There is a MacDonald’s Express on the corner of my block. My husband used to go there for the occasional fish sandwich, but I’ve never been inside. To me, it is largely a source of garbage, since the people who stop by to eat in an express fashion often feel free to throw their wrappers on the sidewalk.
Sometimes, I see MacDonald’s employees outside, picking up the trash. Which is lovely, because I can’t say the same for the employees of the take-out Chinese place across the street. Sometimes, the employee is obviously a teenager, but most often he or she is clearly an adult, occasionally a middle-aged adult.
I don’t think any of them participated in the nation-wide strike demanding an increase in pay for fast-food workers. If they did, it was so briefly that it in no way disrupted the traffic on a busy corner.
This is a round-about way of saying that it’s a good time to be a successful white person. Not that I can think of a bad time to be such a person, but now is even better. MacDonald’s workers (and other people who work in fast-food, retail, etc.) make $7.25 an hour, (for a yearly salary of around $14,500) while the CEO of their companies “earn” salaries in the seven – and eight – figures. It might be more difficult to be a CEO, but it’s not a million times more difficult.
An important part of every successful white man’s employment contract is his retirement package, which often includes a generous pension and life insurance policy. The rest of us? Not so much. For example, you may remember the recent story about the 19 men killed fighting a forest fire in Arizona. You might remember that the “hot shots,” as these specially trained firefighters were known, were lauded as heroes. Speakers at their memorials promised that the town would take care of their families.
It’s easy to praise those who put their life on the line to protect the public, whether it is as fire fighters, police, teachers, trash collectors or soldiers (and yes, I believe that teachers and trash collectors, among other public servants, put their lives on the line by doing their jobs). Any one can claim to “support the troops” and “salute the heroes.” When the time comes to deliver on the pay and the benefits that were promised to them, however, we have a nasty tendency to wimp out. Suddenly, these people aren’t heroes, but freeloaders who didn’t want to work, so they got government jobs.
Speaking of people with government jobs, it seems as if Congress (an organization full of rich white people) is about to get a taste of what life is like for the rest of us. According to this story, members of Congress and some of their staff will no longer enjoy a lavish government health plan specifically tailored tot heir individual needs, but will have to shop for policies like you and I do. Some are already complaining that their costs will go up, that each office dealing with its own staff is inefficient compared to a unified system. Some of those complaining are Republicans,and, if they realize they are implicitly supporting a single-payer system, have no sense of irony.
Speaking of irony, Stephen Colbert this week broadcast a segment that I consider to be a celebration of rich white men. It is so danceable and catchy and happy that I can (almost) forgive the fact that it features one of the worst war criminals of the 20th Century. Watch it. Really. I bet you’re at least chair-dancing before it’s over.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess, would gladly stay up all night to get lucky.