Republicans decry the Democrats’ supposed attempt to impose a new socialist order on America. The GOP proclaims capitalism to be the cornerstone of our country – even more important than democratic elections, apparently. Yet up until recently, major corporations like Walmart & Amazon paid tens of thousands of workers such low wages that even full-time workers couldn’t make enough to support their families, so they turned to federal assistance (in the form of SNAP, Medicaid, etc.) to help with necessities like eating and healthcare.
The Waltons and Bezos, thus, personally raked in billions of dollars while the government essentially provided the benefits package for their workers. To add insult to injury, Amazon and many other gigantic corporations paid zero in federal income taxes, so they didn’t even contribute to the public largesse they depended on to keep their workforce underpaid. Is this really capitalism?
As Mark Cuban recently noted in Inc. Magazine, “If we don’t pay a living wage, then the people who work for me become dependent on government programs. That means that taxpayers would be subsidizing the costs of my companies. That is not just embarrassing–it’s also the worst form of socialism.”
Also, in the world of American banking and finance, (as well as the auto industry and some others), companies know that they will reap the upside rewards, while the downside risk is transferred to federal taxpayers, as the debacle of the 2008 financial crisis and resulting federal bailouts demonstrated. Those “too big to fail” get propped up by the federal government. Is this really capitalism? Economic survival of the fittest??
Compounding the problem, often the bursting of the financial bubble is preceded by exhortations from these companies to the government to “reduce regulations,” to “get the bureaucrats off our backs,” and “don’t tell us how to run our business.” Sometimes, they even have the nerve to make these ludicrous arguments immediately after their reckless behavior has torpedoed the economy and the government has bailed them out once again.
Some businesses, like airlines, that took tens of billions of dollars in COVID relief funds, were put out that the government placed restrictions on how they could treat their workforce in order to qualify for the funds. They privately complained they were being used as unemployment bureaus because the government required them to retain their workers in exchange for federal money – instead of being able to stiff their workers and use the funds for debts and executives and stockholders.
Now we see some restaurants posting on social media that they have limited service because they can’t attract enough workers. People would rather stay home and collect stimulus checks and unemployment than work, they say. If people are making more money from government assistance than from working full time, the problem is not that government assistance is too high. It is that their wages are too low. Yet these same groups, including the GOP, don’t want to see the government raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which was set in 2009. It appears that Republicans want to see businesses have their cake, their workers’ cake, and the government’s cake – and eat it too.
After showering corporations with tax breaks and incentives and protecting them from having to pay living wages (and, in return, receiving direct campaign contributions and massive indirect assistance from corporations and super PACs), nothing could possibly erode the GOP’s devotion to corporations, could it? Well, it turns out, there is one thing — having the temerity to publicly oppose Republican efforts to suppress the vote.