William Thien

A Note on The Striking Service Workers

Posted on: September 7, 2013

During the last thirty days service workers at a number of fast food restaurant franchises and several big box retailers have gained some traction in their effort for better wages by striking and leaving work.

As a conservative I would have to say that it is my opinion the strikers would be better off picketing in front of the federal and state buildings in their locality to protest their income taxes. Income taxes for a family of four in 1952 were approximately two percent of their income, federal income taxes that is. Today, service workers which are generally lower-income or lower middle-income wage earners are likely seeing fifteen to twenty-five percent federal income taxes taken from their checks. That is substantial. That’s two dollars and fifty cents out of every ten dollars, a gallon of milk for the baby. And that does not include the additional subtractions from pay of increases in state income taxes, medicare and social security payments either.

I would agree that pay for many service workers is not enough to survive on. And the argument that you hear by many talk radio hosts that those service workers “aren’t worth fifteen dollars an hour” is really irrelevant. Minimum wage is not a living wage. Twice that, or fifteen dollars an hour, what the service workers are seeking, isn’t that much really either after taxes, especially when you factor in the substantial inflation we’ve had here in The United States over the last decade. The price of gasoline has doubled in the last six years (100 percent inflation in six years! That is 17 percent annual inflation on just that one necessity. Seventeen percent!). Increases in the price of food stuffs have seen similar inflation, and so has the cost of the other basic necessities. And though it is not like the type of inflation the world saw during The Weimar Republic in Germany before WWII, it is seriously substantial nevertheless, especially when you include tax increases, fee and licensing increases, and a generally downward trend in wages, which for the wage earner amplifies any inflation. If the numbers are correct, American families make an average of 9 and a quarter percent less than a decade ago with the average family income being $55,000 then and $51,000 now, a loss in income approaching ten percent.

They say you can judge the character of a country by how it treats its prisoners. How about how a country treats its working classes?

Just a reminder before I proceed with the next part of this observation…I want to reiterate that I am a conservative. But there is nothing in conservatism that says conservatives must be blind to the plight of their fellow countrymen. Conservatives are not what I call “Big Business Robot Frontmen.” You must read my other essays delineating conservatism from capitalism. Though they work well together as ideologies, the two are not the same. One often hijacks the other in the service of its purpose.

To continue, another problem that has arisen from the service oriented economy The United States is in right now is that you need a lot of unskilled people to effectively keep such an economy going, more so if you want the economy to grow. Regardless of whatever reason is given, both political parties have their proponents of open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens for that very reason. Policy like that will just drive hourly wages down even further as there will be more people competing for a declining number of jobs: good for business, bad for the working classes. For those unionists that keep shouting for amnesty for illegal aliens from whatever country, you might want to keep that in mind as you attempt to undermine your own union membership with such policy.

I only bring up that last point because the net effect will be more people being displaced from their jobs or suffering pay cuts due to more applicants and fewer jobs, and therefore they will be forced to go on government assistance because they have mouths to feed. More people going on government assistance means larger government by default. Conservatives don’t like larger, more expensive government.

See. I told you I was a conservative.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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