Timothy Egan: Walmart, Starbucks, and the Fight Against Inequality – NYTimes

Timothy Egan

For some time now, Republicans in Congress have given up the pretense of doing anything to improve the lot of most Americans. Raising the minimum wage? They won’t even allow a vote to happen. Cleaner air for all? They may partially shut down the government in a coming fight on behalf of major polluters. Add to that the continuing obstruction of student loan relief efforts, and numerous attempts to defund health care, and you have a party actively working to make life miserable for millions.

So, our nation turns to Starbucks. And Walmart. In the present moment, both of those global corporate monoliths are poised to do more to affect the huge chasm between the rich and everybody else than anything that’s likely to come out of John Boehner’s House of Representatives.

As long as the Supreme Court says that corporations are citizens, they may as well act like them. Starbucks is trying to be dutiful — in its own prickly, often self-righteous, spin-heavy way — while Walmart is a net drain on taxpayers, forcing employees into public assistance with its poverty-wage structure.

“In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American dream,” said the Starbucks chief executive, Howard Schultz, in announcing a company plan to reimburse the cost of college tuition for employees. “The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try to do something about it?”

Rima NYT Comment SmallWalmart is a part of a vicious cycle whereby American corporations are free to pay little to no taxes, take their profits and the jobs that contribute to them overseas, only to bring back cheap products that a less wealthy middle and working class can consume.

Unless and until Americans wise up and elect members of Congress who are committed to do the right thing by and for the American people, our descent into a plutocracy will continue. As it is, we are almost there.

So, all this talk of raising the minimum wage another couple of dollars, while nice, doesn’t solve the fundamental existential issues this country is going through. In fact, all it does is detract from them.


To read the rest of this op-ed and my comment, click here.

Curated from www.nytimes.com

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