I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the concept of corporate welfare.
I am going to start by introducing a case study by the Americans for Tax Fairness on Wal-Marts’ massive employee dependence on the American tax payer for welfare.
According to the study Wal-Mart’s employment practices force its 1.4 million workers on average to depend on $4,416 of welfare every year. This means that we the American people spend 6.2 billion dollars every year to pay for Wal-Mart’s choice to not give its employees living wages and opportunities. This assistance comes in the form of food stamps, Medicaid, and in subsidized housing.
The huge contradiction that makes this form of corporate welfare even more UNBEARABLE is that Wal-Mart released its own numbers that estimate it handles 18% of the nation’s food stamp market; for a profit of 13.5 billion dollars per year.
Next I point you to this tidbit:
The Walton family that owns Wal-Mart has just as much wealth equal to the bottom 42% of our country. Wal-Mart last year according to Forbes made 33 billion dollars. That means if Wal-Mart paid just enough for its employees to come off welfare it would have still earned 26.8 billion dollars in 2014. Paying a living wage for Wal-Mart or simply subsidizing the amount their employees take in welfare would still leave the company a tremendous profit. It’s simply a matter of corporate greed and unethical employment policies that created this situation.
Keep in mind this information is just a case study on Wal-Mart. It is estimated we spend 100 billion dollars a year of taxpayer money in order to subsidize grossly rich corporations and their purposeful policies that force our neighbors, parents, and community to barely subsist.
How did this happen?
I point you again to the research I did on the corporate income tax rate and the wealth disparity in this country. As corporations have become wealthier they have gained more influence in this country. This has allowed them to control our government and to insert disproportionate financial and political influence in rigging the government system in their own favor.
As the wealthiest Americans have gained a hugely disproportionate share of the wealth the rise of an elite class of billionaires has come to power in the nation.
A Princeton and Northwestern University study was published that shows how the elite wealthy have more policy influence than the bottom majority of our country. The elites achieve policies at a much higher rate (up to 35%) as their support for an issue increases. The average citizen adoption rate of policy stays flat even as the percent of the population that favors a particular issue increases among the people. This means that it doesn’t really matter how much we as a people desire (there are obvious exceptions of course) a change in our government or support a political issue. The government simply does not serve the will of the majority (the people). Only the elites can truly influence and use their influence to force policy change in our country and this occurs at nearly the double the rate of our own aspirations. This gap continues to widen as the monetary influence of the rich oligarchy in this nation expands.
Couple the above data with the Citizens United decision and this problem is compounded as corporations can now funnel money and influence into our political trajectory. This will only lead to the further marginalization of the voice of the vast majority of the American people.
The inane reality that we as an American people are truly paying from our rapidly dwindling share of the nation’s wealth to subsidize richest people in our country is astonishing. The longer we let corporations and billionaires entrench themselves financially and politically in our government the more this problem will compound.
What is the answer?
Well for starters this is where I will plug Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders is campaigning hard for an end to Citizens United. Any justice he appoints to the Supreme Court will have to past a litmus test to overturn the landmark decision that empowered corporations to effectively become ‘people’ and contribute to our political discourse.
Secondly Bernie wants to create a living wage of fifteen dollars an hour. This will go a long way just by itself to end corporate welfare. Bernie will champion an end to corporate welfare as a matter of policy. He will expand social security for our elderly who are struggling to provide for themselves.
He will continue by raising the corporate and top tax rates in order to shift some power and opportunity back into the middle and lower classes. He will expand education opportunity in the form of free public college education to the people.
Look at the direction and growing wealth and income inequality gap in this country. Consider what will happen as the rich keep at their current pace of taking up larger shares of the nation’s wealth. The inevitable outcome is an oligarchy of power and a muting of the democracy that all Americans prize so much.
This issue is truly not a left or right issue in my estimation. It is one of such national importance that it is a crisis of identity for our way of governance.
We as a people are empowered to reverse the course of our political and economic reality. We must rise to the occasion; apathy is never the answer and holds just as much fault and blame in our current national direction.
I encourage everyone to express themselves politically. Even if you utterly disagree with everything I have discussed above. It is essential in a representative democracy to keep the voice of the people strong and active.
For me (personally) I want to ensure this nation is a strong one that will be vibrant place of equality and one full of opportunity for my children and to the generations that follow. I don’t want to be idle and culpable; so I participate.
Help people vote. Grab some voter registration cards. Dialogue. Debate. It is the absolute very least we can do. And all it takes is a desire to help this nation be a better place for all of us.