Welcome Back to the World That Was

With the new CDC mask recommendations, there are many people who want to get back to the World That Was.

They want “things to get back to normal.”

But the World That Was is not an on-off switch. It is a group of things. And we can choose what parts of it we want back.

There were good things about the World That Was. Concerts and festivals. Public gatherings. People able to do thier jobs without fear of illness.

But it also had a lot of awful things as well… and the pandemic brought a lot of those into stark focus. And just going “back to normal” will rob us of the chance to make things better.

For example, our “essential” workers.

The ones we praised so heartily a year ago. The ones that politicians denied a minimum wage raise for.

"Nobody wants to work anymore." Nobody ever wanted to work at all. We wanted to be productive, be creative, be part of a community, be supported, be validate, and have the time and space to truly rest. No one actually wants to trade in hours of their life to "earn" necessities.

It’s not difficult to understand why some folks are so quick to put these aspects of the World That Was back in place. Politicians [1] and CEOs and executives and Wall Street bigwigs make more money if the people at the bottom get paid less.

But again, the World That Was is not an on-off switch. It is a group of things. And we can choose what parts of it we want back.

And if the CEOs (and the politicians they bought and paid for [1]) won’t do it voluntarily, we can choose something different anyway.

According to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, 91% of operators say they currently have job openings that are difficult to fill, and most do not expect labor challenges to ease after the pandemic is over. The study also revealed 93% of operators said recruiting and retaining employees will likely be more difficult after the pandemic is over than it was before the pandemic started.


And it is already having an effect.

McDonald’s said Thursday it will boost its rank-and-file employees’ hourly pay by 10 percent as it seeks to add 10,000 workers at its company-owned eateries amid a nationwide labor shortage.

The world’s biggest restaurant company said entry-level employees will now get paid between $11 and $17 an hour while managers will make anywhere from $15 to $20 an hour. The wage boost also will apply to 35,600 existing McDonald’s employees, some of whom have already received the increase, the company said.


This isn’t “socialism” or whatever scare word the right-wing wants to use.

This is exactly how capitalism is supposed to work. [2]

The GOP (and eight Democrats) prevented us from making this adjustment a legislative reality. That would have made this all a lot easier on everyone by just doing it in one fell swoop.

But we still don’t have to accept that part of the World That Was.

As McDonald’s has already figured out, people have realized they’re worth more than that.

We know we can do better with wages, and still make a profit.

We’ve seen that CEOs will continue to profit even in the midst of corporate turmoil and corporate losses.

We welcome back some parts of the World That Was.

But we have a chance to not just go back to the World That Was, but to make a better World That Is.

We may have to fight for it. We may have to demonstrate, strike, boycott, unionize, and, most importantly, set our boundaries about what we will accept from employers and politicians.

We can do things the easy way – the right way – by acknowledging that our essential workers are, well, fucking essential, and treating them as such.

Or we can do it by realizing that we’re worth more and acting accordingly.

Featured Photo by Liam Martens on Unsplash

[1] If you don’t think most politicians profit, you’ve not been paying attention to lobbyists and PACs for the last decade. Particularly true of the GOP, but many Dems are under the same sway.

[2] See https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/economics/labor-market/labor-demand-and-supply-in-a-perfectly-competitive-market and https://www.economicsdiscussion.net/demand/demand-and-supply-of-labour-explained-with-diagram/1755 for a quick overview if you’re interested.

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