Monday, August 26, 2013

Labor Day Boycott Losing Steam as Families Have to Eat

This is something I have rarely done in the years I’ve written this satire blog. I am writing a serious post on a subject that I believe fervently in.

Since 2009, I’ve received almost 400,000 views on my little “nobody” blog. I presently get anywhere from 150 to over 200 hits per day from people who return to read my articles. I receive very few comments on my work, but I can count on one hand the ugly comments I have received over those years.

I write satire mainly. I also write faux news stories. I make things up. I follow along the lines of the more popular satire sites such as The Onion and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I don’t always hit the mark. Hell, I’d settle for being a blip on those writers’ screens. I’m not, nor will I ever be. But, the reality is that writing my stories makes me happy, so I say why not?

Recently, someone commented (I say someone because the person didn’t have the balls to use their real name, but instead hid behind the name ‘Anonymous) that I and my site wasn’t very funny and I should get a sense of humor.

The particular story which was the target of this person’s ire had to do with boycotting Labor Day. The gist of the story was that since so many people are out of work, why not just cancel Labor Day or at the very least boycott it. I thought it to be a pretty solid premise and so I posted it.

Let’s make one thing very clear. I do not think there is anything remotely funny about people being unemployed and underemployed, where many have to hold down two, sometimes three jobs to support themselves and their families. This story was a piece of satire in the strictest definition of the word, meaning an attempt to use humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. (emphasis added.)

When Anonymous made the statement “Maybe they're (sic) just the 'elite class' that has the willpower to work hard and put in long hours knowing what they're doing helps their company prosper and survive, but not gripe like a bunch of self-inflated whiners who thinks a company owes them something for nothing,” I took exception to that statement. Instead of getting into a pissing match with this person, however, I took my site back and decided instead to respond in this blog post.

According to some facts stated by Robert Reich, an extremely well-educated political economist, writer, educator (teaches at UC-Berkeley), and commentator, most unemployed and particularly underemployed people in America aren’t a bunch of self-inflated whiners who think a company owes them something for nothing. In fact, without these workers who barely make enough to subsist on, most companies would not be operable, particularly companies in the fast-food and retail sectors. These so-called self-inflated whiners are the people getting up before the crack of dawn, taking public transportation while it is still dark outside to get to sometimes a second and third job. Whiners? Really? Since when did asking for a fair wage amount to whining?

According to Reich, consider this:

The good news in the run-up to Labor Day: Jobs are returning. The bad news: Most of them pay lousy wages and low if non-existent benefits. Most low-wage workers are adults, typically bringing in half their family’s earnings. They deserve a raise. Where will the money come from? Since retail service jobs can’t be outsourced abroad or easily automated, and because big-box retailers and fast-food chains have to compete intensely for consumers and can’t easily raise their prices, any such raise is most likely to come out of profits.

That wouldn’t be such a bad thing. McDonald’s posted strong results during the recession by attracting cash-strapped customers, and its sales have continued to rise. Between 2010 and 2012, its annual return to investors was 15.7 percent, far better than the Dow Jones Industrial Average. McDonald’s CEO, Don Thompson, gets a big-whopper of a compensation package, valued at $13.8 million – about 800 times the earnings of a typical McDonald’s worker, who earns $8.25 an hour.

Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, also continues to do well -- so well it’s hiking shareholder dividends 18 percent this year. It also pays its executives handsomely. Total compensation of Walmart’s CEO, Michael Duke is now $20.7 million – more than 1000 times the earnings of a typical Walmart worker, who earns $8.80 an hour. Not incidentally, the wealth of the Walton family – which still owns the lion’s share of Walmart stock — now exceeds the wealth of the bottom 40 percent of American families combined, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

So to Anonymous, I say this, thank your lucky stars you aren’t one of the bottom 40 percent of Americans who don’t make enough to live on. You lucky dog. Go buy some sparklers and celebrate.

This topic is now closed. Happy Labor Day.

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