Friday, August 23, 2013

The Chief [Not So] Hidden Corporate Subsidy

Trey Smith

Low-wage workers can't even care for their own health without giving up some other necessity. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, it took a minimum-wage worker 130 hours to earn a year's worth of health benefits in 1979. That is only three-and-a-half weeks of full-time, minimum-wage work. By 2011, the same health coverage cost 749 hours, or 19 weeks of full-time, minimum-wage work. Working nearly half the year to afford only healthcare, and nothing else, is a ridiculous demand to make of low-wage workers.

The low minimum wage is also as costly for the government as it is cheap for companies. While McDonald's or other fast food companies save pennies and boost their profitability by paying a low wage, their workers cannot survive on that amount and often end up taking welfare benefits. In 2012, 4.3 million people received welfare benefits and 47 million received food stamps. The number of Americans getting food stamps – a national hunger crisis – has risen in tandem with the number of people unemployed or out of the workforce.

The minimum-wage salary is eaten up fast by necessities like food and healthcare: US minimum-wage workers don't just lack cash; they lack benefits, and this ends up costing the government. Each of the 23 million households on food stamps is getting an average benefit of about $274 a month from the government to pay for meals. About 40% of food stamp recipients live in a household where at least one person is earning money, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
~ from How Low Can You Get: the Minimum Wage Scam by Heidi Moore ~
I recently read that the US Chamber of Commerce is on a big lobbying push to try to convince lawmakers to do away with the minimum wage. Yes, the insufficient federal minimum wage -- a paltry $7.25/hour -- is too much of a burden on big business! Even though Wall Street is flying higher and higher these days, they are whining that their wings are clipped. Imagine how high they could get with cheaper wage-slaves!

As Moore points out, a low (or nonexistent) federal minimum wage is the biggest corporate handout of all. Bailouts are for fixed periods; the low minimum wage is the gift that keeps on giving!

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