The table is set for the boardroom

The latest cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP), aka Food Stamps, has been big news here in northeast Ohio, and has even received a few minutes of coverage on the big corporate news channels and on the political talking-heads shows. The cuts, which took effect Friday, whack anywhere from approximately $20 to $50 a month from the average SNAP household’s benefits. You know the price of groceries in your area better than I; you can figure out how many gallons of milk or dozens of eggs or hamburger meat or vegetables SNAP households can no longer depend on.

And there’s more to come, as you know. The Republicans want to cut more, the Democrats want to cut less, but BOTH political parties want to cut SOMETHING. You’ve also seen the self-righteous bourgeois blather of why it’s necessary. The refrain goes something like this:

“If these people are receiving assistance from the taxpayers, then we need to make sure that they really need it first by means-testing, and that they are required to work in order to get it. That’s the only thing that’s fair to taxpayers.  Otherwise we create a culture of dependency, and that’s just not the American Way.”

OK. Let’s take a look at means-testing, work requirements, and the culture of dependency. Let’s focus on some of the most dependent recipients of government largess,  Wal-Mart and the other big retail chains, and McDonald’s and the other fast food chains. All of them use the Work Opportunity Tax Credit(WOTC) to the fullest and then some. Whenever they hire somebody who is receiving any kind of public assistance, from SNAP to TANF, or the longterm unemployed, or even returning veterans, they get a tax credit that reimburses them for up to the first 9 months for the low wages they so generously shelled out when they hired these poor bastards. And they pay their employees so little that most are STILL eligible to keep receiving some SNAP and Medicaid benefits. What a bargain!

Then, to keep that tax credit gravy train rolling, the Wal-Marts and McDonald’s can simply fire a worker when the tax credit runs out, or schedule them on “flexible hours” that are so impossible to live with that the worker quits, the lazy bum. Then they hire another one. Lather, rinse, repeat.

And not only do companies like Wal-Mart benefit from the WOTC, but they are often given huge tax breaks by local governments desperate to attract employers, even shitty ones, to their cities and towns. Sometimes the Wal-Marts and McDonald’s are even allowed to collect local sales taxes and keep them for a few years; not to mention all the tax money that is spent on things like roads, sewer lines, electrical and gas lines, etc. I don’t know exactly how many tax dollars these retail and fast food places benefit from every year, but I imagine the cumulative impact on federal, state, and local government budgets is way up there, maybe even more than the entire SNAP budget.

Not that that really matters for the purposes of this diary entry. If we are to be fair to the taxpayers by means-testing and work requirements, what would happen if we were consistent and applied the same rules to the Wal-Marts and McDonald’s of America? Are these corporations so impoverished that they cannot afford to open a new store in a new city or town without receiving these tax breaks? Oh, hell no, they’re not. That’s obvious. As for work requirements, just what work do these CEO’s, board members, and shareholders actually do?

You sure don’t see the Waltons standing at a cash register for 8 hours a day, or the McDonald’s CEO flipping burgers and listening to customer complaints when he gets their special orders wrong, do you? What do they do? They just move money around, that’s what, from the comfort of their boardrooms and offices. They make sure their lobbyists are paid to bribe Congresscritters and Presidential candidates through campaign donations, and even to reward them with a seat on the board for delivering, as when Hillary Clinton got a seat on the Wal-Mart board as a reward for her husband’s creation of the WOTC and other tax “incentives” after ol’ Slick was no longer in the White House.

I’m sorry, but that’s not work. That’s just white collar crime. And then the same people have the nerve to portray working class single parents as parasites on the hide of society? Oh, yes they do. Ad nauseum. Meanwhile, their bourgeois supporters and Rush Limbaughed, Rachel Maddowed programmed working class people nod their heads like bobbing head dolls.

I could go on. I could apply the same little test to defense contractors, or oil corporations, or health insurance corporations, or Big Agra or Big Pharma or the Wall Street banks, but the results would be the same and frankly, I don’t want to lose my appetite before I have brunch this overcast and cool Sunday morning in Euclid.

But the next time some ignorant neighbor, family member, coworker, or even friend starts spouting off about welfare queens or lazy poor people, turn the tables on them. Apply the means-test and the work requirements to the people who REALLY benefit from their tax dollars.  Some won’t want to hear it and will change the subject because it makes them uncomfortable, some might say that’s the way is should be(in which case it should be time to re-evaluate your relationship), but some will think about it and actually start asking some really intelligent questions. In any case, it can be great fun.

And have a nice day.

Photo by Atsuke used under Creative Commons license