I’m really getting tired of people comparing a worker at a fast food restaurant and a soldier in the military. Usually, the gist is something along the lines of how the fast food worker shouldn’t get paid more than someone serving in the military, and how a fast food worker shouldn’t be working at a fast food place unless he or she is a teenager and it’s a first job kind of thing and no one should be relying on Mickey D’s to provide a living wage and so on and so on…
Maybe in a perfect world. But here’s the thing – there are people who rely on the money they make working at a fast food restaurant to live on, usually because they haven’t the skills to work anywhere else. It is what it is, and no one should disdain, humiliate, or have contempt for anyone who is working trying to make a living. And to compare a fast food worker to someone in the military is like comparing apples to oranges- they’re not the same thing. I’m so tired of the mantra, “No one who is willing to sacrifice their life keeping America safe should make less money than some punk working flipping hamburgers,” or something alone those short sighted, bigoted, lines.
The truth is, a lot, and I do mean a lot, of teenagers enlist in the military not because of some grand love for America, but because they haven’t any other option. Poor kids, kids who can’t afford or get into college, kids who haven’t access to jobs, these are who make up a good percentage of enlistees. Oh yeah, college-educated, well-to-do young men and women also go into the military, as officers, seeking a career path, but they don’t make up the lower rank and file, the down and dirty grunts, and I’m sure there are some gung-ho, yay America, let me go kill some (fill in the blank) enlistees too, but for many it is the only option, because there is no other option.
And when it comes to wages? Well, yeah, maybe the guy flipping burgers might earn more, but soldiers who live on an Army base receive military housing and meals for free. If you live off base you receive allowances for housing and meals. Soldiers also receive allowances for clothing and official travel. All that probably sounds really attractive to some poor kid who can’t get into college, has no job prospects, has nothing but youth and hope, and perhaps a want and need to serve their country, or perhaps not, perhaps just needs a place to go, to live, to try and get by.
The guy flipping burgers deserves the $15.00 an hour proposed minimum wage, because unlike soldier boy, no one is paying his rent, or buying him food. And if you think $15.00 an hour is ludicrous for someone who might not even have a high school diploma, well, maybe, but if someone is working, no matter the work, don’t they deserve to make a living that will at least cover the cost of rent and food, and maybe a new pair of underwear every now and then? I think they do.