"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.
*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.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?
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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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.