Want Your Own Business? Want Employees? Then You Have To Pay Them.

Class War

Won't someone think of the job creators?

Last week, one of the more popular Republican talking points, re: The Pandemic, was that businesses (and Kirstie Alley) are suffering because all of the lazy assholes that should be working for them are instead deciding that they would rather just stay home and collect unemployment.

It's not a particularly surprising take. For decades, Republicans have been blaming poverty on both "laziness" and the existence of social programs meant to assist the poor, while simultaneously insisting it would just be cruel to expect employers to pay their workers a wage they can actually live on. This is what they do, this is what they say, regardless of the fact that it makes absolutely no sense and never has.


It is obvious to any child who has played musical chairs that if there are more people than there are jobs, some people are not going to have jobs. If those who do have jobs aren't being paid enough to live, either they're going to die or that difference is going to have to be made up somewhere. Also, if they're not being paid enough to live, they're not going to be spending money at other businesses, which means other people won't have enough money to live on or to pay people. Duh.

One of the ways the pandemic changed us, as a society, is that it now seems to be more clear to more people that people have to be able to survive, and that if they can't survive, something has to be done to allow them to do that, or we won't be able to function as a society. We can't just have people starving to death or losing their homes or falling so far that they can't get back up.

But the narrative the Right is going with now is that these poor businesses are suffering because all of the people who should be working for them have become spoiled rotten and don't want to go and work for less money than they are getting on unemployment. This is particularly true for restaurants, which in most states pay servers far less than minimum wage. It's also true for the sorts of fast-food restaurants that still think it's okay for them to pay people the minimum wage.

This is rather curious given that we've been told for years that the minimum wage is meant to be for teenagers (which raises the question "Then why they are open while teenagers are still in school?). Of course, now that these businesses can't find adults who are willing to work for that amount, they're not happy.

If I were to walk into Hardee's and ask for my meal half-off because that's all I personally feel like paying, the response would likely be "No, if you want lunch, you have to pay what the meal costs." It would be strange if my response to this was calling the company "lazy" or "entitled."

This is something that is understood in practically all other financial transactions. If you can't pay for a meal, you don't get to eat out. If you don't want to pay for a new dress, you don't get to have a new dress. If you can't pay for a store front or or office space, if you can't pay for inventory or ingredients or other necessities, you don't get to have a business. But people who can't afford to pay their employees a living wage should still get to have a business and should still get to have employees to work at that business — and that if they can't find any employees to work for what they want to pay, the problem isn't that they're not offering enough money, but rather that potential employees are either "lazy" or "entitled."

The fact is, the only businesses that are suffering for lack of employees are the businesses that are not paying people enough to live on. The answer isn't that people should lose their unemployment, but that if businesses want to have employees, they have to be able to pay them enough to survive.

Things are changing. The days of "we all must sacrifice for the job creators, and eventually it will all trickle down" are over. They just are. Largely because the "trickle down" part never happened. More employees are unionizing, more Americans are deciding that enough is enough and that it shouldn't be that hard to have a reasonably decent life. People want homes and food and health care and child care and a reasonable work/life balance. It's no longer cool to brag about working 70 hours a week and never taking vacation time. It was already starting to happen, but the pandemic kicked it into high gear. So either these businesses are going to have to change with the times or they're going to be replaced by businesses that will. Isn't that what the free market Republicans love so much is all about?

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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