Yesterday was primary day in six states. The two states most watched were Kentucky and Georgia. In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell won the primary over his Tea Party rival. In Georgia, the “establishment Republicans” again ousted the Tea Party candidates. All of the pundits are claiming that the Establishment Republicans” are winning the battle over the Tea Party. Thus, they believe that the Republicans have a definite advantage in gaining control of both houses of congress.
But, in actuality, the Republican Establishment no longer exists. All you have to do is look at Mitch McConnell and know that the moderate Republican is dead. The Tea Party has won the battle for the Republican Party. If they had not already won, moderate Republicans wouldn’t be sounding like ultra-conservatives. Which is exactly what they sound like.
So what we have is a party that has been successfully hijacked by the most radical lunatics around. The real problem that the news media isn’t covering is that the real losers in all of this is the American People. Specifically, any American who works for a living. There are all sorts of laws being quietly passed that will either make it harder to get unemployment insurance checks, form a union, or speak up for your rights. I will give a few examples later.
The Republican Party has called itself the party for business, especially “small business”. They have touted for generations how they want “small business” to succeed in the economy. They claim that the “small businessman” is the backbone of our economy. Yet, they continually allow large conglomerations to put small businesses out of business. They allow this to happen by offering property tax incentives and corporate tax incentives for larger companies to open business in the communities.
I know that Wal-Mart is the poster child for everything wrong with the pay inequality and worker’s rights issues. But, let’s be fair. They earned that title. When Wal-Mart wants to move into an area, they first seek property tax breaks on the property they want to build on. Then they demand that they receive tax breaks on their profits for several years. Then they pay their workers far below the poverty line.
As a result, small businesses in the communities find themselves on the brink of collapse. Why? Small businesses don’t get the property tax breaks that Wal-Mart gets. They don’t get the tax breaks on their profits like Wal-Mart gets. Finally, through their tax dollars, they are forced to subsidize Wal-Mart because they keep their employees below poverty forcing them to utilize the social safety nets.
For example, there are several studies that estimate that Wal-Mart employees receive food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing. They get all of this because Wal-Mart keeps hours low so they don’t have to offer benefits. Pay low so they can make more profits. These reports show that each Wal-Mart store costs the taxpayers approximately $1.25 million dollars each year. You read that correctly. Each Wal-Mart store costs the taxpayers approximately $1.25 million dollars each year. The numbers do not include the warehouses they operate or contract out either. It is just the stores.
These same studies show that if Wal-Mart were forced to pay their employees around $14 per hour and have all employees at 40 hours per week, they would have to raise their prices about 1.4 percent. That means that box of Mac and Cheese you buy there will go up one penny! But, it would also mean that most of that $1.25 million dollars per store would be saved by the taxpayers because Wal-Mart employees wouldn’t need so much assistance just to live.
That would make it more fair for the small business owner in town. It means they would have a better chance to compete with the giants that are removing the small business from our economy. We are not just talking about Wal-Mart either. Other giants of the retail and fast food industries are just as guilty as Wal-Mart. Maybe it isn’t fair that Wal-Mart gets the most exposure, but since they brag about being the largest employer in the country, they do deserve more scrutiny. Especially when you consider that Wal-Mart earns about $16 billion in profits each year while the taxpayers are subsidizing their operation by over a billion dollars per year.
With all of this in mind, the Republicans are still against raising the minimum wage. Many of them are actually trying to reduce or eliminate the minimum wage altogether.
Now let’s get back to how the workers of America are about to be screwed by the Republicans. a recent study from Gordon Lafer, a political scientist from the University of Oregon published a paper for the Economic Policy Institute on bills affecting workers all over the country.
One example, employers are allowed to pay waiters and waitresses less than the federal minimum wage because they get tips. But they are required to pay the non-tipped staff — busboys, dishwashers, etc. — the full minimum wage. In some states Republican lawmakers are getting around this by allowing restaurant owners to force their employees to pool their tips, thereby turning the busboys and dishwashers into tipped workers and allowing owners to pay them below the minimum wage as well. As a result, every employee loses money — but not the employer. Their argument and the way the sold this was that of being “fair” to the non-tipped workers. After all, those waiters and waitresses had been getting the big bucks, right? Not according to the report which said “the poverty rate among waiters and waitresses is 250 percent higher than it is among the general work force.”
In other states they passed laws allowing employers to pocket the tips for themselves, which makes it much simpler all around. So what they really did was legalize wage theft. Employers are stealing their employees blind. I guess the Republicans believe they deserve that right. They are the “job creators” after all.
Furthermore, there appears to be an eagerness of Republicans to use the power of the state to stifle local control. You know, the party that claims government needs to get out of the way? There are the famous examples of cities enacting a higher minimum wage only to have it struck down by conservative state legislatures. They have done the same with paid sick leave laws throughout the country.
The worst examples are against the unemployed. Some states have attempted to mandate that unemployed must undergo forced drug testing before they can receive any unemployment insurance checks. And, it gets even worse because now you may have to jump through more hoops than a hula-hoop factory makes:
[A] bill sponsored by ALEC members that was passed in 2012 stipulated a series of deadlines at which an unemployed worker would have to start accepting a lower-paying job or lose unemployment benefits. After 13 weeks, she would have to accept any job paying at least 75 percent of her previous wage; after 25 weeks, 70 percent; and after 38 weeks, 65 percent. To ensure compliance with these byzantine regulations (the red tape Republicans so often claim to oppose), the bill required anyone receiving unemployment insurance to submit detailed weekly reports showing that she had applied for at least three jobs per week. It also mandated that the State Department of Labor to audit 1,000 recipients per week.
What they are really saying here, is that if you had a good paying job and lost it, you must take a lower paying job if you are out of work for 13 weeks. Then, you must accept an even lower paying job as time goes by. All that experience and cost of education you have doesn’t count anymore. So, if an employer needs someone to fill a position, all they have to do is pick out the applicant who has been out of work the longest and then lower the salary. Nice trick!
It goes goes on to say:
The overall thrust of this state legislation is to create workers who are docile and employers who are empowered. That may be why Republican legislators in Idaho, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, Ohio, Minnesota, Utah and Missouri have been so eager to ease restrictions on when and how much children can work. High schoolers should learn workplace virtues, says the conservative commentator Ben Stein, like “not talking back.” Early exposure to employment will teach 12-year-olds, as the spokesman of an Idaho school district put it, that “you have to do what you’re asked, what your supervisor is telling you.”
This is not something out of 1984 either. This is really happening in this country! This is all taking us back to the “good old days” when we lived in factory towns and coal towns. You know, when the rent was owed to the company. We all had to shop at the company store. When the “company” actually owned us because we needed a job.
This is the reality of what the Republican Party has become. It has become a party that no longer is interested in freedom. It is no longer interested in the “American Dream”. It is no longer interested in preserving small business. It is only interested in lining the pockets of their multi-million dollar masters. The next time you hear people like Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, or Mitch McConnell talk about “we the people”, please remember they are not talking about the American Worker. They are only referring to the 1% crowd.
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