One day I parked my car on the street outside a very nice restaurant in Milan, Italy, when a man came up to me and said something in Italian, which I conveniently do not speak. The man wanted the equivalent of $5 to watch my car. I told my Italian translator I respectfully declined (“Hell, no!”). He clarified: pay the man $5 or something would happen to my car while we ate. I paid. That’s a shakedown. I know one when I see it.
In more than 100 cities, fast food workers have run a play from Saul Ailinsky’s Rules for Radicals by disrupting traffic outside their employers places of business. At least 10 protesters were arrested by the man in Atlanta for the simple act of extorting their employers to pay them more money.
Arrests that began early Thursday morning outside a landmark McDonald’s in New York City spread later in the day to Detroit, Chicago and Las Vegas as thousands of emboldened fast-food workers coast to coast put down their burger flippers and picked up picket signs in a strike that included acts of civil disobedience as workers rally for $15 minimum wages. [emphasis mine]
“Civil disobedience” is when you violate an unjust law. I don’t know of any law that requires Wendy’s, Burger King, or McDonalds to pay its workers the minimum wage. In fact, the law requires them to pay at least the minimum wage. Many make more than the minimum, for doing more than the minimum. This disturbance isn’t civil disobedience, it’s a shakedown.
Should fast food workers get paid $15/hour? That depends on your point of view. In Williston, North Dakota, you can join the McDonalds crew for $11-$12/hour. But you have to live in Williston, where the oil runs thick and the liquor runs thicker. You don’t see fast food marches for $15/hour in Williston.
This battle isn’t about getting a “fair wage”. A fair wage is getting paid for doing a job for which you have a skill, less than the guy or gal who wanted too much for it, and more than the one who can’t find his posterior from a hole in the ground. It’s called supply and demand, one of the inconvenient features of a market economy—inconvenient, that is, for those who don’t want to work but get paid anyway. Erick Erickson pointedly describes them as “failing at life”. They’re only failing if you believe in a capitalist society, or if you actually have values to judge failure.
Liberals want individual values to go away. They are too personal, and create too many exceptions to all the rules for how they want society to function. Liberals aren’t really about helping those who are struggling. They’re not even about making everything fair, or equal. Liberals have a secret passion: the death of values, and the elevation of class rules and pragmatism above all else. Liberals want society to make the class rules, based on their own view of who should win and who should lose (society is code-speak for Liberal elites).
Peel back the liberal crocodile-tear argument of “struggling single mothers” and you find a stunning array of caste-driven, even racist, presuppositions. College is a requirement for a decent career and its evil twin, a decent career is the fruit of a college education are two. Opportunity is something given to the have-nots by the haves is another. And of course, greed is the primary motivation of corporations (a.k.a. the rich), but need is the primary motivation of workers (a.k.a. the poor).
They want a society where shutting down a Church-run soup kitchen because the homeless people who eat there frighten other locals is the moral equal of paying a guaranteed income to everyone, whether they work or not. Individuals have to possess values to decide to feed the poor with their own money, but only the government should feed the poor, according to the Left’s gospel.
Welfare programs are demeaning by design, because they dictate to poor people what they must spend on food, housing, or health care, rather than letting them make those trade-offs themselves. The government even dictates what food poor people may or may not buy with food stamps. The libertarian interest in a guaranteed income scheme proceeds not simply-or even mostly-from the desire to make government smaller and more cost-efficient. It stems from a belief that all individuals have the capacity to promote their own interests, and in fact are better able to make decisions about their lives than anyone else.
You mean government welfare programs. And, yes, they are demeaning. They are demeaning for the very reason cited against them: a belief that all individuals have the capacity to promote their own interests. Promoting your own interests means getting off welfare. Welfare is supposed to be a government safety-net, a refuge of last resort. Refuges of last resort, by design, offer little choice to those who end up there. At soup kitchens, the diners don’t dictate what’s in the soup. Shutting down charities who seek to help those at the rope’s end drives them to a government only too happy to trust them with cash and decision-making ability about their own lives. The same decision-making that got them homeless.
When women decide the value of their labor at home raising children versus working in a paid job, when men decide the value of pursuing charity work versus climbing the corporate ladder, these decisions require value judgments. When companies decide the value of an employee’s work based on individual contribution, values are required. Liberals seek the elimination of values by converting all personal decisions into societal compacts.
Sugary drinks are bad for health, society says, so government should ban them or tax them. Society says too many babies overpopulate the Earth, so abortion must be okay. Society says that climate change is about to sink the world in a massive flood, and we all must stop using electricity and fuel. Individual values suffocate and die beneath the weight of a duty to society to fulfill society’s needs, led into the glorious future by those whose knowledge is only exceeded by their beneficence, or so the mantra goes.
This is bilge water. Society can no more eliminate personal values than a tax can stop sugar addicts from buying Cokes. But liberals think it can, and they use government to implement the regulations, taxes, bans and burdens as if it worked. All that does it cause real people who have values to oppose their efforts, leading to real civil disobedience. But the liberal mindset encourages people to extort protection money from their employers, not because it works, but because they think it can work.
I’m tired of being a mouse in a maze for a Liberal thought experiment. I’m tired of them encouraging “civil disobedience” by “community organizing” what amounts to criminal extortion. I’m tired of them deciding how human nature should be, and then implementing insane policies to force us to be in their image. In short, I’m tired of Liberals playing God.
No matter how much they seek the death of values, Liberals didn’t give them to us, God did. And God’s not dead.