Sunday, April 22, 2012

And now a word from our sponsors

The setting: Four smart people sitting at a shiny table on a TV set. At least two of them are wearing glasses.
They are discussing poverty in the United States.

Many things are said. Near the end of the segment, one of them identifies perhaps the most devastating reason for this growing poverty.

Too many working poor. It's simple. The burden of poverty belongs to many people who work one, two, maybe more jobs. The patchwork isn't enough to pay for the essentials. What their employers won't pay in exchange for their labor and productivity, the taxpayers must supplement if we're going to be a civilized society.

The not-quite-living-wage is a growing problem. Corporations large and small have funded laws to help them shift responsibility to the taxpayer for food, housing, and health care. Things that a living wage used to pay for. But that was before unions were eroded and trade agreements made it far more lucrative to employ people over seas.

The entire panel, even the token Republican, agree. Even if they'll never agree on who is to blame for this problem, they all agree the problem exists and things must change.

The devil always appears in the details. The question of how we can change things mires us in the quicksand of inaction.

Heads nod. The host touches the tiny speaker in his ear. Time for a break.

Cut to commercial.

The first advertisement announces how Walmart is helping to fight hunger.

Irony lives.


  1. There is something deeply immoral about hiring people to work for you and not paying them enough to live ... even before you consider that society in general is topping up these insufficient earnings and thus effectively subsidising the profits of such employers.

    It's not just a US phenomenon either. The high priests of "the Markets" have been pushing such models in Europe too, and the "low wage sector" is growing here as well.

    1. Well said,Francis. Sadly, the proof that The Markets will never regulate themselves, continues to be ignored.

  2. The Walmart commercial is typical, though, of the U.S. consumerist approach to any social issue. We're told over and over that the way we can solve problems, whether it's hunger or cancer, by shopping. Corporations have done a nice job with their PR -- you shop at Walmart and can feel good about a tiny percentage of their profits going to a good cause while ignoring the fact those hungry children mentioned in the panel discussion are the dependents of Walmart employees.

    Walmart managers are actually trained to steer employees toward social services like Food Stamps and Medicaid if employees request additional work hours (the typical Walmart worker is scheduled for less than 30 hours per week) or a raise. We might not shop there, but we still all subsidize Walmart every day through our tax dollars.

  3. Wait. America has poverty? Huh?

  4. About 21yrs ago while working and living on Cape Cod as I was doing my weekly clothes washing I overheard the owner of the laundromat complaining about how an employee that did the drop-off laundry dared to ask for a raise. His response was if a person needs more money they should work more hours. As in getting a second or third job. Cape Cod is not a cheap place to live, but this guy had no sympathy for his employee.

  5. We still labor under the ideas of Social Darwinism I think and some are right proud of that even.

  6. Who is the young Republican in your family? Inquiring minds want to know. The Walmart commercial made me wince and tear up a little. I know there are realities I don't have to face. Like shopping at Walmart. It will be a principled stance until the money runs out before I get tired of living. I think that won't happen. But if the Romney wins and the Ryan budget gets implemented and we're put on the austerity plan with deep cuts to the social safety net and medicare and social security become a fond memory and I don;t have the sense to off myself, I'll be shopping at... You guessed it. Walmart.

  7. most def...i worked for years...and we were way below the poverty level and it did not make sense for my wife to work because child care would have left us still below the poverty get by, barely...the job market sucks now and there are many settling for anything to get a little food on the table which skews the unemployment numbers they tout are getting better...bah

  8. hey where are you writing right now...i cant find anything on the new google plus profile....

  9. The real irony is why so many of the working poor votes for the same asscakes that out them there in the first place.


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