There is a concept in America, which used to make up the backbone of our national work ethic and identity.
The concept is that through hard work and perseverance, one can elevate one’s self and one’s family higher and higher in the social and economic food chain. This idea is so ingrained into our society, that the most typical response heard to nearly anyone complaining about their job, is to pull yourself up the bootstraps and “go find a better job.”
For millions of fast food and low wage employees however, this proves to be but mere fantasy in this “post recession” economy.
A recent study by the non-profit coalition Alliance for A Just Society, has revealed that while many in Washington and on Wall Street are hailing an economic recovery, the jobs figures and more importantly the sustainable jobs figures, simply aren’t matching up to the rhetoric. With nearly 40% of all new jobs being classified as “low wage” jobs (defined as those which pay less than $15 an hour) under this study, the old lines about picking up and finding a better career are failing to meet the realities faced by the modern work force.
And while those who are generally eager to pat themselves on the back for whatever meager or even great success they enjoy, are keen to point to their own careers and finances as evidence of what a “can do spirit” can muster, such spirits are unlikely to have had to wring themselves through the pressing masses of unemployed and otherwise desperate job candidates vying for primarily menial jobs, as current job seekers do presently.
With millions of Americans still out of work, the number of applicant candidates for each low wage job is on average, seven per open position. For many who’s previous professional or specialized occupations have, by way of outsourcing, automation or industry downsizing, been eliminated, the only growing markets in which to find work of any kind are in the low skill, low wage arenas, where employers are counting on desperation as a reliable force to provide them with willing workers.
As protests and strikes continue to flood the streets and sidewalks of many American cities calling for what is a modest increase in the minimum wage, some politicians in Washington are echoing these sentiments in the halls of Congress. And with companies like Walmart, McDonald’s and Dominoes enjoying astronomical profits as American consumers tighten their belts, questions about whether or not these companies can afford to pay their workers more are effectively moot.
Donald Rumsfeld, at the outset of the War On Terror famously once said that “you don’t go to war with the military you want, but with the military you’ve got,” much to the applause of the conservative base. As effectively crude a statement as that may have been, perhaps its time to consider the same regarding employment and the sustaining qualities of American wages by accepting as fact that “you don’t go to work with the economy you want, but with the economy you have.”
h/t: Huffington Post