$15/hr to work in Fast Food? Yeesh! Why would you deserve that?

Why do I care about this? I don’t know, why do you? Let’s chat because it seems like someone else’s hard work and good fortune is offending you.

On July 22nd, a panel in New York state made the recommendation that fast-food chain restaurants raise minimum wage to $15/hr. Minimum wage in New York state is currently $8.75. I’ve noticed a lot of people I know from Western New York are deeply outraged by this victory for fast-food employees. To those individuals who find themselves angered by this – maybe because they worked in the industry and didn’t experience this benefit, maybe because they think it’s unfair to upset the wage hierarchy – I have some items I want to go over before you continue to use your energy and mind space to complain about this.

1. Do you hate that your tax dollars go to welfare programs to support poor people? Do you consider it Communism?

Maybe you shouldn’t be hating the recipients. This is actually a victory for you – not just them. Every paycheck, taxes are taken out in order to fund a safety-net for members of our community who fall into bad times. This could be a temporary condition for them – I was on food stamps once – or a chronic problem due to a system that perpetuates poverty for many. For fast food workers making a minimum wage under $10/hr, tax payers foot a bill of $7 BILLION PER YEAR (source: Bloomberg Business) to make up the difference of their living expenses in the form of social welfare programs. This does not mean we should be mad at the people who are working the low wage jobs. We should be angry that multi-billion dollar corporations engage in a compensation strategy that funnels tax payer dollars through welfare programs in order to subsidize wages and increase their own profits. In the United States, even if you don’t hit up McDonalds, the corporation has made it compulsory that you still help line its executives pockets. So, if you thought $15/hr was absurd, back in 2013 it was reported that McDonalds CEO’s make $9,200/hr (source: Business Insider). Yes, a McDonalds CEO earns $9,200 per every hour worked at the expense of cheap labor and poor quality food. Do NOT get me started on the quality of this food. I’m resisting a tangent, so here’s a Huffpo graph of what we shell out every year in what is essentially corporate welfare:

2. Do you think people who work Fast Food jobs are just high school kids and it isn’t a career? Do you think they’re lazy, unmotivated, or opportunists?

I’m struggling to start my point on this one. Not because I don’t know what point to make, but… you’ll see how I feel when you make it to the end of this post. Maybe your local McDonalds is staffed by perky teens saving up to buy a car, but if you go for a road trip or set foot in any metropolitan area, you’ll see something different. What angers me about this point is that it reduces a source of income (that supports individuals, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, entire families) to an indication of immaturity and lack of development. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, about 1 in 4 fast food employees has a child. Having a child is by no means an indication of maturity, but it definitely indicates the added challenge of doing something like going back to school. You need to pay for your child’s expenses. You do that with a job.

3. If you encountered a working mother or father employed at minimum wage by a fast food restaurant, would you say any of the things you did in your Facebook post to that fast food worker’s face? 

Like, would you walk into a McDonalds, order off the dollar menu, then berate them about your personal struggle with their life? Would you pull up in the drive through and after being handed your food, yell BY THE WAY I DISAGREE WITH HOW MUCH YOU GET PAID BECAUSE… and start trailing off as you speed away from the pick up window with your hot Big Mac because they started to give you a really confused look that made you realize just how crazy you sounded?

I digress from statistics and tables to just try to make sense of your character. Facebook can become a very cozy place. You’re among, friends, right? You’re just typing some statements into your phone or your computer, right? It’s just your thoughts. It’s not like you’re standing by the on-ramp to the thruway brandishing a big cardboard sign and shouting at cars going by. Some people would have it that everyone is “entitled” to an opinion (for whatever reason they’re led to “believe” that).

The entire reason why I’m spending my time writing this is because I feel sad that you have these opinions and beliefs. I feel sad that even if you’re complaining about $15/hr from a consumer’s perspective, you’re still supporting a big business who does not care about you over the families in your community that you live side by side with.

4. The bulk of this post has been what I THINK but now I’m going to tell you how I FEEL about your opinion. 

Editors note: I am taking a break from my normally scheduled block of time for freelance writing. It get’s fast and feverish here. 

It makes you look mean.  Are you a parent? How would you feel if your child walked into your house and started spouting classist or racist rants? Would you enable them, agree with them, and tell them it’s ok to hate people for the way they are?

You sound jealous. And maybe you are! But jealousy is not attractive and it certainly isn’t productive.

Look, I don’t want to call you names. I don’t want to hurt your feelings. But, if you do anything to directly state or insinuate that a fast food worker’s labor is inferior to you because you worked so hard to get where you are and someone like yourself is more deserving of better wages…. you’re missing the point and I pray that God bestows the gifts of compassion and empathy upon you. This isn’t about you. The victory of these people does nothing to detract from your own personal success and career choices. This doesn’t affect you (unless you eat a ton of Fast Food and you’re concerned about a price hike).

If you’re concerned about a price hike and you want to get outraged about it, I suppose just keep in mind that it’s probably going to happen. So be prepared. It’s not going to happen because the companies fear becoming insolvent by paying those extra couple dollars an hour (without any other benefits like health insurance or retirement), but it is going to happen because the companies know that you’re a sucker for their Dollar Menu economics and they want to win you over with it. They know that you equate a cheap burger to value, and they know they can stir your emotions and political ideals by tacking on $0.50 or another $1.00 to make that burger less valuable than it used to be. A Two Dollar Menu doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? These companies don’t care how much money you spend at their restaurant on any given visit, they just care that you’re spending. They don’t want to relinquish any control they have over keeping you happy with the status quo, so they’re going to do whatever it takes to make consumers think they’re experiencing a huge economic blow to their wealth that will deprive you of your treasured burger (made from several tortured cows in every bite — I HAD TO!) all because the workers who sling said burgers demanded more money for their time.

In conclusion – you don’t have to feel the way that you do, and I don’t have to feel the way that I do about you for having the opinions that you do. The point of all this is that a corporation like McDonalds does not care about you. It doesn’t. Not at all. They see you as a prospect, a source of money, a dollar sign, and a pawn in an economic game. I see you as a person. You are a citizen of the same country as me, a member of my community, and I care about you enough to risk you hating me and thinking that I’m a stupid bitch for explaining in detail why you should stop wasting your time saying mean things about fast food workers.

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