Burger Flippers Versus Paramedics and Soldiers

Why should you burger flippers make $15 an hour? I don’t make that and it’s my job to save lives and protect our freedoms.

That’s social media at its finest. It’s easy for folks to get caught up in red herrings that distract from the truth of the matter. For anyone to come to what actually is true, though, there has to be some letting go of this string of false logic. And that is truly what is going on here:  false logic. Look it up. It’s technically called a “false dichotomy” or a “false dilemma.”

The issue of a living wage isn’t waged in the either-or arena of fast food workers versus paramedics. It’s not gas station attendants versus school teachers. It’s not grocery store stock personnel versus American soldiers. If you find that you’ve distilled the plea for the $15 per hour wage down the type of job a person has, then the point of the matter has been sorely missed.

A living wage isn’t a privilege for the type of job a person has. A wise man once said something like, “if a man is not willing to work, neither shall he eat.” However, a man who is willing to work should eat. Unfair wages are unfair no matter what skill is employed in earning them. If paramedics aren’t making more than burger flippers, then that is the problem of the person who pays the paramedic, not the burger flipper. There is no real or fair comparison between the two jobs. This certainly isn’t the problem of the armchair, social-media philosopher who values one skill over another so much as to begrudge one his wages.

Let’s be honest, too, about what’s really being said. There’s a whole league of laborers that are being devalued here. It’s saying that one form of honest labor isn’t worthy of a wage. It demonizes a huge section of America’s labor force (Is there really a job called “burger flipper?” That’s like calling a paramedic a “bandaid salesman.“). It’s a smack in the face to those who spend a day working in order to earn a living. It’s terribly insulting. It separates people according to worth – and not actual worth, but rather your own personal estimation of their worth. Who is worth more to you:  a fast food employee or a paramedic? If you’ve not been in the back of an ambulance recently, then, in all honesty, it’s the guy at McDonald’s who you’re putting down who does the most for you. Why is the internet dumping all over this guy? Is he not your neighbor?

Those of us of faith should stand for a living wage. I encourage everyone to sit down with a calculator and google and figure a living wage. Look up expenses for your corner of the world and calculate a budget that includes home, car, groceries, medical, insurance, utilities, etc. You’ll find that it’s harder to reconcile this information using minimum wage than it is posting a silly, red herring-laced argument about a “burger flipper” versus (emergency-life-threatening-emotionally-heart-tugging-job-here).

A worker is worth his wages, you know. You shouldn’t muzzle an ox while he threshes the grain. And for crying out loud, if a man is willing to work, then he should eat. Stand up for all honest labor. Stand against the discrepancy of earnings between those who withhold wages unfairly at the expense of those who do not earn living wage. Stand against false dichotomy and false dilemma – show that faith runs deeper and stronger than silly internet arguments that are the detriment to its hearers. Pull together rather than pull apart. Love God and love your neighbor.

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