I've really tried hard to not say anything about the whole minimum wage dispute but today? Today I cannot hold it any more. So, I see this article in my Facebook feed and my eyes twitched. Not only did they twitch, but my armpits tingled. Anyone who knows me knows that when my armpits tingle?
Things are probably going to go down. Don't tingle the pits.
Here's the thing: I'm a die hard Democrat. I believe that we need to all help each other, the rich shouldn't be getting tax breaks while people who are middle class or less are essentially paying for this country to keep moving. It's wrong in every way that you look at it. I mean, if you had a canoe of four people, you wouldn't make the arm amputee row you to shore while the other three have a great time relaxing. You wouldn't do it, yet that's essentially what Republicans want.
And I see it from their end too- they don't want to pay for lazy people who refuse to get jobs and instead, live on welfare as a career. But you know what? Not everyone on welfare is like that. Admittedly, there are a bunch, probably more than we want to know about. But I feel like no matter what, there will always people who abuse it. You just hope that somewhere along they way, they feel ashamed and do better. They probably won't, but the optimist in me hopes that they do.
But when I see fast food workers lobbying for $15 an hour? No. Oh hell fucking no. You know what? I've worked fast food for years. I've worked in different kinds of fast food restaurants and they all paid about the same. Did my full time paycheck pay all of my bills? No. They didn't. So my solution for that was to get a second job. And then I picked up an internship at my college where I was oh yes, going to school FULL TIME. So I was a full time student, had one full time job, and two part time jobs.
Suck it you lazy assholes.
And that paid my bills. It gave me extra money so I could do something fun on my rare days where I was off from at least one job. I did my homework and often slept in my car in the school parking lot because it was closer to go there than home and I'd get more sleep that way. Was it awesome and amazing? No. It's actually really terrible to sleep in a 1998 Chevy Lumina. I don't recommend it. Also sucks when you don't have seats that recline like they are supposed to. Thank you, previous owner, for breaking that function.
I went to college because my entire life- I watched my parents work at low paying jobs. My mom bust her ass at gas stations and then in the most boring lumber store job ever. My dad was an over the road truck driver and we hardly saw him. There was one year we maybe saw him once in a 5 month stretch because to make any money he had to drive all day, every day. My parents have always been hard workers and they always told me if I want to get anywhere in life you need to finish high school and go to college. It doesn't even matter what I go to school for- just get a job that requires a degree so I can make a living.
So that's what I did. My parents didn't pay for any of my college. There was no college fund. On my 16th birthday I didn't celebrate with a party. I had a cake, some tacos for dinner at home, and I was driven around town for job applications. If I wanted name brand shoes for school or expensive jeans? I had to buy them myself. I learned early on to work for what I wanted. And maybe that meant I didn't get nice stuff. Maybe I couldn't go see the movie all my friends were going to. Maybe I didn't get to be on the poms team because my parents couldn't afford it. My first car? Cost $2800 and my parents took out a loan that I had to pay. I had to pay my own car insurance and gas. If I missed a payment? I didn't get to drive it. If I lost my job because I couldn't get to work? Life lesson. There were times I had no gas money so I had to ride the city bus, or worse, walk the four miles to work from my house.
I thank my parents for denying me lots of things I wanted because ultimately? I get it. I see the lessons they were teaching me. I was angry and upset when I was 17, but I absolutely get it now. I get the money lesson they were trying to give me.
So when I see people complaining about their wage? It makes me want to scream. Literally. If you can't pay your bills on your one job? Get a second job. If that means you are working 50 hours a week? SO BE IT. Matt works 70 hours EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK because between that and my paycheck- it pays our bills. Does he want to work 70 hours a week? No. Do we miss him? Yes. Do I sometimes feel like a single parent, exhausted and overwhelmed? Yes. But we're adults now and this is what we have to do. Nobody is going to bail us out if we need it.
We say we encourage small businesses in this country but do we really? I mean, what kind of small business do you know that can afford to pay $15 an hour? They can't. It doesn't mean they don't want to, it just doesn't make financial sense if they want to thrive in the long haul. I know people look at McDonald's, for example, and say, "Wow- they make billions of dollars ever year, they could do better.", and maybe they could. Maybe they should. But let's look at the job- you are flipping burgers and punching buttons. Is there any real skill involved? No. Sure, you get yelled at a lot. It's a pretty under appreciated job. You will sometimes have to clean up actual shit and piss and sometimes vomit from the bathroom, or have a garbage bag full of gross food break open and spill on you. That will ruin your day because you will now smell like garbage until you shower and find yourself profusely apologizing to job #2 when they ask, "God DAMN- what is that smell??" It's embarrassing, and it's not awesome, but oh well. You will have old men throw shakes at you because it's too lumpy or not lumpy enough. You will have mothers with 5 kids having their 2 year old order and hold up the line for a full ten minutes, then order said children soda. Which will only cause what looks like a riot in the dining area that you get to clean up with ice cream smeared on windows, half chewed hot dog chunks on the seats and garbage every where.
I'm not saying that you don't hate your job almost every time you go there.
But it's a paycheck. It requires no skill, just patience not to kill people. It requires no education because those cooks can never seem to read "no mayo" and slather it on anyways causing a really angry lady to throw a burger at you later.
But it doesn't warrant $15 per hour.
In my job, I work in a college. My job requires a college degree. I had to take a math test that required 80% or above. I had to take a writing test. I had a long interview. And I barely make $15/hour. I went to college for two years to get this job. I paid off $20,000 in student loan debt to get this job. I'm sorry if I don't feel like your high school drop out ass deserves more than minimum wage. I have to point some of the blame at unions on this. Even though I'm Democrat, I'm really against unions. Yes, I know they fight for safe work places and making sure people working dangerous machinery aren't working too long on them where it puts them, and others, in dangers. I get it. But when I see 20+ people on duty to put a roof on a building and half are on the ground shooting the breeze and I know they make over $20/hour? I'm going to say, I'm a little angry. I think unions negotiate unfair wages, union employees often make FAR MORE than their job warrants. It's ridiculous and out of hand.
When I see stuff like this, it makes me think of these questions:
1. What happened to work ethic? What happened to working long, hard hours to get a job done? What happened to going the extra mile at work not because it's expected or asked of you, but because you took some pride in your role as an employee and your job? We've gotten lazy.
2. What is the incentive to stay in school and pursue higher education if you can get a well good paying job without either? If that happens, the education level in this country is going to tank even further than it has.
So before you buy your kid the next fancy gadget, a car to drive to school, or drop another dollar in their college fund- think about what you are promoting. Will my kids have a college fund? HAHA- NOPE. It's not because I don't want them to go to college, but college is a process. As an adult, you need to make decisions and they won't all be good. Did I really need to take an extra student loan out so I could go shopping? No, terrible choice. But it was one I made and I paid the consequences, literally. I want my kids to learn how to apply to schools, find out about their financial aid options and then work their asses off to fill the gap. Nobody will pay their way through life and it's best they learn that right out the gate.