But looking back at all Republicans have done, they seem to have achieved one goal really well: convince Americans making just enough that if only those with not enough had less, they'd be doing much better. Put another way, they've trained a certain segment of the population to kick downwards. Instead of looking at a system that makes it difficult to survive, instead of looking at the portion of the population that keeps getting richer and richer, instead of looking at how many hundreds and even thousands of times those above them make than everyone else...they look at the people just below them, getting poorer and poorer. Republicans have instilled such a level of contempt in people for unskilled laborers and the poor, that they do the work of justifying paying them less than enough to survive for the party.
Bear in mind, we're not talking about people who don't work; we're not talking about people who earn a lousy living, but a living. We're talking about people who work hard, and do not earn enough for the basic necessities. And as far as Republicans are concerned, this is good enough: the unskilled laborer's comfort, standard-of-life, independence, self-respect, health and ultimately life are worthy of only disdain. He is a failure by virtue of being unskilled, and as such deserves contempt. A cheap Big Mac is more important than the person making it being able to afford to pay his rent and put food on the table after working 40 hours a week.
Thus we see things like this (this particular image has been shared by almost 200K people, but there are many other variants around the net):
First of all, the false comparison is just a way to heap scorn on the working poor: you just make fries, and you think you should be treated the same as an American hero?! It ignores benefits that are attached (health, etc.) to military service (still needed, but not found in fast food work...), and casts these as mutually exclusive options. Should we pay our military better? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay minimum wage employees more, either.
But that's not the worst part of this. Look at the smug contempt this person piles on fast food employees. Throughout the piece, she refers to fast food workers in only demeaning terms:
- Johnny Fry-BoyThey have "failed," and if they "don't want minimum wage" they shouldn't "have minimum skills."
- Sally McBurgerflipper
And, it bears repeating, this is not one bitter, hateful person spewing her contempt for her fellow man on the internet. Once upon a time, the GOP line was "get a job, earn money, it doesn't matter what it is, just get off your butt and work." It's now morphed from "the dignity of work" to "make my burgers, bitch. And hell no, you don't get paid enough to survive, because you're just a burger flipper!"
If a minimum wage worker cannot afford to live, that is his fault, because he should simply better himself. Despite the fact that, you know, he can't afford to live, much less acquire higher education....
This is the same thinking exhibited by Governor Scott Walker in last week's gubernatorial debate, where -- only after continued prodding and much prevarication -- he admitted that he didn't think a living wage should be set, but, rather, that minimum wage workers should user their earnings to better themselves (ignoring the fact, mentioned above, that minimum wage is too low to afford basic necessities of life, much less education; and that he has cut education so much in the state that tens of thousands are on financial aid wait lists -- thus narrowing a minimum wage earner's opportunities even more).
In short, the GOP has convinced a segment of its base that the poor are poor because they're failures. They can't afford to survive not because they don't work, but because they work in the wrong type of work. If they wanted to be able to survive, they'd just save up from their less-than-enough-to-afford-the-necessities-of-life paychecks for expensive higher education. While Republicans cut funding from and access to it. The fact that the poor don't get the higher education that they can't afford (and Republicans have made it even harder to afford) indicates that they're just failures. (And let's just ignore the fact that the whole "minimum wage jobs are meant for highschool students" is a blatant lie -- as the workforce needed is far, far greater than could be managed by highschool students, operates during school hours, etc., etc.)
When it comes right down to it, the Republican answer to a living wage is as meaningful, sophisticated and compassionate as this Disney cartoon villain's:
Frankly, I can't decide which is worse: that a mainstream party would actually run with such an answer, or that so many people can be so easily swayed to view their fellow man with such unbridled contempt as to think their hard work should be given for less than enough to survive. Because, fuck them, the poor, unskilled bastards.
And this is the GOP's big success: they've convinced people to despise those whose lives are more difficult than their own, to consider the success of those beneath them as personally or societally harmful; to think that a full-time working person should make less than enough to survive, because they don't deserve survival if they don't have higher education. (But, remember, the president is a "snob" for advocating educational opportunities for all!)