We Need Jobs to Support People, Not Profits

[Content Note: Class warfare.]

Last week, when the new jobs numbers were reported, I said: "That sounds great, except: What kind of jobs are they? Are they full-time jobs with benefits and a livable wage?" And this piece in the New York Times, about people who are working but still need public assistance to survive, underlines exactly why I asked those questions.
A home health care worker in Durham, N.C.; a McDonald's cashier in Chicago; a bank teller in New York; an adjunct professor in Maywood, Ill. They are all evidence of an improving economy, because they are working and not among the steadily declining ranks of the unemployed.

Yet these same people also are on public assistance — relying on food stamps, Medicaid or other stretches of the safety net to help cover basic expenses when their paychecks come up short.

And they are not alone. Nearly three-quarters of the people helped by programs geared to the poor are members of a family headed by a worker, according to a new study by the Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California. As a result, taxpayers are providing not only support to the poor but also, in effect, a huge subsidy for employers of low-wage workers, from giants like McDonald's and Walmart to mom-and-pop businesses.
These aren't jobs to support the people who hold them; they are jobs to support the profits of their employers—to make money for shareholders and corporate executives, who can line their pockets with the wages stolen from people doing the actual work that generates revenue.

And then those thieves promulgate cultural narratives about welfare recipients being lazy, shiftless, unhelpable moochers who can't be convinced "that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," and about the jobs that working poor people work not being "real jobs," and about how raising the minimum wage kills jobs and ambition.

They call people who rely on public assistance "welfare queens" and then sit back and collect checks for work they didn't do, without a trace of irony.

We need jobs, but not just any jobs. We needs jobs with a basic wage that guarantees self-sufficiency, security, and a decent quality of life to the people who hold them.

That is not an unreasonable exchange for a lifetime of labor. That is not an unreasonable exchange for a lifetime of labor.

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