Republicans continue to insist that we can no longer afford the public safety net, that we must reduce the effectiveness of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance. What they refuse to see is how their sponsors contributed to the problem, which also contains a solution to the problems as they see them.
The problem is there are so many poor and working poor who need help. In 2010, the poverty level for one person under 65 years old was just over $11,000 per year. Assuming a work week of five days a week, 52 weeks per year (ignoring paid holidays as often these are not paid for not working), that works out to about $5.50 per hour. Obviously this is an average as many of these folks do not work full time. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, so also obviously this is not enough to live on. So, the working poor need food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid.
The problem is not the costs of these safety net services, but the demand for them. Scumbag employers like Wal-Mart employ people to show their employees how to apply for these safety net services because Wal-Mart has no intention of paying their employees what they are worth. Wal-Mart could afford to double the wages paid to its employees and not affect their prices at all. What they would have to sacrifice is their obscene profits. Doubling their wages would drop their profits out of the obscene level into the extremely, extremely good level, that is the only people affected would be extremely rich people who would end up still extremely rich.
The minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.59 today when adjusted for inflation, instead it is $7.25. The reason? The “business community” doesn’t want to pay people what they are worth. “Oh, but that would make us uncompetitive. More jobs would be shipped to China,” they exclaim! Bugabugboo!
This is nonsense. We collectively are paying for the greed of these people in the form of the extra demands on the safety net. The working poor receive money from all of us in the form of housing vouchers, food stamps, and Medicaid and pay little, if anything in the form of federal taxes. In other words, the American tax payer is subsidizing obscene profits for these businesses. If they were to pay people what their labor was worth, the demand for those social safety net services would shrink, and the taxes those people would pay would reduce the federal and state deficits.
“We collectively are paying for the greed of these people
in the form of the extra demands on the safety net.”
And the argument that “high labor costs,” what we call “fair labor costs” would price us out of the market is ridiculous. There is no foreign competition for American service jobs. One doesn’t send one’s car to China to get it washed. And, in Germany where their labor costs are higher and their labor productivity lower than here, they have the second highest level manufactured goods exports in the world. How is it that Germany can do it and we cannot?
This sanctioning and subsidy of corporate greed has extreme costs: 22% of children are living in poverty is just one. The loss of dignity to the working poor will cost even more dearly in the future.
And the demand to cut Social Security is ridiculous. Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program ever created. Even so, the median income of Americans over 65 is less than $20,000 a year. Nearly 70 percent of them depend on Social Security for more than half of this. The average Social Security benefit is less than $15,000 a year. This is not exactly largess. And, Social Security benefits are paid for separately out of payroll taxes and do not contribute to either federal deficits or the national debt. Currently Social Security has $2,600,000,000,000 surplus! There is no problem with Social Security and solutions to future problems are relatively simple, like removing the cap on earnings upon which the payroll tax is paid.
The Republican’s masters have created the problem with their unbridled greed by attacking labor unions, changing federal laws protecting workers, and bribing our public officials to create tax and environmental laws that favor the rich and corporations. Then, after creating the problem, they offer to solve it by reducing services to the poor and the elderly. And these scum sucking politicians are willing to do this for enough money to remain in power. Is it because they like doing the bidding of the rich masters? Is it because they like grinding the poor under their heels? Is this the legacy they want to leave behind?
Pay the people and many of these artificial problems disappear. Instead, I imagine these assholes want their salaries to be doubled because they not only have to solve the problems but create them too.