Feingold In Peril

Sen. Ron Johnson: Want Out of Minimum Wage? Work Harder or Marry Into Money

Dec 15, 2011

Wisconsin Tea Party favorite Sen. Ron Johnson will not vote to raise the minimum wage. Why? Good workers will get a higher salary. Or, like Ron Johnson, perhaps they can marry into money. 

ronjohnson Sen. Ron Johnson: Want Out of Minimum Wage? Work Harder or Marry Into Money
I’m an employer. Trust me.

With a hard-earned dowery (from his no doubt lovely wife) and financial support from the Koch Brothers, Senator Ron Johnson swept into office, unseating the honorable Senator Russ Feingold; a man defeated by the very corporate money he sought to keep out of politics.

As the story goes, and with a high degree of mythical grandeur, Mr. Johnson was at a town hall meeting debating Obama’s health care bill. Outraged at the legislation, Johnson dropped all desire for personal profit and dedicated himself to a life of public service. It’s the stuff of which folktales are built, Washington chopping down the Cherry Tree or Lincoln’s one-room log cabin. Well, not really, but damned if it isn’t inspiring to Tea Partiers.

On the campaign trail, Johnson was fond of saying he was a businessman. A successful one. And as the current paradigm in American politics dictates, being a successful businessman gives one all the skills needed to be a successful legislator and man of the people. Well, perhaps the former but not necessarily the latter.

And during the Johnson’s Senate campaign, it became public knowledge that he wasn’t so much a great businessman but instead a man smiled upon by Lady Luck: He had married into a small fortune, giving him the financial security and business connections needed for success, measured by a top flight job and considerable income.

However, Johnson admitted to earning minimum wage during college, while living in his parents’ home, so it’s rather absurd that he recently said the following.

“Bottom line: when you’re a good worker you don’t stay at minimum wage for long,” he said. “Trust me on that. It’s not universal, but trust me as an employer, as an employer I certainly didn’t want to lose good employees. And so you actually have a better marketplace. And so if your employer is not paying you good wages and you’re a good worker, you go look for other places.”

As seen in the video, Johnson had hardly spoken the first sentence before several constituents began to laugh at the Senator’s arrogant condescension.

Granted, there is a certain degree of pragmatic truth to the idea that when one works well, they will eventually get a raise. Eventually. Then, of course, he contradicts himself by saying it’s not universal. Give the man credit for being able to sniff the bullshit of his own self-importance. He’s a businessman, so he knows what is best for society.

Nearly every business with which I have come into contact has worked toward the absolute bottom in wages for nearly all employees, excepting managers and other executive personnel, of course. Their position is not so much a function of skill and legitimate reward as a barometer of office realpolitick, or Machiavellian maneuvering, if you will. That is not to say that the cream does not rise, only that some businessman are often blinded by the realpolitick of a few ambitious weasels who make grand claims of being able to shit nickels.

A low wage can and often does act as a disincentive to do quality work. There’s no pride in the work. No sense that something, whether it be a product or service, is part of a collective creative effort. The work is often mindless or psychologically maddening, and a means to get by at best—to pay one’s rent, electricity, healthcare bills, insurance, to purchase gasoline, oil, clothes, food, dildos, condoms, sex toys, toiletries, appliances, drugs, alcohol, furnishings, and the occasional recreational activity such as a trip to the cinema or a whorehouse, etc.

And if this is your situation, Senator Ron Johnson’s advice to you is simple: work harder and you will get a raise. But, you know this to be bullshit in many cases, particularly in a bad economy.

Instead, perhaps we can all model ourselves after Mr. Johnson himself and seek out a nice, fat dowery that will allow us to live without the worry of making rent and providing for the necessities.

[Video via Tracey Pollock atThe Uptake]

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