Manchin & Sinema Are Wrong: America’s Working Class is Not Lazy

Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema just don’t get it.

They are worried that Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Plan makes it too easy on Americans. They worry that Biden’s plan would disincentivize America’s workforce, making everyday people lazy.

This is, of course, a talking point of Conservatives, most of whom are rich like Manchin ($8.5 million).  They believe that they are the only people who ought to be getting kickbacks and regular influxes of cash, chiefly from Big Pharma and Energy companies. Sinema has seen her net worth rise from $32,500 in 2018 to over $1 million today, thanks to her pandering to lobbyists.

Everywhere you go these days there are Help Wanted signs posted. On a recent Sunday our local Rite-Aid pharmacy shut down because employees did not show up to work.  Our local Starbucks and Big Lots both closed early due to worker shortage.  Chick-fil-A is starting employees at $18 an hour in our community, and I read an article recently that they are even having some of their managers and executives work the food lines due to worker shortage. NPR has reported over and over again about the shortage of school bus drivers.

Conservatives and Manchin and Sinema mark up the worker shortage to the laziness of working class Americans. It wasn’t that long ago that Sinema, wearing a $3,000 outfit, walked onto the Senate floor, and with a curtsey and devil-may-care attitude voted against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Now employers are more than willing to pay $15 an hour.

My. My. My. How the winds have changed, Ms. Sinema.

More than 10,000 John Deere employees have threatened to strike for the first time in decades. “Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, vice president and director of the UAW’s Agricultural Implement Department.

And they aren’t the only ones. A strike by Hollywood’s producers was avoided at the last minute when their contracts were renegotiated. Who among us blames the healthcare workers across the nation who are  threatening to strike for better wages and benefits?

Somewhere Mother Jones is dancing a jig in her grave. Nobody worked harder to convince America’s workforce to stand up for themselves than her.Mother Jones devoted the bulk of her life trying to educate the working class about the many ways in which America’s corporate entities were defrauding them: “My class, the working class, is exploited, driven, fought back with the weapon of starvation, with guns and with venal courts whenever they strike for conditions more human, more civilized for their children, and for their children’s children.”

Honestly, you’d think Joe Manchin of all people would be well-versed in the history of Mother Jones and her efforts to help improve the lives of coal miners, textile workers, rail workers, steel workers, mine workers, etc. If Mother Jones were alive today to witness how it is that America’s top 1% own more wealth than the entirety of America’s working class, she would be kicking all of our asses out into the streets to strike. I only wish Mother Jones were around to give Sinema all the ass-kicking she’s earned.

That narrative that Sinema, Manchin and all of FoxNews keep parroting, that helping America’s workers will make them lazy and as Manchin says “entitled” is a goshdarn lie. If anybody feels entitled it’s the rich in this country. It’s men like Manchin yelling down from the birdcage of their yachts at underpaid and overworked voters.

America’s working class is not lazy. Not nearly as lazy as Sinema who spends the bulk of her time pedaling wine and running marathons and meeting with energy lobbyists instead of constituents.

Nope. The lack of workers isn’t lazy people, unwilling to work. The lack of workers can be marked up primarily to the abysmal lack of a functioning childcare system in this country.

Nearly 2 million women left the workforce during the pandemic because with schools shutdown, somebody had to stay home to take care of the children, and given the wage disparity between men and women in this country, of course the childcare was going to fall to the women.

The bulk of those women are reluctant to return to the workforce because they face problems finding affordable childcare, the lack of employers to understand the burden thrust upon women due to the pandemic, the inequity in pay and in career advancement. Women simply do not feel supported in their jobs. The pandemic forced them to reevaluate the burdens they’ve been under, and many simply aren’t willing to continue to pay out half of their paychecks in childcare any longer.

And who can blame them?

Besides Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, neither of whom have to worry about childcare, or affording to take days off. Sinema, in fact, does that all the time so that she can compete in marathons.

It’s almost as if Sinema is just a Senator in name only. As if she considers that taxpayers are simply the sponsors of her lifestyle.

Nobody wants to see their Starbucks and Chick-fil-A understaffed, much less their local hospitals. We need our school buses to be staffed up by well-trained individuals So it makes good sense to support the Build Back Better Act which, honestly, is good for America’s working class, no matter what their political affiliation. Just consider how it will help support the childcare infrastructure in this country:


– No family would have to pay more than 7% of their income in childcare. Right now the average childcare cost for one child in daycare is $1,000 monthly. That is often half or more of a working woman’s salary. Thirty-nine years ago, I was working in Portland at a bank when I gave birth to twins. I was making $10 an hour (with a college degree). Childcare for the twins would have required me to pay out my entire paycheck. So I did what millions of women have had to do – I quit work to stay home and care for the children. This is how the system is set up to discriminate against women. During the pandemic, my three daughters, all of whom have good jobs, have been forced to care for children at home while juggling full-time jobs. They, in essence, are doing to the jobs of two men.


– The bill provides for both institutional childcare and at-home childcare. The idea is to build a strong childcare program across the nation and give parents options on what sort of program works best for them and their children.


– There is a provision for universal preschool. Anyone who works in education understands the advantage it is for children to have access to preschool. They master so many skills in preschool that set them on a pathway toward lifelong learners.


– The bill provides a living wage for childcare workers. For far too long in the country, parents have been forced to look for the cheapest option for childcare. This means that all too often childcare facilities have had problems with retention of staff, and/or poorly trained childcare workers. We commit our most precious gifts into the hands of those who are working at some of the lowest-paying jobs in the country. For example, my own sister has been a preschool childcare director for over 30 years. Her job did not provide her with retirement benefits at all. Although college-educated, she has been paid far less than she would have been had she worked for a school district as a kindergarten teacher. Granted she feels it’s a ministry and it has been for her community. Still, it is just wrong that she has helped educate hundreds of children over her career and has been poorly rewarded financially for her efforts. And her employees have been paid even less, because, you know, church, women, children.  My sister has worked far more than Sinema or Manchin have ever considered working. She ought to have been paid a living wage, and benefits suitable for a professional. Sinema and Manchin have not earned the retirement benefits they will collect. Yet, my sis and millions of childcare workers across this nation are deemed “entitled” for even hoping for a living wage increase and the sorts of benefits afforded to politicians all across this nation.



It is past damn time to pass the Build Back Better Act.

It is damn time for America’s working class to stand up to corporate America and Conservatives and their false narrative about entitled lazy Americans and demand better for all working people. 

As Mother Jones once reported: “I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad, he would be a United States Senator.”

Robbing America’s working class seems to be the way Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin earned their seats in Congress.

If you want people – women especially – to get back to work, then call your Congressional leaders and tell them it’s past time to vote for Biden’s Build Back Better Act.

It’s time to build up America’s working class and put a stop to the exploitation of America’s working class.



Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain (Mercer University Press) recipient of the Weatherford Award for best in Appalachian Fiction, and the One Book One West Virginia Read. Look for her forthcoming book, The Murder Gene, May, 2022.


Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

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