Something that still amazes me after decades of observation is how well the ruling classes use their corporate-owned media to bamboozle workers into believing that they deserve a pittance for their labor while the wealthy who run the corporations honestly earned everything they own. Every time workers rise up and demand what’s rightfully theirs, as in the current strikes for a more livable wage from various U.S. fast-food corporations, a chorus of middle-class and working class people protests that they’re asking for too much – those people are getting uppity and they’re going to ruin it for the rest of us!
I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard some form of this from my mother, who was raised in a working-class household (by a mother who was first single, then married to an abusive alcoholic for more than a decade). When I was younger, I tried to argue with my mom, but gave up quickly in frustration. She started on the demanding-worker theme again during a phone conversation last week.
“These fast-food workers – good luck with getting $15 an hour. They’re just going to make it worse for everybody – the prices will go up and – ”
I cut her off, about to argue about fair wages that allowed people to feed their families and find housing in big cities, the history of the labor movement in the United States… But I skipped over all of that without a thought and blurted, “But these corporations lie – their executives are making millions, and they say they can’t pay the workers a few dollars more an hour – ”
This time she interrupted me: “Yes, just like the government.” Uh oh, I thought, is this about to become an anti-tax rant? She clarified: “All these Congress people, when they leave office, they just turn around and get jobs as lobbyists for some company…”
So we ended up agreeing for a change, and went on to discuss something that’s always afforded common ground: the weather.
To those of you in the United States of America, happy workers’ day. For the rest of you, I can republish this column on May 1. <insert smiley face emoticon here>