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SPOTLIGHT
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Fair or free?

Published on -9/16/2013, 12:44 PM

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Fair or free?

The issue of a fair living wage for fast-food workers in this country brings into relief the greed-driven dynamic of the corporate-capitalist "food chain" that dominates the U.S. economy.

All of us who are not part of the upper few percent of the financial elite possessing 90-plus percent of the nation's wealth are fodder in the bowels of the oligarchic beast.

The multi-millions of working poor are languishing in the lower bowel of the beast, under-compensated for their toiling labor, enabling the beast to become morbidly obese in its insatiable appetite for profit.

Unfortunately, as underscored in a recent Association Press article, far too many employees, including those in the fast-food industry, are too apathetic, anxiety-ridden or motivated only by self-interest to support the efforts of their activist fellow-workers around the country.

The corporate heads, such as McDonald's CEO, who made $13.8 million last year while his average employee gets slightly more than $15,000 annually for a 40-hour work week, understandably exploit as leverage their worker's fear of losing income, and possibly their very jobs, if they speak out or go on strike.

The concern that raising wages substantially will necessitate higher menu prices and result in steep loss of business is, of course, at least a partially valid one from the perspective of a franchise owner in an acutely stressed economic locale, and if he/she is presently turning only a fair profit. However, for whatever reason, the average profit margin made by franchisees for the past year was not given in the AP story.

The argument against raising wages is much more suspect coming from shareholders wanting maximum returns on their investment, and is bogus on its face coming from those multi-million dollar CEOs.

I snack at a local Wendy's several times a week. The staff there is hard-working, efficient and unfailingly courteous. The general manager, salaried, does an excellent job and works 48 hours a week.

Whatever she earns, I'm sure she is well worth it, and maybe considerably more. Although I'm not well-set, in the interest of contributing to a more equitable income for Wendy's and all fast-food employees, I would happily pay an extra quarter or even 50 cents for the $1.25 BLT wrap I so much enjoy.

Surely a proportionate increase on all of the menu items wouldn't work a great hardship on the average customer, at least in the relatively prosperous Salina area.

In a greed-fueled "free market" (as opposed to a fair market), a bargain for some is often had at the grievous expense of others.

A. Wayne Senzee

Salina

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