Selfish Workers Want To Earn Enough To Live On For Some Reason

Donna Summer "She Works Hard For The Money" 1984 (Audio Remastered)

One thing people really like to say, in order to feel less weird about all the very obvious economic inequality surrounding us, is that at least they know in their hearts that this is the United States of America and anyone can make it here if they really try.

The thing is ... if everyone "made it," the country would be screwed. Our entire system would fall apart. This is something we learned during the pandemic — not only do we very much need people to work the jobs we have designated as "low skill," like retail and food service, we need them to work those jobs for very little money. Or, rather, the people who own the businesses that pay those people need them to work for very little money and if compelled by market forces or any other means to pay them more, will jack up their prices in order to ensure that they get to continue to live in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. (Then they'll jack up the prices a little more, because hey, people will just blame it on the greedy workers anyway!)

Yesterday, USAToday ran an article titled "$15 an hour isn't enough. Job seekers want at least $20, making inflation fight harder." How incredibly selfish of them!

Remember the fight for a $15 minimum wage when President Joe Biden entered office? That’s so passé.

For the past year, a larger share of people have been searching for $20, not $15, an hour jobs, according to an Indeed Hiring Lab report. As of Aug. 14, the share of searches for a $20 hourly wage has grown 35.5% year over year, compared to a 57.3% decline in searches for $15, it said.

Actually, the "Fight For 15" movement started in 2012, a full ten years ago, when $15 was a living wage for much of the country. Today, an item that cost $15 in 2012 would cost $19.36, so it's not entirely surprising that an hour of labor that should have cost $15 in 2012 now costs $20.

Funny how labor is the exception to "things cost what they cost." If someone wanted to have a shop but couldn't afford inventory, that would be a "them" problem. If they want to have a shop and can't afford the labor (or paying for the labor would decrease their own take more than they would like), it's the fault of entitled workers demanding more than they are worth.

So much of the blame for inflation has fallen on the shoulders of the working class, even as CEO pay increased by 11-25 percent. Because the assumption is that rich people should be out for all they can get, while working people need to be willing to suck it up and go without, for the good of all. After the lockdown, many people who had been working retail or food service worked to get out of retail or food service, and all we heard were the cries of business owners who were furious over "selfish" and "entitled" workers refusing to come work for them without being paid enough to live on. So they had to increase wages, and then it turned to blaming workers who wanted to earn a living wage for "inflation." And now people are going off on workers for simply looking for jobs that pay well instead of taking a financial hit in order to keep "inflation" down.

Would higher wages complicate the Fed’s inflation fight?


Higher wages might force the Fed to keep raising rates to make borrowing more expensive, which discourages spending and cools the economy and inflation.

The Fed’s already increased its short-term benchmark fed funds target this year to 2%-2.25% from near zero, with the last two supersized at 75 basis points each. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also warned last week more hikes are coming and will “bring some pain to households and businesses.”

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers expects a lot of pain. He’s said unemployment will have to rise to at least 5%, from 3.5%, and stay there for years before inflation subsides. Furman said the Fed needs to push its benchmark rate above 5% to get inflation down to less than a 4% annual rate.

Because apparently we also need people to not work, in order to sustain our economy. That seems bad!

It is unsustainable to have so much be dependent on people being poor. Even our health is dependent on people being poor. One of the most popular criticisms of single payer health care is "wait times" — which, let's be real, means "if everyone has health care then I will have to wait to get my health care, and that would be worse than someone getting no health care." Personally I think a less insane solution to this problem this might be subsidizing medical school and subsidizing more residencies, but I'm a kooky, idealistic socialist with pie-in-the-sky ideas that could never work, unlike this situation, which is working out just fabulously for everyone.

We do most things in a very expensive and ass-backwards way in the United States and the reason we have do things this way, we are told, is to build good moral character. We want people to be of good moral character, to be hard workers, to take "personal responsibility" and we don't want them getting spoiled or lazy or entitled (though let it be said that the truly spoiled and entitled among us are doing pretty okay for themselves). We don't have the social programs other countries have, because we think it will lead to people not being ambitious enough.

We all know Kant's categorical imperative — "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law." But, again, if it were declared a universal law that everyone had to be the kind of person Republicans and even some Democrats are supposedly trying to socially engineer with all this misery, everything would fall apart. That is a problem! If it wouldn't work under the best and most perfect conditions, then how the hell can it work with the normal human ones?

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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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