Fair Pay and Ending Welfare for the Rich

By pretending that all billionaires are somehow “self-made” and “job creators,” Republicans have duped Americans into worshiping what Monica calls the “Cult of Corporations.” This belief requires the super-rich to pay nothing in taxes and receive huge kickbacks at the expense of government programs that serve others. The rich will then supposedly reward their worshipers by making prosperity “trickle down,” allowing the masses to have the same opportunities as the rich with hard work.

Here’s the truth: most American millionaires and billionaires today—including Donald Trump, the Koch brothers, and the Walton family—inherited their wealth from their fathers. Giving them tax breaks has proven time and again to do absolutely nothing to create jobs. Why would they create more jobs when they can just mooch more money from the government? Trickle-down economics amounts to nothing more than welfare for the rich.

Speaking of welfare, America spends over $6 billion providing welfare benefits to Wal-Mart workers. They need the public funding to supplement minimum wage work and support their families. Otherwise, they would die. This means that the Walton family, who reserve billions in profits for themselves, rely on the same welfare system that Republicans claim is such a waste. Corporations like Wal-Mart that rely on shortchanging their workers to inflate their executives’ pockets are the real “welfare queens.”

Minimum wage was originally intended as a living wage, not a starvation wage. Very few minimum wage workers are pre-college teenagers, and most are struggling to basically make ends meet on the current national minimum of $7.25 per hour.

Demand for goods and services increases when people have more money to spend. Demand creates jobs that fulfill it and profit from it. Therefore, the only logical way to encourage growth is for a minimum wage increase and, in fact, a fair increase to all wages for all workers. The highest incomes have skyrocketed while all others have stagnated.

A minimum wage increase to $15 per hour is an excellent start but will not be enough. If first responders are making little more than $15 per hour, then that is also unacceptable and must increase appropriately. Highly-skilled adjunct university professors in Jacksonville can make a mere $2,250 for each semester-long course taught; this is also absurd, and many professors around the country have even resorted to welfare.

An increase to wages would effectively eliminate the need for many welfare programs. Along with requiring the rich to pay their fair share of taxes instead of throwing money at them, far more money would become available for other government programs and a reduction of the national debt.

The wants of the rich should not outweigh the needs of everyone else. The time has come to value the hard work of all instead of the entitled dynasties of the 1% who think they should own America.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Too many employers discourage workers from asking what their coworkers make; this allows employers to shortchange some workers who don’t know how much they should be making. The unjust and arbitrary abuse of some workers over others must end.

Many employers, such as UPS, have weaseled their way out of giving fair pay and benefits by defining some workers as part-time or as “contractors” and using that to justify paying them less per hour and denying them access to benefits. Part-time positions in and of themselves are fine, but they must pay the same amount that full-time workers receive per hour for the same work. Adjunct university professors, for example, do the same teaching work as full-time professors with the same degree and skill level; however, they earn less than half what full-timers make with no benefits and no opportunities for full-time positions. How does this make any sense?

Likewise, women should never be paid less than men for the same work. It is absolute lunacy that a gender gap would still exist in the modern era, but apparently, all too many employers think that it’s okay to pay women less than men. Women of equal skill and work ethic deserve equal pay.

Age has also become a major concern regarding fair pay standards. Many Millennials have discovered that more and more jobs want to hire them as independent contractors, part-timers, adjuncts, or even unpaid interns instead of any paid position. This “Uber economy” is not working as the low pay, long hours, and intense demands put the dreams of owning a home or paying off student loans out of reach. These twisted concepts of employment are the true causes of those  “lazy millennials” clichés that make their rounds online.

Union and Bargaining Rights

Even non-union workers have benefitted from the work of unions to guarantee fair pay, benefits, hours, and work opportunities. Now, however, new part-time-focused work models and “right-to-work” legislation prevent people from joining unions. However, unions still must represent full-time workers who can’t join or choose not to, causing other members’ dues to increase.

As an adjunct professor, Monica was not legally able to join a union. The United Faculty of Florida ironically can only represent full-time professors. Of course, full-time positions are disappearing because the adjunct position is exploitable. Lack of job security ensures that adjuncts will not dare to form their own union.

The same patterns have emerged in other industries as politicians have empowered union-busting corporations. “Right-to-work” means nothing more than right to exploitation.

Monica opposes all “right-to-work” legislation and pledges to protect workers’ rights to bargain for fair pay, fair conditions, and benefits, whether individually or as part of a union. Voicing the need for a living wage should not be grounds for firing.

Seniors

Even though Social Security pays for itself, Republicans talk about cutting benefits or privatizing it so corporations can make money. Yet seniors on fixed incomes haven’t received cost of living adjustments in entirely too long.

Everyone who works contributes to Social Security, and it meant to be a guaranteed benefit to American workers. Cutting it or using it for corporate profit are not acceptable solutions.

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Monica DePaul for U.S. Congress
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