a vicious circle of hypocrisy: Americans dependent on the safety net are urged to “get a job” by the same free-market system that pays them too little to avoid being dependent on the safety net.
Theft, Part 1: The Average U.S. Household Pays About $400 for Safety Net Programs for Low-Wage Workers
According to the Economic Policy Institute, $45 billion per year in federal, state, and other safety net support is paid to workers in the bottom 20 percent of wage earners. Thus the average U.S. household is paying almost $400 to employees in low-wage industries such as food service, retail, and personal care.
Blame: Accusing the Poor
Paul Ryan said that social programs “turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” But 63 percent of eligible working-age poor Americans are employed, and 73 percent are members of working families. Yet in a show of hypocrisy by some of the leading safety net critics, Congress has killed or blocked or ignored numerous attempts to create better jobs for underemployed Americans.
Greed: Profits for Stockholders, Poverty Wages for Workers
A Demos study found that raising wages to $25,000 per year (about $12.50 per hour) for full-time retail workers would lift 734,075 people out of poverty.
It would probably help a lot more. An analysis of Bureau of Labor Statisticsdata reveals that about 22 million workers are underpaid (about a sixth of the total), over half of them in food service, cashiering, personal care, and housekeeping.