You’ve probably heard it tens of thousands of times – often from your most conservative of friends:
Hard work! People need to just work hard and they will be successful! Poor people are just lazy, with their food stamps and fake nails buying lobster for dinner while I work my ass off!
These gross generalizations are often made in conjunction with the assumption that our generation and future generations are even working in the same kind of world as our parents and grandparents once worked. Funny, people seem to have no problem understanding that our world is far different now than then when it comes to technology, raising children, food, family, but even attempt to point out that there are differences in the economy and those are completely ignored. No, instead we hear things like:
My father had only a high school education, went to work in the factory as an entry level worker and worked his way up. My mom never worked and things were tight but we made it without any welfare!
No doubt, that absolutely happened. It used to be that way… before corporate greed really took root, again. Hell, mankind has always struggled with the “haves” and the “have-nots” – this battle isn’t new. However, we have slipped back into old ways where people are not fairly compensated for the work they do, while the rich get richer. Of course, your conservative uncle will likely call you a nasty socialist if you even attempt to point out that fact.
Except, there is simply no denying the numbers.
The Washington Post says 2015 was a TERRIBLE year for the common working man. It was actually the headline. No, seriously, it was. The report states:
Top earners — men who made more than 95 percent of their peers — saw wages last year rise by 9.9 percent, according to an analysis of federal data. Men in the middle — with earnings higher than half their peers — saw a much-smaller 2.6 percent increase.
The article points out that while inequality among working men is something that has been growing for decades, it actually accelerated in 2015. In fact, that acceleration accounted for the largest single-year increase on record in the wage gap for working men.
Times have changed. Our economy has changed. Manufacturing jobs continue to leave the United States so we can continue to purchase cheap crap at the local Wal-Mart. Those manufacturing jobs, our fathers’ and grandfathers’ jobs, were the jobs we often look at with fond memories of the American dream. Except, many fail to realize that we sold those jobs out decades ago. The modern American dream is now dependent upon service industry jobs. Jobs that people still want to say only belong to high schoolers – yet McDonald’s and Wal-Mart are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Now the jobs available to the people that don’t go to college, and often even the ones that do, are retail or service industry jobs – minimum wage jobs. Remember, corporate outsourcing doesn’t just impact manufacturing jobs but also technology positions, customer service call center jobs, design services, engineering, etc. So, it is possible that college educated people are having to work at their local retail or fast food restaurant to put food on the table. And guess what? Yes, because the wage is so low they must rely on social programs like SNAP and WIC to supplement their income and feed their kids.
Conservatives continue to demonize the working poor. They continue to cry foul with any mention of a raise in the minimum wage. Their time, effort, and skills are somehow far superior to the individuals that are actually working VERY hard in retail and fast food for pennies, making it so they can continue to purchase their cheap shit at Wal-Mart.
But, it’s totally the poor people’s fault because they simply aren’t working hard enough. Totally go after them!
Meanwhile, the people earning the most are running away with the bag.
Featured image via Pixabay