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Fast Food Workers Strike for Higher Minimum Wage

Fast Food workers strike for a living wage. Almost 60% are women [source Daily Rundown, MSNBC].

Fast Food workers strike for a living wage. Almost 60% are women [source Daily Rundown, MSNBC].

“The combined trends of increasing inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe.” – President Obama

FAST FOOD workers are striking in over 100 cities for the minimum wage to be raised. To get this done the biggest businesses must accept their responsibilities go beyond their shareholders. American economic growth depends on drastically changing the current economic playing field.

The hashtag on Twitter is #FastFoodStrikes, with @McDonalds the biggest target. Asking for a living wage of $15 will not get it, but it’s the start of a revolution we haven’t seen in decades over the needs for a living wage.

From Timothy Noah at MSNBC:

It’s odd that Obama even had to make the argument. During most of the previous century, few people ever questioned why too much income inequality would be inherently bad. But this was the third major speech Obama has given as president on the topic of economic inequality. The theme of the first was that income inequality limited upward mobility (“the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart”). The theme of the second was that government policies affect how much economic inequality the country will experience. This latest speech emphasized that inequality screws up the economy and society in general, so that even if you aren’t worried about inequality or opportunity, you ought to be.

Such thinking represents a departure from the onetime prevailing view, most famously articulated by economist Arthur Okun in 1975, that greater equality came at the expense of economic efficiency. (At the time, income distribution was much more equal than it is today.) But the runup in income inequality that began in 1979 severely tested Okun’s formulation. Today there’s a tentative-but-growing consensus among economists that extreme economic inequality of the type the U.S. is experiencing impedes economic growth.

Every single politician in Congress should be made to vote on raising the minimum wage in 2014, as the midterms rev up. Unmasking the inequality and its roots, which begins with rebuilding the American middle class through a living wage, will reveal conservative hypocrisy on the economy and that many politicians on the right only represent business.

The snippet below is from President Obama’s economic speech on Wednesday, which once again fired up progressives.

What matters is the action Congress will take. A political campaign worthy of President Obama’s words and the philosophy the Democratic Party is supposed to represent must manifest as the 2014 midterms approaches.

But we know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles — to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement. It’s rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. And it’s rooted in the fear that their kids won’t be better off than they were. They may not follow the constant back-and-forth in Washington or all the policy details, but they experience in a very personal way the relentless, decades-long trend that I want to spend some time talking about today. And that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain — that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.

I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: Making sure our economy works for every working American. It’s why I ran for President. It was at the center of last year’s campaign. It drives everything I do in this office. And I know I’ve raised this issue before, and some will ask why I raise the issue again right now. I do it because the outcomes of the debates we’re having right now — whether it’s health care, or the budget, or reforming our housing and financial systems — all these things will have real, practical implications for every American. And I am convinced that the decisions we make on these issues over the next few years will determine whether or not our children will grow up in an America where opportunity is real.

Now, the premise that we’re all created equal is the opening line in the American story. And while we don’t promise equal outcomes, we have strived to deliver equal opportunity — the idea that success doesn’t depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit. And with every chapter we’ve added to that story, we’ve worked hard to put those words into practice.

The wide income inequality experienced went well beyond fast food workers. “One-third of all bank tellers are so poorly paid that they receive public assistance,” as the screen capture from the study reveals.

As we have seen with Obamacare, in order to get our systems more egalitarian, everyone must pitch in. As Obamacare legislation has proved, making America a more equal economic system again won’t come easy and will be met with demagoguery from the usual suspects. Tea Party types don’t see the system stacked against some people. What they see is lazy Americans who won’t work hard enough.

Income inequality has spread well beyond fast food workers.

Income inequality has spread well beyond fast food workers.

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9 Responses to Fast Food Workers Strike for Higher Minimum Wage

  1. thoreau December 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    how does an economy recover to enable job growth (100′s of thousands) when the finance industry is corrupt! this was o’s #1 job. . . he floundered, to put it kindly.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-22/blackstone-unit-wins-in-no-lose-codere-trade-corporate-finance.html

    btw nowhere in the (corporate) broadcast media was this reported. jon stewart reported it! what a joke?, on us!

  2. Ramsgate December 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    The strike is a beautiful thing. These workers need ALL the help and support they can get. Good luck to them.

    Interesting that you started with a quote from our President . I suppose better late than never.

    The income gap has been a fundamental threat ever since he came into office and he aggravated it so why is he only recognizing it NOW. Is it because it’s in vogue? Is it because Elizabeth Warren, De Blasio, the Pope (Real people who have FEELINGS for people) are now talking about it? Well, he is four years too late. This is the man who professed his admiration for Reagan, whose policies triggered the rise of IE in the first place. He spent his first term OBSESSED with achieving a grand bargain, which would slash social security to prove to Republicans how non-ideological he was. From the start he surrounded himself with Rubin clones who put Wall St ahead of Main Street; criminal bankers always got a pass while whistle blowers were hounded. HE wanted Summers for the Fed., which would have exacerbated the IE problem.

    Now he talks as if it wasn’t HIS presidency, as if he was on the outside looking in. NOW he finds the religion of income inequality? Please!!! The man speaks with forked tongue.

    It’s just another speech anyway. His words mean Zilch. Nothing will get DONE.

  3. PeggySue December 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Also heard last night that government contractors pay their workers a bare minimum. One suggestion backed by the progressive caucus [think there's a demonstration in DC today or tomorrow on the Mall] is that POTUS could require Fed contractors to pay a minimum of X amount of dollars per hour to all workers. It was suggested that that alone would increase wages for 2 million+ workers.

    McDonalds has come under fire after that ridiculous and callous ‘help’ sheet for their workers: cut your food in smaller pieces, sell your Christmas gifts on Craig’s list, ect.

    The whole ‘living wage’ cry has taken off, underscored by the number of service employees who need to depend on government supplementals to stay afloat. The Welfare Queens turn out to be Corporate America, raking in the profits while labor crews struggle to eat.

    There’s a wave coming. Noah claims that there was little concern about inequality in the last century. He needs to look at the early 20th Century where there was plenty of whooping and hollering and violence regarding inequality and the over reach of the Captains of Industry, aka Robber Barons.

    History has a strange way of repeating itself.

    BTW, the item on bank tellers is really appalling when you consider the booty that Wall Street banks have collected. The standard mantra that business only has responsibility to shareholders is beginning to wobble. As is the Thatcherite Bible verse that there’s no such thing as society.

    Could get interesting!

    • Ramsgate December 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      @PeggySue

      “ It was suggested that that alone would increase wages for 2 million+ workers.”

      Exactly.

      Should we expect executive action? We’d see an alligator do the limbo before that happens.
      Plus, I’m positive there’s a lot more a pro-active and aggressive President could do if he cared, as opposed to this go-along-to get along and passive occupant in the WH.

      • PeggySue December 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

        Sadly, I think you’re right, Ramsgate. In fact, this morning I had the radio on and heard that POTUS believes the wage question should be handled legislatively. Which means, of course, the situation is unlikely to change anytime soon for those Fed workers.

        I’d still like to see that alligator do the limbo. I’m a hopeless dreamer.

        • Ramsgate December 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

          And that means PeggySue, because he can act and he won’t, he is just as callous, cold-blooded and insensitive as the Republicans.
          He pays lip service, but he is complicit in starving hungry children.

          • PeggySue December 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

            I know you’re right, Ramsgate. It’s the primary reason I could not vote for the man, either in 2008 or 2012. But even tonight over dinner I told my husband: if only the man would live up to the words. He laughed. He’s accustomed to my schizoid mindset.

            Weirdly, there was that speech in 2008 that Barack Obama stole from Deval Patrick’s campaign: “Just words.”

            Prophetic.

            Yet still I yearn for that alligator to do the limbo. Maybe I just need to grow up. Although it’s a little late :0). Words are cheap when they’re not followed through.

            If we really want change , we need to become the change we desire. Nelson Mandela knew that. But then the Mandelas of the world are one in a lifetime. Maybe several.

            I hate giving up on people. It’s a general weakness. The beat goes on.

  4. mjsmith December 7, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    McDonald’s may not pay as much as the workers would like. I am sure if you ask anyone working, they would tell you that they should be earning more money. One thing McDonald’s does do is help its employees spend their money wisely. –

    The Web site, called “McResources,” also listed suggestions for how much McDonald’s workers should tip their dog walkers and massage therapists.
    US food-prep workers average $9 per hour, according to the federal Bureau of ­Labor Statistics — meaning anyone whipping up Happy Meals is highly unlikely to need advice on tipping their masseuse.
    The McResources guide also helpfully suggested the following tips, according to NBC.
    Beauty-salon staff should get “$10 to $60 each, giving most to those who give most to you, plus possibly a small gift.”
    Day-care providers should get tipped “$25 to $70 each, plus a small gift from your child. If only one or two providers, consider higher range amount.”
     Garage attendants should get “$10 to $30 each, to be distributed by manager.”
    McDonalds’s has an impressive history of highlighting its workers’ low wages with tone-deaf advice.

    In July, the company took flak for giving a monthly financial planning guide to employees that included just $20 for health insurance and zero cash allotted for food.
    And just last month, McDonald’s was criticized for giving employees advice on how to get out of holiday debt — including returning unopened purchases and bringing sack lunches to work.
    A spokeswoman for McDonald’s — which sells $27 billion worth of chow a year — said the content was provided by a third-party partner and quotes etiquette guru Emily Post.
    “We continue to review the resource and will ask the vendor to make changes as needed.”

    http://tinyurl.com/kp7yjxc

    It is great that they also say the same dumb stuff our government says, when confronted with their bullsh&%

  5. casualobserver December 7, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Every person has the right to resign or go on strike if they do not like their work situation. Although they certainly have no right to infringe on the rights of other persons to accept the same work situation in their place, accept the right of the employer to eliminate the position via further automation and/ or raise the prices to fast food eating customer ( quite likely the same economic class as the striking worker).

    The same principles apply to a statutory minimum wage increase.

    If all that is accepted, then que sera, sera.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong