I’ve been watching a lot of videos lately, mostly because I recently discovered the fun at Upworthy.com. All of which have gotten my philosophical juices flowing. This one in particular featuring Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary of Labor Robert Reich fed a pet theory of mine which I’ll call the Kingdom of Serfs.
Things haven’t changed much since the middle ages. The majority of people still serve the minority, those kings and overlords who sit up there in their castles enjoying the fruits of our labors. Just like in the past, today’s masses want to believe their overlords have their best interests in mind. We call ourselves “The Middle Class” knowing full well that it’s unlikely we actually do fit into this vanishing category. Ultimately, we know in our hearts that those folks at the top are only looking out for themselves.
I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, how the top 1% is way richer than the bottom 99% and how one family, the Waltons is worth as much as the bottom 40%. Their company, Walmart is the largest employer in the country and according to Reich pays their employees on average $8.80 an hour. What was news to my ears was the concept that our welfare programs are actually subsidizing Walmart’s bottom line. Which makes sense because when their employees depend on medicaid or food stamps they are actually being supported in part by our tax dollars.
And yet the notion of raising the minimum wage of $7.25 closer to a living wage is deemed radical and unsafe. As Robert Reich points out in the video above, in 1955 the largest employer in the country, General Motors was paying their employees 37.00 in today’s dollars. Those employees made a living wage in a way that many of Walmart’s employees do not and therefore did not require help from the State.
So in effect, the big companies that don’t pay their employees a living wage are all on what might be termed Corporate Welfare and all of us who want to believe we are part of the kingdom are in reality only serfs.