Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Which side are you on?


Earlier today I happened upon The Cranky Liberal Pages and one post in particular caught my eye: Bad Service - A Personal personnel Story. Essentially an experience at Target in which three Target employees could have helped a customer but did not. Instead they continued a conversation with one another. Being an advocate of class warfare I posted the following:

Well, I'm going to disagree somewhat. We do not know the wages of these women and while it may be $9 /hr or $15 /hr it is probably much closer to the minimum wage. I think that it is unrealistic to expect anyone working a minimum wage job (or something that is very close to that) to put in a great effort. Minimum wage = minimum effort.

If you ask me it's way past the time that all workers have a decent living wage... all workers. Those that run registers, empty trash, assemble burritos... all of them. until we, as a society, demand that all workers are treated with dignity and paid a decent wage I don't think we have a ground to complain about minimal service. You get what you pay for.

Now, that said, this does suck. Certainly the manager should have taken it upon herself to take the bag to the customer... truth is, I think many people just don't care and I think it's just one of countless small indicators that we as a society are increasingly alienated from each other and our work.

The Cranky Liberal responded:


See Denny, I'd agree with you excpet for one point -

These young ladies decided to go work for Target. Unlike some totalitarian regime in which the worker has no choice, they took the time and effort to fill out the application, interview and punch a clock. I'm sure they take the time and effort to cash the paycheck that they "earned." That check they cash is based upon the wage they agreed to when they were hired. I seriously doubt that Target said hey we will pay you $13.00 an hour and aftger they started said naaa just playin - you're making $6.25.

Because this is was a conscience and willful choice on the part of everyone involved, they had an obligation to serve the customer. When they decided they were to busy screwing off, they decided they no longer wanted to trade their services for Targets money. I would have been happy to make that decision permanent.

I'm all for a living wage. I think the data shows that a decent living does not cause hyper inflation, unemployment etc that certain people always yell loudy. However, whatever the wage, once you agree to it, do your job or find another. This is America afterall.

To which I responded:


Here's the problem as I see it. There are oodles of these minimum wage or very near to minimum wage jobs. We all participate in this economy and when we shop at stores that pay at the minimum wage are we not stamping our approval on its use? This is one reason we have bush and democrats are weak in the arena. we've forgotten solidarity and what side we're on.

Until we build solidarity and a movement that goes beyond electoral politics we will continue as wage slaves who's only conception of citizenship is voting. So yeah, it is america, but what does that really mean? I've always identified with that part of american history occupied by Mother Jones and Lucy Parsons, Joe Hill and Emma Goldman.

I'll accept poor service when i know it's being dished out by a fellow worker who may not have access to a college education and who is the subject of corporate exploitation.

I realize this is a generalization and it is based on my limited experience but I'll offer it anyway. This is a fundamental problem with liberals: they do not go far enough in their citizenship. This is something I've been very fond of pointing out because I think it is worth pointing out as often as is necessary. Liberals often talk about human rights but their understanding of human rights seems awfully limited. It's not just about voting folks. It's about Target workers, retail workers and all workers organizing and building a new movement, a new society. It is also about all of us supporting one another as we struggle for greater freedom and social justice. If we are going to be effective in this struggle we will need to develop an awareness of the impact of our economic activities because we are all workers, consumers, and citizens.

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