Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bernie Sanders

I am a huge fan of Bernie Sanders.  The man speaks to the majority of what I support.  If the man ran for president, I would vote for him, all other candidates might as well sit down, shut up, or outright vanish.  Be thou of the people, I think it is safe to say Sanders is the closest we have seen in several decades, if he isn't the real deal.

So today, a few hours ago, Sanders started speaking, I listened.  His target of choice, a rather large one, Walmart.  I dislike Walmart, I avoid shopping there, if you have a shred of humanity, you try to stay out of their stores.  Sure the prices are cheaper, and lets be honest, you have to get the most for what little money you earn, but what they do to their employees is pretty crappy.  I know a few people that work there, or have worked there, and its pretty lousy.  It is bad when you tell them where you work, who you work for, and they say they are sorry, like your parents or livelong pet died. 

So, he asked a panel that was testifying about income inequality, if we should continue to publicly fund
companies like Walmart.  There was some humming and hawing...  Naturally, there would be.  But the gist of it is, three of the four people more or less defended Walmart paying an average of 8.80 an hour.  Just so you do not have to rush to a calculator, that is 352 dollars a week before taxes, after taxes (again using my 25% tax rate) that would be 264 dollars take home.  A family of three (two or one) you are not going to eat very well after taking care of power, water, and rent if those are your basics in life. 

See the problem is, every year here, the power and water companies go before the county boards, or city councils, and proclaim they need a rate increase.  Now why looking for the rate increases over the last decade I came across something more disturbing.  This is wrong, and I forwarded the article onto a buddy who also lives here (+Jared Shumate).  Basically here, and this is off topic, the less you use, the higher your bill.  Or maybe not, if you work for Walmart, you likely aren't going to have a few freezers, a nice gaming desktop computer, several 32+ inch widescreen HD/3D televisions.  The likely truth is, you are going to have a small house (think single wide trailer) a television, a refrigerator, some kind of gas or wood powered fireplace maybe a space heater, possibly a burner cell phone (prepaid cell phone), and you are going to do everything you can to limit your expenses.  So your bills are going to be higher.  Added insult to injury in my book, $264 take home and higher bills.

So, as I was saying, three of the panelists basically defended Walmart's Starvation wages (Bernie Sanders).  The first expert railed against calling the government support of Walmart employees corporate welfare, and said that it was "stigmatizing".  No shit Sherlock.  Anyway, he continued on about the low prices Walmart offers for its products (most of which are junk anyway).  He finished his line of bullshit with this.
“I think that we should not raise the wage above levels that’s going to cause Walmart to not hire their workers.  The only way that they’re able to have the prices, which benefit low-income people more than people up on the income distribution scale, is by paying wages that are not as high as you or I might like.”
Nice save there jacka... I mean Mr. Winship.  The next person in line who was to answer the question was Robert Reich, and he called the people supporting corporations in this manner "corporate welfare of the worst kind."  He further stated that if we looked back at 1955, the decade many conservatives feel was the beginning of the golden years, the largest employer in the US (GM) was paying around $37 dollars an hour by today's money.  Alright, lets get the water ready, our conservative friends just fainted. 

So the third expert on the panel, while she did not defend Walmart's actions, she did not condemn them either.  Her view is there is nothing wrong with supporting employees who make the minimum wage.  Here is her comment, judge it for yourself.
“These are poverty programs that benefits go directly to workers, (and) if you think that they’re creating jobs and people are able to work and enough benefits to survive, then I think that’s a good thing,”
 Finally the last person to speak, and answer Mr. Sanders question.  “I think Walmart is a brilliant innovation and I have no beef with the Walton family. It would be great if people could move up the wage distribution faster at Walmart and aspire to management positions and better positions for themselves and their children.”  Really, Walmart is a brilliant innovation, they copied K-Mart down to the sweatshops in China and Taiwan.  So brilliant of an innovation for K-Mart, that it nearly crushed the brand.  Yet here we are 20 years later, and Walmart does the same exact thing, and people have made it the largest business in the US.

This speaks to several factors.  First, and the least blaming of all the answers I can give, is the reduced spending and earning power of the people.  As much as I dislike Walmart, as much as I avoid their stores, there are times when it is the cheapest place to get something.  Sorry, I am an addict, I have to feed my addiction to food.  The second factor is this instant gratification, and me me me mentality that most people have adopted in the US.  Yeah this is the major factor in this, you think you have something, but really you are worried about yourself.  Hell even my own sister doesn't give a shit about her kids, the bastard children she crapped out, its all about her, what she wants.  They were a means to an end, she used them to secure a husband, who secured her a steady income, home, vehicles, and vacations.  Third, is a general disinterest in our fellow man. Most really do not care if they see someone starving to death working three jobs.  In their mindset, their world view these people who work at places like Walmart had it coming, it is their own fault they cannot get a high five figure salary a year.  They should have gone to college (until these same people bitch about college debt), they should have applied themselves more to their jobs.  My question to you readers, how do you apply yourself when you are cold, you are hungry, you have bills on your mind?

Dirty Little Electricity Secret