aNewDomain — So it turns out that Wal-Mart workers cost US taxpayers over six billion dollars in 2013.
The family controlling the company own well over a hundred billion dollars in assets and just three of them rake in over three billion a year in dividends. Never mind the rest of the shareholders.
The US economy is and has always been a system by which public, taxpayer money is handed over to private individuals. We call this capitalism, but capitalism is a system in which investors are rewarded with private-sector money for using the means of production to make valuable (marketable) goods and services.
The current system is not doing this. It is giving taxpayer money to a few families who exploit the means of production (other American capitalists).
The next unsurprising piece of news comes from Credit Suisse: One percent of people now control 50 percent of the world’s wealth.
These “ultra-high net worth individuals,” people with over $50 million each in assets, form sort of a separate nation. They vie for ludicrous luxury goods with others in their same ballpark, across national lines – because no one nation can produce the things they want. OXFAM earlier this year noted that just 85 people had as much wealth as half the human population, the poorest half.
These figures might be essentially meaningless to us.
We cannot conceive of the sorts of problems and lives lived by such people. But we feel the weight of their troubles every day.
They do not only compete for luxury goods like rings, watches, cars and planes.
They also compete for television stations, cable companies, internet providers. And they rig the rules against the rest of us.
Fox News, for example, is owned by one extremely rich man with fringe values.
He uses the station’s assets to broadcast those views all day, every day, selling them to people not best served by hard-core socially regressive, ultra-capitalist ideals. He gets us to vote on his interests by keeping angry, mostly elderly white people afraid – of terrorists, of Obamacare, of the government coming to raid their homes and steal their rifles.
The middle class, in the meantime, supports these rich people in a more real way than voting. Let’s go back to those Wal-Mart workers. We’ve been convinced that small government is the answer. But government jobs pay people – ordinary people – quite well.
They supply good salaries and benefits, reasonable schedules. We’ve been convinced that grade-school teachers are living the good life on the backs of our tax dollars. Wisconsin voted to keep a government hostile to unions and especially to teachers’ unions, perhaps out of jealousy: they make decent money and I don’t; they get health care and I don’t.
Rather than continually putting down burger flippers for having no skills and wanting a living wage, maybe it’s time we decided we ourselves would like a living wage. Rather than resenting how much we pay in taxes to support poor people, maybe we should question how much of those subsidies actually support the three richest Wal-Mart heirs, whose idea of trickle-down economics is putting up an art gallery in Arkansas.
As though people starving on Wal-Mart wages really need an art gallery.
No, this is another one of those competitive things rich people do: own thing. Own art, for example. And then get tax write-offs by calling it charity.
Look, I’m working on going vegetarian anyway. It’s nothing to me if a Big Mac costs another 10 cents because the people flipping them get health care and can afford to get married. But when we’re arguing over what poor people deserve, just try to bear in mind we *are* the poor people.
There’s hardly any difference between what McDonalds pays a basic shift worker and what a doctor makes to teach at a community college, held to part-time with no benefits.
At the end of every month when your incomes don’t quite match your expenses and you want to know where all the money went, well, it went to this art gallery in Bentonville.
And then there’s this Bugatti dealership in Miami. It bought this luxury yacht. You think it went to food stamps and Medicaid and it did, yes it did – but not because the workers were too lazy to get jobs. Because, in fact, because you keep voting for them not to get paid enough to make ends meet.
For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.
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