George Graham

In a Dog-Eat-Dog Society, We Must Show Our Teeth

epa03806747 People gather outside of a Wendy's restaurant as part of a one day strike calling for higher wages for fast food workers in New York, New ...

As the corporate culture overwhelms the globe, humanity is increasingly sacrificed to the bottom line. It cannot be otherwise.That is what corporations do. That is what they are supposed to do: Make a profit for investors. There is no chapter on compassion in their playbook. The world is destined to degenerate into a jungle in which the strong take advantage and the weak get the shaft.

Unless…

Unless we humans stand shoulder to shoulder in opposition to the savagery.

We cannot passively let free trade and the free market dictate how we live our lives. We must dig in our heels and push back when the abuses go too far.

That’s one important reason to support the strike of fast-food workers taking place in major American cities this morning.

As the global marketplace evolved, America lost its manufacturing jobs to China and other countries, and most American workers were left with  low-wage careers in the service industries.

In the old economy, unions emerged to defend the workers, but as the employment picture changed, unions declined. And the unions contributed to their own demise by indulging in shady practices. Bought and paid for by corporate contributions, politicians took advantage of the unions’ bad press to pass anti-labor laws.

Poorly paid and poorly organized, American workers slid inexorably down the income scale. Wages declined as profits soared.

Today, nearly half of Americans live in poverty. Many must work at more than one job to feed their families. Many must depend on food stamps and Medicaid to supplement their paltry pay checks. A recent survey found that 80 percent of Americans will seek government assistance at some time in their lives.

In such a society, the government needs to step in and soften the impact of its economic policies. One thing Congress could do is raise the minimum wage. But Congress is in the grip of radical Republicans who are determined to block any kind of progressive legislation. A gridlocked Congress is powerless to alleviate the growing misery in America.

Meanwhile, across this great country, civilization is under attack. Workers’ rights are eroded. Women’s rights are shredded. Civil rights are once again in peril as – abetted by the Supreme Court – Republican legislatures pass laws to disenfranchise racial minorities, the young and the poor.

And in the service industry, starvation wages prevail. The retail giants, pizza chains, restaurants… places we visit every day to spend our money … pay the minimum wage – or as close to it as possible. Some states have slightly higher rates, but the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. It hasn’t been raised in four years. That’s $15,000 a year, folks. Try supporting a family on that!

This is what class warfare looks like. This is the crucial battle of our generation.

The fast-food workers want $15 an hour and the right to join a union. That sounds pretty reasonable to me.But by demanding a fairer deal, the workers have put their jobs in jeopardy.

I just signed a petition begging the fast-food chains not to retaliate against the strikers. How pathetic is that? Surely, we can do better than beg for mercy? Surely we can show our teeth?

I don’t normally patronize McDonald’s or Burger King, but I occasionally stop by Wendy’s or order a pizza.

You can bet I won’t be doing that again. Not while these corporate giants grow filthy rich by starving the children of their employees.

It’s time for us to stand with the strikers. It’s time to say, “Enough!”

Click here for more on the strike.

Click here to sign the petition.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com