Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Minimum Rage

"Kiss ass while you bitch so you can get rich while your boss gets richer off you. You'll work harder with a gun in your back, for a bowl of rice a day. Slave for soldiers till you starve and your head is skewered on a stake." Dead Kennedys lyrics

My spouse's new job is as a wage slave for a retail inventory service. Thanks to their tendency to work him to death, it pays better than working in a daycare. Just a word on daycares: their employees attend three years of college to work for subsistence wages and do housekeeping work in addition to the difficult job they actually trained for. Sexism isn't dead.

Back to spouse's job: since they still only pay minimum wage, they can easily work him to death- it's the only way to make enough money to make working for minimum wage worthwhile.

And ontario's minimum wage isn't really that low at $9.75/hr (of course, you should factor in the exchange rate, the higher price of everything and our 13% sales tax). It's just low enough to keep the slaves busy while giving the companies they work for an excuse to raise the cost of living. minimum wage is bullshit without price caps, because it creates an endless cycle of raising wages ever so slightly and raising prices to make sure that minimum wage workers are willing to work whatever hours and whatever conditions they're told to. Yesterday, spouse arrived home 7 hours before he had to be back at work. Who needs sleep?
The other day, at his job, one of the wage slaves got tired of being told he can't sit down while working his 10-15 hour shifts, told the boss-man to go fuck himself, and got fired. He waited outside the store, and cracked the first coworker to come out in the face with a baseball bat. The guy obviously has a problem besides the crappy job, but he made a decent point: poverty is violence. Workers deprived of food, sleep, breaks and even the slightest comfort at work are already abused. And it's not like this is the only corporation that does it, because this is not the only corporation with workers desperate enough for $ that they'll do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival and the company's soaring profits. Of course they're willing. Boss-man has the tacit ability to take away food, shelter and basic needs from his employees, just by hiring someone poorer and more desperate to work your hours.

Again, i say, minimum wage is bullshit. It's not about the wage, it's about making damn sure that everything you earn is paid right back to boss-man and his cronies for your basic needs.

Sometimes people will encourage me to quit my job (these people don't consider my labour "work" or my income mine, though) and go work for a boss-man for minimum wage (cause who else wants to hire a ho?). They call what I do "violent" and "degrading." But i've never been hit with a bat, or anything else, or forced to work on no sleep, without breaks or in physically damaging positions. Well, not since i stopped working for a boss-man, anyway.

Since women are more likely than men to work in low-paying positions, we bear the brunt of the abuse that poverty allows. Add our vulnerability to sexual harrassment and rape at work, and the increased likelihood of being assaulted at home or in our communities if we live in poverty, and we have ourselves a problem. Then consider the low-wage slaves in latin america, asia and africa, immigrant and poc domestic workers and literal slaves- people trafficked for farm and factory labour (sorry folks, but the "sex trade" does not have a monopoly on this, and is quite the minority if you stop calling consenting migrant sex workers "trafficked" to excuse their kidnap and deportation)- and we have ourselves a genocide. Women and people of colour are being forced, in order to eat and shelter themselves, to participate in a market that has every advantage over them. Yeah, there's exceptions- female CEOs and a black president etc.- but the rule stands, and firmly.

But talk about price caps, regulations, profit caps, livng wages and- heaven forbid- wealth redistribution and the boss-man and his cronies scream "socialism! fascism! OUR RIGHTS ARE BEING VIOLATED!" We watch the news and we're supposed to believe this, too. But the news lies, and our rights have already been to the firing squad.

The time will come when people get fed up with their own rights being contingent on their willingness to break their backs and devalue their lives, and find a way to guarantee their own food and shelter, absent of market participation. When no one is willing to be boss-man's meat. I hope it's soon.


Ebony Intuition said...

Minimum wage should start at 15 bucks an hour, these governments are fraud, every where the cost of living goes up while wages stay the same.

Ebony Intuition said...

* every year *

uppitywhore said...

it's true. our $10/hr goal made sense 10 years ago, not now. it's even worse for people who have been earning 10-15/hr for years, with no raises. now the cost of living has been raised to exceed the new minimum, and what was once a decent wage is barely enough for subsistence.

i earn $180/hr. i don't work 40 hours a week, and I do have business expenses, but the idea of working, and in worse conditions, for $10... just appalling.

Anarchist Jew said...

yep, we are slaves except they don't pay for our food and housing. We do. Working 5 days a week has killed my creativity. My dream is only to have national health care so I could work part time plus freelance and pursue other interests. So sad.

Alienation said...

"The time will come when people get fed up with their own rights being contingent on their willingness to break their backs and devalue their lives"

And that is when we will have true rights in our favor, and not a second sooner.

I saw this quote recently and fell in love.

“Ten thousand times the labor movement has stumbled and fallen, bruised itself, then risen again, been seized by the throat and choked into insensibility, enjoined by the courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, shot down by regulars, frowned upon by public opinion, deceived by politicians, threatened by priests, repudiated renegades, preyed upon by grafters, infested with spies, deserted by cowards, betrayed by traitors, bled by leeches and sold out by leaders. But, notwithstanding all these, it is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known!’

Eugene V. Debs----1912


Yes, said in 1912. :-/

Anarchist Jew said...

great quote. like i said, when's the fucking revolution?

Bandbabe said...

I second that Anarchist!

This is a great post uppitywhore. I think minimum wage is $7.15 in NY. Even BEFORE the recession that was nearly impossible to live on and take care of a family.

Anarchist, you make a good point about universal coverage. That's why I'm convinced they would pass it. It's frees us for having to work crappy jobs for benefits. So many ppl would quit shitty jobs if they weren't worried for their health or their kids health. I worked a job with no health care. It was a huge mistake. I never realize how expensive it was. An individual plan with Blue Cross has a $800+ premium! O_o

Bandbabe said...

They WON'T* pass it.

Typos suck..

uppitywhore said...

sadly, i think you're right. even obama has people to answer to, and i don't think he can pass a universal health care law unless it somehow becomes benficial to the corporations that own your health care providers.
most universal health care bills were passed a hundred or so years ago, when the average voter went without health care and the average doctor (and this is the missing factor for persuading the government to provide health care now) lost income because people could not afford his services. universal health care paid more and brought in more customers.
but insurance companies in the states pay well enough, and earn their own money, and doctors aren't small business owners any more, and everywhere is short on doctors, not customers, and the tier system means that some people will pay extra for better care, and people are so helpless that they need doctors whether they can afford them or not... so where's the profit in changing it?

a liveable minimum wage, or health care that has anything at all to do with your health, does not make sense within this kind of capitalist economy. i'm not pusing for communism either, but suggesting that we all need to learn from the mistake of pushing "purist" economic systems on people as if they are scientific or "natural." they're not. they're agreements made between people, with varying degrees of informed consent. as one culture, we need to realize that "the market" and "the recession" are choices, and modify the agreements by which we will participate. boycotts and strikes, for instance, are a way that a large group can let a particular feature of the market know that they have decided to alter the agreement, but if we buy in to this "economic science" business, then we're told that boycotts and strikes hurt the market in a recession.