Conservatives carp about Americans who “depend on the government.” What they don’t say is that most of these people are working. Between an unlivable minimum wage and jobs that offer less than 40 hours, they qualify for government programs to support with food, housing, and medical care. They aren’t living lives of luxury.
Who really benefits from this system? Large corporations and the investor class who rely on working people to underwrite the subhuman salaries they pay. Laura Clawson of Daily Kos explains how raising the minimum wage would help workers while lowering the deficit. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker says, says we shouldn’t talk about the minimum wage because it’s not a real issue. Is the family where both parents work two jobs just to get by a real issue?
Democrats are far from perfect, but they’re the best bet working people and the middle class have in this new age of Robber Barons and the slaves they have representing them in federal, state, and local government. There is nothing conservative about rigging the system to make the wealthiest even richer. We need a wealth tax.
Conservatives and Neoliberals often blame unemployment on the skills gap, the claim that jobs are open because workers are not able to fill them. Paul Krugman takes this claim apart by pointing to the most deadly thing of all – facts. Using economic data and a tool called the Beveridge Curve, Krugman shows that the rate of unemployed based on skills is its usual rate. Rather than blaming workers for not being skilled, shouldn’t we be debating better ways to train workers and educate students? Shouldn’t we be talking about how to invest in the future?
According to a recent poll, most Americans are opposed to paying college athletes. In a similar spirit many working people are opposed to unions because they have to pay dues, or they are conservatives who oppose unions because that's what conservatives do. In both of these examples, workers are working against themselves. If paying college athletes is wrong, why is it correct to pay their coaches million dollar contracts? If unions aren't a good thing, why do large businesses join together in the national chamber of commerce and professionals like lawyers and doctors unite in the ABA and the AMA. Too many American workers have bought the sound bytes pushed out by those who want to exploit them. Nothing will change until working people start to understand the interests that they share.
Small business owners. Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos reports a surprising result from a poll of small business owners. 57% favor increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Even owners of small restaurants and retail shops favored the change. While the poll was conducted by a Democratic firm, most of those polled identified themselves as Republicans.
Who else should want an increased minimum wage? Conservatives who want to cut spending on food stamps. In a second article, Clawson cites a study from the Center for American Progress that claims an increase in the minimum wage would cut food stamp spending by 1.9%. That might not sound like a large number, but it would total $46 million over ten years. Republicans want to cut the program by $40 million over that time. Those Republicans should do the conservative thing and vote for an increase in the minimum wage since it would lead to an even bigger decrease in spending on food stamps. Increasing the minimum wage – an issue every conservative should love.
Conservatives like to beat the drum of American Exceptionalism. Then they do everything to make that term a big joke. Laura Clawson of Daily Kos examines national rates for the minimum wage. American is nowhere close to being exceptional. Australia, France, Canada, and several other developed countries have a higher minimum wage. Clawson points out that the U.S. has to use social programs to supplement wages of low paid workers. In essence, this means that those who make more than the minimum wage are subsidizing companies that pay the minimum wage. The next time you hear someone complain about government programs, please remind that person that many of the people getting those benefits work. The real winner is the corporations that pay low wages. The real problem is corporate welfare.
Yesterday the big story was that 2.5 million workers could drop out of the labor market because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a., Obamacare). This story is another example of craven politics and lazy reporting. The 2.5 million people cited are currently employed. Most would be replaced by their employers, so job loss would be minimal. Some of those leaving employers will start businesses of their own, which will create jobs. No reporters asked the simple questions. They like the big numbers and bad news. The political opponents of the ACA will use any number to claim the bill does not work. These are the same people – conservative Republicans – who oppose any measure that helps working people: unemployment benefits, increased minimum wage, government-sponsored jobs, high speed rail, and green jobs. Based on my experience with Blue Cross Blue Shield and how busy that company seems to be, the ACA is generating jobs. Beware of falling for scary stories that make no sense. Those who want to control working people want to keep us afraid and uninformed.
Daily Kos explodes the lies that the mainstream media missed.
I heard an interesting report on the radio today via CNBC. The good news is that ADP estimates that the U.S. economy added nearly 240,000 in December. Here’s the bad news: Retail sales are down. What I found most interesting was CNBC’s interpretation of this situation: “People have jobs, but not enough money.”
Not enough money. Progressives and liberals have been beating the drum about the economic consequences of inequality for several years. Conservatives still cling to their sacred truths about deficit reduction and tax cuts, neither of which have done much to spur the economy. What about alternatives, such as raising the minimum wage or passing a jobs program or doing more to promote manufacturing in the U.S. The solutions are out there. The rich and their allies have done a great job of concealing them or repackaging them in a way that makes working people vote against their interest. CNBC captured the problem: “Not enough money.”
I couldn’t sleep last night, so I started going up and down the radio dial, looking for something that might put me to sleep. A conservative talker raged about the need for inner city youth to obey the police. His point was simple: No matter what the circumstance, we must respect the police.
Conservative leaders in Michigan must listen to other right wing radio talkers. According to Laura Clawson in Daily Kos, police and firefighters in Detroit are not getting respect from the conservative governor Rick Snyder and his “Emergency Manager” Kevyn Orr. Neither group is eligible for Social Security, and the city’s bankruptcy will make their pensions next to worthless. Unlike pensions in the private sector there is no Federal system to backstop failed public pension funds. Brave cops and firefighters who put their lives on the line to keep the people safe now face a very insecure retirement.
Even if public safety officers in Detroit received full pensions, they would only average $30,000, much less than peers in cities of a similar size. How can people who say they respect the police (and I assume firefighters) treat them so poorly? Clawson puts it best in the last words of her article: “They kept their promises to the city of Detroit. It must keep its promises to them.” Amen.
Writing in Common Dreams, Paul Buccheit analyzes the state of big business in America during what some call the worst economy since the Great Depression. What does he find? Big companies are making money and holding on to it – trillions of dollars. They’re paying half the taxes they did before 2008. Most importantly, they’re cutting jobs, not making them. So much for the “job creators.”