Of course, it’s more than just disabled people and prisoners we pay for via taxes. Many people, while not entirely supported by the state, receive government funds in order to survive because so many jobs pay poverty-level wages. This is essentially a massive subsidy to the private sector. Thus, they are on government assistance and are not counted as unemployed, just like prisoners, the disabled, and students. Thus, I would argue that all of these jobs are essentially de facto quasi-government jobs. They would not exist in their present form if they were not subsidized by the state, it’s just their main beneficiaries are the private sector rather than the public.
The poster child for this is, of course, Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart employs 1 percent of the U.S. workforce (ironically the same percentage as Americans in prison), and pays an average of $8.81 an hour while making over 15 billion a year in pure profit. According to some sources, Walmart’s employees receive $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. They are also the top recipients of Medicaid in numerous states. Walmart fails to provide a livable wage and decent healthcare benefits, costing U.S. taxpayers an annual average of $1.02 billion in healthcare costs.
Those numbers have been disputed, but even if it’s off by 100%, it’s still a very large number. Politifact did a study on a claim that the average cost to the taxpayer is $1000 for every WalMart worker:
The researchers found taxpayers paid $86 million a year to subsidize Walmart workers’ wages — $32 million for health programs and $54 million in other assistance. (“Other assistance” could be food stamps, subsidized housing and school lunches, and use of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a tax credit for low- to moderate-income workers.)
The average taxpayer bill per employee was $730 for health expenses and $1,222 for other expenses, researchers found. The totals for other large California retailers totaled $521 for health and $880 for other.
Also widely cited by the anti-Walmart contingent is a 2004 Democratic U.S. House committee report that examined the company’s record on many issues, including public subsidizing of employees’ wages. A 200-person Walmart store could require $420,750 in tax dollars for employee assistance a year, working out to $2,103 per worker, according to the Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce report.
Walmart does not dispute that many of its employees receive public health assistance. But company spokesman Kory Lundberg criticized Grayson citing the Berkeley study, saying, “They’re pointing out data that’s at least seven to eight years old.”
Plus, he said, it’s expected the company would top such lists because its employs the most people.
And even though just over half of its employees take the company health care plan, Lundberg said, workers often have other options for health insurance, including from the military, Medicare, or a parent’s or spouse’s plan.
And according to the most recent figures, fifteen percent of the workforce is on food stamp benefits right now. That’s nearly one in seven Americans. And that includes a lot more people with jobs than without.
And the fastest growing job category in America right now, home health workers, already has 40 percent of its workers on public assistance:
It’s the job of the future! And it’s terrible! It’s low-wage, low-tech, long hours, in most cases it’s not covered by minimum wage or overtime protections, and it’s projected to grow by 70 percent between 2010 and 2020. That’s right: It’s home health care work.
The average hourly wage is just $9.70 an hour, according to the Labor Department.
For those in the industry who work full-time, this amounts to roughly $20,000 a year. Many health care aides only work part-time though—and they do not receive benefits.
Under these conditions, it’s no surprise then that about 40% of home aides rely on public assistance, such as Medicaid and food stamps, just to get by.
Part-time and freelance workers are not counted as unemployed ether, even though they are a growing share of the workforce. Under our present system, part-time workers receive no health care benefits. Is it any wonder people would ‘prefer’ to be disabled? And freelance workers don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from. Is it any surprise they would prefer the stability of a regular government check with a known amount, even if it is small?
What if instead of government programs, with all the red tape that implies, we raised people’s incomes by just giving them a check to compensate for their low salary? And what if we made health care available to all, no questions asked the way the rest of the world does it? And what if we paid for it all by taxing the profits of corporations who pay their workers so little in the first place? If that prevents them from “creating jobs,” who cares, as it seems like the only thing allowing them to ‘create jobs” in the first place is the government!