Our Strange Priorities On How To Deal With Poverty And Low Wages

You don’t want homeless people living in your part of town.  They look dirty and lower the property values.  Of course, you don’t want them on welfare either, because that’s just “stealing money from your paycheck to buy drugs,” despite the fact that impoverished folks test well below average for drug use.  If they shouldn’t be broke and they shouldn’t use assistance, what should they do?  Ah, of course… they should get a job.

But the private sector isn’t hiring due to increased efficiency and worries about the economic rebound, and you also oppose any sort of public works programs to create jobs because, despite the fact that they won’t hire anyone, you think the private sector is the answer and the government is just getting in the way.  Still, you say:  “I hear McDonald’s is always hiring.”

First, no; they’re not.  Furthermore, you oppose any increase in the minimum wage, ostensibly because you believe in the rights of the owner class to pay “market” wages.  You claim, as in the linked article, that low-skilled workers aren’t worth more than a net income of around $850 a month, so a raise would hurt them because everyone would suddenly just stop hiring and the market for unskilled labor would just dry up.  Notwithstanding how asinine such a claim is, the true reason the working class fights against the minimum wage is because they do not want lower-paid workers to have more buying power, as it would lower their own in comparison, and they’re concerned about such a shift in social classes.


So let’s pose the question differently.  If the minimum wage kept pace with American worker productivity, it would sit at almost $22 an hour right now.  As Senator Elizabeth Warren recently asked, what happened to the other $14.75 an hour that workers are creating but not receiving?  Stop and consider where that money is going.  If minimum wage has stayed flat for so many years and average worker pay has pretty much matched inflation to stay flat as well, where is all this extra hard work and productivity going?

Of course, you already know where this is going, but I’ll say it again:

CEO pay increased 127 times faster than worker pay over the last thirty years.

Back then, CEOs made about 26 times the average worker pay, and while worker pay has stayed about the same, CEO pay has gone up more than 725%.  To put it in perspective:

1980 Worker pay: $10 an hour – CEO pay: $260 an hour.
2012 Worker pay: $10 an hour – CEO pay: $2,145 an hour.

Where did all that CEO money come from?  Where did all the gains from worker productivity go?  Looks like we’ve answered both of those questions.  Logic would state that the owner class is ripping off their workforce and things should be more equitable, but what are the workers (including the ones on minimum wage) going to do about it?  Any ideas on how the workers could bond together and collectively… bargain… with the bosses?

And they tell me that we don’t need unions anymore.