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Taxes, Subsidies, Amazon, and Walmart

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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08 September 2018 08:31
 

Below is the text of an email I got from Bernie Sanders’ organization. The summary is that many of our country’s wealthiest people run companies that don’t pay their employees living wages. So taxpayers monies are used to support these underpaid workers. In effect, taxpayers are subsidizing Jeff Bezo’s wealth. So Sanders is proposing legislation that would tax corporations who don’t pay their workers a living wage.

While I don’t support all of Sanders’ ideas, this one seems like an idea that’s headed in the right direction. While the details might be flawed, I think the premise is sound.

== Email from the Bernie Sanders organization:

How does it happen, icehorse, that the wealthiest man in the history of the world, Jeff Bezos, is also one of the largest welfare recipients in America?

It is quite simple, really.

Jeff Bezos and his company, Amazon, make huge profits by paying their employees wages that are so inadequate that many of them need public assistance just to get by. Today in America, thousands of Amazon workers are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing because they can’t survive on the wages they receive. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos is now worth $158 billion, and his wealth increases by $260 million - every single day. How absurd is that?

And who pays for the public assistance subsidizing Mr. Bezos’ wealth? You do. The middle class subsidizes the wealthiest person in the world, while his workers struggle to put food on the table. That is what the rigged economy is all about. And in my view, that has got to end.

That is why I introduced a piece of legislation that aims to end corporate welfare by establishing a 100 percent tax on corporations with 500 or more employees equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers.

So, if a worker at Amazon receives $1,000 in food stamps, Amazon would be taxed $1,000 to cover that cost.

The bill gives large, profitable employers a choice: pay your workers a living wage or pay for the public assistance they need to get by. It’s common sense. Now I want you to send a message to my colleagues that it has your support, as well:

Add your name as an original Citizen Co-Sponsor of my Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act and send a message that taxpayers should not have to expend huge sums of money subsidizing profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in America.

Make no mistake about it, Jeff Bezos is not alone in this regard. Some of the most profitable businesses in America sustain their wealth through this kind of corporate welfare.

According to one report, in 2014, Walmart employees received at least $6.2 billion in public aid every year. Walmart is owned by the Walton family, the wealthiest family in the country.

More than half of employees in the fast food industry rely on some kind of public assistance.

McDonald’s workers are actually encouraged to sign up for assistance, and the co-owner of Burger King has a net worth of $25 billion, while his workers receive an estimated $356 million in subsidies each year.

According to a study from the University of California, low wages cost American taxpayers $150 billion every single year.

So let me be as clear as I can be: The government has a moral responsibility to make certain that every man, woman and child in this country has a decent standard of living and that we provide for the vulnerable in this country — our kids, the sick, the elderly and the disabled. It is not acceptable, however, that the American taxpayer is being asked to subsidize the wealth of some of the wealthiest people in the history of the world.

And it must end.

Please add your name as an original Citizen Co-Sponsor of my Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act and send a message that taxpayers should not have to expend huge sums of money subsidizing profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in America.

The economic and political systems of this country are stacked against ordinary Americans and in the favor of the most powerful among us.

The rich get richer and use their wealth to buy elections — just recently, it was announced that Jeff Bezos made a $10 million donation to a Super PAC that in one place is running ads supporting a candidate who will “work with President Trump to fight for Florida’s conservative values.”

For the rest of us, who don’t have the wealth it takes to buy the legislative outcomes they want, it’s survival of the fittest.

That is not democracy. That is oligarchy. Let’s work together to end it.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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08 September 2018 09:25
 

Bullshit. Amazon has responded and shown Bernie the door. Like you, he is trying to sell his views and needs an evil rich villain antagonist to fight against.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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08 September 2018 09:33
 
GAD - 08 September 2018 09:25 AM

Bullshit. Amazon has responded and shown Bernie the door. Like you, he is trying to sell his views and needs an evil rich villain antagonist to fight against.

Happy Saturday GAD!

There exists quite a bit of legislation that benefits corporations. The intent of this bill is to add some legislation that benefits taxpayers. I’m not sure why you’re so happy to subsidize Bezos and the Waltons? I’m not happy to do so.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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08 September 2018 09:49
 
icehorse - 08 September 2018 09:33 AM
GAD - 08 September 2018 09:25 AM

Bullshit. Amazon has responded and shown Bernie the door. Like you, he is trying to sell his views and needs an evil rich villain antagonist to fight against.

Happy Saturday GAD!

There exists quite a bit of legislation that benefits corporations. The intent of this bill is to add some legislation that benefits taxpayers. I’m not sure why you’re so happy to subsidize Bezos and the Waltons? I’m not happy to do so.

No, his claims were mostly false and what he wants is to make companies pay more under the guise that it saves money but the money just shifts to higher costs for consumers. Like most CEO’s Bezos doesn’t have 11M an hour going to his bank account, it’s what Amazon makes vs the stock he owns, so it’s all just on paper.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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08 September 2018 10:11
 
GAD - 08 September 2018 09:49 AM
icehorse - 08 September 2018 09:33 AM
GAD - 08 September 2018 09:25 AM

Bullshit. Amazon has responded and shown Bernie the door. Like you, he is trying to sell his views and needs an evil rich villain antagonist to fight against.

Happy Saturday GAD!

There exists quite a bit of legislation that benefits corporations. The intent of this bill is to add some legislation that benefits taxpayers. I’m not sure why you’re so happy to subsidize Bezos and the Waltons? I’m not happy to do so.

No, his claims were mostly false and what he wants is to make companies pay more under the guise that it saves money but the money just shifts to higher costs for consumers. Like most CEO’s Bezos doesn’t have 11M an hour going to his bank account, it’s what Amazon makes vs the stock he owns, so it’s all just on paper.

Does that mean you don’t think you’re currently subsidizing Bezos - whether or not you’re a customer?

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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08 September 2018 10:16
 
icehorse - 08 September 2018 10:11 AM
GAD - 08 September 2018 09:49 AM
icehorse - 08 September 2018 09:33 AM
GAD - 08 September 2018 09:25 AM

Bullshit. Amazon has responded and shown Bernie the door. Like you, he is trying to sell his views and needs an evil rich villain antagonist to fight against.

Happy Saturday GAD!

There exists quite a bit of legislation that benefits corporations. The intent of this bill is to add some legislation that benefits taxpayers. I’m not sure why you’re so happy to subsidize Bezos and the Waltons? I’m not happy to do so.

No, his claims were mostly false and what he wants is to make companies pay more under the guise that it saves money but the money just shifts to higher costs for consumers. Like most CEO’s Bezos doesn’t have 11M an hour going to his bank account, it’s what Amazon makes vs the stock he owns, so it’s all just on paper.

Does that mean you don’t think you’re currently subsidizing Bezos - whether or not you’re a customer?

I’ve been a Prime member for 10 years, why, because Amazon has provided the best quality, customer service and prices bar none. Now it’s evil and must be stopped, why, because Bezos is rich and some people can’t stand that.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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08 September 2018 10:31
 
GAD - 08 September 2018 10:16 AM
icehorse - 08 September 2018 10:11 AM
GAD - 08 September 2018 09:49 AM
icehorse - 08 September 2018 09:33 AM
GAD - 08 September 2018 09:25 AM

Bullshit. Amazon has responded and shown Bernie the door. Like you, he is trying to sell his views and needs an evil rich villain antagonist to fight against.

Happy Saturday GAD!

There exists quite a bit of legislation that benefits corporations. The intent of this bill is to add some legislation that benefits taxpayers. I’m not sure why you’re so happy to subsidize Bezos and the Waltons? I’m not happy to do so.

No, his claims were mostly false and what he wants is to make companies pay more under the guise that it saves money but the money just shifts to higher costs for consumers. Like most CEO’s Bezos doesn’t have 11M an hour going to his bank account, it’s what Amazon makes vs the stock he owns, so it’s all just on paper.

Does that mean you don’t think you’re currently subsidizing Bezos - whether or not you’re a customer?

I’ve been a Prime member for 10 years, why, because Amazon has provided the best quality, customer service and prices bar none. Now it’s evil and must be stopped, why, because Bezos is rich and some people can’t stand that.

You dodged my question. I’m also a long standing Prime member, who cares?

So again: Do you think that - independent of your status as a customer - you’re not currently subsidizing Amazon with your tax contributions to things like food stamp programs that some of his employees make use of?

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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08 September 2018 10:57
 
icehorse - 08 September 2018 08:31 AM

Below is the text of an email I got from Bernie Sanders’ organization. The summary is that many of our country’s wealthiest people run companies that don’t pay their employees living wages. So taxpayers monies are used to support these underpaid workers. In effect, taxpayers are subsidizing Jeff Bezo’s wealth. So Sanders is proposing legislation that would tax corporations who don’t pay their workers a living wage.

While I don’t support all of Sanders’ ideas, this one seems like an idea that’s headed in the right direction. While the details might be flawed, I think the premise is sound.

== Email from the Bernie Sanders organization:
...

I strongly agree that ALL employees should be treated fairly and compensated with a living wage above poverty levels.

Companies such as these provide employment to large numbers of unskilled labour, which is much needed.  In a capitalist society, there will always be successful and wealthy companies and individuals – the key is to make sure greed is controlled to the extent that prevents exploitation.

Rather than penalize specific companies after the fact, why not enact controls to ensure fairer treatment for employees, i.e.:  raise the minimum wage, tax companies and the wealthy their fair share, and ensure that there are no hindrances to employees unionizing.  (And I think you know my views regarding health care – ALL should be covered under a socialized, single-payer system.)

[ Edited: 08 September 2018 11:08 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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08 September 2018 13:45
 

I would like to know the details.  Do the employees who get public assistance work full-time?  Does our society expect that a minimum wage job is the end point or the starting point of a person’s career?  That is, should a minimum wage job be expected to support a family?  I may be wrong, but I always thought such jobs were starting points.  When I had a minimum wage job, I was single and shared lodging with other people just starting out. 

So Jan, can a person support a family on a minimum wage salary in Canada?

 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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08 September 2018 14:31
 
hannahtoo - 08 September 2018 01:45 PM

I would like to know the details.  Do the employees who get public assistance work full-time?  Does our society expect that a minimum wage job is the end point or the starting point of a person’s career?  That is, should a minimum wage job be expected to support a family?  I may be wrong, but I always thought such jobs were starting points.  When I had a minimum wage job, I was single and shared lodging with other people just starting out. 

So Jan, can a person support a family on a minimum wage salary in Canada?

In some cases, and more so in the past, minimum wage jobs were starting-point jobs, as in a student working at MacDonalds.  However, there are fewer-and-fewer jobs available for working class, non-university-educated people.  Many employers are offering fewer full-time and continuing positions and are hiring workers part-time and paying minimum wage, with little or no chance of working up into better positions.  The days of a decent wage for a hard day’s work are diminishing.

The minimum wage in Canada varies between provinces.  In Ontario, the minimum wage for 2018 is $14.00/hour (40 hours/week = $29,120/year), going up to $15.00/hour in 2019.  (There is also the issue that if the minimum wage is increased too much, too fast, it can result in layoffs.)  To support a family, it would take two parents working full-time and perhaps also some part-time work; however, minimum-wage jobs are often not full-time so parents would be struggling to find enough work and hours to make ends meet.  It would also depend on where one lives (i.e. housing/rent is very expensive in Toronto).  As you know, health care is covered for all; there is some subsidized housing.

[ Edited: 08 September 2018 14:39 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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08 September 2018 14:51
 

As far as I recall, warehouse jobs, managing and moving stock around including delivering it — the kinds of jobs I think we’re talking about at Amazon — didn’t used to be minimum wage starter jobs.

I think that that is kind of the problem.  It seems like more and more jobs are becoming more like “minimum wage starter jobs”.

[ Edited: 08 September 2018 14:56 by mapadofu]
 
GAD
 
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08 September 2018 15:08
 
hannahtoo - 08 September 2018 01:45 PM

I would like to know the details.  Do the employees who get public assistance work full-time?  Does our society expect that a minimum wage job is the end point or the starting point of a person’s career?  That is, should a minimum wage job be expected to support a family?  I may be wrong, but I always thought such jobs were starting points.  When I had a minimum wage job, I was single and shared lodging with other people just starting out. 

So Jan, can a person support a family on a minimum wage salary in Canada?

You can find the answers online, Amazon replied to them.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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08 September 2018 15:27
 

Jan:
However, there are fewer-and-fewer jobs available for working class, non-university-educated people.

Same in the US.  But it doesn’t seem to me that the solution is to pay $20 per hour for workers at McDonald’s.  That just doesn’t make sense.  It seems better to find ways to encourage more blue collar jobs through government policies, eg on international trade and community re-development.

And something else I’ve been thinking about.  Maybe our lifestyle expectations have grown out of proportion.  In many areas, no one is building small houses of the type my mom’s generation grew up in and later bought as starter homes.  Cozy 1200 sq ft houses.  New homes are now 3-story, 3000+ square feet, many with fancy master baths and granite counters in the kitchen.  No, the average young couple can’t afford these.  They’re in condos, or old neighborhoods, if they can afford to buy at all.  Otherwise, they’re stuck on the rental treadmill.  I think that better city planning could help workers a lot.  At least in my city.

One trend I think will continue in the US is young people moving away from the expensive coasts to revitalize smaller towns.  For example, Boise ID, Bend OR, Greeley CO, Provo UT, Fargo ND.  From Forbes magazine, this is Fargo’s strategy:

The growth in Fargo has come not so much from energy, but an expanding industrial and technology sector. STEM employment is up nearly 40% since 2001, compared to 3% nationally. It also leads all other U.S. metro areas in the growth in the number of mid-skilled jobs, providing good wages to people with two-year or certificate degrees.

Maybe part of the solution for low wage workers is affordable education in particular skills at community colleges and trade schools.  I see this as a much better solution than Bernie’s plan for a shell game of wages/taxes/benefits.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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08 September 2018 15:31
 
GAD - 08 September 2018 03:08 PM
hannahtoo - 08 September 2018 01:45 PM

I would like to know the details.  Do the employees who get public assistance work full-time?  Does our society expect that a minimum wage job is the end point or the starting point of a person’s career?  That is, should a minimum wage job be expected to support a family?  I may be wrong, but I always thought such jobs were starting points.  When I had a minimum wage job, I was single and shared lodging with other people just starting out. 

So Jan, can a person support a family on a minimum wage salary in Canada?

You can find the answers online, Amazon replied to them.

Link?

 
Jan_CAN
 
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08 September 2018 16:05
 
hannahtoo - 08 September 2018 03:27 PM

Jan:
However, there are fewer-and-fewer jobs available for working class, non-university-educated people.

Same in the US.  But it doesn’t seem to me that the solution is to pay $20 per hour for workers at McDonald’s.  That just doesn’t make sense.  It seems better to find ways to encourage more blue collar jobs through government policies, eg on international trade and community re-development.

And something else I’ve been thinking about.  Maybe our lifestyle expectations have grown out of proportion.  In many areas, no one is building small houses of the type my mom’s generation grew up in and later bought as starter homes.  Cozy 1200 sq ft houses.  New homes are now 3-story, 3000+ square feet, many with fancy master baths and granite counters in the kitchen.  No, the average young couple can’t afford these.  They’re in condos, or old neighborhoods, if they can afford to buy at all.  Otherwise, they’re stuck on the rental treadmill.  I think that better city planning could help workers a lot.  At least in my city.

One trend I think will continue in the US is young people moving away from the expensive coasts to revitalize smaller towns.  For example, Boise ID, Bend OR, Greeley CO, Provo UT, Fargo ND.  From Forbes magazine, this is Fargo’s strategy:

The growth in Fargo has come not so much from energy, but an expanding industrial and technology sector. STEM employment is up nearly 40% since 2001, compared to 3% nationally. It also leads all other U.S. metro areas in the growth in the number of mid-skilled jobs, providing good wages to people with two-year or certificate degrees.

Maybe part of the solution for low wage workers is affordable education in particular skills at community colleges and trade schools.  I see this as a much better solution than Bernie’s plan for a shell game of wages/taxes/benefits.

I was not implying or suggesting that a student working at McDonald’s be paid $20/hour.  However, a man or woman working at Amazon should be paid a decent wage, perhaps starting at a lower rate and part-time, with a realistic opportunity to advance into a full-time position, with a raise to a more liveable salary for long-term.  People also work harder and contribute more to a company when they are valued and compensated fairly.

Yes, some young people expect too much right away and live above their means, etc.  However, I think this is more of an issue with recent university graduates/professionals than it is with the working class making minimum wage.

I agree that training and education is the answer for some people, but not everyone.  There will still be janitors, factory workers, manual labour such as packers at Amazon, etc.  And they deserve a decent wage, with the hopes of buying a modest home and saving for their children’s futures.  Job insecurity where the worker is expected to feel lucky to have any job at all and is afraid to make waves, the weakening/decline of unions, and I’m sure other causes, has resulted in an increase in the numbers of ‘working poor’.

 

 
 
Cheshire Cat
 
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08 September 2018 17:00
 

Amazon is working hard at perfecting automated, robotic picking and sorting of merchandise machines. It won’t be happening soon, although according to the link below, “picking systems of the type Amazon is pursuing” will be “…introduced to warehouses around the start the next decade.”

https://tinyurl.com/ycaax38w

I think the writing is on the wall. As automation and AI becomes more common, jobs for human beings are only going to become more scarce. With the dissolution of unions, the gaining of more political power by rich oligarchs and corporations, and a Supreme Court packed with corporate loving conservative judges, the fate of workers looks pretty dim.

I wish there was a universal living wage in America similar to what they have in Australia, but unfortunately, I only see more downward pressure on wages. Corporations are king; the rest of us are slowly becoming serfs.

 
 
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