My interest has been piqued lately by a resurgence of the wage debate. Unions and labor forces across the U.S. have been staging protests over how much fast food workers should be paid per hour. This wage debate is nothing new. It’s been going on for years, decades, even centuries. See the French Revolution. In the U.S. this debate seems to flare up every couple years, and not coincidentally before election season.
A friend of mine recently posted on a link on Facebook about a recent San Diego fast food workers’ protest, which prompted a quick and furious online argument on his wall about the issue. But I am not here today to talk politics, or weigh in on this issue.
What caught my attention was that in the midst of all the arguing, my friend made a peripheral point that if people cannot afford to live on their current wage, that there are a number of solutions to their problem. If they cannot increase their wage, they can decrease their expenses, proposing that they move to an area with a lower cost of living. Mind you, this protest took place and my friend and I live in San Diego, California, so that narrows down the list of “Cheaper Places to Live” to practically everywhere else on the planet.
He was instantly hit with backlash. A friend of his shot back at him with, verbatim, “wait, living in San Diego is a privilege? that’s fucking ridiculous – if you were born there or your parents just ended up there before you, yanno, grew up, that’s a privilege, and you should move?”
I didn’t reply. But my answer to him is “Uh, yeah dude.”
He asked the question as if the rhetorical answer was “Well, um gee, when you phrase it that way, no I guess not.” But the answer is apologetically YES, YOU SHOULD MOVE.
This guy’s thesis is: Once you are born somewhere, living there indefinitely is a RIGHT, not a privilege.
Which is total bullshit, and let me break down why. I won’t use numbers and figures and charts and stats. Let’s break this down using real world practicality.
I for one have always wanted to live by the beach. The cool weather, the quick job to the beach, the smell of ocean, the drunk college kids puking on my front lawn. Okay, aside from that last part, I’ve always wanted to live by the beach, but I couldn’t because it just wasn’t practical. Okay, you only live once, blah blah. But at the end of the day, paying an extra $200 per month on rent just wasn’t financially practical in my college years. By the age of 24 I had already learned that living where-ever-the-heck-I-want is not a right, was is in fact a privilege.
On a very micro-level, every responsible person chooses where they do and don’t live, based on what is financially feasible. If you have ever been on the market for a new home, and been hunting for the right house with a real estate agent, you know what I mean. One house is perfect. Maybe it has the big garage you’ve always wanted, it’s got a great view of the canyon, a pool, it’s in a good school district, or maybe it’s a 5-mile commute from your office. But reality kicks in. “Honey I’m sorry, it’s just out of our price range.”
Now, shit’s about to get real. Show of hands, whose ancestors were born in the US? Most of our relatives at some point or another migrated here from abroad. Every year thousands of people leave their countries and migrate to the United States to call this country their new home. Some come from as close as Mexico like my grandparents did. Some come from as far as Russia, Asian, Africa, and the Middle East. Why do you suppose this is?
I don’t suppose they moved here because they thought the U.S. would offer them a worse life. They moved here because they thought they had more opportunity, could get better pay, land a better job, go to school, send their kids to school, or maybe avoid ethnic persecution. Whatever the reason, they all have something in common: They moved from A to B, because they thought it would bring them a better life.
These people quit their jobs, packed their bags, uprooted their families, moved thousands of miles, across oceans towards a new country, said goodbye to friends, relatives, neighbors, and their homeland, all of whom they’ll probably never see again, all for the shot at a better life. Some of these people cross treacherous deserts and risk death to illegally get hear, which albeit illegal still shows guts, determination, and sacrifice.
These immigrants can do all this, and yet some entitled U.S. born assholes still think living in San Diego, or this city or that city, is a right? Some people still think moving 300 miles out of state, or just to another city with a lower cost of living is unconscionable?
Excuse my French, but that, oh friend of a friend, is in fact fucking ridiculous.