Don’t you hate giving your hard-earned money to moochers who leech off us poor working suckers? Some politicians love to rile us up about those feeding at the public welfare trough, especially those with jobs.
I recently went into a midtown McDonald’s at lunchtime to see whether some of its employees were, indeed, on the dole. “May I help you?” asked the young woman behind the counter. “Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your salary and benefits?” I said with a smile.
She replied with a name, but it was pretty noisy — maybe it was “I’d rather not say.” I managed to pry out the fact that she made $9 an hour and was a single mom. Was she also on public assistance?
“You said McNuggets, right?” Ida responded.
I know — just leave the woman alone. I felt even worse when I sat squeezed against the wall with my McNuggets, trying to read the newspaper. Gov. Andrew Cuomo had written an op-ed in The New York Times saying that when fast-food workers do not receive a living wage, they are forced to go on public assistance to get by, while those at the top rake it in.
“The average fast-food CEO made $23.8 million in 2013, more than quadruple the average from 2000 (adjusting for inflation),” Cuomo wrote. “Meanwhile, entry-level food service workers in New York State earn, on average, $16,920 per year . . .”
In other words, the government is subsidizing fast-food and other companies that refuse to pay a living wage.
The inflated chief executive salaries mentioned by Cuomo are at least in part sustained by taxpayers who pay for the food stamps, Medicaid and other social services their workers need to survive.
At a rally in Union Square Thursday, he lambasted fast-food fat cats for underpaying workers so seriously that the state had to spend $700 million last year on public assistance for their employees. He called for raising the minimum wage in NYC from $8.75 to $11.50. (The state minimum will rise from $8.75 to $9 at year’s end.)
Can’t do that in retail? Costco pays its hourly workers an average of $20.89 an hour, and the company is thriving. Meanwhile, who are those government welfare moochers again?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.