I fondly remember when I was growing up, my favourite season was Spring! I love Summer too, but who doesn’t, especially in Canada! My particular reason is a tad unusual but not unique. I hate getting dressed and undressed so when Winter is done…woohoo! I also love Spring because I always felt like renewal, and grattitude. I have always been thankful for what I have and you have heard this from me before, but when you have no arms, your life has a different perspective. By the way, I cannot tell you how other people without arms see their lives and I am not judging, just observing. I was so lucky to grow up in a home where our family culture was grattude. I believe it has a lot to do with my parents getting married in 1930 and their perspective was typical of that generation. Things were tough and though things seem tough in the Spring of 2015, if you look at simple numbers, the Great Depression was truly a depression and not a minor recession. I grew up hearing stories and advice on how to handle money. I have never forgotten the stories, although I am profoundly guilty of ignoring the money advice. So I am not “lecturing”, just asking you to “Think”.
I woke up today feeling pretty sad. Have been for a couple of weeks. One of our pets, our border collie, Jazper, has terminal cancer. In fact, we have decided to have a vet end his pain and suffering, likely this week of April 13th, 2015. I am completely aware he is, to many, just a “dog” but I have to aggressively disagree! Darlene played a major role in helping raise my 29 year old son, Vance and I am a Dad, but Darlene couldn’t have her own children, so even though our pets aren’t “children”, they are more than just pets to us! I mention this to explain that my tolerance levels are low right now. I am feeling sorry for myself, and my wife, and my son. We are losing something profoundly important to us, and I am only coping because we know ending his health struggles in a humane and dignified way is for him and he can’t do it himself. I am and will be feeling down for a while and that makes the work of a Motivational Speaker and Author a lot tougher. It also made me give some serious consideration to writing this blog as I have been trying to be more positive and uplifting in this product because it is not my speech, but my non-stage thoughts. But I had to say something!
All across North America, but primarily in the United States, today, the 15th of April, there are scores of protests taking place to address, yet again, economic disparity and inequality. The thrust of this one, and it has occurred before, and usually coincides with tax deadlines in the U.S., is pleading for the United States to mandate a $15 minimum wage. They call it a “living wage”. This year’s twist is coinciding with arguments that black and brown people are the bulk of those with unacceptable wage earners so this is also about racism and prejudice.
So, this fight can never be won…ever! And you know what, I get the argument. I vehemently disagree with their theories but I understand them. I used to blame people too! It was everybody else’s “fault” for my problems. It was the Pharmaceutical Company’s fault for making Thalidomide that caused me to be born without arms! It was my birth family’s fault for not taking me home as a newborn and giving me “abandonment issues”. It was the world’s fault I couldn’t play hockey, or football, or ride a bike, or climb a tree! It was all the girl’s fault when they didn’t want to dance with me, or hold my foot (hand). It was even God’s fault for “EVERTHING!” I intimately understand “blame”. You smell a “but” ccoming, don’t you?
Here are the facts of the protest. The current minimum wage in the United States is $7.25/hr. and in Canada, it varies from province to province, but its around the same. The movement is asking for $15/hr. and again, I understand their frustration as we do live in a capitalist society, especially in the Western World. I also joke in my speehes all the time that whoever said money can’t buy happiness had no clue. I do like money! I have also never been to a funeral where the hearse has a U-Haul trailer attached to the bumper. I grew up in a blue collar, single income, lower middle class home. They said we were poor. “They” were wrong. Did we have to do without? Of course. Did we miss “stuff”? I guess. Did we survive? What do you think? Is the current economy the same as my 60’s and ’70s? I don’t know ’cause I am not an economist but my gut says it is all relative. In 1960, my parents bought a brand new home for less than $10,000. That same house recently sold for $150,000! Aren’t both “real”? Look, I am not trying to debate the nature of inflation, or even understand it. I want to observe why protesting for $15/hr. minimum wage is both nieve and a really bad idea.
If working a minimum wage job is your goal, or you see it as all you can do, that’s your first problem. Minimum wage jobs reflect the job and working for McDonalds shouldn’t be a goal, unless you want to be in management or be a franchise owner, and I am not slagging McDonalds. Here is my precise point. Shouldn’t your goal if you are young person be to educate yourself to qualify for higher wages. If your answer is, you can’t afford to go to school? Get a scholarship or apply for grants available to minority students everywhere. You don’t have to go to Harvard to get a well-paying job.
Let me please remind all of you a kind of important fact…I Have No Arms! I have never been on welfare or social assistance or collected an unemployment cheque, yet I have worked full time since 1980 and since 1988, owned my own motivational speaking business that I created. I have never asked for anything and I am successful. And I Have No Arms! I am not bragging or putting myself on a pedestal, I am merely stating something real so I can have some credibilty when I ask…”What Is Your Excuse?” Your skin color? Where you grew up? There are a million excuses, and that is exactly what they are. It is a mindset.
Let’s picture something ironic. You raise the minimum wage at a restaurant chain, and not just raise it, “Double” it. Simple math and logic comes into play here. When your cost of production goes up, the product cost goes up. It’s called capitalism. A Big Mac costs around $5.00 so new wage means a Big Mac is $10.00 hamburger, and frankly, not a gourmet one either. The nieve idealists are under the impression that the company, and/or its franchise owners will simply absorb the increase and forgo profits. Idealistic, but stupid! I am really sorry, but life is not always fair, or “equitable”. There are too many people who believe that nobody should be “wealthy” and we should all “share”. Maybe you should join a cult! Oh and while you may be “judging” me right now, I have given hundreds of thousands of hours to volunteering for a wide assortment of charities and causes and have contributed to raising almost $200,000,000 (that’s Million) for these groups. There are real “victims” and there are perceived ones. If I am appearing racist or insensitive, you don’t know me!
I have dedicated my entire life to making the world better, and I have done that by hopefully, making people better. People get “better” by earning their way there and not being “given” it. This is yet another example of this issue of “entitlement” that is so talked about these days and please keep in mind, I am not “Old”, I am wise and that occurred by listening to wise people when I was young who over and over and over again counselled and taught me that if someone without arms planned to get anywhere in life, I better work my butt off, pay my dues and never “expect” anything.
It’s Spring. Can we not think of something more productive to do than whine and complain about how unfair life is and count our blessings. That is my plan!