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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Just in time for the holidays, your low-wage employer wants you to know it really cares. And would you mind tidying up the condiment stand on your way to the soup kitchen?

Once again, McDonald’s is showing its brilliance at employee relations. In July, recall, the company haplessly offered a sample budget for its employees, omitting the costs of gas and groceries and projecting fantasy monthly rents of $600, car payments of $150 and health insurance costs of $20.

Now the company has favored the working poor with advice on stress relief, savings and health. On a website it hosts for employees, called McResource Line McDonald’s had this sage advice:

–Sell unwanted items on eBay or Craigslist to make some extra cash.

–Breaking food “into pieces” can help you feel more full.

–“Pack your bags” and take a vacation! Because, you know, people who take at least two vacations a year can cut their chance of heart attack by 50 percent.

You can almost picture the comfortable college graduate who pounded out these helpful “tips.” That person probably takes a nice vacay at least once a year, along with long-weekend trips a plane ride away. He or she isn’t likely depending on two part-time jobs at $7.75 an hour to raise a family.

Not to be outdone, Walmart, another favorite target of living-wage agitators, had the curtain lifted on its own Dickensian reality to kick off the Season of Giving.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that in an employees-only area of a Walmart store in Canton, Ohio, bins were set out to collect food for fellow employees. “Please donate food items here, so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner,” read a sign placed over the bins, as featured in a photo in the Plain Dealer.

“This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” a company spokesman told the Plain Dealer.

Too bad it’s not part of the company’s culture to pay living wages. Or maybe it’s too bad that it’s not part of Americans’ political culture to raise the minimum wage.

To be fair, these gaffes came from a good place. But what rankles, in addition to that whole low-wage thing, is the condescension.

Please, corporate mandarins, spare your poor employees your wisdom on scrimping and saving. They know waaay more about that topic than you do.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Bryan Blake

    In 1948, ALCOA built a new aluminium smelting plant on the Texas Gulf Coast near the small town where my father was born. ALCOA had been lured to Texas with the promises of an endless supply of “cheap non unionized labor”. But ALCOA’s nemesis, The United States Steelworkers Union, arrived on the scene to begin to organize new hires and potential workers to form a Steelworkers’ local. Much to the chagrin of ALCOA its new workers voted to organize and join the union, my father included. Texas was then and still is a right to work for less state so a union in an industrial plant was extremely rare. During the initial organizational phase the local Sheriff called in The Texas Rangers to bust the heads of striking workers. Many were critically injured. Bones broken and one or two steel plates required. Of course that is mild violence compared to the gross brutality suffered by brave members of the American Labor Movement. My father rose in the ranks of the union and eventually became the local president around 1960. He was a political activist and helped many moderate and a few liberal Democrats get elected. I grew up in my parents’ activism and saw the difference it made in the lives of many. My 85 year old mother is still with us and she is utterly dismayed at what the Republicans are doing to destroy voters’ rights, worker’s rights, political rights and especially women’s rights. Growing up and living as a mature woman prior to Roe v. Wade she knew far too many women that suffered major trauma and even death at the hands of back alley abortionists. The thought of women having to return to that terrifies her and dishonors the suffering of her friends.

    The attack upon women’s rights is especially relevant today to workers’ rights. Women are the majority of the work force. Women are paid less than men. Women hold very few top executive slots or even a significant number of mid level management slots. A significant number of households are headed by single-parent women. So a living wage is inexorably tied to women’s rights and the welfare of our children.

    I used to think that corporations detested labor unions because they cost corporations more money than non unionized workers. Now I realize that corporations cannot allow organized resistance to their exploitation of workers, resources and markets to exist. In their minds resistance equals defeat. And it probably eventually does. The immaculate capitalist conception is to control The Holy Trinity: god The Resources, god The Production and god The Market! Make no mistake: these so called ‘free market capitalist” still worship at the altar of the brutal capitalism of John D. Rockefeller and his contemporaries. PROFIT IS GOD! AS LONG AS IT IS THEIR PROFIT!

    We will not defeat their avarice, need to exploit both We The People and Mother Earth. Free market capitalism is incapable of being governed by any school of morals be they secular or religious. PROFIT is the only RIGHTEOUSNESS in free market capitalism. So its practitioners are amoral at best and immoral as the norm. I exclude the vast majority of small and midsize business owners from that group.

    So the Living Wage is a moral issue – be it by religious or secular standards. If we are not at the point where labor should be the counter balance to capital then it is long past time we must put our collective thumb on the scale. For the vast majority of my adult working life I was a small business owner. I describe myself as an altruistic capitalist. Capitalism can function very much beyond where it does today when its inherent dynamism is let loose for the benefit of the most number of people. Of course those on the artificial perches of capital privileges will necessarily loose feathers and many will have to take up roost near the rest of us.

    We have only one choice but for far too many of us it is not readily apparent to most. By expression the will of We The People a living wage must be instituted across this nation. It is the first step toward the rescue of the American Worker. Without it we will sink deep into an economic fascism with perhaps no peaceful key to freedom.

    • sigrid28

      “The Living Wage is a moral issue – be it by religious or secular standards.” Well-said and well-argued. I wish I knew what it would take to bring the Senate to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage nationally and cause the Republicans in the House to hang themselves arguing against this popular policy. When the time comes to demonstrate nationwide, I plan to put your sentence on my placard. One way or another, I think it is only a matter of time until the minimum wage is lifted, and we find out what the economic consequences will be.

      • Bryan Blake

        sigrid28: Thank you for your response. I appreciate it. That the Living Wage is a moral issue is reflective of what I see in most of those I encounter, whether they recognize it or not, and on the state and national stage, whether they also recognize it or not. Because the Living Wage is a moral issue it must be framed as such. Center-Left is where most of our Nation is. We must begin to have the constant pounding of message that reflects the true beliefs of the majority of We The People. Frank Luntz appears to be personable. But first and foremost he is a deadly effective propagandists! He and his Republican Automatons have vilified the Minimum/Living Wage, among other issues, with their incessant repetition of their Republican Lies.

        Because the Living Wage is a moral issue and the Republicans are on the wrong side of it there is no high ground for them to claim. So they will fight to choke any legislation that comes up in either the Senate or House. But there are rank and file Republicans who know that the Living Wage does in fact “lift all boats”. They also usually work for a living but for some misguided reason still identify as Republicans. Many of the right wind evangelical Christians believe that the teachings of Jesus are clearly at odds with the political sermons they constantly endure and the votes they are commanded to make. Within the evangelical community lies the greatest potential to break the back of the Republican Party. The Republicans through their Nefarious Billionaire Club pumped untold billions into the evangelical movement to create a reliable voting block. The Republicans promised the evangelicals that they would overturn Roe v. Wade – and they may just be close with the current incarnation of SCOTUS. If you remember that evangelical women are disciplined to be submissive to their husbands and fathers then the current Republican attack upon women and its desperation is explained. The Republicans attack women in an attempt to deliver what they have been unable to do on the national level in exactly 40 years. Women are bearing the brunt of the attack but the real strategy is to eviscerate the rights, privileges, immunities and especially opportunities of We The People inherent in The U. S. Constitution. Because of what the Republicans are doing NOW IS THE TIME for this issue to explode to the forefront of our national consciousness and progressive endeavors. We must follow FDR’s PLAYBOOK: Make them do it!

        It is just like the Living Wage – make the most vulnerable suffer. The lack of A Living Wage disproportionately affects women – especially single working women as head of households. Yes many many evangelical women work outside the home. But these women, because of their faith, have submitted to their husbands, and do not see this as an issue that concerns them. Here is where progressive women of faith can and will play an essential role. The story of the poor being allowed to glean the fields after harvest is a starting point for the argument for a Living Wage.

        Of course WALMART today allows its workers to glean their fields! As long as their fellow workers have set up a donation box to which they have contributed so their fellow and more needy workers can have some sort of meal. Or the gleaning of public assistance. Is this the gleaning that the Bible speaks of? Would Jesus embrace the greed-fueled owners of WALMART? Or would he lift the child from its mother’s arms as she tried, without a living wage, to scrape the crumbs from the floor of her world to fed her hungry child? And what is more moral for a mother than to care for and nurture her child? Once we understand that we are so very very very much alike it is much much much harder to maintain the belief that we are so different.

        Women fought and died in battles of the American Revolution. Many women had the ears of their husbands and made known their support for the revolutionary cause. In my opinion it is women who will be the virtual army of bringing the American Revolution to its full frutation. So Ladies, please start your engines. It is time to move mountains. You will do what we men have been unable to do – build a lasting consensus to change the wrongs of our society. The Living Wage is the only place to start. Without food, shelter and healthcare all other human and political issues are irrelevant.

  • Liberalism is Nonsense

    More than 600,000 bats were killed by wind turbines in 2012 – a serious blow to creatures which pollinate crops and help control mosquitoes.

    • infadelicious

      Bats you say?…….too bad nancy pelosi wasn’t one of them

  • Montesquieu

    Those who profess no limits to the actions which can be taken in the majority’s name are undermining liberty and democratic processes.