Saturday, June 11, 2011

Land of the Free is now Land of the Wage Slaves

My friends shared this link on Facebook. It's called the "5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor" and talks about things such as pay day loans, overdraft charges, and the prevalence of low paying service jobs with little chance for advancement. Of course, the economy has brought things into harsh perspective. However, as a recent college graduate who's been paying her rent the last two years, it hits a bit close to home.

You see, I've had to pay those outrageous overdraft fees. I have a hard time getting an apartment due to my low credit history and the unpredictability of a restaurant job (waiters rely on tips), despite the fact that my rent has been paid, on time, every month from my first summer sublet. I always need a guarantor, whether it's my father or someone else's parents to even get approved. I had a hard time getting a student credit card due to lack of credit history, even though I needed the damn thing to build credit history (and it would have helped immensely when I was stuck in London and had no money because of debit card fraud). My friends, who all have college degrees, multiple internships, language skills and significant experience overseas, are waiting tables to survive and interning unpaid (AGAIN) with the hopes of finding some kind of full time employment within their field. Other friends have had to make do with temp jobs and constantly have to be on the search. Still, others find themselves waiting tables on the weekends, in addition to full time work, due to fear of finances/getting fired the first three months.

America, are we land of the free? Or land of the wage slaves?

It's frustrating to hear people tell me to tough it out, that I'll just have to work seven days a week a little while longer.......Excuse me? SEVEN???? Wasn't there this little thing in the 10 Commandments called a fucking SABBATH?? To take a day of rest because we are NOT slaves anymore? Haven't I worked enough, writing papers on complicated economic policies while also working 25 (bare minimum) hours a week to pay my bills and send myself to Africa? Or struggling financially one summer because I did a (wonderful) unpaid internship but lost hours in my job and really had to save all my cash? Haven't I busted my ass enough? I worked hard for my degree and my reputation. In addition, my parents worked their asses off to ensure we could have something better than they did. Guess what? I'm probably WORSE off financially with more education. Case in point: my parents were married at 22. Guess who's in absolutely no position to get married, even if she wanted to?

Isn't it just a little unnerving that healthy food costs more than crap food? Or that, for some families, it would cost more money to work or go back to school than to take unemployment (transportation, baby-sitting/child care, work clothes)? Or that a good college education has become more dependent on who can pay rather than who's more capable of doing the work? Isn't it a little unnerving that contagious sick people are handling your food because their managers won't let them stay home and they can't afford health insurance necessary to get treated or provide a doctor's note? Isn't it sad that Americans spend more time at work than anywhere else, including with their children, their spouses, or doing things that would fulfill them and give to other people (hobbies such as crafts and music serving as gifts, etc)?

Don't our service members give their lives so we can enjoy freedom? Didn't our families sacrifice their homelands and, in some cases, their cultures, so that their grandkids could have something better? Don't women and people of color and other minorities especially continue to fight so that they could enjoy the same freedom, rights and privileges as their straight, white, male, wealthy, able-bodied counterparts?

We were not meant to be slaves. We were meant for freedom.

So, politicians and corporate blowhards, be afraid. When this happened in France, heads literally rolled. While I have no taste for blood, I am starting to understand why.

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