If you have ever worked a minimum wage job, you understand why they call it a starvation wage- if you were trying to live on just that wage, you would starve. While the minimum wage has remained stagnant in most of the country, cost of living has risen dramatically, especially in cities.
This graph can be a little confusing, the bottom line is what the actual minimum wage was. The top line is what that amount would have been if adjusted to 2016 dollars. The graph shows that minimum wage in the 70’s was worth more than then our current $7.25, that is because minimum wage has not even been adjusted for inflation. Inflation is what explains the fact that $2/hour bought much more in the 1970’s than today, you can buy less per dollar. This graph shows long periods without any rise in the rate, even as the rate itself was providing less.
You’re wondering, what the heck is conservative about this so far, buckle up. First let’s refresh the definition of working class. Then let’s dive into corporate welfare, and how the Walton’s are the true “welfare queens” that Reagan raved about.
COVID showed us the value of a job is not reflected by the rate it pays. Hedge Fund managers and big tech executives didn’t offer a thing to us during COVID, it was the minimum wage grocery store worker, the uninsured Rideshare drivers delivering food, and the working class. It is all too common among elite circles to hear the argument, “fast food workers don’t deserve more pay because it doesn’t take any skills or qualifications to work there.” ”If they want more pay they should work somewhere else or learn a skill”. Or a slightly less hostile “McDonalds has to pay that low to stay in business, its supply and demand, after all, you like $1 burgers don’t you?”
This thought can really only come from lack of experience in the other person’s shoes. COVID has really uprooted many of the seeds of anti-worker sentiment running rampant in the US for 30 years. Thankfully Americans writ large are empathizing with the massive class of working poor in this country. While anyone with a salaried job and benefits was and is understandably nervous about losing their job, they saw fellow community members working in their local grocery store, literally risking their life for $7.25 an hour. The only bright side of tragedy is that it has a way of bringing people together and cleaning the slate. Let’s continue to respect and fight for all workers.
When you think about the welfare system, sadly many Americans think of a poor, lazy, likely obese, con artist who has figured out how to game the system and live off actual workers wages. While they aren’t poor, the biggest beneficiaries of welfare are certainly con artists(Walmart). Let’s go back to the working poor, we know that the minimum wage is so low that even working 40 hours a week will still not provide the basics of food and rent. Imagine having a family on that wage, on this low wage most workers have multiple jobs and still cannot provide enough for their children. Before children go hungry, these workers are forced to enroll for food stamps.
Take a big pause here, do we like the idea that in America today you can absolutely bust ass and still need Government assistance to survive?
This is where the Walton’s come in, remember the stories in the news about Walmart holding food drives for EMPLOYEES!? Yes they acknowledge that many of their workers do not have enough food to eat. However lets focus on how they are truly the recipients of the most welfare. By lobbying the government minimum wage companies can get the wages to stay inhumanely low, Walmart can stomach starving people because they know these workers won’t starve to death because they are forced onto the Government’s payroll. Imagine if food stamps didn’t exist, guaranteed we would hear the same stories we hear from China of people keeling over right on the job. Many Walmart workers would lose the roof over their heads. At the end of the day if you pay taxes, you are really paying Walmart’s payroll. If the national minimum wage was gradually raised to $15/hour, we would see the amount of workers seeking welfare drop significantly.
At the end of the day based on capitalist values, it isn’t the employees but the Walton’s who cannot compete with their own hard work, they only succeed by changing the laws that the government has laid out. Wait a minute, using the laws and government to succeed, isn’t that socialism!? You got that right, socialism is here, you just don’t qualify.