Raising Minimum Wage Would Reduce Dependence On Welfare

Published 11:59 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Editor, The Herald:

John Jamieson’s column (“Massive Wealth Transfer Will Keep Dems In Power For A Long Times,” Wednesday, July 1) says that we live in a meritocracy, and therefore he implies there is little need for welfare. He bases this upon the false assumption that everyone in America has an equal opportunity to rise in society and only lazy people are poor. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Children growing up in rich, predominantly white areas have access to better education, nutrition and health care and live in reasonably safe environments. Children growing up in poorer, predominantly minority areas don’t get the same benefits and fall behind early. Most are unable to overcome these handicaps.

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The unions, which used to deal with income inequality by bargaining for better pay and benefits, have seen their influence reduced by “right to work,” or as I describe it, “right to work longer for less pay” legislation passed by numerous states, including Virginia. The federal income tax rate has been until recently lowered to the point where Warren Buffet says he pays less of his income in taxes than his secretary.

Mr. Jamieson says we pay too much for welfare and quotes a Cato Institute study. This study is highly flawed and misleading. Federal assistance in the study consists of seven different programs. First, the study assumes that everyone eligible for assistance is in all seven programs simultaneously, an unlikely situation since there is little overlap. It then monetizes the benefits even if there is no cash transfer in the program such as Medicare. It misleads the reader who then assumes everyone on assistance is sitting home collecting a $3,000 monthly check rather than working. Reality is that most of federal assistance goes to help working families.

If Mr. Jamieson wants to reduce welfare, he should start with the corporate kind. For example, Oil Change International estimates that fossil fuel subsidies will hit $52 billion this year. Another place to look are farm subsidies, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost taxpayers $4.8 billion over the next 10 years. A better way is to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. That way, working families won’t need federal assistance.

Mr. Jamieson is wrong on his statement that Democrats are exchanging welfare dollars for votes. Poor people don’t vote, and states like Virginia want to keep it that way by passing voter ID laws. Speaking of voting, Mr. Jamieson should take a closer look at whom he votes for. After all, it’s the proposed Republican budget authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan that wants to reward Mr. Jamieson’s service to the country by reducing his veteran’s benefits.

James Peca