Where the middle class has gone

Where the middle class has gone

Sometime back, I happened to be in the company of a CEO of a large, national food store chain. During our conversation, he spoke of the fight that was going on for majority control of the stock in the company. He had previously told me the corporation teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. As a result of that information, I asked him why they would put up a big fight for a big company that was teetering on the verge of “belly up.” He smiled and said, “Control.” Along with that control, I am certain he was concerned about the million dollar salary accompanying his position.

In America, there continues to be an ongoing discussion about rebuilding the middle class and about the erosion of the middle class. There is obviously a widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and those who live from pay check to pay check. We are certainly not the only nation with a giant gulf between the so-called middle class and its richest citizens. Recently, as a matter of fact, in one of the European countries, a plebiscite was placed on the ballot that by law would have required CEOs of large companies not be paid more than ten times the salary of their lowest paid worker. The proposal failed to win enough votes to be enacted into law, but did receive a significant number of votes.

It seems with the election of our current president and him joining forces with the right-wing Republicans, America will continue with platitudes rather than action in rebuilding the middle class. The simple proposal of raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 has been met with fierce opposition from the Republican establishment. They argue that it will put such a burden on businesses that they will hire fewer people. In fact, lifting those in poverty to be more self-sufficient would enhance trade and commerce. Raising the minimum wage will certainly put more money in circulation, and perhaps those who are now minimum wage earners would stand a better chance of getting off food stamps and being better able to have purchase power to buy the goods and services the wealthy company owners produce.

I fail to understand how it is that a company like Walmart, whose top managers make millions of dollars, can argue that raising the wages of their employees would be detrimental to them. Instead of paying a decent salary, they have chosen in a humane vein to instruct their employees the best way to take advantage of food stamps and government programs that help provide medical insurance.

In a country as wealthy as America, people who are fully employed should not be required to rely on welfare programs to get by. We and our elected officials should do all within our power to see that those willing to work a 40-hour work week soon would be able to join a proud American middle class.

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