Anyone who cares about working people needs to read Laura Clawson of the Huffington Post. Today she examines the state of Workers Compensation, which has been cut in 33 states. There is also great disparity between states and how they pay for injuries. Clawson points out that if a worker in Alabama loses an eye, she will be awarded $27,280. The same injury in Pennsylvania will be compensated at $261,525. Companies are paying less and less in damages every year and finding new ways to restrict workers' benefits. This story is outrageous, but it’s no more outrageous than stories of workers losing pensions or wage theft or union busting. Until American workers – white and blue collar – realize their common interests, employers will continue to find new ways to make them suffer. It’s easy to blame the super rich. They are acting in a way that makes sense for their interests and security. What is our problem?
Al Jazeera America reports on claims of a Texas employment miracle. While some may be moving ahead in the Lone Star state, construction workers interviewed for this article are working hard for $8-$10 an hour. The state’s governor brags that Texas has an unemployment rate far lower than the national average (national 6.3%; Texas 5.5%). However, the state is producing as many low wage jobs as high paying jobs. It also offers less support for low wage workers, which means they struggle even more to get by. The working poor in Texas live harder lives than workers in New York or California, states that have more progressive labor laws and social safety net services.
Some may say, “A job is a job.” Those people usually have a job or other source of income that gives them the security needed to be glib and unfeeling about others. Across America, low wage workers are struggling to get by. So are middle class workers, who often resent the aid given to low wage workers. All American workers need to remember who the real winners in this society are – the 1% – and ask them to pay for their share of our common needs. The Texas Miracle is just one more example of an American economy that asks more and more of the working poor. That’s not a miracle. It’s a tragedy.
Too many people are hung up with resentment about poor people who get benefits. What they need to think about instead is the millions of Americans that work hard, but can’t make enough money to live without some kind of state aid. Huffington Post offers a great article on these people, how hard they work, and how they live. If you are against raising the minimum wage, I recommend that you read this article and think about the people it describes
Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos has written two recent articles that show how poverty is a growing problem in the U.S. First, she explores how households headed by working single mothers are falling deeper into poverty from 54% in 2007 to 58% in 2012. Beyond the challenge of finding a good job with decent pay, many of these women are challenged by a lack of affordable day care. Many of our politicians claim to the pro-family, but they don’t seem to care about these women and their children.
In a second article, Clawson dismantles the claims that Medicaid and food stamps keep people in poverty. Instead, she shows that without these program our national poverty rate would be 28.7%, much more than the currently shameful 16%. Most of the people benefiting from these programs work, and – despite their hard work – they can’t get ahead. Who does get ahead? Clawson points out that the most successful beneficiary of social safety nets are large corporations who know that they can continue to pay low wages as long as the government will subsidize them. The problem can be summarized in two words: corporate welfare.