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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Extreme wealth, in and of itself, is not a character flaw. Many rich people see their lucky lives as a mandate to do good in the world.

Wealth becomes something else — soul-deadening, let’s say — when privilege blinds one to the daily struggles of everyone else.

In an interview this week with Fox News Channel host Steve Hilton, multimillionaire Ivanka Trump, daughter and counselor to President Donald Trump, weighed in on the issue of a guaranteed job for every American:

“I think this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want. They want the ability to be able to secure a job.They want the ability to live in a country where’s there’s the potential for upward mobility.”

She was referring to an ambitious proposal called the Green New Deal, written by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). It would guarantee “a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.”

Many of us who grew up in working-class families in the 1950s and ’60s recognize this description as a union job. We remember a time when many more millions of workers had the ability to collectively bargain for wages, benefits and work conditions. Corporate greed and right-wing legislatures have forced union membership into a steady decline. Not coincidentally, the percentage of hourly wage earners making a living wage has also plummeted.

This has nothing to do with the life experience of heiress Ivanka Trump, who apparently thinks that if we make it national policy to pay American workers what they’re worth, they’ll lose all incentive to keep trying. In her version of America, worrying about having to choose between providing food for one’s family members and providing shelter for them keeps one aspiring to greatness.

You can see her concern. If one job were enough for every worker in America, how would the Trumps of the world ever find all the human props they need to maintain their brand of prosperity?

Her disdain for workers does not have to become our personal policy. In Donald Trump’s America, kindness is an act of resistance. So we thank Ivanka Trump for this opportunity to offer a few reminders of how to treat some of the people whom others too often mistreat just because they can.

If you see a tip jar at a coat check, bar or counter, ask who gets the money intended for workers. I’ve been writing about tip jars since 2004, and I know that too often, bosses steal money intended for their employees. This tip theft ends as soon as customers find out about it. There’s a reason we never see signs that read, “All tips go to management.”

When you eat out, please tip generously. In most states, many servers depend on our tips to make even minimum wage. Yes, it’s wrong that customers have to subsidize wages, but it’s not the fault of the men and women who are waiting on us.

Whenever possible, please tip in cash. Too many businesses deduct a percentage of the credit card service charge from their servers’ tips.

At the airport, if you need help getting to your gate, please tip the person pushing the wheelchair or driving the electric cart. In many cities, they, too, need our tips to make minimum wage. In other cities, you’re helping them make a living wage.

Finally, a word about cashiers.

For nearly two decades, I’ve asked them about their jobs. Their No. 1 request of customers: Please don’t treat them as if they were invisible.

Stay off the cellphone for that whole minute or two. Make eye contact. Say hello.

See them, in other words. They’ve never felt more unseen.

Whenever possible, please tip in cash. Too many businesses deduct a percentage of the credit card service charge from their servers’ tips.

At the airport, if you need help getting to your gate, please tip the person pushing the wheelchair or driving the electric cart. In many cities, they, too, need our tips to make minimum wage. In other cities, you’re helping them make a living wage.

Finally, a word about cashiers.

For nearly two decades, I’ve asked them about their jobs. Their No. 1 request of customers: Please don’t treat them as if they were invisible.

Stay off the cellphone for that whole minute or two. Make eye contact. Say hello.

See them, in other words. They’ve never felt more unseen.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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