When running Firefix, my former IT business, I had the (most often) pleasure of meeting between 50 and 100 small business owners. Amongst all of them I never met a single one who considered minimum wage to be less than 10 dollars an hour, even when hiring temps from the local community college to stuff envelopes. In fact, I was specifically told by more than one that they considered anything less than 10 an hour to be an nonviable wage.
Time and time again in our society the small business man/woman has been shafted by political incentive coming overwhelmingly from corporate America, resulting in a gamed system where GE, Bank of America, and Star bucks end up paying little to no income taxes for the year by taking advantage of loopholes that their lobbyists helped design, while small businesses pay upwards of 30% of their income in the first year of business. Yet still find some way to pay their employees a living wage.
In juxtaposition to that, we have mega-conglomerates like McDonald’s, paying an unlivable wage. And when confronted with that reality, what do they do? They distribute unrealistic budget pamphlets that in no way reflect the reality of life. Was that to assuage some corporate concession or simply to convince the breadth of middle America to dismiss the complaints of the working class as the frivolous whining of the poor spenders. When did we get so off track so as to ignore the suffering of our fellow-man?
I’m glad California raised its minimum wage, it’s about time; but the problem runs much deeper than any single piece of legislation can repair. The problem has become one of culture, of corporate greed, and our greatest foe: the apathy of the American people. And where there is not apathy, there is ineffectiveness. The tools exist within our democracy to fix it, anyone can start a PAC to lobby congress to turn around citizens united, anyone can raise money to push our legislators to set and hold a livable federal minimum wage, anyone and everyone who calls themselves a US citizen has access to the tools by which we can fix our democracy that is crumbling into an oligarchy. Every US citizen can vote; congress has a less than 10% approval rating, yet only 15% of California voted in the last mid terms and incumbents are overwhelmingly likely to retain their seats.
If only a small portion of the occupy crowd would simply occupy a voting booth the legislator of our country would be swept off its feet. We can usher in a new age of prosperity and social consciousness,
the tools are there, waiting to be picked up.