As low-wage food service workers demand a doubling of their pay, an uncurious journalist never wonders how people who earn $7.25 per hour were able to organize a “nationwide” strike replete with crisply-printed protest signs. For that matter, the dullard scribe doesn’t indicate whether “nationwide” connotes thousands of people in hundreds of locations or a dozen folks on two street corners.
Bad journalism is defined most often by what it lacks, rather than what it states. Incompetence, or conscious manipulation, are found in the question unasked, the fact unmentioned, the absence of context. The passive reader will never notice.
Reporting work of this caliber deserves less than $7.25 per hour, but it does provide an opportunity to explain, once again, how the world works.
Here are a few basic facts of life that each child should take to heart…and by “child” I mean journalist.
1) Your pay is not based on how much money you need to enjoy the lifestyle you desire.
2) Your pay is determined by the skill needed to do the work, and the difficulty of replacing you.
3) If your employer were to jack up your pay beyond those parameters she would have to jack up her prices, which would chase away customers, thereby reducing her need for you. (She alternately could reduce her profits, but that would scare off investors who provide the juice for growth. Stagnation is death.)
4) If you ever get paid what you’re worth, you will soon be fired. Your employer must pay you less than your value in order to make a profit on your labor.
5) Low-skill jobs give you work experience and a chance to impress people with your attitude while you develop additional skills that merit higher pay. (Note to MickeyD’s worker, that lady to whom you’re handing a milkshake may be a millionaire looking for a bright, enthusiastic new employee.)
6) Your attitude, and ability to cheerfully work with people are the most important skills to develop, and tuition is free at that “college.”
7) Your ability to communicate ideas and to engender enthusiasm, combined with expertise in some realm, will take you far. Expertise without communication and people skills generally produces bitter drudges who never figure out why their skills go unrecognized.
8) Ubiquitous internet means that any skill you wish to develop, and any knowledge you want to acquire is at your fingertips…again, tuition free. (You can even google ‘ubiquitous’.)
9) You live in the greatest opportunity playground in the history of the world, with unlimited free access to all of the tools it takes to make a happy, productive, meaningful life. Only your attitude can restrain you from receiving the benefits of this extraordinary moment, in this God-blessed land.