As I listen to American small business owners decry the proposal of a minimum wage that would allow their employees to make enough money to put food on their table and a roof over their head because that wage would eat into their personal profits, I cannot help but to think to myself “Boo-Fuckedy-Hoo.” I mean I get it. I understand that a lot of business owners put in more hours than their employees and feel entitled to a higher wage, and to some extent they do. I understand that ownership and management do more than what their employees see to keep a company profitable so that their employees can have a job, and therefore feel entitled to a higher wage. However, if your income is enough that you can have multiple cars, take multiple vacations, and own a large amount of property then you can afford to pay your employees a wage that keeps them off the streets!
I am so sick and tired of listening to wealthy people tell me how hard they work, and how they have earned the money that they make. Once again, to an extent they have. But to make this statement expecting their employees to believe it they have to ignore the government assistance that they have received that their employees do not. You know the large tax breaks and government subsidies that gave them the capital to invest and create their profitable business. The lowly employee gets no such help or break, they get just enough government assistance to make them a good low-wage employee.
More to the point, the labor of the lowly, entry level employee should not go unaccounted for. Without our labor, their business dies. Without the need of the low-wage laborer to go out and buy a product, their business dies. Yes, they designed the product and cut through the political red-tape so that a business can exist, but it is our labor that builds the product and our desires that compels us to buy a product that makes the company profitable. We deserve our fair share of the fruits of OUR labor.
The American small business person gets underneath my skin more than anyone else now because they claim that since their profits are less than a major-corporations that they cannot reward their employees in a fair manner. From the seat of their third car the employer looks their employee, who had to take public transit to work, in the eyes and says sorry four more dollars an hour would put me out of business. They have the nerve to do that to their employee because they know that that individual is trapped by their low-wage.
When trapped in the 7th circle of minimum wage hell, people barely make enough money to put food on their table or pay rent on their Section 8 apartment; let alone save up for schooling, for two weeks without pay if they take another job, or for the relocation to another city to find a higher-paying job. It is absolutely maddening that someone who wouldn’t bat an eye if they got sick or hurt tell me and the rest of the working class that a living wage would hurt them financially. It is maddening because they do not understand what financial hurt and pain feels like.
Honestly, until a small business owner misses a paycheck and feels the fear that takes a hold of one’s soul when one knows that one missed meager paycheck might cost them their car, their food and their home; they should shut up about the harm that a minimum wage would have on their lives. I’m sorry, but the fear of having to drive a Kia or a Ford and move to an apartment is not the same as a stomach groaning for food, the humiliation of sleeping on a park bench, and losing all access to transport.
I’m sorry American small business owner, your needs aren’t important to me anymore. I care more about your workers making a wage that allows them to hold their head up high and be proud of what they do. I care about your workers’ ability to take care of themselves and feed their families. I care that you’re characterizing your workers’ desire to simply put food on their table and a roof over their family’s head as “free-loading” and “wanting something that they have not earned.” You do not deserve our pity, you deserve our contempt.
Workers of the United States unite!
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo