When it comes to the efficient delivery of goods and services, capitalism is the proven economic model that puts people to work and products on the shelves. Whether those jobs end up paying enough money to purchase the items on those shelves is another matter, however.
The truth is that while capitalism is an excellent vehicle to promote consumption and opportunities for expression of economic freedom of choice, it is not ideally suited to ensuring that everyone has the wherewithal to avail themselves of those opportunities. With the myriad of threats facing our nation, perhaps the most dangerous is the growth of income inequality between the top one percent of the nation and the remaining 99%.
Importance of a Middle Class
As a nation we celebrate the presence of a once robust middle class, and while politicians are quick to give lip service to this critical economic segment of society, their tax and monetary policies are eating into the savings and importance of this group. This fact can be seen in the erosion of the middle class purchasing power as their influence is siphoned off in favor of upper income and corporate tax breaks.
Regrettably, the"idea" of a middle class requires more than lip service during the occasional electoral cycle to make it a viable social, political, and economic entity. The fact of the matter is, a vibrant middle class only arises when nations make the decision to foster that development.
The recent protests for an increased minimum wage are part of a larger global protest. The purpose is the same for low wage earners all over the world; increase wages to match the cost of living, and allow workers to form unions if desired and needed. The global protest has gained media attention all over the world, but critics claim that is the only accomplishment the movement will have.
People working minimum wage jobs, especially in the fast food industry, started a movement a year and a half ago to educate people about fast food working conditions, how little they're paid and how they can't pay their living expenses for themselves and their families. The problem they claim is that too many people still believe that high school and college aged young people mostly hold fast food jobs. These jobs don't need to be high paying because it's just extra income for kids to buy things they want. The reality is quite different. The majority of people working in fast food are adults who often rely on that minimum wage job to pay for rent, utilities and to support families. Most families working low-paying jobs like those in fast food often supplement their income with food stamps, Medicaid and cash assistance. This shifts the burden of supporting these people onto the taxpayers.