Saturday, August 3, 2013
Would you like fries with that?
The harsh reality is that we live in a service economy. One reason the average age of a fast food employee is 28 is that the fastest growing job sectors are the ones at the bottom of the economic scale: burger flippers, nursing home attendants, hotel maids, discount store cashiers. There aren't enough jobs to go around for the people with the four year degrees now, so what kind of miracle is supposed to occur to permit the workers at the bottom of the economic and social hierarchy to move up? We've all been hearing the stories for years, the ones about recent college grads discovering they've incurred thousands of dollars of student loan debt and now can't find a job that actually requires a college degree or that pays enough to live on. If they ever put down their smart phones and I-pads long enough to figure out just how thoroughly they've been screwed by society's lies, there'll be riots in the streets.
Further, the people doing those jobs work damn hard for the pittance of a wage they do collect. Isn't hard work supposed to result in a financial reward? Why is it that the jobs that society absolutely needs -- all the service workers of various types, from fry cooks to garbage collectors -- are the jobs that garner the least respect? Over and over we get to hear that entry level jobs, the ones that don't require much in the way of training, shouldn't pay decent wages. Neither should any job that requires physical exertion or that results in your hands getting dirty. If it doesn't require multiple years of education or if you're standing while you do it instead of sitting at a desk it's not a job that the elitists think is worth doing. There is a remarkable amount of hostility out there towards the idea that the guys working at a tire shop should make as much as the dudes selling you life insurance, all of which seems to be premised on the the classic white collar vs blue collar distinction. Doesn't matter how hard you work, if at some point doing the work day you're reaching for the GOJO, then your job isn't valued by the chattering class.
Given that there are businesses out there in almost every sector of the economy that do pay their employees decent wages and still manage to make a profit, it seems rather self-evident that the businesses that persist in paying low wages are motivated more by pathological greed than by necessity.
The cartoon is from the Virginia Tech newspaper, The Collegiate Times, and is now 20 years old. Some things never change.