Corporate Greed Fuels Resistance to Minimum Wage Hike

by David T. Bruce

Many analysts and columnists are insisting that the economy is getting better. The state of the economy is a relative condition, however, as over 12 million Americans remain unemployed, with long-term unemployed men and women accounting for 38 percent of that number. At any rate, this perceived economic recovery has prompted President Obama to offer up an increase in the federal minimum wage over the next two years.

minwageThe arguments against raising the minimum wage are predictable, as they are consistent. Business owners contend that an increase in the minimum wage would force them to pass that cost on to the consumer. As well, the costs associated with paying employees more would limit the number of employees that they could hire, thereby further impacting the unemployment rate. This may be the case, certainly for small business owners who are trying to earn a living, but for those larger corporations that are doing well, these arguments amount to pure greed.

The current minimum wage of $7.25 amounts to $15,080 a year; this places a family of two below the poverty level. This is recovery? To pay rent in 1960, a person would have to work 71 hours at minimum wage ($1); a person would have to work 109 hours at the current minimum wage, to afford rent. This is recovery?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (unaffectionatly referred to as Obamacare by dissenters) compels business owners employing over 50 people to provide those employees with healthcare benefits. Companies such as Wendy’s (in Omaha, Nebraska), Papa John’s and Walmart are systematically structuring their workforce to avoid providing benefits. This is greed. And the bottom line of the argument against increasing the federal minimum wage is greed.

Business owners regularly raise prices to keep pace with inflation. Local utilities and governments do likewise. When will big businesses and governments realize that at some point, prices will be raised so much that they will lose money? The federal government does understand this, as government employees have historically received a cost-of-living allowance to help offset inflation.

The unemployed and underemployed Americans cannot give what they do not have. At some point, everyone will suffer. There is plenty of evidence to support that an increase in minimum wage would be a good thing, and the numbers demonstrate that big businesses continues to prosper while the middle class deteriorates. Every time you read or hear that the economy is improving, you can bet that Wall Street is doing very well, while the rest of us are worse off than we were yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Healthcare Held Hostage

by David T. Bruce

insurance_claim_formNeither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party as a whole gives a damn about the healthcare needs of the citizenry of the United States.  Other nations are criticized for their socialized medical healthcare plans.  England’s National Health Service and Canadian Health Care are two forms of socialized medicine that provide healthcare to all citizens, not just to those that can afford care or afford coverage.  While the systems certainly have their share of flaws and frustrations, the mentality suggests that a government body should logically and morally care for its citizens.

In the United States, many of the elderly cannot afford the privatized healthcare coverage offered to them, let alone can they afford a new heart.  Likewise, American citizens who are born disabled or find themselves disabled are unlikely to have sufficient coverage.  Like the elderly, their income level in general is not enough to afford them access to the level of healthcare required to meet their needs.  Furthermore, the economic instability that still prevails in the United States (regardless of the Wall Street or political spin to the contrary) increases the ranks of the underinsured or uninsured.  Gallup polls point out the state of healthcare in the United States as of 2011, illustrating that over 17 percent of Americans over age 18 do not have health insurance.

The majority of Americans are not asking for handouts; the majority of Americans are not resting on their laurels or sitting on their behinds, avoiding work in order to obtain free medical care.  The majority of Americans are victims of the power struggle that is running rampant in this country between the two major opposing political parties, who use large business companies as their chess pieces of highest rank.  We are merely pawns – very weak and very disposable.  For fear of losing power, our elected officials use their own form of domestic terrorism to make each of us fearful of our neighbors, engendering within each of us the fear that something we have earned will be taken away.

Both the Obama Administration and the Republican Party are missing the point.  Both sides are wrong.  We should not have to force Americans to buy health insurance.  Health insurance should not be for-profit, benefiting health insurance companies more than those receiving benefits.  The relationship between these two entities – the federal government and the health insurance companies – is not difficult to perceive.

The insurance companies lobby on Capitol Hill to benefit from the election of an official who will support the continued financial success of insurance companies.  That is what “for profit” means, and they are indeed very profitable.  These elected officials then seek to mandate that insurance companies benefit from the support for which they have lobbied.  Here we have a conflict of interest.

What should be of interest to all Americans is this: we either care about our citizens or we do not.  England and Canada may not have the best insurance programs, but they do at least give the impression that the wealth of a human being is not attached to their age or ability.  Given the rhetoric spewed from all branches of our federal government and the health insurance companies, the message is that healthcare for all Americans is not a priority.  The message is that if you are too old, too disabled, too poor, or too sick, you are on your own.