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The Gaslighting of American Corporate Capitalism

Unlearning What We're Told About Making a Living

By D. Gabrielle JensenPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
The Gaslighting of American Corporate Capitalism
Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash

I started a fight on TikTok.

Not intentionally. I never expected to take off the way it did.

A little background, first: a common practice on TikTok is to use one another’s “sounds” (music, vocalizations, etc.) and either lip-sync to them or have them playing while you’re doing something else (timelapse videos of art is a popular example of “something else”). So that’s where this whole debacle started.

I used a “canned” sound of two men discussing minimum wage. It wasn’t even a thought from my own brain. I used someone else’s brain and made an almost-viral video.

For the most part there was an intelligent and civil discourse, but I could tell it wasn’t going to go . . . anywhere. These conversations rarely do. Even with historical or scholarly evidence, the opposition digs in their heels and asserts that their misinformation is, in fact, the absolute truth.

I’m not going to get into all of the “FDR intended minimum wage to support not just one adult but two adults and three children,” arguments. Instead, I want to talk about today and the arguments regarding life in our current world.

“If you raise wages, prices have to increase to counter. No one will really be making any more money.”

This is the argument I hear the most and it is so easy to refute that it causes me real physical pain to know people aren’t seeing the big picture. For starters, we see price increases in everything from fast food to housing costs every year, regardless of whether or not the minimum wages increase. Average rent costs have quadrupled, even quintupled in the last twenty years but wages have only increased by pennies. So that alone kind of invalidates your argument. But there’s more.

Take Dan Price as my favorite example in this conversation.

Dan Price is a CEO of a Seattle-based manufacturing company. When he figured out that his employees were struggling to make ends meet, he took a salary cut and gave the difference to them in wages. Not temporary bonuses but permanent wage increases. Across the board.

And that wasn’t the only thing that happened.

After news of the wage increase got out, more people wanted to work for Dan Price. More employees in a manufacturing plant means faster production which means more money for the company. It also means more freedom for employees to take off work when they need to without feeling guilty that they are leaving their peers short-handed.

Because their CEO put their needs ahead of his vacation home or his golf game.

So, when people tell me that companies like McDonald’s and WalMart will have to raise prices in order to accommodate a wage increase, I want to tell them to “leave him, girl, he’s bad news.” Except the abusive partner in this scenario is not a romantic partner, it’s the entire structure of a capitalistic society.

We have been gaslighted to believe this rhetoric, even when people like Dan Price prove raising the cost to the consumer is not the only way to raise wages.

And Dan Price isn’t the only one, just the most transparent. He has an active social media presence where he lays out everything he’s doing to make this work for his employees.

But in 2020, when “non-essential” businesses were closed or only doing limited business, the CEO of Texas Roadhouse did the same thing. He took a cut in his own salary in order to pay his employees for their lost wages, knowing that if he showed them they were valuable to him, they would return to work when the time was right.

And most of them did.

This is one of the most frustrating conversations I choose not to have with people.

Because the fact is these men are the minority in corporate America.

Very few corporate executives are willing to put their employees’ needs above their profit margin. Very few corporate executives will sacrifice their own wealth to help their employees earn a true living wage. It is not “simple economics,” as someone on my TikTok video asserted, it is simple greed.

Simple economics suggests that the money is already present and could be distributed more equitably if not for simple greed.

When you say prices will increase to accommodate the increase in wages, you’re not wrong. But you should be. Because that is not the only solution to the problem.

It’s just the easy solution.


About the Creator

D. Gabrielle Jensen

Author of the Fia Drake Soul Hunter trilogy

Search writerdgabrielle on TikTok, Instagram, and Patreon

I love coffee, conversation, cities, and cats, music, urban decay, macro photography, and humans.

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