollar footlong while you're out. And if that's all that's happening to them, they're lucky. Because it's important for all of us to remember that if someone's working on Labor Day, odds are they're being fucked over eight ways till Sunday, where they're fucked over a ninth way by not getting paid extra for working a weekend shift.

There's a reason there are periodic walkouts and demonstrations in the fast food industry. Fast food was a shitty fucking job 25 years ago when most of the people manning the fryers and coming home smelling like beef death were high school students saving up for a cheap used car. Now it's mostly adults just trying to feed themselves and their families. That's got to be fucking miserable.

And lest we forget, 25 years ago, the art and science of fucking over minimum wage employees and treating them like the slaves they would be were it not for pesky minimum wage laws? That shit was in its infancy. These days, every penny of profit that can be wrung from a wage slave will be wrung out, and usually, there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Remember earlier this year, when a big controversy erupted because, instead of giving people their money in a commonly used and accepted format, aka checks or direct deposit, companies like McDonalds and Wal-Mart were caught issuing money to their employees on prepaid debit cars that are loaded with fees every time you want to get your money or even see how much money you got? I mean, what the fuck?

I spent four months as a younger man behind the grill at McDonalds. During that time, I lugged buckets of pickles, burned myself on the bun warmer, and got two-inch, blue-sparking static shocks from the giant roll of plastic trash bags in the back. But I never had to give anyone some of my meager earnings in order to get my goddamned meager earnings.

And remember - the fact that you got by on minimum wage when YOU had to do it doesn't mean that people today can. This fallacy is particularly common amongst conservative commentators who deliberately ignore the effect of inflation on purchasing power, not realizing that they were making a lot closer to the $15 an hour they decry as madness than the people they're deriding are now.

The whole point of minimum wage is that if you work full time, you shouldn't be poor. Ignoring, for now, modern industry's deliberate decision to keep all their drones working just enough less than full time to eliminate any legal requirements they might have towards a full-time employee, you work a full time minimum wage job today, and you're poor. Probably poor enough to qualify for at least some of the benefits Clinton slashed in the 90s to encourage ("those" lazy) people to work.

The rallying cry of the race to the bottom is "be happy you have a job", a sentiment which is doubly insipid and insulting because every single day, there are fewer jobs in this country that actually make it possible for someone to be happy. Or even content. We have decided that the value menu can't possibly rise to $1.29, no matter how much human misery other people undergo as a result.

So, yeah. Happy Labor Day.