I just had to share this comment from reddit because it was so well said.
The American economy is becoming less friendly to skilled workers. Look at many autoplants and other industrial factories. What 40 years ago was a workforce with many specialists, led by foremen who had risen from the ranks of those specialist workers, is being replaced by a workforce of generalists who work jobs further simplified to smaller individual tasks, are lower paid, not encouraged to specialize, and led on the shop floor by college graduate managers who never worked in the factory a day in their lives. Job training isn’t enough without the economic demand.
If you believe everyone should work a skilled job for a living, you have to either ensure that there are skilled jobs for everyone, or recognize that what you’re saying is “some people should starve despite their best efforts.”
These people are doing productive labor in a majorly profitable industry, yet are paid starvation wages. And that’s not just a problem for them. Taxpayers are effectively paying massive subsidies to keep these businesses functioning in this way. The largest private employer in the United States, Wal-Mart, costs taxpayers $6.2 billion per year in public assistance designed to keep its low-wage workers alive, according to one estimate. Wal-Mart also has a huge share of the food stamp market ($13.5 billion in sales in 2013), so they’re paying such shit wages, we have to give their workers benefits to stay alive, which they’ll likely need to turn around and spend at Wal-Mart for groceries, essentially allowing the company to double-dip in their massive taxpayer subsidies.
For McDonald’s, $1.2 billion of taxpayer money goes to supporting their underpaid workers, part of the fast food industry’s $7 billion annually. And they can afford better. The ten largest corporations were responsible for $3.8 billion in 2012, while making $7.4 billion in profits AFTER paying out $7.7 billion in dividends and buybacks to shareholders.
If we raise wages to a livable level, however, they won’t take it out of their profits and dividends. They’ll raise prices. That’s partially the greed of the executives, but largely the greed of the stockholders. Why park your capital in a company making 2% growth when you can move it to one making 6%? That’s just self-interest, and it’s the motivating factor for companies to squeeze costs, including labor. That’s capitalism.
Every time universal free-at-point-of-need medical care comes up, people bring up that it’s not *really* free because it’s being paid for in your taxes. Well, when you think about how cheap fast food is, remember, it’s not *really* that cheap, you’re paying for it in your taxes.
We’re spending billions of dollars of our money to prop up bloated corporations paying their workers shit wages so they can pump out shit food that is killing our people.