I recently read that workers in the U.S. lose between 14 and 16 billion dollars a year, due to wage theft.
As someone who has worked numerous low wage jobs, has read Marx, and also attended the Occupy Wall St. protests a decade before; I was already aware of inequality, both on an intellectual and practical level. I already knew that the wealth gap is wider than at any point in our country’s history, and that the wealthy use their influence to further exploit and oppress poor people for their own benefit, as well as to the detriment of the country and the environment.
What I didn't know was that wage theft is such a large scale problem. It reminded me of something Bernie Sanders said in a rally I attended about five years ago...something that shocked me. Paraphrasing, he said that the seven heirs to the Walmart fortune controlled more weath than the bottom half of the country combined. Take a minute to chew on that. Seven people had more wealth than the bottom 150 million people put together. That is a staggering number, so staggering that I doubted it could be true. So I fact checked the claim, and unfortunately, it was, and still is true.
The U.S. once had a robust middle class. In my Father's America, he could drop out of high school and go to work in a factory that paid enough to buy a house, a couple of cars, a boat, and support a family. Those jobs were plentiful and came complete with great benefits; including insurance, vacation, pensions, and even stock options. Those days are long gone, along with those jobs.
What happened? The Henry Ford ideology of treating your employees as potential customers who needed to be able to afford your product, gave way to Reagan's trickle down economics, which theorized that when the rich have more, they will create more jobs and everyone will benefit.
" That’s our economic program for the next four years,” Reagan said. "We're gonna turn the bull loose." Referring to the Charging Bull, the symbol of Wall St. And they did, they loosened the reigns of regulations, drastically cut corporate taxes, and went after the labor unions that helped create the middle class. The predictable result is that the Bull trampled the American people, devouring all the country's wealth, and exposed "Reaganomics" for what it was. Bullshit.
Unfortunately, the American people seem to love b.s. and have continued to vote against our economic interest year after year. We have been complicit in our own oppression. Echoing talking point lines that demonize poor people, exalt the rich, and paint workers unions as the problem. We even cheer as workers are treated like costs to control in the name of short term profits, even going as far as supporting and/or excusing wage theft.
Walmart, who also happens to be our nation's largest employer, has been sued multiple times for wage theft. Apparently, owning more wealth than half the nation isn't enough for them, and they're willing to steal from their own workers who they already don't pay enough.
There are multiple ways wage theft occurs, and I won't get into them now, but I will say that we need new laws and harsher punishment for stealing wages. We also must work to empower workers unions. They not only fight the exploitation of their members, but against the exploitation of their competitors workers, so their competitors don't gain an unfair advantage.
A 2014 Princeton study declared that the US is no longer a democracy, but an oligarchy. If the American people don't realize we are in a class war soon, we may never regain our great middle class.
For these reasons and many more, I support Sam Ronan in his run for DNC Chair. When Ayn Rand asks who is John Galt? Sam Ronan answers "dinner."
Check out his worker's rights page here.
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