There's only so much of it you can choke down before the bile has to rise. There's only so much of it you can absorb without reaching a breaking point, especially in the age of Facebook and Google and Smartphones. And so you hit a point where you can't take any more. How can you? You've got kids being sent home from the prom for being too sexy and removed from the yearbook because girls shouldn't be wearing tuxedos while elected officials run around blaming women for rape and saying that women deserve to earn less than men because they don't work as hard and should be devoting themselves to home and family instead anyway, and access to birth control is suddenly an issue again as a large segment of the population is trying to wish this country's female population back into the nineteenth century. Slut shaming has ceased to be an adolescent bully tactic and has instead become an accepted life lesson by the same adults who defend bullying as a rite of passage and then defend their own kids when they cyber-bully a classmate into a suicide attempt or rape an underage drunk girl at a party by claiming she was asking for it anyway as towns rally behind jocks and run rape victims out of town because popular high school football players are more important than protecting young girls from date rape because our daughter doesn't behave like that so its really not our problem, is it? And the kids are fucked anyway because childhood obesity is becoming a massive epidemic and you've got people blaming the kids for for being lazy and eating too much while completely ignoring the fact that their diet consists of the poisonous crap being sold as food these days, with something like 80% of processed foods containing added sugar or even worse corn syrup because the food manufacturers just had to go out of their way to find a more harmful sweetener than cane sugar, since the pathetic state of the FDA where they can't even inspect a fraction of the food industry and level wrist-slap fines that don't even put a dent in the profit margin that the unsafe preparation of food offers still isn't killing people in this country fast enough, and they still haven't figured out how to turn mercury into a flavor-enhancing additive. Which shouldn't be so surprising since this country excels in intentionally poisoning itself with an unending supply of cigarettes and alcohol while the government hypocritically spends billions combating the recreational drugs that don't have corporate sponsorship, and so our government is still attempting to protect it's people from ingesting potentially harmful recreational drugs while eagerly allowing the food companies to shovel shit down their throats, and they care so much about American lives that we're the only industrialized nation left that still has the death penalty but is repelled by the idea of socialized medicine, because nothing says Freedom like being free to die a slow and painful death because you can't afford treatment for your illness in the richest fucking nation on the planet, so the lower class die in emergency rooms and the middle class lose their houses to pay for a week-long hospital stay after a necessary procedure while other people and politicians alike scream about the inequalities and dangers of providing healthcare to all Americans and talk shit about other countries with socialized medicine while the U S of A sports the highest mortality rates and is beat out by Cuba for quality of medical care provided, and this outcry against giving something to people for free, God forbid, doesn't even include the constant attacks against programs designed to assist poor families with shelter and heating and helping them feed their poor children, starving children for fuck's sake, because what kind of a moral Christian nation would we be if we allowed our hard-earned tax dollars to go towards feeding starving innocent children because what kind of commie pinko nation is this that we're so afraid of letting the poor and inform die in the streets and clog up the gutters which are clogging up on their own anyway since the richest country in the fucking world can't be bothered to even maintain its own infrastructure, so at least the US government isn't that hypocritical since it doesn't even believe in maintain its own health, let alone the health of the people the government is supposed to be serving, not exploiting and ignoring. But why bitch about the government when you can just wait a few minutes and listen to the caterwauling insanity of the growing portion of the population dead-set against any kind of humanistic or empathetic world view, the mewling asshats who live in constant fear of anything happening that they don't personally approve of, shouting out against gay couples being allowed to marry as if it was an affront to anything more than their own myopic world views, arguing against shit that doesn't affect them on any level except what could only be referred to jokingly as an intellectual level, these soulless motherfuckers that compare immigrants and poor people to animals then look around for a high-five as if they'd just said something urbanely wise and clever, like they're some kind of modern day Jonathan Swift instead of just another unsympathetic asshole more concerned about somebody else getting something they didn't than any heartfelt consideration for other human beings, rallying against lowering costs or interest rates or god forbid offering free higher education because they want to make sure we have enough stupid people to flip their burgers and dig the ditch they want to shit in because by their reasoning if everyone has access to affordable education then nobody will drive a garbage truck, and they don't like their tax money going to education anyway because they're constantly bitching that the public school systems are a joke and don't teach anything, which is usually an awkward argument because most of the time the people saying this are products of public schools anyway so by their own argument they just might be too fucking stupid to be listened to if they were products of the public school system, but of course they were probably just so smart to begin with or they don't mean their schools but "other" schools which means schools in poor and urban areas which should be gradually shut down by implementing voucher systems so we can revert to the good old days when only the children of wealthy families got any schooling so these greedy bastards can be sure that there is enough of an uneducated workforce to keep the cost of their Egg McFucking Muffin down, and of course this goes right into their reasoning against raising the minimum wage, because not only will their plastic cheap-ass Walmart patio decorations cost them fifty cents more if a multi-billion dollar corporation actually has to pay its workers a living wage, but because they claim you need to underpay laborers less than they can live on otherwise they won't have any incentive to work harder even though the working poor are working harder than these loudmouthed motherfuckers have ever worked in their miserable lives just so they can pay the skyrocketing rent on their shitty one-bedroom apartment and make sure their kids can eat corn-syrup-injected processed crap that keeps them simultaneously fed and malnourished because some fucknut managed to get the meal programs budget cut at the school they won't even be able to go to once the new voucher system allows them to go to a really good private school even though studies have shown that private schools aren't that much better just because they turn a profit and free-market economics doesn't work when you're not producing an actual product asshole, but in reality that voucher is not going to cover the entire cost so the father working three shit jobs and paying payroll taxes on all of them won't be able to pony up the cash for the voucher difference and will the dickhead greedy taxpayer want to spring the bill for shipping kids two hours each way to the nearest public school crappy enough for an equal voucher exchange, why of course not what are we commies or something? And these assholes are everywhere, and they are loud and obnoxious and the symptom of a larger disease, the growing Apathy of the American public, not a physical apathy or even mental apathy but an emotional apathy that is increasingly removing any desire of people that are otherwise active in getting involved in ideas and philosophies and debates and arguments but cannot be bothered to actually attempt to feel anything for anybody but themselves and their ideological viewpoints that are the new religion of a country supposedly founded on Christian morality but is actually serving the deities of money and vanity and won't even consider any kind of concept that doesn't involve an increased profit margin or confirmation that they are everything that is right with the world, this shallow unsympathetic fucks who bitch about tax dollars funding art students or poor children but couldn't give a rat's ass how many innocents are killed by the flying killer robots their tax dollars bought or anything else except how much they have to pay the pool guy or tip the waitress or pay for anything because what the hell are we except cash receptacles and if you don't have enough to make you count as a real person than its your fault for not being smart enough or lucky enough because we don't want public schools teaching evolution while we force survival-of-the-fittest economics theory into common practice instead of using the collective wealth of a nation to benefit all of its citizens, and not just the ones that can afford to live the American Dream, what a fucking joke, the American Dream has become the world's largest Ponzi Scheme that will bankrupt the ones defending it as well as the unappreciated masses they dismiss with contempt, and I can't debate fuckwits like this anymore and pretend that their arguments are valid and treat them with even a fraction of the respect they refuse to show the people they dismiss and denigrate and even blame for everything wrong with this vast social experiment gone vastly awry, and I can't go on playing nice with these vile fucks, they need to be shouted down and cursed out and treated like the soulless bastards they are, because there is only so many times I can be fed "let's agree to disagree" before I have to refuse to pretend their inhumane and narrow-sighted ideas are relevant in any rational sense of the word, and maybe if we stopped playing this he-said-she-said let them think what they want and we don't want to sink to their level game and lashed out against the idiots screaming offensive ideologies into the wind as if greed and arrogance were noble traits, perhaps the sooner we just call out these people for being the scumbags that they are, then maybe we can all vent this growing frustration that results from dealing with this level of ignorance on a daily basis.
I've found myself avoiding online debates over the recent drive to increase the minimum wage. Not due to any decrease in my beliefs or convictions, but because it's just so exhausting.
Then again, debating anything that has become divided opinion-wise along ideological lines is an uphill climb lately. Thanks to the advances of internet search engines and social media sharing, we've all becoming experts in selective research. Our access to information has grown exponentially over the past couple of decades, and so has our ability to cherry-pick the facts that best support our beliefs. We're not more informed, we're just better armed to rationalize our beliefs.
This isn't a new complaint, of course. The more access to alternate news sources there are, the more there are people whining about there being too many alternate news sources. The noise about information technologies catering to the individual is probably just as loud as the noise over saving Net Neutrality, so I really don't have anything new to bring to the table in that regard. You find your statistics to back your side of the argument, and I'll find those that buttress mine.
It's an especially frustrating forfeit with this particular topic, as those arguing against raising the minimum wage tend to rely on erroneous or outright contradictory "facts." My favorites are the ones who will claim that raising the minimum wage is unnecessary because only a small percentage of the workforce actually earns minimum wage, then turn around and declare that increasing the minimum wage will destroys small businesses and cause retail and service prices to skyrocket. So it's an issue that is both small enough to be ignored, yet massive enough to destroy the very fabric of our economy.
Of course, the scare tactic that claims raising the minimum wage will make your Walmart shopping trip twice as expensive is not only inherently greedy, but patently false. More intellectually dishonest is the claim regarding the small minority of minimum wage workers, which feeds off of select data included in recent government studies that shows the minimum wage workforce at around 6%. These claims are technically true, but completely ignore employees earning only a fraction more than the minimum wage. If you look at labor studies for the number of full-time wage earners working for under $10 an hour (the proposed federal minimum wage, which comes to roughly $20,000 a year), that number of undervalued employees skyrockets to 26% of the workforce. The Small Business and Higher Price-tag arguments, on the other hand, intentionally ignore that the biggest minimum wage (and just above minimum wage) employers are the major retail and fast food chains that constantly record profits in the billions - billions earned with the sweat of the low-wage laborer. The fact that most of these same corporate empires have seen increased profits due to more of the working poor being forced to buy their cheap shit, and that more and more of their minimum wage employees are also forced to enroll in government aid programs, is an additional irony that they tend to overlook as well. And we haven't even gotten into stagnant wages against CEO bonuses and the rate of inflation.
But again, it's pointless submitting any of this as evidence, because if you just don't like the idea of the minimum wage being increased to $10, you can easily find some think tank study that predicts Armageddon if low-wage workers are paid "more than they're worth," and if you're really unlucky, they might start throwing Ayn Rand quotes at you.
Quick tip: If someone ever confronts you with a quote from Atlas Shrugged, feign interest and ask to borrow their copy of the book, then beat them over the head with it until they cry and run away (does not work with eBook versions).
So what do you do? Abandon your ideals? I am a firm believer in raising the minimum wage. I have worked as middle management in both corporate retail and small business service industry, and in both instances I have seen abuse and dismissal of a workforce that is vital to the very existence of these successful businesses. I have seen hours intentionally kept below full-time to avoid employee benefits, I have seen intentional under-staffing followed by increased workloads without additional compensation, and I have even seen flagrant violations of federal labor laws regarding the tracking of payroll hours and compensation for overtime work. I have worked alongside the people affected by these inhumane practices, and I am morally opposed to how these people are being treated by their employers.
Maybe morality is how this battle needs to be waged (pun intended). Perhaps if we stop drying to dig up reports that attempt to statistically prove our point, maybe we just need to start point out that paying a living wage to employees responsible for the company's profit is just "the right thing to do." Do we seriously want our country, which some would (falsely) argue was founded on Christian principles, to allow business owners to exploit the working poor? If hard work is to be glorified as a national principle, isn't it fair that we reward that hard work as well?
I don't know. Maybe you just can't debate somebody who is dead-set against anything that would enable somebody to benefit from something they can't get themselves. What can you say to the guy making enough to support his own family when the only reason he's against somebody else being paid enough to feed their own children is because he doesn't want to feel any less special. How do you expand the world view of people struggling to maintain their myopic outlook? If somebody is willing to suppress the earning power of retail workers just so they can save twenty-five cents on a lawn chair, is the moral argument actually going to sway them?
It's all very frustrating. If it wasn't for the fact that morality has been slowly winning out over the years when it comes to civil rights, marriage equality, and maybe even immigration, I'd probably be completely despondent. But progress is evident, even when your cousin on Facebook is willing to make political campaign contributions in order to ensure that the person serving him his food can't afford to purchase a healthy meal of their own. There's still hope. Sometimes, occasionally, real morality wins.