For years now there has been a massive political debate between the ‘free market, reduce government, end social programs’ politicians on the right and the ‘raise the minimum wage, strengthen workers rights, and bring jobs back from overseas’ politicians on the left. Both sides stand strong on their positions — and we are caught in the middle.
Everyone is fed up with Congress right now. Businesses do not trust the government and are hoarding their money instead of re-investing. Citizens cannot trust Congress because they keep jumping from crisis to crisis, threating to destroy the economic recovery every 6-8 weeks.
I have found something that both sides should agree with, but they won’t. If I told you how to lift millions of working families out of poverty AND reduce the government’s obligations for programs like welfare and food stamps, would you support that? The answer is simply to raise the minimum wage.
Before you go running off hear me out, because like I said before: we can reduce the number of people receiving public assistance and put people on the road out of poverty.
Image from NELP
Right now the federal minimum wage is $7.25. There are a dozen states that have higher minimum wages, but the majority still go by the federal standard. The biggest abusers of the minimum wage law are major corporations, especially fast-food corporations. McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and even my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts are the biggest abusers of minimum wage. It is estimated that there are 2.25 million Americans who are working for the top 10 fast-food restaurants alone.
Increasing the minimum wage would allow these 2.25 million Americans to eventually lift themselves out of poverty. This would also boost the economy because these people would have money to spend again: money to go out for dinner, see a movie or buy a new car. All of these things would be a benefit to our stagnant economy. Of course we already knew that.
The people who oppose raising the minimum wage do so because they want to ‘let the free market decide’ what employers should pay workers. Under this theory, if a starving man is willing to work for $1.00 an hour, employers should be able to pay him $1.00 an hour, right? Wrong!
Our country has – historically – valued human life highly enough that we don’t let people starve to death. Do the math: if a person worked for $1.00 hour, he would not be able to make enough money to feed himself. This is where public assistance programs come in. Welfare (TANF), food stamps (SNAP), WIC, reduced-cost school lunches and other programs provide some food to low-income people.
Those same politicians who oppose raising the minimum wage also scream that the government is giving out too much money for these types of social programs. They are right! But the way to reduce spending on food assistance is NOT to start starving low-income families.
Image from NELP
Remember those top 10 fast-food corporations that I mentioned before — the ones that employ over 2 million Americans alone? Those corporations are supplementing their profits with your tax dollars, and I bet you did not even know it.
Last year those 10 fast-food corporations paid their workers so little that many of them had to rely on government assistance programs to survive. Last year, that cost the U.S. taxpayers $3.8 billion dollars (that is with a B) in government assistance. McDonald’s alone cost the taxpayers $1.2 billion dollars in government assistance programs.
Image from NELP
Ensuring that needy families do not starve is part of being an American. We all give a little and help those people on the bottom. The problem is that we, the taxpayers, are subsidizing the profits of these massive corporations. Last year these top 10 corporations made a combined $7.4 billion dollars in profit. That means: after they paid for the buildings, the workers, the food, the free toys, promotional advertising, and stock buybacks, — they still made $7.4 billion dollars in profit.
McDonald;s led the way, raking in nearly $5.4 billion in profits just for that one company.
Meanwhile, today it became clear that McDonald’s actually SENDS its workers to public assistance programs, rather than paying them a fair wage.
So I am paying more in taxes to help feed the ever growing population of working poor, while their employers are making billions in profits. That does not seem right to me. As I said before we can reduce the number of people who are living in poverty and reduce the output of money from government assistance programs by doing one simple thing. RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE.
By raising the minimum wage, people will have their own money to buy food and housing — and they wouldn’t be forced to rely on taxpayer-funded social programs. It is a win for liberals and tea-partiers alike.
(References to the images from the National Employment Law Project)
66% of Low Wage Workers Work In Large Companies Who Are Making Tons Of Money!
The Outrageous Truth About A $12 Minimum Wage And Your Grocery Bill.