Real change must be at state, federal levels

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Submitted by
Harold Bratton

Joe Yates is my attorney and friend. Sometimes friends don’t agree on things. Joe and I are like oil and water when it comes to our political views.

I have been reading Joe’s columns since they began appearing in the Henry County Local. During that time I have found myself disagreeing with him more than not. After last week’s column I decided to write a rebuttal.

I did a little searching to learn the facts about what Joe was writing. I learned Joe must be an avid reader of the liberal on line paper truth-out.org.

In their Dec. 3, 2012, edition was the “Reagan’s Welfare Queen Found” article by Thom Hartmann and Sam Sacks. Last week’s column was taken from this article. You can look it up and judge for yourselves.

Joe begins by referencing Reagan’s “Welfare Queen”. Joe quoted Reagan’s description of this woman. I agree it was exaggerated. The woman was probably a woman from Chicago named Linda Taylor. She was only using four aliases and had cheated us out of only $8,000. She was found guilty of “welfare fraud and perjury” in the Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois.

The point Reagan was making at that time and continues to be made today is that our welfare program is broken. Welfare is increasing at a rate that is already unaffordable.

Are there people that need help? Sure there are! We have a lot of folks that need help. Some will need continual help. The problem folks have with our welfare system is that it is loaded with able-bodied folks that need to be working. We have those folks right here in Henry County. I bet you know some of them.

A few years ago I had a fellow doing some work with some others on a remodeling project I was doing. A couple of days into the project I learned this fellow wanted to be paid under his brother’s social security number. I learned this fellow was drawing full disability but was working every day. I told him he could not work for me.

Welfare should be for those with true needs and those that need a leg up during  hard times, but not something that goes on forever.

This brings me to what appears to be Joe’s real complaint. Big companies such as Wal-Mart do lots of business and make lots of money. As a result their owners become wealthy. I guess I always thought that was the American dream.

I don’t disagree with Joe that our tax laws are also broken. Our tax code is so complex that it cannot be understood by most folks, even the experts. There are all kinds of tax breaks for various groups. Yes the rich benefit from these breaks, but I have benefited as well.

The problems with our tax laws can be blamed on both the Republicans and Democrats. Over the years both parties have been guilty of creating these breaks. Let’s remember the Democrats have controlled congress more than the Republicans.

Joe mentioned that there are 44,000 Wal-Mart employees in California and he would have you believe all are drawing some type of welfare.

The information Joe alludes to is a 2004 study at UC Berkeley by Arindrajit Dube and Ken Jacobs. I am not sure if Joe or the truth-out.org writer looked very closely at the report. I glanced at it. The authors of the study “estimated” that Wal-Mart workers make 31 percent less than workers in large retail as a whole. “The report estimates the public assistance expenditures for California workers by Wal-Mart.” In the report they mention “the absence of data on actual public assistance utilization by Wal-Mart workers”.

After reading the information in the study and the basis of the conclusions, I question its accuracy.

I am not a big fan of Wal-Mart. I like most shop there some. Joe seems to take exception with their business model. It is the same business model that has been adopted by most large companies. That is to have about 30 percent full-time employees and the rest part timers. I think Joe and I both would like to see that change. I can remember when businesses almost exclusively had full-time employees.

If  Wal-Mart were to substantially raise their pay scale, they would also have to raise their prices. I wonder how we would like that?

The suggestion has been made recently that McDonalds should start paying their employees much higher wages. It sounds great. How about a $6 Big Mac to go with those higher wages? How would you like that? How would that effect McDonald’s sales? They would probably need fewer employees. I think I learned about those things in Economics 101.

If you don’t like Wal-Mart don’t shop there. The real change needs to be with our government, both state and federal.