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May 22, 2017


A few days ago I wrote and published a post dealing with how we are subsidizing the bottom lines of such as Walmart and McDonald’s (and others) with billions and billions of dollars paid out to their employees annually with food stamps and other such public welfare because such huge and profitable companies pay poverty rather than living wages to their employees. These are the working poor, not deadbeats, I wrote, and cannot exist without public help. Taxpayer money thus paid goes to the bottom line of profit for such companies, who even in some instances cravenly assist their employees in obtaining public help (ostensibly to help such employees out but in reality for the purpose of keeping taxpayer money rolling in to their bottom line profits).

Among other things, I wrote if such huge and profitable companies paid a living wage rather than the miserable poverty wages they pay, that such savings to the taxpayer could be used far more profitably for education, infrastructure and other public initiatives desperately in need of funding. I zeroed in on how such savings could be used to provide higher education, for instance, in helping college students get an education without going deeply into debt, a situation with our currently depressed job market which is keeping such now adult people at home with their parents, delaying marriage, not investing in a home of their own, and in general being enslaved to payment of tuition for their educations, educations that are not helping them get a good-paying job given increasingly automated and global competition in our underperforming domestic economy where politicians prefer to hand out subsidies and tax cuts to the rich rather than invest in America and its people.

There was a flaw in my earlier post in that I described the loss to taxpayers as “billions and billions” of dollars. I did not write with specificity just how many such taxpayer dollars were given over to the bottom lines of poverty-wage paying corporations. This post will rectify that flaw.

I discovered just how many dollars are annually given by politicians to corporations who pay poverty wages to their employees. I found it in the latest book written by Senator Elizabeth Warren, This Fight Is Our Fight, at page 25. It is 153 billion dollars annually. She writes that “Every year, employers like retailers and fast-food outlets pay wages that are so low that the rest of America ponies up a collective $153 billion to subsidize their workers. That’s $153 billion EVERY YEAR. Anyone want to guess what we could do with that mountain of money? We could make every public college tuition-free and pay for preschool for every child – and still have tens of billions left over. We could almost double the amount we spend on services for veterans, such as disability, long-term care, and ending homelessness. We could double all federal research and development – EVERYTHING: medical, scientific, engineering, climate science, behavioral health, chemistry, brain mapping, drug addiction, even defense research. Or we could more than double federal spending on transportation and water infrastructure – roads, bridges, airports, mass transit, dams and levees, water treatment plants, safe new water pipes.”

Wow! This description by a senator with far better resources than I have tells us what subsidizing the bottom lines of huge and profitable corporations is really costing America and our people, and it’s more than just money – it’s wasted lives and foregone opportunities. Which, I ask you, is more important to America and its future, taxpayer subsidies and tax cuts to the bottom lines of the rich and corporate class, or investments in America and our people in their respective futures? Which makes America “great again?”

Shall we sacrifice education and infrastructure on the cross of wage inequality left unaddressed so that we can as a matter of policy further enrich the already rich with unearned subsidies and tax cuts? Is that policy, or bribery? How can such grotesque wage inequality calling for $153 billion in public outlays to  rich and profitable corporations possibly be allowed to continue in the face of  oue desperate needs to fund other important initiatives or, for that matter, even if there were not such desperate funding needs? That’s not capitalism and free enterprise; that’s giveaway, aka political bribery.

Senator Warren sums up the situation nicely in her above-cited book: “. . . I don’t think that anyone who works full-time should live in poverty. I also don’t think that bazillion-dollar companies like Walmart ought to funnel profits to shareholders while paying such low wages that taxpayers must pick up the ticket for their employees’ food, shelter and medical care. I listen to right-wing loudmouths sound off about what an outrage welfare is and I think, ‘Yeah, it stinks that Walmart has been sucking up so much government assistance for so long.’ But somehow I suspect that these guys aren’t talking about Walmart the Welfare Queen.”

Amen! I have long held that individual welfare complained about by the rich and corporate class is a cover for and designed to deflect our attention from corporate welfare, which dwarfs individual welfare by a mile and, as we have seen above, for no good reason. One last caveat: With rising costs for necessities, the $153 billion in giveaways of taxpayer money to the bottom lines of the rich and corporate class is likely to go up rather than down if we don’t do something about it. Let’s do something about it! This is ridiculous!      GERALD      E


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