Liberals continue to wage war on America's free enterprise system.
Last week, Democrats in the California state Legislature donned war paint and picked up their spears against the fast-food industry. McDonald's has been one of their favorite big business villains as they don't like fast-food because of fattening food content and they wish to control what is served rather than allow "free" people to decide for themselves if they want a Big Mac over a tuna on rye and carrot sticks.
Conservatives tend to let people decide things for themselves. Conservatives bristle with liberals who wish to impose their views on all. Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, for example, imposed a limit on soda serving sizes rather than let the consumer decide how much soda to sip. And don't forget that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors dictated the content of Happy Meals rather than let parents decide what best to feed their kids. Shhh, don't tell them that Americans cook unhealthy meals every day - things like fried chicken or hamburgers or hotdogs; they are apt to get some idea about regulating household kitchens.
The Founding Fathers did not believe in government control freaks telling us what we cannot eat or that we cannot smoke. They saw those choices as a matter of personal liberty. Nor did they believe in income redistribution, which leads me to the California State Legislature.
In the wake of Obamacare - the ultimate demonstration of how government can screw up an entire industry - U.C. Berkeley came out with a report that concludes that 52 percent of workers in the fast-food industry are on public assistance, which cost taxpayers $717 million each year from 2007-2011. The university reportedly came from a SEIU (Service Employees International Union) supported labor center on campus, not the campus itself. The public assistance mentioned is in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (i.e. TANF, formerly known as welfare) and Medicaid.
The report claims $7 billion in safety net spending goes to fast-food workers. The assertion is that fast-food industry may be offering cheap food but it's screwing its workers and all taxpayers are supporting what places like McDonald's should be supporting with bennies and higher wages or more full-time work. However, that $7 billion figure is only 1.8 percent of what those program's shell out to the entire workforce. Counter that with the fact that fast-food workers comprise 3.3 percent of the workforce, and you have a false claim of "disportionate."
U.S. Census data also show that nearly half of California's fast-food workforce has a household income that's 200 percent or more of the poverty line. Roughly 37 percent of the fast-food workforce in California lives in a middle-income household earning $45,000 to $99,000 per year. So much for poverty-stricken fast-food workers.
At a joint hearing of the Assembly and Senate Labor committees, legislators began investigating claims that fast-food workers are more than twice as likely to be on public assistance then the overall workforce.
Duh, if that's the case. They are minimum wage earners. It took rocket science to determine what should be obvious? When you have a worker base that is 95 percent without a college degree, expect that they will seek public assistance. But why vilify fast-food? Shouldn't retailers who pay minimum wage be singled out in the same way?
The report's author, Ken Jacobs, Chair, U.C. Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, told the legislators that low-wage "fast food jobs come at a high public cost." He opined that the Legislature is "smart to investigate what California can do to lift up labor standards in the industry."
No, not smart. More like meddlesome.
News flash: Fast-food jobs were never intended to be high-paying jobs to support families because it's work that doesn't demand high skills and thus does not pay high wages. Nobody leaves high school thinking, "Wow, I will be living on easy street when I get that job at Carl's Jr." But some want it that way. Pressing buttons on a keyboard, filling soda cups and bagging burgers is pretty low-skill work and honestly there are plenty of people who will stand in line to take those minimum wage jobs. The job pays what the market dictates.
I realize that we have a whole generation of Americans who feel that government is required to provide something for nothing , but making McDonald's pay more in wages or forcing them to offer full-time work or offering benefits really will only drive up costs of product and hurt sales (but then again some libs would rejoice to see the evil burger empire destroyed). Big government advocates love to stick their hands in money that it has no right to, demand that private businesses do certain things that drive people out of business or jack up prices sky high and cause businesses to hire part-time versus full-time work; or demand that business pay someone a wage that doesn't match the job.
"The taxpayer should not have to subsidize one industry," said Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) of fast-food wages.
What an eye-opening statement for a Democrat to be admitting that taxpayers should not have to subsidize. In fact, taxpayers should not have to subsidize any constituent either! We used to have family and churches take care of people in need.
There are plenty of places for people without college degrees to make a decent wage. It requires initiative. Nothing in life ever worth anything came especially easy.
Here is a thought where the free market can provide solution: Stop providing so much "public assistance" to workers. That will encourage them to either improve their skill sets or look for better paying work. There would be less money sucked from taxpayers who will then have more disposable income. That means the economy will grow and business volumes will expand. Increased demand for service means more demand for workers. It also means companies can take better care of their employees if they so wish.
Placing more demands on the fast-food industry is not only unfair government practice, it will cause fewer worker to be hired, cause prices to increase and put some franchisees out of business since they operate on an already thin profit margin.
This country is so funny. We squawk about government taking so much from our paycheck - and we should - but the same people have no problem soaking people who use our free enterprise system so successfully.
I find that scary.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know at firstname.lastname@example.org