The Widdershins

Activist Monday: The New “Good War”

Posted on: May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day, Widdershins. We always remember our veterans here, so once again, today and every day, thank you for your service. I hope today finds you happy and healthy, especially with the state of VA health care in this country. (Shamefully, although the Republicans seem to suddenly have discovered the issue now that they see it as a way to attack Obama, the VA has been backed up, overloaded and underfunded for many years now. If the Repubs had acted like a political party hired by the American people to accomplish things, instead of a campaign organization bent on sweeping that scandal under the rug, we might be much farther down the road to fixing this problem.)

It is said that World War II was the “last good war.” War is never good, of course, but Americans were able to fully emotionally support the country’s painful and horrible military efforts to remove the cancer of Hitler’s Germany (and its allies) from the world. It was a virtuous war because: 1) Japan declared war on us before we entered the fray; 2) the mission was clear;  3) the enemy was pure evil; and 4) the sacrifices were deemed worthy. As we’ve discussed many times here, none of the current wars we are fighting (Iraq, Afghanistan) fall into that category. (Sorry guys, until there is not one American soldier in either country, I won’t say those wars are over.)

However, just as there are now non-traditional enemies which are not heads of state like Hitler and Hirohito, (i.e., non-state actors like Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups), could there now be non-traditional wars, and by extension, non-traditional good wars?

If heads of state are no longer viable targets for “good” wars, what about heads of corporations, as representations of the oligarchy/patriarchy?Now, please understand that I am NOT advocating violence or war in a traditional sense. I am talking about non-violent methods of bringing people down, like this. The global walkout of fast-food workers demanding a pay raise to $15/hour, plus a march on McDonald’s corporate headquarters during their shareholders’ meeting, has seriously embarrassed the fast-food industry. Arrests of the protesters have backfired, only giving the protesters, and the movement, more strength.

Police officers, some in riot gear, watched as protesters, including union leaders and clergy, started chanting and singing. “I was pushing away my fear,” Carson said in an interview. “You stand up for your rights and you make history.”

That sentiment comes from a 20-year-old who lives with her mom in Milwaukee, and is known as Tazz. She has worked for McDonald’s for almost five years, starting in high school and now while attending Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Organizers say she was the first worker arrested Wednesday, and then 100 others from 33 cities were taken into custody. Oak Brook, IL, police started the arrests for trespassing around 1:15 p.m., and more arrests could come Thursday as the workers take their demands for $15 an hour wages to McDonald’s annual shareholders meeting. Reuters reported that on Thursday shareholders were scheduled to vote on executive pay, including that of McDonald’s chief executive Donald Thompson, whose total compensation was $9.5 million in 2013 [emphasis mine].

Carson planned to return for Thursday’s demonstration, and said she’s feeling enthused and determined after a police officer took her by her shirt Wednesday, and asked her ‘Do you know why you’re being arrested?” She told him: “I’m just standing up for my rights.”

Fast-food workers make an average of $9/hour, well below the laughable poverty threshold of $23,000/year (with the cost of housing and health care, it should be far higher). All they are asking is that they get a raise to $15/hour, which is still not enough. With this “good war” they are fighting, I think they are far more likely to get the wages they are asking for, than if they waited for the government to raise the minimum wage (that bill has been languishing in Congress for quite some time). The media is joining the fray as well, and many are not lovin’ McD’s for having such a stingy pay policy.

….the company should use this shareholder meeting to acknowledge publicly what its mounting troubles over the past year have already made clear – that its business model has failed, and that it’s time to transition to a new model that pays a living wage.

Indeed, McDonald’s problems have multiplied at such a rate over the past year in no small part due to the fact that it continues to defend itself with appeals to outdated – or even flatly false – portrayals of the company, refusing to acknowledge the basic reality that makes a living wage business model such an imperative today.

For example, McDonald’s paints a picture of opportunities for advancement among its employees, citing stories of fry cooks and cashiers eventually becoming franchise owners. But it’s not the whole picture. Franchise owners make up only 0.3 percent of the company’s workforce, and the company requires potential franchisees to have $750,000 in non-borrowed assets – a tough bar to reach in an industry that pays a median hourly wage of $8.94 per hour.

Nor can the company even continue to defend itself as providing much of a “value” to consumers in light of a report last year finding that low wages, limited hours, and nonexistent benefits at McDonald’s cost an estimated average of $1.2 billion per year as hundreds of thousands of its workers find themselves forced to rely on public assistance to make ends meet.

By announcing a shift to a living wage business model, McDonald’s would be following in the footsteps of a growing number companies that have started to see the light. Earlier this year, The Gap announced that the company would be raising pay for all of its U.S. employees to at least $10 per hour by next year, calling the move a “strategic investment to do more for our employees” in order to “attract and retain a skilled, enthusiastic and engaged workforce.”

I don’t know about you, but forcing greedy corporations to change their ways seems like a war worth waging to me. I salute the fast-food warriors of the world today, who have the courage to get arrested and sacrifice paychecks to make a better world for themselves and their families.

This is an open thread.

 

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9 Responses to "Activist Monday: The New “Good War”"

Arresting a 20 year old for demonstrating in front of McDonald’s? Shameful!

The militarization of police is appalling.

@2 Yes, it is scary watching them drive around my small suburban town in those vans which you know are equipped with who-knows-what.

Some of those vehicles look like mini tanks/

Had to share this from nola.com because I thought it was just quintessentially Memorial Day themed. It was taken at the
National WWII Museum in nola.

Cute picture, Fredster!

Hope you all had a nice weekend. MB, love your post. I worked at McDs when I was in HS also. It is slave labor.

Fredster, that photo is a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, red headed kid and all.

Sue@7: That was exactly the thought that came to my mind when I saw it! Here’s the caption for the photo and a link to the article which I forgot to put in:

Francis Cazayoux III, 9, nervously salutes, as his dad makes a photo of him and Lieutenant General Richard Mills after a Memorial Day ceremony held at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans on May 26, 2014. Francis’ father Francis Jr. said he brought his son, who is a Cub scout in Pack 55 at Holy Name of Jesus School, to the ceremony to teach him about the significance of memorial day.

http://www.nola.com/military/index.ssf/2014/05/memorial_day_at_the_national_w.html

Couldn’t have said it better myself:

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