24 April 2008

The meaning(lessness) of life

Though I am not currently employed as such, for most of my working life I have worked at or near the minimum wage, in various jobs which provided nothing of value to the world, and which any monkey could have performed competently.

One of my past jobs (this was in food service) involved employees "fetching" (my boss was an Englishman and was quite fond of that word, "fetch") various items for customers. Another job involved endlessly filling colas and shakes for thirsty customers. You get the picture.

Sure, there was some marginal economic value to those jobs. But not much. The colas and shakes were items of value. The person making the colas and shakes, however, contributed nothing of value to them. His job was merely to fill the cups with preprepared drink. In reality, the cola maker was a net drain on society, a cost and a drag for which all efforts were made to minimize his impact. Thus the remuneration at minimum wage, and the constant attempts at reduction in the number of cola makers which occured while I worked at that establishment.

During my tenure of employ in one of my various minimum wage jobs, the federal government increased the minimum wage. My boss then was a loud, egotistical White man with the pleasantness of a pit bull, a classic Type A personality who, like every good fascist, believed that life's economic losers were just that - losers, to be treated as such. He kept walking around, sneering arrogantly to us, "Congress just gave you a raise, boy!" The implication being that we could never earn it for ourselves. We were just too Black, stupid, and lazy for that. Only the government could bestow upon us those tiny advantages in life that we did possess.

Of course when the raise came, several people (including myself) were let go, since there was no chance in hell that my employer would simply eat the cost. As it was the owner operated on a shoestring, planning his future profit day by day - he was incapable of long term outlook. Prices went up, workers were fired, and the remaining workers had to perform the work of two people. So much for beneficial federal intervention and caring about workers.

For so many of these jobs we would work our fingers to the bone, and for what? Peanuts. We certainly couldn't have supported our families if we had actually had families to support. (Of course, at minimum wage, there was no way on earth that you could start or keep a family, so nobody did so.) At some of these establishments which I worked, 70 cents out of every dollar earned was going to pure profit. 70 cents of a dollar! Many of my employers felt morally justified in paying their (mainly Black) employees subpar wages. Like most god fearing Whites, they felt that Blacks were subhuman animals who really didn't have a desire to work, and which they were doing a favor for by employing them, and conveniently employing their cheap unskilled labor for pennies on the dollar.

If there was a legitimate economic reason for why this state of affairs existed, I have yet to encounter it.