When Corporate America Doesn’t Pay a Fair Wage, Guess Who Makes Up the Difference?

One of the things we have heard over and over again is that with just one more tax break, if we’ll just give a few more subsidies to corporations, the magical fountain of trickle-down economics will overflow and we’ll be awash in a warm sea of prosperity for all. The facts have proven otherwise. Corporate subsidies in 2012 cost the taxpayer almost $100 billion and it’s likely we’ll see that number go up for 2013.

But what about wages for those of us who actually work for a living? Would it surprise you to know that, for 2011, the average wage index (AWI) shows 47% of Americans made an average of $22,466.90? 47% of us made less than $25,000 in 2011, and a full 40% brought home less than $20,000 according to the Social Security Administration.

Now here’s the part that will either shock you or make you angry — or both. In 1968, the Federal minimum wage was $1.60. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $10.74 in 2013 dollars. If you don’t believe me, you can do the math yourself on the inflation calculator.

When you couple the fact that the current minimum wage is a full $3.49 less in actual value than the 1968 rate, it’s not a far stretch to link this with our increasing debt and the reliance of so many families on social welfare programs. Then take into consideration that we have corporations hiding their profits in offshore tax havens, getting lawmakers to add tax breaks for them buried deep inside spending bills, and it all starts to come together.

Corporate America is making record profits by paying workers less and passing off the responsibility of taking care of them to the taxpayer wherever and whenever they possibly can. Just look at what just one Wal-Mart store costs taxpayers in Wisconsin. Now multiply that by the over 4,000 Wal-Mart locations, plus the 600+ Sam’s Club warehouses and their distribution centers and you come up with a pretty steep bill that we are having to foot annually. All so that they can get away with paying ridiculously low wages and avoiding health benefit costs.

A lot of people like to say that “if you don’t like working a minimum wage job, then go find something else” as they shrug off any critical thinking in regards to the problem we’re facing. Granted, a 16 year old kid flipping burgers at Wendy’s probably doesn’t have 3 children to take care of like someone ten or twenty years older — but that’s not the point. Go back again to the AWI link I posted and look at how many people are below the annual income necessary to pay a net federal income tax. What this does is put a perpetual burden on the shrinking middle class, and it is a model that is unsustainable.

Corporations should be given the choice. Either they pay their workers enough that they aren’t a burden on taxpayers, or they can start paying more in taxes to cover the cost of Medicaid and food stamps. Otherwise, things are only going to keep getting worse.

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