An Open Letter To Matt Walsh On Behalf Of Underpaid Workers Across America

Image via SEIU

Image via SEIU

Dear Mr. Matt Walsh,

I have read your article from April 15th entitled “Fast Food Workers: You Don’t Deserve $15 an Hour to Flip Burgers, and That’s OK,” and while conservatives across America cheer you on for putting those greedy fast food workers in their place, allow me to put you in yours. In your article, you state that you are not insulting these hard-working men and women who are asking for a raise, but that is exactly what you are doing.

You are taking a cheap, smarmy shot at people who work physically demanding and often-stressful jobs that keep them from their families at night and on the weekend. You are taking a shot at people who, after working a grueling shift, often have to soak their feet in Epsom salt at night just to do it all over again the next day. You are taking a shot at people who work their tails off, only to worry about how they will keep their lights on when disconnect day comes. You are taking a shot at people who often can’t even afford the food they sell you, and are forced to turn to government assistance to subsidize their terrible wages, even while working a full-time job. Your solution of getting a second or third job is a typical conservative response. Clearly working forty hours a week is slacking off, right? Why break your back for forty hours a week when you can do it for seventy hours a week? To hell with family time, low wage workers are the bottom of the barrel, and do not deserve a chance to relax or have some resemblance of happiness right? Your condescension and disdain towards working Americans is nauseating.

The slightest bit of research would tell you that the average age of a minimum wage worker in America is almost 30. This tired idea that minimum wage workers are all high school kids looking for spending money just shows how conservatives continue to believe that we still live in an America where opportunity exist for everyone, but sadly that America is gone. Had your article been written thirty-five years ago, before Ronald Reagan and friends began the elimination of the American dream, I would be agreeing with the premise of your article. Unfortunately, it isn’t relevant in 2015.

I remember the good old days, when it was the “union-thugs” who were vilified for wanting to earn a decent living that would include retirement, and maybe even some job security. Now, people who are forced into low paying jobs want a raise, so hey, it’s a new group we can demonize! The billionaires pulling the strings of the Republican party have done a wonderful job convincing every day people like you that workers seeking decent pay and workers rights will somehow be the demise of America.

In your article, you name some of the professions that earn less than fifteen dollars an hour, and would be out earned by a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage worker. It should be very obvious that these described professions are grossly underpaid, and addressing an increase in wages across the board should be the main issue of the 2016 Presidential Election. The money is there for everyone to make a living wage. The problem is, all of the money is being funneled to the top and working people are left fighting for scraps.

This is 2015, and jobs do not pay the way they once did. We are reaping the rewards of a system that was constructed to collapse on the young and working people of America. People who were promised a better opportunity, only to find that those opportunities didn’t exist, are filling fast food jobs, which also include service jobs in general such as restaurants and coffee shops. Many of my friends have college degrees, yet are working eight to eleven dollar an hour jobs and barely scraping by. The difference in your America, and the America that actually exists today, is your America had a path to success for anyone willing to work hard enough. Now, if you are lucky, working harder may get you a full-time assistant manager job making ten dollars an hour. Yes! The pinnacle of success has been reached.

I respect your story of working your way up, and eventually landing a spot making good money for you and your family. Yes, that is the way it is supposed to work. Regardless of what the conservative mouthpieces say, liberals also believe in hard work, and understand that it is necessary to make the most out of one’s self. The difference is, we are able to open our eyes and see the modern day economy for what it is, a redistribution of wealth to the top, while the middle class and working poor continue to be squeezed to their breaking point so Charles and David Koch can have another tax break to buy their next politician.

I have a story too. My story is the same as millions of Americans. I have been working since I was 16 years old. By the age of 24, I had worked my way into a position making about seventeen dollars an hour. I too was on my way to the “American Dream.” After a couple of months, the company started cutting positions and pay across the board. This was the beginning of the economic crash that was caused by letting unregulated capitalism run amuck, and letting the “free market” run the show. It affected millions of Americans who had always worked hard and played by the rules.

In true conservative fashion, I decided to look for a better job with another company. The problem was, the jobs were gone. I took the best thing I could find and I’ve been working hard ever since to get back to that point. I am still making less than I was seven years ago. This is the part where conservatives point out that Barack Obama was elected roughly seven years ago, and go on to blame liberal policies for the lack of good paying jobs in America today. You can do that if you want, but it’s far from the truth.

We are experiencing the culmination of thirty-five years of Reaganomics, a system that was designed to crush the working poor and middle class in favor of the wealthiest Americans. Ninety-five percent of new wealth since 2009 has gone to the top one percent of wealthiest Americans. I don’t care if you are a socialist, or a libertarian, that should scare the hell out of you. Although the richest Americans are seeing ninety-five percent of the new wealth, even their gains have been slower than in previous recoveries and here is why.

Every time our nation has given tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans (aka Reaganomics) we have seen a brief spike in economic growth, followed by a crash. The period of growth varies in time, but is never able to become a permanent economic model due to the lack of spending power in the middle class and working poor. When the wealthy have extra money in their pockets they hoard it. When working people have extra money in their pockets, they spend it.  Business owners large or small spend as little as they can on payroll, renovations, employee benefits, etc. Every conservative I have ever debated likes to think that the more money you give a business owner, the more they will invest in their employees. This is not true. I have experienced this with small business owners, as well as larger companies. Employers will only spend money on their employees when they have to. The more spending money the working poor and middle class have, the more they will spend, which in turn, will force businesses to invest in their companies to ensure that their customers needs are being met. The wealthy are not job creators, they are job facilitators, we are the job creators. Everyday working Americans are the one’s that create jobs by spending their money which stimulates the economy.

It is my hope that all Americans will always strive to work there hardest to achieve a better life for them and their family. That being said, something needs to be done to raise wages across America, which would put more money in the pockets of working Americans. Then and only then will we see sustainable economic growth. We’ve tried letting the wealthy stimulate the economy. It doesn’t work, and never will.

Ben Madison

Ben Madison is a Liberal political activist who believes in an America where everyone is afforded the opportunities to achieve their goals and dreams regardless of color, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. He has spent time in Texas as well as North Carolina and currently resides in Louisiana. He is the founder of The Middle Class is Drowning on Facebook and can be followed on Twitter @BenHMadison.


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