I think Fox News got schooled

The odious Eric Bolling tried to “school” Jon Stewart on the horrible exploitation of the American taxpayer by criminal looters, AKA poor people. He gets delightfully shredded.

(Below the fold because somehow Comedy Central clips always get turned into autoplay obnoxiousness here.)

I particularly appreciate the end, where Stewart’s accusations sound ridiculously exaggerated, but he simply turns around and shows that they were direct quotes from Fox News talking hemorrhoids.


  1. gussnarp says

    “99.6% have a refrigerator.”

    Yes, as it turns out, most apartments and rental houses come with a refrigerator and you see, most poor people, at least the ones who aren’t homeless, rent. Some of them actually use *gasp* government assistance to find an affordable rental (though the amount the government spends on this is completely dwarfed by the amount that relatively wealthy guys like me and PZ and rich guys like this Fox News chuckle head get from the government to subsidize our mortgages).

    This is one more demonstration of the absolute lack of empathy or understanding these people have. A refrigerator is an expensive thing you have to buy to put in your house. Not a crappy 40 year old inefficient piece of shit that came with the apartment and makes your electric bill higher than it ought to be every month.

    I’ve noticed that when these people try to demonstrate how good the poor have it, like Stossel’s bullshit panhandling piece, they never bring their families into the demonstrations. Guys if you want to know what poverty is like, try this: take a job at Walmart or McDonald’s or an Amazon warehouse, put all of your current money completely off limits. Don’t call anyone you currently know for help in any way. Move out of your house and into a shitty apartment, and bring your kids. No nanny. No spouse. No private school. Just you trying to get your kids back and forth to whatever care you’re able to scrounge up for them on your shitty pay without losing your job. Try this not for a day, a week, a month. Do it for a year. Now pretend you don’t know all the code words and shibboleths of the upper class. Pretend you don’t have the magic skin color. Pretend you don’t have an escape hatch. Pretend you haven’t had every advantage of education, safety, food security, and socialization your entire life.

  2. Sven says

    I haven’t seen the clip yet, but #2 gussnarp’s comment leads me to believe they squawked the old ‘omg people on welfare have refrigerators’ line. I want to address that point too:

    It is often and accurately pointed out that if you want to save money, don’t eat at restaurants, cook at home. Here’s the part the Teapublicans miss: Refrigerators are a big part of the ‘cooking at home’ equation! It’s where you keep your meat and your milk and your cheese and your leftovers! In the US, refrigerators aren’t a luxury, they’re a borderline-necessity, and that goes double for people trying to live healthy and economical lives.

  3. vaiyt says

    “99.6% have a refrigerator.”

    I won’t believe you’re poor until you’re dressed in rags, with no entertainment and way to conserve your food! Harrumph!

  4. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Jesus fucking Christ. Refrigerators? Really? Refrigerators?


  5. Anthony K says

    What about running water?

    I hear upwards of 80% of poor people walk upright, like they’re somehow entitled to bipedalism.

    *Sob* Whatever happened to the America of old, where people were self-sufficient, relying only on what they could produce through the hard work their slaves did?

  6. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Is a fridge considered some sort of luxury in the US? I’d have thought it was a fairly essential bit of kit.

  7. anteprepro says

    You aren’t really poor to a Republican unless they can’t buy and sell you for a day’s pay. You aren’t really poor if they can’t watch you slowly starve to death in the corner if they don’t feel like giving you the luxury of paying you to be their footstool for the day. You aren’t really poor unless you are willing to take pennies an hour as a living wage. The only good poor person, to a Republican, is an incredibly, ridiculously, ludicrously poor person, so poor that they are on the brink of death. That’s the kind of poverty that Republicans can truly understand. In the GOP, they call that kind of poverty “Victory”.

  8. unclefrogy says

    at this point I wished I could say I am amazed at this and say Stewart is so over the top but he is in fact too kind and polite.
    uncle frogy

  9. anteprepro says

    Did you know that some poor people even have heat? And electricity? And a functioning motor vehicle? OUTRAGEOUS. They should all be freezing to death in cardboard boxes, begging for bus fare or getting to their part-time jobs via bicycle or horseback! What is this country coming to!

  10. frog says

    How is “owning a refrigerator” even considered a thing that can be questioned? Frankly, I’m wondering who the fuck are the 0.4% of people who don’t have them. I’m guessing most of them are functionally homeless people who are somehow able to collect public assistance.

    Perhaps this is more of the conservative “We want to live in the mythological 50s” idiocy. According to this site (pardon the blazing red background, ugh) 80% of Americans had a fridge in 1955.

  11. Anthony K says

    Is a fridge considered some sort of luxury in the US?

    If the repubs and their libertarian lickspittles have their way, it will be.

  12. says

    I won’t believe you’re poor until you’re dressed in rags, with no entertainment and way to conserve your food! Harrumph!

    And even then I’m not inclined to give you any help, since if you weren’t such a lazy, worthless piece of shit you wouldn’t be so poor anyhow.

    By the way, most of my immediately family would shake their heads vehemently at the above sentiment. It’s why I won’t go to family gatherings sober any longer.

  13. says

    I’m pretty sure that bit about the refrigerators is from a conservative outrage I mentioned a while back that included game consoles without specifying things like their generation, which have a lot of influence on price. Since game consoles are entertainment, they hypothetically could have had a point if you add on the assumption that poor people should only do things that are absolutely necessary to function.

    Refrigerators, however, have become necessities in the modern world. Their primary purpose is to preserve food. If you expect the poor to cook their own food from raw ingredients, how are they going to have the time every day to get fresh ingredients? Or are they supposed to let it rot so that they can get food poisoning and food borne illnesses they can’t afford to get treated properly? I think this is further evidence that wingnuts are insulated from reality, including history.

    On a related note, one thing I find disturbing is the anti-FDA arguments I hear a lot when quackery and GMOs are the topic. Quacks want the drugs unregulated. The anti-GMO crowd seems oblivious to the fact that they’re essentially asking for a free pass for non-GMO foods, rather than accept that novel, risky genes can also arise from boring old “natural” crop breeding. The wingnut ignorance displayed with the anti-fridge rhetoric makes me wonder if they’ll go on to declare rat dropping-free sausage to be a luxury.

  14. Amphiox says

    Apparently in Fox-land, the poor only deserve ice-boxes. And running water only from the melting ice.

    And they have to get their own ice from their own backyard mountains.

  15. doubtthat says

    Everyone has rightly focused on the refrigerator bit. It’s a constant complaint from wingers. Here’s what I “love” about the argument:

    So, it’s generally introduced in the context of “it’s better to be poor in America than any other country in the world”; “poor in the US live in luxury compared to the poor of other countries.” Sure, is this a bad thing?

    The argument, then, is that it’s not necessary to offer government services to people unless they’re laying in dirt with distended stomachs with flies buzzing around. Of course, if you act at that point, and give them food and shelter and other necessities, they’re no longer laying in the dirt with dissented stomachs with flies buzzing around, thereby rendering the assistance you’ve offered totally unnecessary.

    Another version is the baffling Paul Ryan argument that social welfare programs haven’t raised anyone out of poverty if you don’t count contributions from social welfare programs.

    In other words, it’s an impossible argument to win. If you point out that government assistance has kept people fed, out of poverty, and free from desperation, they argue that people free from desperation don’t deserve assistance. The turd snake eating its own tail.

  16. Rey Fox says

    And, of course, the desperate fixation on welfare fraud, which is by far dwarfed by corporate welfare fraud via subsidies and loopholes, and wasteful spending in the military.

    All points that could have been brought up in this clip. Honestly, I spent most of it waiting for Stewart to get to the damn point.

  17. says

    The second half is even better, if quite a bit more depressing. In it, you learn that $3 billion > $4 billion, as long as the $3 billion is wasted on poor people, and the $4 billion is wasted on special oil company tax breaks.

  18. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Is a fridge considered some sort of luxury in the US?

    Damn right it is! They should be getting their food fresh from the dumpster like proper poor people.

  19. jamessweet says

    One of the things that has always bugged me is that, in addition to the complete lack of empathy, there is also a complete lack of foresight. Let’s say, for sake of argument, that there really are “millions of Americans” who represent the worst-case scenario for public assistance. They *are* actually lazy ungrateful assholes leaching off the system.

    Okay then, what are you going to do about these people? Cuz I can tell you from direct experience that completely stripping them from a social safety net doesn’t really help ANYBODY. News flash: People who have an inordinate sense of entitlement (and yes, they do exist) don’t stop having it just because you cut off their government assistance. They just fuck up life for every else around them.

    I am increasingly of the opinion that true evil takes more than a lack of compassion, it also takes a lack of foresight.

  20. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    I’ve had arguments with Fox-News right wingers in which they claim that, if a person has a cell phone, then they are not really poor and should be cut off. And when I point out that cell phones can be far less expensive than home land lines, that the credit checks required for a land line hookup disqualifies poor and working poor people, and that when they look for jobs the phone is kind of essential, I have the same impact as a mosquito hitting an M1A1. I’ve heard the same howling about colour teles, or new shoes for the kids, or game consoles, or refrigerators, or cars.

    Also, has anyone else tried to point out that, when this money is spent, it creates other jobs?

  21. Steve LaBonne says

    News flash: People who have an inordinate sense of entitlement (and yes, they do exist) don’t stop having it just because you cut off their government assistance. They just fuck up life for every else around them.

    Which applies very well to the entitled of Wall Street except that we didn’t cut off their government assistance.

  22. doubtthat says

    Also, has anyone else tried to point out that, when this money is spent, it creates other jobs?

    Oh boy, have I ever.

    I was actually present for a (brief) moment of comprehension from one of the local business big wigs. The guy owned a car dealership, and in the midst of me trying to explain how stimulus spending would benefit those of us lucky enough to have jobs, the car dealer said, “Shit, just give everyone a big check, what do I care? They’re going to come running to my dealership and spend it.”

    Yes, exactly! This is why foodstamps are not only a great moral necessity but smart business: people who otherwise wouldn’t spend buy products at grocery stores that profit and pay employees who then buy things from other businesses who profit and pay their employees who …. etc.

    It’s such an easy concept to understand that the only way to describe opposition is sheer reason-less moralizing. The poors shouldn’t get nice things, even if that helps me out.

  23. drken says

    Conservatives live in fear that somewhere, somebody is getting something they don’t deserve and that their taxes are so high because the government is paying crack addicts to eat lobster in public housing. This feeds resentment, because if you’re working harder for less money, why should you pay a substantial part of that to people who won’t work? Why should they get off easy? Hence the popular bumper sticker among the right wing “Work hard, people on welfare are depending on you”. It’s a successful strategy because when people point out (correctly) that welfare fraud adds up to pennies on your tax dollar, they can always fall back on the principle of the thing.

  24. doubtthat says

    Maybe someone said this upthread, but as yet another example of the right wing circular no-win logic, Imagine if poor folks didn’t have refrigerators. Can’t you hear the assholes crowing, “THEY BUY FRESH FOOD EVERY DAY WITH FOOD STAMPS!!! WHAT AN ABSURD LUXURY!!”

  25. grandolddeity says

    I think most of the poor actually have only the use of a refrigerator owned by someone else.

  26. blf says

    The lack of running — or more accurately, clean potable — water was identified c.25 years ago as (paraphrasing) “The greatest single need of the rural(?) poor.” (I think the “rural” qualifier was there, it’s been too long…) And yes, this was in USAlienstani.

    (Apologies for lack of references, but I haven’t much time at the moment…)

  27. says

    @27— No need to imagine. In the clips shown above, the Faux Newsholes were complaining that poor people were gaming the system by purchasing fresh food right before they claimed that poor people having refrigerators was an excessive luxury.

  28. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Not to worry, blf. States such as West Virginia are doing all they can to add to water quality and eliminate drinking water wells through deregulation.

  29. cartomancer says

    I’s not that surprising that Fox News folk think a refrigerator is a frivolous luxury. When they want to cool food down they just hold it to their chests and let the icy chill of their cold, shriveled hearts do the work for them.

  30. says

    Man, poverty sounds like a cakewalk. Must be why so many unfairly demonized rich people are chucking all their money, quitting their stressful jobs, and joining the easy ranks of the idle poor.

  31. Anthony K says

    Man, poverty sounds like a cakewalk. Must be why so many unfairly demonized rich people are chucking all their money, quitting their stressful jobs, and joining the easy ranks of the idle poor.

    Right wingers are like this about everything. Slavery was much better than the liberal media wants you to think, they say. Slaves should have been grateful for the room and board, they say.

    Of course, when they compare the ACA to slavery, they don’t mean the real, apparently benevolent and awesome, kind. For some reason.

  32. says

    So, it’s generally introduced in the context of “it’s better to be poor in America than any other country in the world”; “poor in the US live in luxury compared to the poor of other countries.” Sure, is this a bad thing?

    It’s not even true. I live in Denmark, where anyone can get medical treatment in any public hospital without paying anything at all. I recently had some mental issues and I got six months worth of therapy, free of charge. As a result, I’m on my way to finish my education; something I’d never be able to do if I hadn’t gotten that help.

    I’d much, much, much rather be poor in my country than yours. If you told me I had to choose between either being poor in American, or being poor in Denmark while cutting off a finger, I’d reach for the knife. At least in Denmark, I’d be given a band aid.

  33. says

    I’ve done some research and I’ve discovered that it’s way worse than greedy parasites having refrigerators, a large percentage of the ungrateful poor are breathing free air!!!

  34. omnicrom says

    So a question: Hasn’t Fox News learned yet that directly challenging Jon Stewart is rhetorical suicide? It just brings up that a comedy show has more intellectual rigeur than their entire network. And with over a decade of experience he’s REALLY good as shredding conservative idiocy.

    To quote TvTropes: “Yes. He has read your damn book. He knows what you’ve said. He also knows what you said three weeks ago. And what you said to the NRA in 2003. And where you worked when you said it.” I’m both gladdened and saddened that Stewart is maybe the best commentator on the American left. Goddamn this country.

  35. doubtthat says

    @37 LykeX

    Don’t forget that for these folks we also have the best healthcare in the world and the coolest pick up trucks and the greatest this and the sweetest that…

    To even admit for a moment that the US is fallible or less than the best is to flirt with the basest of anti-patriot thought.

  36. Alan Boyle says

    @37 LykeX

    I honestly think much of the American right are in utter denial of the existence of Scandinavia, and indeed much of Europe. I’m in the UK, and would happily borrow your knife given the same hypothetical option. Sadly, our current government seem to be greatly inspired by the “fuck the poor” rhetoric espoused by Republicans. We have strivers and skivers, rather than makers and takers, but the evil is much the same. Also, our health service is being slowly gutted by American healthcare companies with a scary amount of influence among our politicians.

  37. Rich Woods says

    @Alan Boyle #41:

    Yeah, I don’t want to see the NHS go the same way as British Rail. All that ever happens is that the cost to the consumer goes up and the private companies salt our money away in their offshore accounts. It’s like we’ve (not) elected a government intent on making the majority poorer.

    Still, I reckon I should be able to make a few bob once the tumbril and guillotine market picks up.

  38. unclefrogy says

    I have always understood that the vilifying of the poor was done by politicians or others for political ends it is aimed not at the rich but the working middle class those who are striving to get rich. The poor are talked about in such a way so as to make it sound as if they are cheating the rest of us (you hard working people who feel like you are stressed by the struggle to survive) it is now and has always been just phony propaganda. It feeds on and nourishes the resentments of the target audience of what are in fact very similar to the poor.

    there is also this aspect of denial involved that has its roots in the fear of being poor that there is no real poverty that is beyond the control of people there are no huge numbers of unfortunate unemployed or long term disadvantaged. The reality of it is just to horrible to face. it is related to all other forms of denial. It is the result of an inability to accept the way things really are. It is I want the world and my existence to conform to my beliefs and will bend my perception of reality to make it fit.
    Instead of helping people to learn and accept things the way they are and maybe get them engaged in trying to find real solutions to these kinds of problems this fear and ignorance is being exploited by the ambitious and self serving to gain political power.

    uncle frogy

  39. says

    My favorite #Foxism: the very rich are the “job creators.” Everyone else is a moocher living off the largesse of these benevolent economic gods. Of course these creators can pay whatever they deem a job is worth, even if it is less than a living wage. Moochers can’t be choosers.

    On the other tentacle, those rewarded a less-than-living wage for their lazy-ass job performance (and of course they’re lazy — their low pay proves it) should be fucking grateful, and stop sponging off all the other hard-working Americans.

    Also, sell your damned refrigerator to buy some food. Only, not good food. You’re poor. You shouldn’t have the privilege of enjoyable moments. And get a real job.

    Finally, does anyone else find it all ironical and shit that Fox News talking heads complain about all the lazy people? I mean, Fox News seems to have made a business model of laziness and ignorance.

  40. loreo says

    Strivers and skivers, makers and takers, Sarah Palin reading Green Eggs and Ham…

    These people need rhymes to help them think. This is some kindergarten shit.

  41. says


    I am increasingly of the opinion that true evil takes more than a lack of compassion, it also takes a lack of foresight.

    Sadly, a lack of foresight can do a damn good approximation of true evil on its own.

    And let’s not underestimate the potential of a lack of hindsight, either.

    Learn from your mistakes so that you can repeat them precisely. -Trevor Goodchild

  42. says

    Yes, Republicans have consistently demonstrated a lack of compassion, empathy and ability to reason when it comes to policies that affect poor and low-income citizens.


    Opposing the minimum wage, overtime pay, even child labor laws, the GOP is trying to repeal the 20th century […]

    Newly qualified workers currently being forced to work overtime without pay will now get higher wages. Or, if their employer doesn’t want to spring for the overtime pay (traditionally time and a half), they will have to expand their workforce to get the work done. Higher wages and/or more jobs: Sounds good, right?

    Not to Republicans, of course. The backlash to the president’s overtime-pay expansion just makes clear what we’ve known for a long time: They oppose every attempt by government to reward hard work and protect the rights of workers – unless it applies to the very wealthy. […]

  43. says

    My refrigerator does not look like the one they showed on Fox News. Mine is smaller and not as well stocked.

    I kind of like the surfer dude/beach bum that Fox News found, the one they show over and over again to make their food-stamps-fraud point. That guy is famous now. He should get himself a TV show, but he will have to refuse payment for his services.

  44. Galactic Fork says

    I kind of like the surfer dude/beach bum that Fox News found, the one they show over and over again to make their food-stamps-fraud point. That guy is famous now. He should get himself a TV show, but he will have to refuse payment for his services.

    No see, he should get paid, make a fortune. Then he’d no longer need foodstamps and instead become of an example of someone formerly on foodstamps making good. Then Fox would have to find another example of fraud. Then make them famous. Rinse and repeat. Fox news would be curing the US’s foodstamp fraud problem one “moocher” at a time! Brilliant.

  45. antigone10 says

    I don’t think I will ever understand these people.

    I see this guy, living in his van, begging, and buying lobster and think “Whatever floats your boat, dude”. Assuming this guy is even real, and they haven’t completely misrepresented what his life is like (and since it’s fox news, I’m not even sure of that) I do not have the ability to get in any way upset about him. The guy’s happy, he’s not bugging anyone, he’s pursuing his bliss. He can happily have my pennies.

    So, why do these guys get so freaking worked up about it? I guarantee that if you listed all of the problems in the world, or even this county, “food stamp fraud” is lower than “somewhat faded colors on traffic signs”. Lately I’ve been reading lots of advice on how to get out of debt* and it talks about “focusing on the debt with the highest ARP”.** And if that’s legitimately good advice, it means that if you’re worried about tax waste, you need to actually look at where the most tax drainage goes. And it isn’t the programs that are economically efficient and help people be happy as opposed to miserable.

    At the end of the day, I don’t get conservatives because I don’t look at a person being happy and go “fuck his happiness”.***

    *Because really, it’s very fucking funny. “Sell your car and buy a cheaper one”- my car’s only worth, maybe, 500 bucks in the first place. And I’m not even finished paying the sucker off, because that’s how “depreciation” works especially when you need a car to have a job and you don’t have any money to get a good car. And I love that the assumption is that you went into debt because you bought a lot of luxury items and visited Starbucks every day (and continue to go to Starbucks every day). Dude- my debt’s from loans, not credit cards. And my husband’s credit card bills are from housing because of a University fuck-up. My credit cards were paid off every month without goddamn fail.
    ** Which is also goddamned funny. Current list of debts I need to pay by highest interest: student loans, husband’s credit card, car, mattress. I think the car and mattress, being things that can actually be taken away from me and are going to be paid off in the quickest amount of time. Put off debt until 200,000 dollars is taken care of? Sure, right, that’s going to happen. Because cars are “luxuries”. Sleeping is a “luxury”.
    ***Unless it’s been a really bad day. Then I might. But I don’t think that behavior done when a person is feeling miserable is behavior to emulate or praise.

  46. grandolddeity says

    I did a delivery recently to a small businessman. Sometimes such occasions evolve into some sort of political monologue. This kind fellow launched into an anti-“Obamcare” rant to which I politely nodded (me all in corporate apparel). Then he went on to advise me that if I wanted The Truth about what was going on in our country, I would watch Fox News. This man does not hold a locally controversial POV. I suggested to him that I found it difficult to get The Complete Truth from any of the major news outlets.

    I have never been a registered R/D, always Independent. We have a need in this country for compassionate pragmatism at the federal level. Health care, food, clothing, shelter and education for all. National Defense for all. After that comes all the other stuff. It’s easy to comprehend if you shrink it down to a weekend in the woods camping with friends. What’s, without argument, important?

  47. vaiyt says

    So, it’s generally introduced in the context of “it’s better to be poor in America than any other country in the world”

    Our poor can have refrigerators without conservative asshats breathing down their necks.

  48. robro says

    Has anyone done a background/fact check on surfer dude Jason Greenslate? The first thought that popped into my mind on seeing him is he’s a phony. I’ve googled but I’m only finding rehashes of the Fox Nutz story. I see he has a Facebook page…full of his appearances on Fox. There’s something fishy about this whole business…not to mention that Fox is completely misrepresenting the vast majority of food stamp users.

    Here’s another view into this discussion. Incidentally, the question has come up recently here about how much abuse there is. According to this story the USDA’s research shows that “only 1.3% of food stamps were illegally trafficked.” This is completely in keeping with other numbers I’ve seen over the years about welfare abuse…less than 3%, around 2%, etc. Repeatedly government spent more ferreting them out than was saved.

    Oh, let’s not forget that sometimes governments subsidizing artists has a benefit for society. If I understand correctly, JK Rowling wrote a good part of the first Harry Potter books while unemployed and living on some form of public assistance. Not only did she make herself rich, but she enriched the lives of millions of children, and parents, and encouraged many children to become avid readers.

  49. gog says

    Well, the verdict is in, folks. I don’t need an education, better opportunity, or even access to decent healthcare. I have a refrigerator and that should be enough for anybody.

  50. gog says

    @avo #44

    On the other tentacle, those rewarded a less-than-living wage for their lazy-ass job performance (and of course they’re lazy — their low pay proves it) should be fucking grateful, and stop sponging off all the other hard-working Americans.

    This is the one that always gives me a good chuckle. After I get home from work and I’m tired and a bit punchy, it reads like some kind of dark joke. Then, as the fatigue from the hard day of work wears off and I realize that nobody’s joking and there are people that really would like to see me and my co-workers earn half, a third, a tenth of what I make right now… Well, then I need to have a drink.

    Of course, being able to afford a drink makes me not so poor. I just wish I didn’t have to work so damn hard for that drink.

  51. Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally says

    I’ve been teaching my English class on the theme of poverty for a few quarters now. It’s difficult to get the students to really understand the massive amount of income inequality in this country and how difficult (or impossible) it is to live on min wage. A few months ago, I got the bright idea to assign a project that deals with this.

    Basically, I break the students up into groups. One group is assigned our state’s min wage. Another has the poverty line. Another has what the top 1% earn in a month ,etc. Then they must come up with a month’s worth of finances–how much can they afford to pay on rent? How much do apts cost in our area? How about transportation? TV? Food? They have to figure out everything–even a daily menu.

    This exercise is really useful because it drives home how impossible it is to live on min wage or the poverty line (literally. A person working min wage in our city cannot afford the average rent on a 1-bedroom apt in our city–and we have the highest min wage IN THE COUNTRY). They also find out how much planning it takes to be poor–literally nothing can go wrong. If you miss a day of work, or miss your bus and take a cab, or forget your lunch at home…you’re screwed. You have nothing to fall back on. While the top 1% literally have $600,000 a month if you break down their yearly into months. The top 0.1% earn almost 2 million *every month.* It’s obscene.

  52. evinm says

    Come on, now. Surely Fox News is just some satirical piece based on the writings of Sinclair Lewis…? Right…? Right…? Someone…? (Puts head down and kicks a can)

  53. says

    Robert Reich points out that the right wing assumption that workers are “paid what they’re worth” is a toxic myth.
    Salon link.
    Also available here: http://robertreich.org

    It’s often assumed that people are paid what they’re worth. According to this logic, minimum wage workers aren’t worth more than the $7.25 an hour they now receive. If they were worth more, they’d earn more. Any attempt to force employers to pay them more will only kill jobs.

    According to this same logic, CEOs of big companies are worth their giant compensation packages, now averaging 300 times pay of the typical American worker. They must be worth it or they wouldn’t be paid this much. Any attempt to limit their pay is fruitless because their pay will only take some other form.

    “Paid-what-you’re-worth” is a dangerous myth.

    Fifty years ago, when General Motors was the largest employer in America, the typical GM worker got paid $35 an hour in today’s dollars. Today, America’s largest employer is Walmart, and the typical Walmart workers earns $8.80 an hour.

    Does this mean the typical GM employee a half-century ago was worth four times what today’s typical Walmart employee is worth? Not at all. Yes, that GM worker helped produce cars rather than retail sales. But he wasn’t much better educated or even that much more productive. He often hadn’t graduated from high school. And he worked on a slow-moving assembly line. Today’s Walmart worker is surrounded by digital gadgets — mobile inventory controls, instant checkout devices, retail search engines — making him or her quite productive.

    The real difference is the GM worker a half-century ago had a strong union behind him that summoned the collective bargaining power of all autoworkers to get a substantial share of company revenues for its members. And because more than a third of workers across America belonged to a labor union, the bargains those unions struck with employers raised the wages and benefits of non-unionized workers as well. Non-union firms knew they’d be unionized if they didn’t come close to matching the union contracts.[…]

    […] today’s CEOs don’t rake in 300 times the pay of average workers because they’re “worth” it. They get these humongous pay packages because they appoint the compensation committees on their boards that decide executive pay. Or their boards don’t want to be seen by investors as having hired a “second-string” CEO who’s paid less than the CEOs of their major competitors. Either way, the result has been a race to the top.

    If you still believe people are paid what they’re worth, take a look at Wall Street bonuses. Last year’s average bonus was up 15 percent over the year before, to more than $164,000. It was the largest average Wall Street bonus since the 2008 financial crisis and the third highest on record, according to New York’s state comptroller. Remember, we’re talking bonuses, above and beyond salaries.

    All told, the Street paid out a whopping $26.7 billion in bonuses last year. […]

    The reason Wall Street bankers got fat paychecks plus a total of $26.7 billion in bonuses last year wasn’t because they worked so much harder or were so much more clever or insightful than most other Americans. They cleaned up because they happen to work in institutions — big Wall Street banks — that hold a privileged place in the American political economy. […]

  54. Sili says

    This is why I can’t watch the Daily Show anymore. It makes me too angry.

    Not least since the biggest suckers at the government tit is agriculture, oil and banking.

  55. Ichthyic says

    This feeds resentment,

    i’ve been saying for years now that US is a government born of spite, and run on spite, has fuckall to do with capitalism or democracy.

    it’s all a failed cell in a giant game theory table.

  56. octopod says

    The weirdest thing about that “makers and takers” rhetoric they trotted out in the last couple of years, to me at least, is that my immediate read on it was Marxist: There are those who produce wealth, and those who accumulate it.

    Needless to say, that’s not what Mitt Romney meant! But it gave me a confusing half-hour or so of Googling after I first saw it in headlines.