Earthbound Misfit wrote:
How McDonalds, Burger King (and Wal-Mart) Pick Your Pocket, Even If You Never Spend a Dime There
The short answer is that they pay their employees so poorly that the majority of fast-food workers are also on public assistance. So what happens is that the Federal treasury (that’s *us*, folks) subsidizes those companies’ labor costs.
. . .
Why are we subsidizing these greedy ******s’ labor costs? When you hear the GOP and the Tea-baggers screaming about “welfare queens”, why aren’t they yelling at Wal-Mart and McDonalds?
The answer is easy: Those corporate welfare kings have the money for lobbyists and lawyers. A single mother working at McDonald’s or Wal-mart isn’t making campaign contributions to The Canadian Usurper or the Tea Party Caucus.
There’s more at the link.
She starts from the left side of the political spectrum, unlike me, but in this case she’s absolutely correct. These corporations are, indeed, taking advantage of government programs to reduce their own expenditure on employee benefits. However, I respectfully submit that she may be missing the most important point – namely:
The fact that these programs exist, and are heavily subsidized by the taxpayer, allows – even encourages – companies to make use of them to reduce their own costs. That’s precisely what’s happening with Obamacare right now. Because it exempts part-time employees working less than 30 hours per week from its onerous (and very expensive) requirements, a lot of companies have converted as many as possible of their employees to part-time status. They now earn less money, and aren’t eligible for the same benefits that they formerly enjoyed as full-time staff . . . precisely because the government has set up financial conditions (incentives and/or penalties) that encourage companies to treat employees like this.
Let’s be quite clear about this. Companies – and individuals – operate in a marketplace with laws of supply and demand. There are incentives for companies to attract and retain good-quality, loyal staff. However, if expenses – increased taxation and/or fees, administrative overhead, complexity of complying with government regulation, and so on – are more costly to a company than those incentives, the same laws of supply and demand dictate that the company will choose the least costly option. That’s precisely what the companies Earthbound Misfit castigates have done. They’ve obeyed the laws of economics, instead of the ‘laws’ (more accurately, customs or values) of compassion and/or corporate responsibility (which don’t have the weight of economic necessity behind them).
If government did not provide and/or subsidize programs such as Obamacare, food stamps, etc., these companies would face greater demand from their employees to pay a living wage – one that would cover all basic needs. Companies that did so would be able to take their pick of potential workers, while those who did not would struggle to attract and retain good staff. However, when the law of the land removes that incentive, why should companies bother? After all, they’re in business to make a profit, and their shareholders want that profit to be as high as possible. Why should they pay higher salaries, or provide more expensive and comprehensive benefits, when they know the government will step in to level the playing field at taxpayer expense?
There are those who maintain that government should provide these programs, because it’s ‘our’ responsibility to provide for the needy among us. Says who? I can understand a religious motivation to do so, on the basis of one’s beliefs – but that’s a moral obligation, not one that can be made binding on those who don’t share one’s beliefs. (“Separation of church and state”, remember?) I can understand a philosophical obligation, too; one’s conviction that ethical considerations demand that one care for one’s fellow human beings. However, why should your ethical considerations require me to pay for their implementation? What objective, non-subjective imperative – moral, philosophical or any other – requires taxpayers to automatically and unquestioningly subsidize programs such as Obamacare, food stamps, welfare or whatever? Frankly, I can’t think of a single one.
(Marx could: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs“. Socialism has enthusiastically adopted his diktat. A very large part of today’s ‘welfare society’ in Europe and North America is based firmly upon it.)
Such programs may be desirable from any number of perspectives, but I find no justification whatsoever for making them a mandatory burden on the public purse. In days gone by most of them were provided by religious and/or charitable institutions. Those who felt the need could contribute to them, while those who did not could refrain. (I think that’s a pretty good model for the arts, too. Why force taxpayers to subsidize artistic expression that they find boring, or unattractive, or even morally reprehensible? Why not let those who enjoy a given art form subsidize it with their donations, while those who don’t are free to ignore it?) Unfortunately, those who seek power over us all too often impose their own preferences and choices on us by legislative fiat. We end up being obliged to pay for things with which we may or may not agree.
The do-gooders and social reformers who have dominated our politics since World War II have basically ensured, through the programs they set up, that companies don’t have to pay a living wage, and that many people have to work two, or three, or even more jobs in order to make ends meet. Furthermore, those programs have given rise to the ‘entitlement culture’ that cripples many of our citizens and communities. See, for example, the following articles:
I agree with most of those perspectives. The ‘do-good’ urge has given rise to the ‘entitlement culture’, which in turn has allowed corporations and ‘Big Business’ to fob off onto the US taxpayer many of the costs they formerly paid to or for their employees. Who’s to blame? We are, for allowing such programs to mushroom and multiply until they consume two-thirds of the federal budget. Heck, when such programs benefit us directly – funding for local initiatives, or artistic expression of which we approve, or sports in which we participate – most of us actively encourage and support them!
Here’s yet another example of that mindset. By following some of the links Earthbound Misfit provided, I came across an article titled ‘New Data Show How Big Chains Free Ride on Taxpayers at the Expense of Responsible Small Businesses‘. Here’s an excerpt.
The public cost of ensuring that employees of these companies have health insurance and enough to live on represents, in effect, a hidden corporate subsidy.
Even Whole Foods, a high-end chain run by a self-proclaimed “Conscious Capitalist,” makes the list, with about 17 percent of its employees enrolled.
“By the end of the summer, I’ll have six Whole Foods stores within 15 minutes of me,” said Michael Kantor, who co-owns Cambridge Naturals, an independent health store that pays 100 percent of the health premiums for full-time employees and half for part-time. Kantor has spoken out in favor of raising the minimum wage, which could lift many retail employees out of working poverty and enable them to afford insurance.
Again, more at the link. Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.
Notice Mr. Kantor’s proposed solution – more legislation. He wants to force companies to pay more by legislative fiat, so that employees will earn enough to buy insurance. In other words, he wants one government program to compensate for the damage he believes he’s suffering from a different program! If he feels so strongly about the matter, why doesn’t he, as a matter of conscience, pay his employees more on his own initiative? Can it be that – gasp! – he can’t afford to, for reasons of economics? Can it be that he wants the government to make that decision for him, so that everyone suffers under the same burden, and thus he won’t be disadvantaged?
Why not get rid of all the programs, and start with a level playing field? Think about it, folks. It’s a hard and unpalatable concept . . . but it’s the only way I see out of this mess. If you have a better idea, please tell us about it in Comments.