click to read at the New York Times
The media spent last week gushing over a drone delivery program that exists only in Jeff Bezos’ imagination. All while ignoring the terrible conditions its pickers endure as they fulfill our orders for cheap shit we don’t need.
I’m a hypocrite and occasionally use Amazon’s services. It’s too convenient, but I would gladly pay more to avoid the guilt that comes whenever a package arrives filled with the sobs of their minimum wage employees.
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McDonald’s and Visa were roundly mocked last week for making a website designed to “help” their employees budget on their meager wages. The sample budget was obviously written by rich people who have no idea what living in the real world actually costs. CNN had a great piece where real employees filled out the sample budget and the results were predictably depressing.
McDonald’s was singled out because of that budget, and a recent strike at a Manhattan franchise aren’t making them any more sympathetic, but the suffering is the same for everyone in the fast-food industry and minimum wage workers everywhere. Companies are able to get away with it because low wages are subsidized by government programs like SNAP, Medicaid and the Earned Income Credit; things companies like Wal-Mart openly use to increase their bottom line.
Way back during his State of the Union speech, President Obama mentioned raising the minimum wage. Obviously it went nowhere, because those earning minimum wage aren’t likely to have any leftover income to make campaign contributions, unlike the corporate behemoths who are raking in huge profits by exploiting their undervalued labor.
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Raising the federal minimum wage came up during the State of the Union speech. It’s a good idea. But don’t take my word for it. A guy with a fancy Nobel Prize in economics agrees with me.
Finally, it’s important to understand how the minimum wage interacts with other policies aimed at helping lower-paid workers, in particular the earned-income tax credit, which helps low-income families who help themselves. The tax credit — which has traditionally had bipartisan support, although that may be ending — is also good policy. But it has a well-known defect: Some of its benefits end up flowing not to workers but to employers, in the form of lower wages. And guess what? An increase in the minimum wage helps correct this defect. It turns out that the tax credit and the minimum wage aren’t competing policies, they’re complementary policies that work best in tandem.
I’ve been lax in updating the blog with links to my comics and even lazier about writing commentary. Currently the minimum wage for maintaining this blog is $0, so I think I’m putting in the right amount of effort.
I’ve backdated posts with links and mini-commentary to The Strips that I’ve neglected to post. Now future generations will be deceived into thinking that I wasn’t a lazy sack o’ crap for most of February.