Ah, college. A time for experimentation, a time to gain wisdom, a time for all of the drugs. A time to write an unbelievably dumb screed that literally says the poors are lazy and should be grateful for the scraps that fall off the tables of the American aristocracy.
At least, that's what college is like for Steven Gillard of the UMass Daily Collegian. Steven, you see, wrote a screed about the recent fast food wage protests, and oh boy, is it a fun one. Ordinarily I wouldn't take the time to respond to an op-ed, least of all one from a child, but this piece is so mind-breakingly dumb that we really need to give it our full attention.
Let's do that, shall we?
In recent months, protests staged by fast food workers across the country have gained national attention. Fast food workers claim minimum wage — as low as $7.25 an hour in some states — is not sufficient enough to make a living and support a family. Moreover, they assert that employees of fast food giants such as McDonalds, a multi-billion dollar industry, should not be scraping by while executives rake in profit.
On Thursday, Sept. 4, protests took place in about 150 cities nationwide. Nine people were arrested in Boston for blocking traffic while protesting their low wages and demanding $15 an hour.
"How dare they commit the heinous crime of blocking traffic over something so trivial as their ability to feed their family?! SUCH UNCOUTH BEHAVIOR FROM THE UNWASHED PROLETARIAT!" *pops monocle*
If you think I'm taking that sentence out of context and being unduly harsh to this kid, ohhhh, just you wait.
The Heritage Foundation calculated that raising the minimum wage in the fast food industry to $15 an hour would lead to a 77 percent decrease in profits, as well as a 38 percent increase in prices. Essentially, paying employees $15 an hour would wipe out the profit margin of fast food companies and make it more difficult for those who rely on cheap fast food for meals to afford them.
OK, so, to your credit, Steven, you actually cited your source directly. That's good! It means you actually believe it rather than just spouting some pseudo-statistics you know to be bullshit just to try to score some cheap points on something you know you're wrong about. Not that I know anyone who does that.
The flip side of that, though, is that you're actually dumb enough to believe the pseudo-statistics put forward by the Heritage Foundation. Let's take a look at previous claims made by the Heritage Foundation for some context, shall we?
- They've claimed that tax cuts have caused economic growth/recoveries that happened before the tax cuts even went into place.
- They claimed that the Millionaire Surcharge of 3.25% on anyone making one million or more per year would negatively affect small business owners. Note that according to the US Department of the Treasury (an organization who you'd think would actually know something about this), it would affect one percent of all small business owners.
- They put forth a report about immigration reform costing US taxpayers "trillions," written by a guy with a history of arguing that brown people have lower IQ's. This instance was so egregiously wrong that both the libertarian-leaning CATO Institute and numerous Republicans not known for their liberal bent (such as Marco Rubio, Haley Barbour, and Jeff Flake) ripped it to shreds. Not their finest moment, this one.
- They've blatantly lied about US Debt numbers.
- They accused President Obama of slashing defense spending when he was actually increasing it.
- They tried to claim health care premiums would rise due to the ACA while simultaneously ignoring the existence of tax credit subsidies that completely contradicted their points.
Simply put, outright lying is what the Heritage Foundation does, Steven. You might as well quote a unicorn for all the good citing them does you. The Heritage Foundation doesn't believe its own bullshit, Steven; instead, they rely on people like you who are dumb enough to buy it and spread their misinformation like kudzu. You poor, poor dear, you.
There's also the fact that when anyone, least of all the Heritage Foundation, claims that raising the minimum wage will hurt the economy, it isn't supported by any of those pesky little things called "facts." This is a thing on which people have actually done studies. More than just one, in fact — that last link is an aggregate of five different studies. Wow, there are more? Eesh, there are a lot of these things. It's almost like the evidence that raising the minimum wage hurts the economy and puts companies out of business is complete bullshit.
After some shit about how Steven understands the plight of minimum wage workers because he's worked minimum wage jobs in high school and college while his parents paid for his actual expenses (the latter goes unsaid, but come on, we know that's true), he continues:
Minimum wage jobs are minimum wage because they require minimal skill. It would be ludicrous for me to walk up to my boss and demand $15 an hour for scooping popcorn, yet fast food workers are demanding the exact same thing and this belief is somehow recognized as legitimate. Demanding $15 an hour for pushing buttons on a computer terminal and flipping burgers is laughable. And no, "working hard" is not defined as long, unforgiving hours at a thankless job. Working hard is acquiring skills to put yourself in a position of success; working hard is going above and beyond and setting yourself apart from the rest.
First of all, Steven, hard work is hard work. If it left you exhausted and killed a piece of your soul, it's hard work. You don't get to redefine the term "hard work" to suit your own ends because you just read Atlas Shrugged for the first time and you think objectivism is where it's at. That's a term that means a thing, and if you insist otherwise, you are objectively fucking wrong.
Second, are you completely unfamiliar with the concept of negotiation? You aim high past what you think you can get, hoping to pull the person with whom you're bargaining into a range in which you can ultimately be comfortable. Fast food workers are unlikely to get $15/hour, and most of them know this. But they'd be as dumb as you seem to think they are if they didn't ask for it.
You have a family to support, so you deserve a higher wage? Here's a brilliant idea: don't start a family if you are unable to support it. I can walk into the local McDonalds right now and get a job at $8 an hour, but if I impregnate a girl next week at some college party then apparently I am worth more as an employee, although my skill set is exactly the same.
Privilege-blindness and sanctimony are just so unbecoming, Steven. Yes, clearly anyone having kids is doing so by choice. Birth control never fails, after all. Education (particularly sex ed) among low-income communities isn't such a fucking sham that a lot of people don't understand the importance of/have easy access to birth control — and it's not like abstinence-only programs have hurt more than helped.
You're effectively saying "only stupid people have unwanted pregnancies." I mean, Jesus, are you THAT far removed from being a decent human being that you can't see how snobbish and just plain wrong that statement is?
Man, the real world is going to be a hell of a rough patch for you, kid.
If the unpredictability of life has thrust you into a position at a fast food joint when you previously held a more lucrative job, I'm sorry, but my advice is still the same. Work hard and become a supervisor or manager, take up a second job or get a job as a waitress or waiter so you can make tips.
I will bet anything that Steven tips 10% and smirks with great self-satisfaction about it. ANYTHING. This paragraph is basically saying, "yeah, I know bad luck sometimes screws people over through no fault of their own, but haha, no it doesn't, fuck the meek." Fuck this paragraph in particular.
Don't demand that whichever fast food company you work for pay out of pocket simply because you refuse to do more than work a single job. Corporate executives earned their money, and are by no means morally or financially obligated to give it to their employees.
I take it back; REALLY fuck this paragraph. "Corporate executives earned their money." Really? Seriously? I can't even be that angry because it's just so unfathomably depressing that you actually believe that. You're straight-up arguing that wealth = value and that everyone with wealth earned their money through the sweat of their own labor, when...WOW is that in no way true. Not even in the slightest way. Rich kids get to go to the best schools, they benefit from family connections in all things, and ultimately a lot of them wind up being gifted positions they never earned.
I have nothing but respect for the very, very few individuals who actually worked their way up from poverty to success in the last 40 years. There was a time when most rich Americans had earned their money through the sweat of their own labors. Unfortunately, though, the vast majority of wealthy Americans in 2014 inherited that wealth, and we have since the 1970's been one of the least socially mobile First World Countries on the planet.
Kind of shoots a big old hole in that "you can make it if you try" argument, there, doesn't it?
Taking to the streets and demanding higher wages, but doing nothing to earn them, is cleverly disguised as fundamentally American because of the peaceful assembly and the equality it promotes. But these protests are shamefully un-American, replacing values of determination and persistence with finger-pointing and indolence.
Steven, come on. Describing people who disagree with you as "un-American" and unpatriotic hasn't flown since our collective bout of national insanity following 9/11. If you want to sit at the big kids' table (something you seem to DESPERATELY desire), stop spouting things the rest of us knew were bullshit a decade ago.
Also, I know you think you're smart for using "indolence" correctly in a sentence, but no one under the age of 92 uses that word. You sound like a more pretentious version of the ghost of John Pierpoint Morgan.
The protests over fast food wages are not isolated incidents either, but symbolic of a larger problem in this country: the lack of accountability for one's own position in life.
Maybe the fact that you are relying on a job to make a living intended for high school and college students is not a product of the oppressive capitalistic economy of the United States—maybe it's a result of your own poor work ethic. The only person you have to blame for your own stagnancy is yourself; believe it or not, you can move up in this world, and expensive education is not the only way of doing so.
Aaaaaand there it is. There's where Steven fully descends into the "poor people are lazy and deserve to be poor" bullshit the rich so desperately love to propagate, because it gives them the excuse they need to be able to sleep at night. See? When I said he straight-up claimed poor people were lazy, I meant it literally.
Ultimately, this probably isn't all Steven's fault. He's just a kid who has absorbed some really stupid opinions. We all had them at some point; hell, I spent several years as a small child thinking Han Solo was a real person. I mean, the obvious difference is that me believing Han Solo was going to come and let me fly the Millennium Falcon was adorable, and Steven's opinions are the driving force behind the slow collapse of the Pax Americana, but hey, po-tay-to, po-tah-to.
I desperately hope, Steven, that you'll one day look back on this and the other drivel you've written (such as the one where, directly in the wake of Ferguson, you talked about how rare police brutality towards minorities was) and feel ashamed, not for our sake, but for yours.
Image via aastock/Shutterstock.