I’m Sick of Greedy Good-For-Nothings Exploiting Taxpayer Money

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 I’m Sick of Greedy Good-For-Nothings Exploiting Taxpayer Money

I think an important and often missing part of the on-going “low wage” conversation is how a company’s decision to pay below-poverty-line wages affects more than just the employees. The vast majority of individuals receiving public benefits are from working families that are poorly paid, which costs taxpayers an estimated quarter trillion dollars every year.

I don’t want to frame this only as an issue of “poor workers are costing taxpayers money.”  Instead, it’s an issue of corporations with profits in the billions of dollars taking advantage of public money to subsidize their labor operations in order to keep prices low. People say raising the minimum wage will also raise costs for consumers at these businesses. That seems appropriate, or at least it makes more sense than every American subsidizing their labor costs. And the argument that increasing wages will lead to a favoring of capital over labor, or increased automation, is an issue that this country will have to face (and the subject of my Amazon and Google cartoon a couple weeks ago) but is not a good argument for continuing to treat workers unfairly.

Now Hiring Robots

Domestic

Robot Jobs

Google and others claim that any technology that frees humans from doing repetitive manual labor is a positive thing. In an idealistic way, I agree, but realistically, it seems like the market is eliminating many more jobs than it is creating. Oxford researchers suggest that 47% of total U.S. employment is at risk due to computerization.  This cartoon was mostly about robots in the future, but as Paul Krugman pointed out, computerization is already hollowing out middle-class and highly skilled jobs, from legal research to chip design, and is reducing labor’s influence in the market. How far off is an editorial cartooning robot that can simplistically label stock images to provide thoughtless commentary? Cartoons like this and this suggest it’s not very far.

See this cartoon and more at The Gabbler.