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"If all power is in the people, if there is no higher law than their will, and if by counting their votes, their will may be ascertained--then the people may entrust all their power to anyone, and the power of the pretender and the usurper is then legitimate. It is not to be challenged since it came originally from the sovereign people."  Walter Lippman

Or is it?

Health and concience are the reasons I hardly spend any money on anything other than the very basics.

Both health and conscience keep me out of most stores and restaurants.

We have known for a long time that eternal growth/greed drives corporate ethos/pathos.  However, the veil has been lifted a bit higher since the election, oddly by loud mouthed CEOs themselves.  

Yes, their ideology and policies trickle down to the financially struggling employees at the bottom of their corporate structures.  One is left to conclude that these uber wealthy billionaires and millionaires, socially insulated, seemingly sociopathic CEOs have little, if any, conscience and/or concern for how their ideologies and/or policies affect the lives of the real people who work for them so that $Billions/Millions can trickle up into their bulging personal wealth portfolios.

FOOD:  Both health and conscience keep me from patronizing chain food outlets.  The high salt content, and heaven knows what else, makes me feel sick and lethargic.  Fast food:  I never eat it because they overwork and underpay their employees.  I learned this first hand, story below.*

When I go out to eat (rarely), I go to locally owned ethnic eateries that are both delicious and healthy.  Also, I can ask for and receive good food with no salt and/or msg.

CLOTHING:  Unlike many consumers, I find no pleasure in the ability to buy clothing at very low prices.  I am haunted by mental pictures of the children who are more slaves than employees of the behemoths demanding 110% or more output year after year.  I decided years ago that what I had, if I took good care, could last me a very, very long time.  I rarely buy clothing, except for the requisite new shirt in the spring and winter for social outings.

I understand that cheap clothing is a boon for so many parents who must reclothe their growing children.  The majority of Americans are not paid a living wage, forcing both mom and dad to work, and every dollar that isn't eaten up by the costs of housing, utilities, gas, and medical expenses has to be stretched.

Taxes Median Income

*THE STORY:  I will share that I did an experiment a couple of years ago.  I applied for and got a job at the Wendy's a few blocks from my home.  I didn't need a job but I wanted to learn what it was like for employees.  

I met Karla who had worked for this same Wendy's for 8 years.  She reluctantly trained me.  I say reluctantly because she was not a manager - "It's not my job to train you" she said.  So I made a deal with her.  We bartered.  I paid Karla $25 to train me.  We became friends.  She was 29, suffered greatly from fibromyalgia, and still lived with her parents.  Karla had given up any dream of having a good life in this, the greatest country on earth.  She was also a very kind, quiet, clean living, good person.  Wendy's could have cared less about Karla.

Here's what I found.  Karla's wage had maxed out at $8.25 an hour years before.  There was no increase in pay because of Corporate wage policies.  Stress makes fibromyalgia worse, so a move up to management wasn't an option for Karla.  I guess legally, and especially in our Right to Work state, this policy is A ok in America.

The pace workers had to work at was beyond frenetic, even grueling.  It was a VERY stressful job on top of being physically demanding.  Standing and shuffling, heavy lifting, for hours at a time is very tiring.

At age 60, I wasn't fast enough, so I got to man the register for the indoor customers which included getting the salads, drinks, shakes, and chili together for those orders including the same.  During the busy lunch hour, I endured the wrath of many customers, lined up 10-15 deep, who couldn't quite understand why the Fast Food wasn't faster, or fast enough to satisfy their fantasies about fast food.

Mental chaos.  While acting as the PR front person at the cash register, about 25% of my brain had to tune into the loud, order snapping, often chastising managers and the curt reponses of those they were chastising so I would know if the order for the irate customer standing in front of me was, in fact, on its way.

After the noon slam, I the register operator, was also responsible for cleaning the tables, windows, doors,  bathrooms, walls, window sills, sweeping/mopping the floors, and picking up trash outside.

THE NEW AMERICANA:

I also got to know the store manager very well.  He was only 19, salaried at about $30K but required to work 60-70 hours a week. He was amazingly fast, bright, and patient (unlike his supervisors).  In another life, I could envision him graduating from Stanford or Harvard but he and his equally bright high school sweetheart started their family early so they married and buckled down to the job of being responsible parents.

The insurance was pretty good, but when he and his new wife had a $500,000 premie, they had to pay approximately $50,000 of the expense. Imagine that.  19 years old with $50,000 in medical bills to pay.  These kids had integrity.  They tossed their plans of continuing education to pay the medical bills instead.

Of course, the medical bills required his wife to work full-time after the child survived ICU and 6 months at home.  His wife now works for a fast food outlet, too, as a manager (same corporation, different name outlet).  They both are required to work 60-70 hours a week.  Thankfully, her grandparents were/are happy to raise their child who literally sleeps/lives at the grandparents home 5 nights a week.  This miracle child still requires a lot of medical attention, the mom's health is declining, and not a month goes by that this young couple doesn't have to pay their share of medical bills.

This child is deprived of parents because a corporation demands 90% of her parents' lives in return for jobs that don't pay enough to support her otherwise.

Shameful!

I often wonder if this young couple will live to be 65 or 67 or whatever the age for retirement for them will be someday.  I also wonder at what age they will be deemed "outside the corporate picture" of "what a manager's profile" has to look like.  Where will they end up if they survive years of this stress?

I lasted 3 months as the register lady at Wendy's, but I learned enough to satisfy my curiousity and I won't give a dime of my sufficient, but limited, funds to fast food restaurants.

I found fast food to be an inhumane work environment.

CONCLUSION:

Like you, I know history.  I know people suffered, even died, to secure safe and reasonable working conditions in the USA.

The 40 hour work week became law.  My friend, the Wendy's manager isn't paid overtime.  

The men and women working for restaurant and retail chains can thank the Bush administration and the Tom DeLay Rubber Stamp Congress for not being paid overtime, even though they are required to work 10, 20, even 30 hours more than 40 hours a week or 50, 60, and even 70 hours a week.

On August 23, 2004, controversial changes to the FLSA's overtime regulations went into effect, making substantial modifications to the definition of an "exempt" employee. Low-level working supervisors throughout American industries were reclassified as “executives” and lost overtime rights.

These changes were sought by business interests and the Bush administration, which claimed that the laws needed clarification and that few workers would be affected. The Bush administration called the new regulations "FairPay." But other organizations, such as the AFL-CIO, claimed the changes would make millions of additional workers ineligible to obtain relief under the FLSA for overtime pay. Attempts in Congress to overturn the new regulations were unsuccessful.

I think you and I both know that, until the majority of consumers in this country STOP cooperating by giving our hard earned cash to these inhumane businesses so the top brass can live in luxury while paying non-living wages to the masses while requiring people running the day-to-day operations to work 60-70 hours a week, conditions and wages will only get worse.

It's beyond time for a national strike.  

The combination of no limits on working hours, the open-24/7 retail outlets, the evisceration of union labor, and the complicity of both consumers and workers too afraid to rock the boat are creating

GENERATIONS OF CHILDREN being deprived of a cohesive home/family life.

The hypocricy of the so-called CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES, who seem to stand up more for corporate rights than the rights of parents and children, makes my head hurt.

They have lost their moral compass.  We hear them say, over and over again, that the foundation of America is the family, but the NEW AMERICANA as stated above is destroying what we used to think of as family life.

Yes, strikes and withholding spending will cause hardships, but I think the hardships will be worse if the private equity firms and corporate behemoths continue to succeed at the expense of everyone else.  In time, they will collude and we will find a majority of people unable to live healthy, productive lives.

Well, they are colluding already.  We need to understand the long-term ramifications if this collusion continues without disruption from US.

With a world of cheap labor that can be forced to work by their governments, AND millions of new "stuff consumers" in other countries, can we say it out loud?  THEY DON'T NEED US ANYMORE!

So, as you reach for that next bargain remember the children whose sweat created it.

As you pull up to the drive-through window for some Fast Food, remember the miracle child who fought for her life in ICU, only to survive to rarely enjoy quality time with her depleted, exhausted mom and dad.

Americans and others in the western world have the power of the purse to create change.  Will we?

Maybe this Christmas, we can ask our family members what their favorite charity is?  Or a family could commit to a portion of the money spent on stuff to be contributed to a local food bank or a neighbor in need?

The power of the purse has many options.  We can be creative.

Originally posted to War on Error on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 10:15 AM PST.

Also republished by Salt Lake City Kossacks.

Poll

If Americans don't take a stand and unite to affect change, who will?

13%3 votes
21%5 votes
13%3 votes
13%3 votes
8%2 votes
30%7 votes

| 23 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  But I need my cheapass hamburger ... (3+ / 0-)

    Screw the workers , screw the environment ...

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 10:27:40 AM PST

  •  "All of the above"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    I have a hard time believing CEO's would do that,

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 10:34:39 AM PST

    •  Well, they would most likely be the last to (0+ / 0-)

      change, under duress.

      I do want to say that there are some humane players out there.  I think we have to each do the research and find out who the good guys are.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 10:37:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was looking for the 'None of the Above' (0+ / 0-)

        option, didn't see it, didn't vote.

        "I believe more women should carry guns. I believe armed women will make the world a better place. Women need to come to think of themselves not as victims but as dangerous." Anna Pigeon

        by glorificus on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:07:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not for nothing here... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    ...but please define "ethnic" as used in the following sentence:

    When I go out to eat (rarely), I go to locally owned ethnic eateries that are both delicious and healthy.
    What exactly is "ethnic" food?

    And what would make a locally-owned "ethnic" restaurant any more delicious, healthy, or conscience-positive than a locally-owned non-"ethnic" restaurant?

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 10:55:53 AM PST

    •  I define ethnic food as (0+ / 0-)

      Italian
      Middle Eastern
      Greek
      French
      Thai
      Chinese/Sechuan
      Japanese
      Etc

      A restaurant where the food fare is derived from one ethnicity/location and owned locally, not a chain.

       

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 12:06:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Much Like My 1970's Job at a Regional Burger (2+ / 0-)

    chain. Doesn't seem like the practices have changed terribly much.

    As I recall, in Ohio then the definition of overtime for restaurant work was 80 hours in 2 weeks not 40 in one. So they could work you like a dog one week if they had staff troubles, and as long as they gave you light hours next week and kept you under the 80 2 week total, it was flat wage.

    At one point I invented a sandwich out of a new combination of their existing supplies that started to catch on, but corporate got word of it and they were pissed.

    Eventually, as I was in school, I wasn't being flexible enough with my hours. They scheduled me for closing and opening shifts every day until I quit from sleep disruption.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 11:20:28 AM PST

    •  Also It Just Hit Me: The Smell of Clothes After (2+ / 0-)

      work. A few years later I worked fiberglass layup, and I have to say the fiberglassing clothes weren't as much stinkier than the burger joint clothes as I'd expected. At this moment from 35-40 years ago I can clearly recall the smell of each in my mind's nose.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 11:23:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh so true! It took a lot to get the french fry (0+ / 0-)

        smell out of my house.

        HEH  "mind's nose"  that's a great word crafted explanation.

        It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

        by War on Error on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 12:08:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And with all the magic and demons and evil and (0+ / 0-)

          such in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the only complaints Joss Whedon ever received on a story line was from the fast food industry for his DoubleMeat Palace episodes.

          "I believe more women should carry guns. I believe armed women will make the world a better place. Women need to come to think of themselves not as victims but as dangerous." Anna Pigeon

          by glorificus on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:10:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  We need constant reminders of the errosion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    of the social contracts we have made and depended on. (I was going to say 'enjoyed', but they are so basic it's hard to use the word.)

    I still can't figure out when the retirement age with full benefits went up: it used to be early at 62 and on a sliding scale until full in automatically at 65, now it seems there is more to it.

    Anyways, thank you for the well written personal and economic lesson.

    Science is hell bent on consensus. Dr. Michael Crichton said “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing to do with consensus... which is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right,”

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 11:42:27 AM PST

  •  Cogs in a machine (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    To the bourgeoisie we are a necessary evil but easily replaceable.

    I'm not sure when American society peaked and began to trend downhill for people - but suspect it may have been before I was born or when I was a child.

    Maybe one day the Fourth Estate will take their jobs seriously. Or not..

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 11:47:26 AM PST

    •  I'll tell you when. (3+ / 0-)

      Always for most women.  I entered the work force in the late 1960s.  I was confident and assertive back then, and rose to the top quickly.  However, I was NEVER paid anything close to what the men doing the same jobs were paid.  So, now I can look forward to the same lower SSI checks for the rest of my life, too.

      But the decline began when Reagan lowered tax rates on higher incomes as well as lessoned the number of income level division for what was an effective progressive tax code.

      Not only was Reagan NOT a saint, he eviscerated US society, imo.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 12:12:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  ...wonderful... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    ...those are the very words I say all the time..."they don't need us anymore."

    Thanks for this diary and your work experience...

    Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences.

    by paradise50 on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 01:02:22 PM PST

    •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

      The world, however, does need us.  We, the people, can lead by example instead of letting our country erode labor and social responsibility to the lower standards of other countries.

      We still have the freedom to raise a ruckus.  I fear, however, that we are too soft to brave the disruptive consequences for the time needed to change the direction we are heading in.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 04:03:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    right here:

    GENERATIONS OF CHILDREN being deprived of a cohesive home/family life.
    Not only because of unfair wages but because everyone is not considered worthy of being a family. I am not sure how the Republicans do it but they do - they are the keepers of all that is well and good for our children and grandchildren, except in reality they aren't. Mind boggling.

    I'm pretty tired of being told what I care about.

    by hulibow on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 01:21:29 PM PST

    •  I think their real meme goes this way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JG in MD

      "they are the keepers of all that is well and good for THEIR children and grandchildren" and the heck with the rest of us.

      It's one big home schooling, Charter School pushing, hate teachers and unions, and all those who are not THEM click.

      I call them HATRIOTS.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 01:58:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Vote with your wallet for good jobs, local biz (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    I'm reading Cloud Atlas for the third time, after watching the amazing movie. The book has a much stronger anti-corporatism theme. I marked this passage last night:

    ...in our age crimes are not committed by criminals conveniently at hand but by executive pens far beyond the mob's reach, back in London's postmodern HQs of glass and steel. Half the mob owns shares in what it would pound to atoms, anyway.
    It kills me to hear so many progressive friends talk about shopping at big box stores, in chain stores, or on Amazon, which doesn't collect sales tax in NC. Several of the wise old community leaders in Raleigh hold court every morning in a fast food restaurant instead of at a local coffee shop. Want to get some neighborhood buy in? Grab a McCoffee and slide into the booth.

    I admire your sustainable and thrifty lifestyle and your call for supporting local restaurants. I'd love to see us create more and better jobs by buying fewer but better goods and services.

    Instead of giving people lots of disposable or gag presents this year, give fewer gifts that might give pleasure for years and that were made in a responsible way. This could be a good kitchen knife and whetstone or tickets to a concert or play for years of good meals or warm memories.  Do the same with your own purchases year round. I often find amazing quality and low prices at thrift stores run to support good causes, too.

    What is a food system but a multitude of bites? Visit Cook for Good and vote with your fork!

    by Cook for Good on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 06:20:16 AM PST

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