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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Republicans Target Food Stamps as More Americans Rely on Them to Get By

Posted by on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 8:54 AM

With almost 46 million Americans now relying on food stamps, roughly 15 percent of the population, a 74 percent increase since 2007, Republicans are now targeting the program as part of their budget cutting agenda because, you know, if anybody should bear the costs of this crappy economy it's the working poor who tanked the financial markets in the first place.

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich last year derided Democrats as "the party of food stamps". And Republican leaders in the House of Representatives propose changing the program so that the funding is through a "block grant" to the states, rather than allowing it to grow automatically when needed due to an emergency, such as a natural disaster or economic crisis.

But of course, if we eliminated food stamps, how would many of the GOP's corporate sponsors get buy, since over the past few decades of slow income growth, food stamps, like Medicaid, has really become part of a government subsidy for low-wage jobs? Take, for example, Genna Saucedo, who relies on food stamps to help her and her son get by on her $9.70/hour 26-hour-a-week job supervising cashiers at a Wal-Mart:

"It's kind of sad that even though I'm working that I need to have government assistance. I have asked them to please put me on full-time so I can have benefits," said the 32-year-old.

She's worked at Wal-Mart for nine months, and applied for food stamps as soon as her probation ended. She said plenty of her colleagues are in the same situation.

So are her customers. Bill Simon, head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, told a conference call last Tuesday that the company had seen an increase in the number of shoppers relying on government assistance for food.

Let's see... so one of the ways Wal-Mart keeps its prices so cheap is by paying its employees so little that they qualify for food stamps, and yet many of their customers still can't afford to shop there without food stamps. Now that's what I call an American success story!

Sometimes I'm convinced that the anti-tax corporatist right won't be satisfied until America is plunged into a Dickensian dystopia.


Comments (63) RSS

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Baconcat 1
Who needs abortion when you can starve people to death?
Posted by Baconcat on August 23, 2011 at 8:55 AM · Report this
I used to work for Wal-Mart in the 80's, when the stores used to actually close at night instead of staying open 24/7.

Among the many indignities, before the staff could leave the store after it closed, we used to have to turn our pockets inside out and walk past the managment. Women had to empty the contents of their purses onto a counter so managers could check them for stolen merchandise.

The implicit message was, "We know you must be stealing, because you couldn't possibly earn an honest living on what we pay you."
Posted by Clayton on August 23, 2011 at 8:59 AM · Report this
The Republican view would be that Ms Saucedo is an immoral slut who shouldn't be raising a child without a husband.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on August 23, 2011 at 9:06 AM · Report this
A pigeon feeding program that only seems to create more pigeons.
Posted by Hobo Hilton on August 23, 2011 at 9:10 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 5
@ 3, Seattleblues has expressed that exact sentiment on SLOG.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 23, 2011 at 9:13 AM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 6
I wouldn't hold out hope that Obama will do much to stop the GOP. I mean we all have to sacrafice right?

Posted by Last of the Time Lords on August 23, 2011 at 9:16 AM · Report this
Zebes 7
$9.70 an hour isn't intended to be a working wage. It's a temporary step for workers just entering the job market. What Saucedo needs to do is move up the corporate ladder, getting newer and newer and better paying jobs, until she's a CEO like everybody else. This is why we need our laws to favor corporate executives over common workers, because if you're not constantly gunning for the boss's job you're not the kind of person we want in this country.
Posted by Zebes on August 23, 2011 at 9:40 AM · Report this
Original Andrew 8
Why don't those 46 million people just choose to be millionaire$?
Posted by Original Andrew on August 23, 2011 at 9:51 AM · Report this
Good. Get rid of all those useless eaters.
Posted by Go hang out at 3rd and Pine, Goldsteinberg on August 23, 2011 at 9:51 AM · Report this
SPG 10
Zebes, I know you're being sarcastic, or I hope for the sake of your soul that you are, but the reality is that those were once decent respectable jobs and in many countries can still be decent respectable jobs.
The entire government/business/media has shifted all attention from real people to this macro economic view where you don't have to actually see the people from the window of your 75th floor corner office.
Posted by SPG on August 23, 2011 at 9:52 AM · Report this
At the very least, the food stamp program needs to be altered to only include staples: grains, basic meats and cheeses, fresh vegetables. I can pretty much tell who is paying with EBT from looking at their shopping cart at QFC. Why the American people are being asked to subsidize some people's purchases of candy, chips and sodas is beyond me.
Posted by absk on August 23, 2011 at 9:58 AM · Report this
But, the GOP simply wants to reduce the surplus population, Goldy, since it is clear our high unemployment rate is indicative of an excess of workers, and not a dearth of jobs. If these ungrateful guttersnipes would simply stop squirting out offspring like I spit lemon pips from a Gin-&-Tonic, this unproductive imbalance would disappear. And, if it hadn't been for those damned bleeding-heart, hand-wringing, do-gooder liberals getting rid of the work houses and the county poor farms, we wouldn't be in this mess today.

Seriously, I don't see how you could possibly attribute any of this to a desire on the part of the Right to plunge us back into a Dickensian dysto -

Oh. Wait. Never mind.
Posted by COMTE on August 23, 2011 at 10:01 AM · Report this
obviously we should borrow money
from these people's children
to finance their food stamps.

because 50% of American't households
are just too poor and helpless to pay
ONE FUCKING CENT in Federal Income taxes...
Posted by China will do us a favor when they take us over on August 23, 2011 at 10:01 AM · Report this
@11 Because of divided government.

You have the "democrat" mindset of helping people out when they are in need. In order to truly help these people out, they would like to make sure that the help those people are receiving is GOOD help, which is why democrats have proposed limiting what EBT can be used to purchase.

However, the "republican" mindset of making people live independently means they're against food stamps. But then when food stamps are instituted - even though they're against them - they decide that we shouldn't regulate them. We can't limit people's choices, even though we're against giving them the option. That's the republican mindset.

Unless you're talking about teh gays - then there's a limit on freedom!
Posted by Cynical Optimist on August 23, 2011 at 10:04 AM · Report this
Phoebe on NE 79th 15
@2: But wouldn't that be against union agreeme..... oops, um that's right, never mind.
Posted by Phoebe on NE 79th on August 23, 2011 at 10:25 AM · Report this
biffp 16
@13, why shouldn't millionaires and billionaires pay taxes at the rate they used to in the nineties? If you took half of all the money of the 50% you are citing, it would be equal to the amount those billionaires and millionares paying at the rate they used to in the nineties. What is the basis that supports your comment? From an economics standpoint, what you're saying is as backwards as it is from an ethical standpoint.
Posted by biffp on August 23, 2011 at 10:31 AM · Report this
Zebes 17

Yes, I am being sarcastic.

Although maybe I shouldn't be so quick to be! After all, some half of the country has the attitude that the minimum wage and welfare programs are anathema and that all anybody needs to thrive is good ol' bootstrappin'. And if that doesn't work, they can just eat their bootstraps! Leather is nutricious, ain't it?
Posted by Zebes on August 23, 2011 at 10:40 AM · Report this
According to the USDA web site the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as 'Food Stamps' is expected to cost the federal government more than $73 billion in 2012. By contrast the entire Department of Homeland Security will only cost $57 billion. I tend to think providing poor people with food is a legitimate government function, but $73 billion is a lot of money.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on August 23, 2011 at 10:50 AM · Report this

Ummm, no I didn't.

What I HAVE said is that no-one has an innate right to child bearing supported by their fellow citizens. Can't afford kids? Don't have them. Want them anyway? Better figure out how to pay for them.

I just fail to see how if I didn't sleep with your wife I'm charged with care of your kids. Sorry, liberals don't believe in marraige either, unless it's gay marriage. So your girlfriend or 'partner,' whatever that meaningless term is supposed to mean.

Due to a mistaken marriage to a charming but ammoral jerk (and purely co-incidentally a liberal), my sister was a single mother. People make mistakes.

The difference is that she realized that the mistake was hers. She earned a degree, took low paying jobs with good companies to build her reputation and began to earn a decent living. Her son is a good man since he wasn't taught to blame everyone else for his errors and rely on others for things that are manifestly his responsibility.

How much federal or state assistance did she take to do this? Not one penny. She was far too proud to beg for what she could earn.

What liberals mistakenly call compassion is actually social engineering for a culture of adult babies.
Posted by Seattleblues on August 23, 2011 at 11:02 AM · Report this
I'm on food stamps. I'm part of management at a retail store. Every store-level wage earning retail employee I know is on food stamps.

Posted by Lack Thereof on August 23, 2011 at 11:10 AM · Report this

Minimum wage is for entry level workers. Anyone who continues to make it a year or more into their working life is demonstrating more about themselves than the legitimacy of minimum wage.

Heck, even the rude child with the fishing tackle stuck through his cheek and 22 tattoos at the McDonalds makes more than minimum.
Posted by Seattleblues on August 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM · Report this
@19 Naturally the SB is against any government program that doesn't benefit him personally. I wonder if he has ever claimed the Home Mortgage Interest deduction on his tax return? Now that is a government handout that should be done away with. Does he claim his children as dependents and collect the $1000 per head child tax credit? If so those of us who choose to remain childless are paying a higher proportion of our income in taxes and subsidizing his breeder life style.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on August 23, 2011 at 11:36 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 23

That's because the Department of Homeland Security doesn't actually *do* anything. It basically just oversees other departments/agencies; and those departments and agencies get actual funding, far in excess of what DoHS gets, to provide government services.

$76 billion for 46 million recipients equals $132/month for food (not taking administrative costs into account). Can you eat well on so little? I know I can't.

Also, on a federal level, $76 billion is chicken feed. It's a screaming deal to feed so many people for so little money.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 23, 2011 at 11:41 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 24
@ 19, @ 3 is a fair summation of what you are saying here, and have said elsewhere. The linked comment shows that you regard anyone on the dole as one who is stealing from you. Hell, you even said your sister made a "mistake." How does your nephew feel knowing that that's how he's regarded as such by his uncle?
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 23, 2011 at 11:55 AM · Report this
@23 Actually DHS does quite a bit. That $57 billion includes the budgets of the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, FEMA, the TSA, and the US government's entire immigration and customs bureaucracy. All of that costs less than one federal entitlement program. I think the Tea Baggers are idiots for refusing to raise taxes, but I also think entitlement costs are out of control.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on August 23, 2011 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Going after welfare I can sort of understand, even if I strongly disagree with it, but going after food stamps is just deplorable. Do they want people to starve? Do they want emaciated people dying in the streets, having to be taken to very expensive emergency rooms to keep them alive? Most things, people can do without if they really must... but people who don't eat, die. Children who don't eat are stunted for life. Adults who don't eat lose the ability to do any work. Getting rid of food stamps would be reasonably classifiable as a crime against humanity.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on August 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM · Report this

Eat at $132 a month? Yes. Less, actually.

For instance, a side of beef is about 250 pounds of steaks, roasts, ground beef and so on at $3 a pound, less than hamburger in the market. For my family, that's 6 or 8 months worth of beef for around $100 a month. The same economies of scale happen with pork or most startlingly with lamb which is a quarter of the supermarket price when bought on the hoof. Flour and sugar and rice and spices can be bought bulk at restaurant supply outlets for half what Safeway charges. Co-ops exist in my area for year round fresh produce for $60 a month to buy enough for our family straight from the farm or greenhouse. We don't buy packaged foods so we get things both at a better price and with less chemical crap in them. (Try looking at the per pound rate for individual sized packaged nuts in the snack section and then the bulk aisle, for reference.) We cook at home, eating out once a week. And we feed a family of 4 and 2 dogs on around $125 per person a month and eat very well. Heck this budget even includes a daily espresso for myself and my wife.

It can be done and done well, but not if you're buying everything packaged and pre-sliced, microwave dinners and Doritos and Pepsi. Basically, you can badly eat expensively, or well at much less cost.
Posted by Seattleblues on August 23, 2011 at 12:22 PM · Report this
I'm getting a little irritated, seeing people claim that we should enforce harsh restrictions on what people can buy with food stamps. What about people with food allergies or medical dietary restrictions? WIC is a great example of this- peanut butter forever, but no alternatives; fruit, but only CERTAIN fruit (I'm sorry ma'am, these apples aren't covered, you have to get the 'traditionally' grown ones that have no nutrition or flavor) etc. I live in Pullman right now, where there is some serious economic disparity between those attending or working at the school and the townies-- I see this shit at the grocery store all the time.
The government has a vested interest in keeping people buying packaged food from the big producers rather than educating them about healthy food and giving them choices. Instead of telling people what we consider to be healthy (eat meat! Buy pesticide produce!), there needs to be an overhaul of the way we eat in general. Even if you aren't on food stamps, every time you buy a bag of chips or a pop, you encourage the unhealthy system and line the pockets of assholes who already dictate how and what we eat.
Posted by zobot on August 23, 2011 at 12:25 PM · Report this
@26. yes it would. except that most people who are on them don't actually need them to survive. college kids from middle class families can get food stamps these days. wtf? you are supposed to be poor and eat ramen to get through college!
Posted by absk on August 23, 2011 at 12:30 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 30
@ 27, that's a "let them eat cake" comment if ever I read one.

What's missing from your comment? The TOTAL PRICE of a side of beef, as well as where a family in a small apartment is supposed to store it. Can someone who qualifies for food stamps also save up that much money? And I wonder if any of those places take food stamps? I know the co-ops and CSA's in my area don't.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 23, 2011 at 12:30 PM · Report this
@27 Hear that all you carless urban welfare bumbs? All you need to do to eat right is take a bus out to the country and buy some livestock! I'm sure metro will understand if your cow takes a crap in the aisle of the bus on the way back. Also, if you get sick you can bring a chicken to the doctor, so that solves health care as well.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on August 23, 2011 at 12:39 PM · Report this

That's a mis-statement.

I'm against taking one taxpayers money not for the common good but for the sole benefit of another taxpayer. This is what I refer to as theft, not taxation per se.

My duty to charity is one I take seriously. But it's a private matter up to me to decide, not a legitimate function of our specific form of government. Nor is it even good policy, for the reason I stated at the end of 19.


How serious about economizing and having families one could afford etc do you think a person would get if they had to do so? If their bad decisions weren't rewarded how many times do you think they'd repeat the decision? I think the hyperbole about people starving in the streets liberals voice to be just that, hyperbolic.
Posted by Seattleblues on August 23, 2011 at 12:40 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 33
@ 32, charities aren't up to the task of taking care of everyone. That's why Social Security and all the other programs were created.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 23, 2011 at 12:44 PM · Report this
@18, $73 billion isn't a lot of money when we are talking national security. The food stamp program is part of our national security. When people starve, civil unrest erupts.
Posted by Smell on August 23, 2011 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Um, that's great SB, but maybe you can also explain how people on food stamps can afford to shell out $750 in a single purchase for a six-to-eight month supply of meat, let alone be able to afford an additional $400 or $500 for a fucking deep-freezer big enough to hold all of it?

Economies-of-scale are only practical if you've already got the capital to expend on the larger volume; even you admit that, while the price-per-pound may be ridiculously low compared to standard supermarket prices (which BTW a lot of poor people don't even have ready access to), you're still laying out serious cash because of the sheer volume of the purchase.

Anyone with $750 just lying around to purchase half a cow doesn't really know much about what it actually means to be POOR...
Posted by COMTE on August 23, 2011 at 12:48 PM · Report this


I don't really care if CSAs take food stamps. Most people that take EBT are able bodied adults with no business getting them to begin with. It has to do with priorities. If you're priority is TV dinners and soda pop, you'll find a way to eat these things. If it's tomatos and rice and cooking your own decent food, you'll find a way to pay for that too.

Our freezer was $100 on Craigslist. Hardly a monumental financial burden, particularly when I see them free fairly commonly. Pretending most Americans don't have cars and must bus their way to savings is also just that, a pretence. As for upfront costs, go in with a couple other neighborhood families, and the total cost would be roughly equal to one month meat purchase otherwise.

Look, if someone wants to buy their food on the whim of wanting steak or ham that night, they have that right. If they have a jones for a soda or a packet of chips, that too is their right. Want to eat out every lunch and every other dinner? Okay. If they want those things and can't figure out how they're paying $600 a month to feed one person, that's just stupid.


I don't actually raise my own livestock, though that would be still more savings than using the rancher we frequent. Frankly, cows and pigs smell and require daily care, and sheep are about the dumbest animals on the planet, short of liberals. (Just kidding guys, lighten up!)
Posted by Seattleblues on August 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 37
@ 36, still being deceitful, eh? HOW MUCH is a side of beef in total? More than what you're quoting. (And I think you meant a quarter of beef anyway, which I've never seen as cheap per pound as you list.) Where would you put that freezer if your family lived in a 500 sq foot apartment?
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 23, 2011 at 12:59 PM · Report this
@32 You pay a lot less in taxes because of your kids. That means I have to pay more in taxes to receive the same level of public benefits. The US government subsidizes your child having and house owning lifestyle through the tax code. How is that different from a single mom getting food stamps? Both things take money out of my pocket and provide me no direct benefit. What made you think it was acceptable to use MY MONEY to support your rug-rats, SB?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on August 23, 2011 at 1:09 PM · Report this
@37 If SB and Charles Mudede competed in a Moron-a-thon who do you think would win?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on August 23, 2011 at 1:13 PM · Report this

For us, a side of beef is around $900, slaughtered and packaged. You can pay $1200 or more if you don't shop around and get to know local suppliers. As I noted, you can (and when single I did) go in with 2 or 3 neighbors and make the cost roughly equal to one months groceries in exchange for 4 or 5 months of meat.

If I lived in a 500 square foot apartment with a family, that would motivate me to savings even more. If only so that I could move somewhere bigger. And yes, in that circumstance I'd buy less beef and everything else due to storage issues. So- saving 40% over the supermarket not 60%. Still worthwhile, isn't it?

Nor does it answer everything else. If poverty really is an issue beans and rice and pasta are cheap, with beans being a good staple product instead of meats and the others providing the grains. They take time to cook, but can be bought in volume. A white or red sauce over pasta or rice with sausage or pork or chicken is inexpensive and very easy to make in maybe 20 minutes. Point is, when you buy groceries badly you eat badly and expensively. This has nothing to do with food stamps as such, and everything to do with habits. If you value eating well and want to do your homework and take some inititiave you can and cheaply. If you don't, you won't, food stamps or not.
Posted by Seattleblues on August 23, 2011 at 1:15 PM · Report this
biffp 41
Slog has become a troll fuckfest.
Posted by biffp on August 23, 2011 at 1:22 PM · Report this
Much as a hate to admit it, I think SB has a point about poor people not eating as well as they could. The people I know who get food stamps seem to buy a lot of Coca-Cola and Doritos. Also Margarita Mix. You can't use food stamps to buy Tequila (not legally anyway) but you are allowed to use them to buy powdered Margarita Mix.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on August 23, 2011 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 43
@ 40, to do what you say, a single-parent headed family still have to save it up, don't they? If they're making $9.70 an hour, HOW do they do that?

Also, how do you know that that people on food stamps are all eating as poorly (or conveniently) as you state? Are you sure they aren't already eating bulk rice and beans? Or are you just engaging in demeaning stereotyping?
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 23, 2011 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 44
@ 42, I think that's largely a product of what you can and can't buy with food stamps, and even more a product of who accepts food stamps and who doesn't. I'm not sure if Costco does - I'll ask the next time I go, but it wouldn't surprise me if the answer is "no." (If "yes," I'll ask if they care to say what percentage of their food sales are paid this way.)
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 23, 2011 at 1:36 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 45
@ 41, it's always been a troll fuckfest. I've been here since SLOG was six months old, so I know.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 23, 2011 at 1:38 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 46

You. Are. An. Idiot.

Do the world a favor and kill yourself.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 23, 2011 at 1:42 PM · Report this
SB, who the hell do you think encouraged the switch from the old-style "blocks of government surplus cheese, powdered eggs & 20 lb sacks of potatoes" programs of the 1960's & 1970's, to today's "just give 'em a debit card-thingie and let 'em loose in the Shop-Mart" program?

The people who run large grocery store chains, that's who. They didn't make a dime when poor people were sent to the nearest government bulk-food distribution center, but they make money hand-over-fist now, because poor people have NO CHOICE but to go to the store to make their food purchases. And why don't grocery chains want limits on what EBT card-holders can purchase? Because they make better profit margins on processed & packaged foods than they do on things like fresh fruits & veggies. And why don't poor people figure this out and just stop buying the crap? For the simple reason that, when you finish pulling your 8 hours at Wal-Mart, and maybe another 4 at 7-Eleven, and you just got off an hour-long bus trip to the South End, which the only place you can afford to live on your pittance of a salary, and you gotta pick up a kid or two from - whomever has been looking after them while you've been at work (assuming you can afford to have anyone look after them in the first place - or are lucky enough to know somebody who will do it for free), and you have $25 worth of credit on your card, and the choice is to either spend that on staples & produce that you're going to have to lug home on another 20 minute bus trip and then spend another hour or more preparing, versus an equal dollar-amount of calorie-dense packaged & processed foods that cost considerably less per-unit than the fresh stuff, and will take a mere 5 minutes to heat up in a microwave (which may be the only cooking device you actually own anyway), and God, you're just so damned tired and all you want to do is have a few quite moments of peace-and-quiet before you drag your exausted self to bed for five or six hours and have to get up and do it all over again, day-in-day out, with no real hope of anything better coming down the pike; not in this shitty economy, where you're lucky to have a job at all, even if it does pay crap.

Under those circumstances, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what your choice is going to be.

In other words, stop blaming poor people for making bad food choices, when the entire system has been subverted by those who profit from it specifically to discourage them from making good ones.
Posted by COMTE on August 23, 2011 at 1:46 PM · Report this
y'know, for the 4-5% of food stamp recipients for whom your little sob story actually applies, i agree with you. but for a dose of reality, go hang out at the self checkout at the broadway qfc for a couple hours and see how many of the people paying with ebt look like they just finished up an exhausting 12 hour work day.
Posted by akb on August 23, 2011 at 2:29 PM · Report this
@47 Very well said.

I'm not on food stamps myself (although my mom was a several points after my dad died when I was a kid), but "stupid" choices about what to eat aren't quite so simple.

I work a full time job and also go to school on top of that. I go to work at 7am and I'm not done until 6pm. 6 isn't so bad, until you realize that when I go home I'm far from done. I still have to do my homework, help my daughter with her homework, try to be cheerful enough not to scream at my family for shits and giggles, and then get dinner on the table on top of all of that - preferably sometime before bedtime.

I am lucky enough to know HOW to eat healthy, and to have the $$$ to do so, but what I personally don't have is the TIME. So I have some good nights, and a lot of bad ones, but I can't even imagine how bad that would be if I couldn't even afford the good ones.
Posted by ataraxia on August 23, 2011 at 2:46 PM · Report this
@ how many of the people paying with ebt look like they just finished up an exhausting 12 hour work day.

No shit. Same with my QFC. The only work the stampers there look like they've do is pop open a 3 liter Mountain Dew for the 2 year olds, toss a few frozen buritos at them and then turn on American Idol. 12 hour work day? THanks for the laff.

It's easy to eat fresh and it's not expensive. WHat we have in this country is a excess of fucking laziness, especially when it comes to food and cooking.
Posted by Ohhhh, the poor are so noble on August 23, 2011 at 2:55 PM · Report this

The problem with a minimum wage just shy of $9 is not just that entry-level employees get paid it. It's that every other wage in the store is based off of it. My "management" pay is roughly Min+25%. There is one wage-earning position above me, which adds another 10% or so. The top position in the store is salaried, and pulls down a whopping 30k/yr - roughly double a full-time minimum wage employee.

So yeah, the minimum wage effects more than just entry level employees.
Posted by Lack Thereof on August 23, 2011 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Also, it is my opinion that if you work full time hours, you shouldn't need food stamps or government assistance to survive, no matter what your position.

The fact that basically all retail employees qualify for food stamps highlights an underlying economic problem, and an unfair subsidy to the industry.

Raise the minimum wage so that a full time worker at that wage can pay for his own rent and food.
Posted by Lack Thereof on August 23, 2011 at 3:59 PM · Report this

But, that would mean the store where you work would have to raise its prices, which of course would mean everyone would have to pay more for the goods you sell. Some of us recognize the fact that, while this means a little more money comes out of our own pockets, the flip-side is that it gives the people who work in your store enough money to buy things other people, like, say, myself, for example, provide.

People like SB, OTOH seem to think it's some form of theft to make them pay too much for something they want or need, even, and most especially, if it means other people will benefit besides himself. He's seems to be adamantly opposed to doing anything that might even potentially benefit you, because apparently in his mind, anytime someone else benefits, he feels he naturally loses something in the process. So, people like SB will do everything in their power to keep you behind and below them, even while he perceives those above and ahead of him are doing the same to him.

It's the law of the jungle, baby. But, evidently nobody pointed out to him and his ilk that we stopped living in the jungle, a long, long time ago...
Posted by COMTE on August 23, 2011 at 8:55 PM · Report this

Sure, the store /could/ raise their prices by 0.1% to cover the added wage costs, and thus pass the cost on to the upper-class clientele, who might then suddenly stop coming in and blowing $80 a time on impulse-buy items.

Or a district manager could give up his company car.
Posted by Lack Thereof on August 23, 2011 at 9:27 PM · Report this
@53 and 54

I pay the plumber and electrician and attorney and doctor market rates. I want to know that my diagnoses are correct from my physician. I want to know that while in Italy my house will neither burn down or flood out from poor wiring or plumbing. I want to know that contracts I sign are in my interests. These professionals or craftsmen have worked long and hard at their jobs to acquire the skills which make them able to command higher wages.

I feel no such compunction about the kid at the hardware store check-out stand who barely acknowledges customers existence while she 'OMG, I'm at WORK!!' texts her friends, and can't figure out change without her register.

And again, minimum wage is not and never has been designed to be a living wage for a family. It's what you get paid when you have no skills or experience to offer employers, or work at jobs which a chimpanzee could do.

Raising the minimum wage wouldn't ameliorate the lot of the lower income American one bit. It isn't the upper class grocery buyer who'll forgo his or her indulgences. It's the poor person on your precious food stamps who will have to decide between milk or bread as prices rise. And they would rise. Store owners don't just sigh, accept losses decreed by progressives devoid of any sense of basic economics, and sell the place in Tahoe. (If they have one, which most don't. Most business owners work longer hours for less pay than in comparable corporate jobs, liberal villification of business notwithstanding.) They pass those prices on, and the hardest hit are those barely paying for groceries or rent or gasoline now.
Posted by Seattleblues on August 24, 2011 at 12:00 PM · Report this
venomlash 56
@55: "minimum wage is not and never has been designed to be a living wage for a family"
The text of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established the Federal minimum wage, would disagree with you. In Section 2(a), the act states that "the existence...of labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers" has several bad effects. In Section 2(b), it states that the entire purpose of the act is "to correct and as rapidly as practicable to eliminate the conditions above referred to".
That's right, Seattleblues. The act that established the Federal minimum wage was created expressly to help workers maintain a minimum standard of living, meaning that you are ABSOLUTELY WRONG. I'll give you a blank line to let that sink in.

If the minimum wage was just what menial unskilled labor was worth, there'd be no reason to make a law guaranteeing it; businesses would pay it anyway, because that's what the work would be worth to them.
I also like how whenever the topic of the minimum wage comes up, you always--ALWAYS--paint a picture of an incompetent teenager as an example of why working people don't deserve a decent minimum wage. If someone's not doing their job properly, they can get fired or otherwise disciplined. Either you are entirely ignorant of us wage slaves, or you routinely patronize businesses with really bad service. (And if it's the latter, why the bloody hell are you still giving them your money? It's people like you who ruin capitalism by allowing businesses that provide substandard products to remain in business!)
Posted by venomlash on August 24, 2011 at 2:42 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 57
@ 56, I'll make sure to ask SB to cop to this one, along with his "the world didn't warm up in the last decade" statement.
Posted by Matt from Denver on August 24, 2011 at 3:23 PM · Report this

Fair enough-

I should have written- Anyone who expects to feed a family on unskilled work for which there are 8 applicants for every job is delusional, whatever FDR tried to accomplish with this idiotic legislation.

And that's the real reason these jobs don't and shouldn't pay a living wage. Anyone who thinks running a register or sweeping a floor should pay for a 1500 square foot house, 2 cars, babysitting and an annual vacation to Aruba is too stupid to be paid more, teenager or not.

Thanks for the correction.
Posted by Seattleblues on August 24, 2011 at 6:38 PM · Report this
I do adore these bafoons who insist that the food stamp program is just too darn generous. I thought that this meme might die when several elected officials went on food stamps for a month, clearly demonstrating how difficult it was for a responsible, intelligent, healthy adult to live on the meager stipend that food stamps provide. But, alas, that didn't work, either. I eat lots of cheap things. Beans, lentils, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, and quinoa are staples around my house. Dollar-for-dollar, these provide lots of bang for the buck. We also grow about 30% of our food in the summer. We currently have the benefit of nearly-free tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs (we did have to lay out initial cash for the pots, seeds, and fill dirt a few years ago, but since then harvest our own seeds and use compost to refill). Next month, it will be lettuce and broccoli. After that, spinach. I also trade our surpluses with friends who have more land, so we've gotten free string beans, corn, and melons this summer as well. However, all of this is for naught for my neighbors who don't have yards or patios, or whose produce would be stolen (we have ameliorated this problem by telling the neighborhood kids that they can't just pick stuff off the plants because they don't know when it's ready, but we'll leave a basket out with extras for them to take every day, and boy do they eat that stuff up, to the point that several of them have figured out when we normally harvest in the evening and come by for first pickins while we're still picking...the cherry tomatoes are particularly popular).

However, we still spend about $50/week/person on food. That's $2600/year, or just over $215/month/person. Now, DC is an expensive place to buy anything, including food, so it CAN be cheaper elsewhere, but it's not like we're eating prime rib every night. This week's menu will cost us around $75 for both of us, but that's mostly because it's summer and lots of our food is free. For example, this week we're eating about 2 quarts of free cherry tomatoes, 3 lbs of free zucchini graciously gifted from a friend (we had traded for some awesome tomatoes a few weeks ago, IOU on the zucchini which we love but don't have room to grow), 4 free peppers, 2 free cucumbers, and lots of free herbs (which are not expensive but are a line item in a budget). Just the basics here (no herbs) would have cost us at least $20, in season and frequently on sale this time of year. For that, we get eggs and veggies for breakfast, salad with chicken and a peach for lunch, and bunless salmon burgers (sounds extravagant, but they were on sale for less than $.75/each) and veggies and beans for dinner, plus a veggie and cold-cut snack mid-day and a glass of milk before bed.

The only thing that gives me hope is that the local farmer's markets double the value of food stamps, so maybe, MAYBE these people can get adequate nutrition on what they're allotted.
Posted by Ms. D on August 24, 2011 at 11:07 PM · Report this
My sister works with the elderly...a vast number of food stamp recipients are seniors who live alone. Somehow this always gets overlooked in discussions about food stamps.
Posted by sweettreehugger on August 25, 2011 at 10:55 PM · Report this
venomlash 61
@58: Do you yet realize that you are ENTIRELY WRONG with regard to the intent behind the Federal minimum wage? Please read my previous post once more.

You and I seem to have different definitions of "living wage". To me, a living wage pays for food, shelter, and other basic needs. You seem to think that a living wage provides for ownership of one's home and automobiles (automobiles PLURAL!) and such luxuries as yearly tropical vacations. Clearly, you're not quite as working-class as you claim to be. (I'll tell you this much: both my parents are highly-trained professionals, and a vacation was something that we scrimped and saved for once every few years, and never to Aruba.)
Now, you seem to be jumping back on the "FDR WAS A BAD MAN" train, so let me leave you with this, from a good honest conservative source. Notice how FDR's New Deals WORKED?
Posted by venomlash on August 25, 2011 at 11:00 PM · Report this

Your continued comments about people making unwise choices and then asking hard-working taxpayers (i.e. YOU) to subsidize their poor choices shows that you are out of touch with--among other things--the headline at the top of this SLOG post: Republicans Target Food Stamps As More Americans Rely On Them To Get By."

Why are more Americans relying on them? Has there been, since 2008 or so, a sudden upswing in people having more kids they can afford on a minimum wage salary? I don't think so, but I'd be very interested in seeing any supporting research.

Here's my crazy thought about why more Americans suddenly rely on foodstamps: there's a recession going on, with near double-digit unemployment. Those 10,000 Bank of America employees didn't suddenly yield to the temptation to make poor decisions. They were laid off. Fired. Their jobs were taken away. A substantial fraction of them are now on unemployment insurance and/or foodstamps,and your response is to blame the victims for not having the skills and means to butcher half of a cow.
Posted by Clayton on August 26, 2011 at 6:40 AM · Report this
55, you're part of the problem. The hardware store you're shopping at is part and parcel of exactly the issue we're talking about and you're supporting them. Used to be, a job at a hardware store WAS a way to support a family. The hardware store was most likely family owned, and the whole family worked there, supporting the owning family. The store also probably employed a number of knowledgeable people to support their operations, and paid them a good wage for their expertise. These people knew exactly what you needed for what you were doing, and could give you some bang-up instructions on how to do it. They took pride in their jobs and the store rewarded them for that. The hardware store I shop at still does this. It's a sole-proprietor store that, while the family no longer supplies the bulk of the labor force, treats its employees like family. And I get the benefit of that. When I walk in and say I need the thingy to fix the slow toilet, they know what thingy I'm talking about, where it is, and how to use it properly. I have called the store looking for unusual items, had the employee who answered the phone ask me to send a webpage with the item on it to their personal email, and found it in their stock and held it for me to come get it after work. Yes, I pay a few extra cents for this, but it's worth it both because *I* get better service AND because I'm providing my neighbors with a living-wage job.

The same logic applies to everything from restaurants to grocers to clothiers. If you're primarily shopping at big-box stores, chains, and mega-corporations who think it's good business to employ mostly minimum wage grunts, you're making the country inhospitable to a large percentage of the population. We've turned into a luxury nation not because of over-spending (though that is a *small* portion of the problem...the math will take too much space to fully explain, but no increase in middle-class wages + an increasing standard of living = not much extra money in the economy from a small decrease in the savings rate) but because of bottom-line reductions that have largely come on the backs of everyday people. Yes, trade and supply-chain improvements have decreased the cost for many formerly luxury goods (if anyone should know this, it's trade and logistics specialist I am, and all), but the major cost savings come from employing someone for minimum wage where the store would have had to pay much, much more for an employee in the past. While manufacturing was the bread and butter of the middle class for a while, service jobs were also good employment for many years, at least providing their employees with a wage they could make ends meet on.
Posted by Ms. D on August 26, 2011 at 5:56 PM · Report this

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