Saturday, May 09, 2015

Low Wages? It's The System That Must Go!

People have a hard time understanding the vast number of Americans working in low wage jobs. We also have 46 million Americans on food stamps.  One of the big issues that we will certainly hear about during this campaign season is the erosion of the middle class.  Even though the stock market is hovering near all-time peaks, the regular worker is feeling like the economy is pulling past them.  Since the recession officially ended in the summer of 2009, a large portion of the jobs added came in the form of lower wage segments of the economy.  There is now talk about boosting the minimum wage. Most people think that minimum wage only impacts teenagers trying to pocket some money for going to the movies on the weekend.  That is absolutely not true as the figures will highlight.

Putting the politics aside, there are millions of Americans at the minimum wage threshold.  While the idea is that most are young and not needing the money, the facts are very different.
“(EPI) It’s a common myth that very low-wage workers—workers who would get a raise if the minimum wage were increased—are mostly teenagers working to earn extra spending money. The reality is that raising the federal minimum wage to $12.00 per hour would primarily benefit older workers. 89 percent of workers who would be affected by raising the minimum wage are at least 20 years old, and 37 percent are at least 40 years old.”
Here is some more data:
minimum wage america

The average age of the minimum wage worker is 36.  57 percent work full-time and 28 percent have children.  This is part of the new low wage America.  What people tend to forget is that many on food stamps are also working, largely in minimum wage jobs.  If you think this number is small just take a look at the latest figures for Americans on food stamps:

snap food

46 million Americans are still on food stamps.  That is a massive number of families and many with children one step away from abject poverty.  The bigger question that should be asked is:
-Why have we left the middle class slip away?
-Is this something beyond our control?
-Where are the gains going in this current economy?
It would be one thing if the gains were going to those who “worked” the hardest.  The notion of meritocracy is deeply rooted in our cultural narrative.  But in a good number of cases, we’ve become a bailout nation assisting the financially connected.  How so?  Bailing out banks for one with no strings attached.  We also have easy money that flowed back into the real estate sector to help large investors crowd out regular families.  Good luck being able to afford a tiny apartment on minimum wage.

The debate about the minimum wage is going to get heated as we enter the 2016 election year but just know the above facts and figures.  The bigger issue at hand is that we’ve largely become a low wage nation.  Hard to know what families are going through when half of Congress is made up of millionaires.

from here

This is not solely an American problem, it is global, as is the system of capitalism which rules us all. Politicians are there to support that system and to make it run in the best interests of the minority. Even those few with the interests of the people at heart are hamstrung by the system and can achieve little except for minor reforms. When that system attracts so many millionaires to Congress one must ask if they can really represent the ordinary working person as they are so far removed from the realities of living on an ordinary wage.
It is time to abolish the slavery of work and build a new system from the bottom up taking into account the needs of us all. Socialism it has to be.


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