One of the mantras I remember hearing, and still hear on occasion, is “You can always work at McDonald’s.”
This statement rests on several assumptions, i.e., 1. McDonald’s is always hiring, 2. potential employees have a McDonald’s nearby, 3. potential employees can get to said McDonald’s, and 4. the hours offered to said potential employees are compatible with the other responsibilities of life, among other assumptions. However, accepting the statement and accompanying presumptions as true, “You can always work at McDonald’s” has a powerful, yet subtle subtext that says quite a lot about capitalism, social support safety nets, and classism, which in our country freely operates on the foundation of systematic sexism and racism.
Cognitive dissonance, in this instance seen quite organically through the lens of the aforementioned “isms,” is required to believe that “anyone can better themselves by working, so get a job; McDonald’s is always hiring” and at the same time hold the opinion that it is unconscionable that “these burger flippers want $15.00 an hour for making fast food? They should get a real job.”
If you think that the solution to ending cyclical, generational poverty is employment (as opposed to fixing the imbalanced system that started the cycle in the first place) and you think that our country’s social safety nets (AKA “welfare”) is the reason our economy has struggled (and continues to do so), then, logically, you should be ecstatic that burger flippers are making a living wage.
But if you oppose a federal $15.00/hour minimum wage, it appears that you don’t believe that employment is the answer; instead, you adhere to the notion that (in your estimation/opinion) unskilled labor has no value. So if the idea of paying a living wage (and I do not assert that $15.00/hour is enough to “live” on) is abhorrent to you, it is fair to conclude that you only support the concept that one deserves to make a living wage only if that person paid for an education/training program, e.g., being a lawyer, being a plumber, respectively.
And if you think that education and training are the vehicles to end generational poverty, then affordable schooling should be important to you. Could it be that the solution for poverty is found in the assertion that “colleges are always approving applications” and not “McDonald’s is always hiring”?
And if you are now considering: “Free college? Gratis training courses? Who’s going to pay for that?” then I suggest that you consider your participation in a system of oppression that intentionally sets people up for failure, and then ask yourself why you are so violently opposed to measures ($15.00+/hour federal minimum wage, free college and/or training programs) that would help to begin dismantling this system.