Even my new-found frenemy Justin Katz seems to agree. “There is a role for government in ensuring that people do not slip through the cracks to that level where they are dying in the streets,” the Koch bros soldier told Bill Rappleye on this week’s edition of NBC10 Wingmen about the minimum wage.
When the minimum wage, about $16,000 a year in Rhode Island, falls below the actual cost of survival, at least $20,000, the public sector makes up the difference. This is how the fast food/big box industry works, or doesn’t, depending on your perspective. Multinational corporations that own fast food chain restaurants make huge profits that are largely subsidized by taxpayers.
“Walmart, which grossed $318 billion in the U.S. last year, provides its workers with technical advice about how to apply for this public assistance. For responsible businesses to subsidize the low wages of their larger competitors is a complete perversion of capitalism.” – Ralph Nader, Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2013.
In Rhode Island, this issue is just about to heat up. Five Wendy’s workers in Warwick joined labor and working class activists in storming their place of employment and demanding better working conditions. The effort was the first front of the Fight For 15, a nationwide movement of fast food workers, aided by the SEIU, who are demanding $15 an hour. More local and national protests are being planned in this drive to organize fast food workers. And several activists groups are planning to protest Walmart on Buy Nothing Day as part of the War on Thanksgiving.
Watch our debate below, and read this post about what our congressional delegation is doing to boost the minimum wage. (And listen to the deafening silence from Katz when Rapp asks him if it’s public assistance that keeps people from dying on the streets!!)