I'm sure you've heard from the news, and some of our more condescending bloggers on the site, that Walmart employees had threatened to strike today for the Black Friday. By and large, these efforts did little or nothing to stop shoppers from descending upon the business to take advantage of the bargains available.
I'm going to preface everything else I say with this: Wal Mart isn't going to be bothered by small scale striking, nor am I here to announce the need for unions to help these employees.
There used to be a time when people helped eachother and didn't lord over other people with a moral superiority, thumbing their noses at people who have chosen to try to make a living at Walmart.
We live in a world where the rich continue to get richer, and the poor continue to get poorer. Everyone in the middle inevitably takes a side. As a people, we used to feel a need to help those that were of a lesser fate than ourselves. Nowadays, though, we are far more likely to side with those that have found themselves a better fate than the ones who we step over to get a dollar off a bag of pretzels.
Is the pay that Walmart employees get fair in consideration to the amount of work they do? No. Is it fair that Walmart limits the amount of hours an employee can work so they don't have to give the employees health insurance? No. But, is it becoming an increasingly standard practice? Yes.
I'm not saying it's fair, but it's the way of life that we are increasingly living in. It doesn't have to be, for sure. But it is.
You need to look no farther than an American success story like Papa John's. Their owner, in his continued hatred of our president, is limiting his employee's hours so that they don't get health insurance. He is claiming that his company simply cannot handle the cost. He said that his pizzas would cost as much as 20 cents more per pizza to pay his employees.
Hey, champ, here's a novel thought: Make your pizzas about 20 percent better, and then maybe you can talk.
Inevitably, this is the world we live in. If Walmart were to add 20 cents to some of their products (DVDs, TVs) to give their employees health insurance and a little bit better pay, then by all means, raise the price a few cents. At the end of the day, it's a kick in the bucket to us. We don't care about 20 cents. We really don't. But if all of us are simply willing to say that we don't care about that 20 cents, then that can collectively show change.
Oh, but what if I bought 5 DVDs, why should I have to spend an extra dollar because these idiots didn't bother to get their master's degree? Because, it's the right thing to do. In the lead up to the election, a conservative pundit asked this question of show host Bill Maher. "Why do you hate conservatives so much. They are trying to keep the money in your pocket? You are apart of the 1 percent!"
Maher's response: "Because, sometimes I have to vote against my best interests because it's the right thing to do."
We don't care about right and wrong anymore because we, as a society, have become so overwelmingly money driven that even small change we know we don't need becomes life and death. It's your money, yea, yea, I know. I also don't care about you as a human being, if you think 20 cents is more important than helping out other human beings.
Last Saturday, I was in the city, walking towards the Brown line from the comedy club, and I came across a homeless guy, in 30 degree weather, at midnight, panhandling. All I had was a five dollar bill. I gave it to him. Five dollars, in the grand scheme of things, means nothing to me. It means more for him to have it, and so it was that he got it.
I didn't have to give him money. It isn't my responsibility to give handouts to these people. But I did it anyway. It doesn't make me a better person than everyone. THAT SAID, isn't it ironic that the same people who don't think Wal Mart employees deserve better pay, are usually the same people who want to throw every illegal out of the country.
How does that correlate? The only people willing to, and will happily work at jobs such as that for as little pay as Walmart workers receive? Yep, immigrants. Here is the problem with people thumbing their noses at Walmart employees: They have no answer to the question "Who will replace them if they all walked away from their job?"
But, i'm not here to give a speech on immigration. Nor am I here to tell people to stop shopping at Walmart. Why am I writing this?
Because, we have forgotten that the people who work for Walmart are our friends, our neighbors. They are family members. They are the person at the other side of the bar, drinking away their problems, no different than the rest of us.
They are the people who need to support their family, and aren't necessarily fortunate enough to have the means to get a better job to do so. They are college students staring at a cloudy future, knowing there is no promise of a job after they graduate, but a very real promise of student loans needing to be paid.
They are people.
It seems like some people have forgotten about that.
By saying that you are against Walmart employees making more money, you are saying, essentially, that you are more important than those people. You deserve to pay 20 cents less for toilet paper, and they don't deserve to make more money per hour. That five dollars you saved on that Blu Ray player? You think that's more important than the person stocking the shelves getting health insurance.
I've never worked at Walmart. But I did work in a warehouse environment for a major company. This company had stopped hiring regular employees in favor of hiring people from a temp service. New employees were few and far between. While it cost the company a little bit more per hour to have people from a temp service, they saved on overhead.
It's just kind of the way America is going. We are openly allowing the poor to continue to get poorer. Instead of reaching out a hand and trying to grab on to them and drag them back towards the rest of society, we are ignoring them, pretending they don't exist.
I don't know about other people, but I grew up being told that America always came together back in the day. During the Great Depression. The wars. The good times. The bad times. People stuck together and took care of eachother. If a neighbor was struggling, you helped out that neighbor. If a family member was down on their luck, you helped pick up the family memeber to improve their situation.
I wish America was still like that. Instead, we have people trying to kick dirt on the coffin of the lower class. Forgive me if I don't participate in your collective funeral for Walmart employees and their future. I'd rather keep fighting for the underdog. I'd rather keep fighting for the right thing. I'd rather keep fighting for people.