It is cold, cruel and criminal that full-time employment keeps folks in poverty and that economic advancement, social mobility and simple self-respect are becoming but a quaint memory for too many of us. People are hurting and this recent uprising by fast-food employees may be the tipping point that begins to reverse the ever-increasing struggle to survive. Let, “We can’t survive on $7.25,” becomes a rallying cry for all workers. Income disparity is the foremost cause of social rebellion, as evidenced in Egypt during the 2011 Arab Spring. Egypt is suffering under vast income inequality, but it may surprise you to know that Egypt’s disparity is not as great as ours, even though the Right will argue that the poor aren’t really poor because they have smart phones and flat-panel TVs. While technological trinkets may make us look rich, the true pain of living paycheck to unemployment check is a painful reality for too many. Unity is the only power employees have and if all workers would rally behind the fast-food workers who are protesting for higher wages, we might capture the momentum needed to slow the ever-widening divide between the “haves” and the “have-very-little.”
One of my heroes, my dad, always said there was going to be a revolution in this country some day when workers found they had enough. I agree with one modification. Now that multinational companies control the majority of global workers and all workers now are fighting the race to the bottom in wages, I believe it will be a global. revolution. And I believe we are overdue.
As another one of my heroes, Senator Ted Kennedy once asked, “When does the greed stop?” I don’t just wonder why the billionaires would sacrifice the basic comforts of so many of their workers with poverty wages, I wonder why they would want to live in a poor country. The fact is, America is not poor and it’s not “broke,” as Congressman John Boehner claims. It’s just lost its moral compass. Workers regaining some of their power would be a win for everyone. The one-percenters and Congress would have to follow.