The world’s richest man is also one of America’s largest welfare recipients
by Bernie Sanders
How does it happen that the wealthiest man in the history of the world, Jeff Bezos, is also one of the largest welfare recipients in America?
It is quite simple, really.
Jeff Bezos and his company, Amazon, make huge profits by paying their employees wages that are so inadequate that many of them need public assistance just to get by. Today in America, thousands of Amazon workers are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing because they can’t survive on the wages they receive. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos is now worth $158 billion, and his wealth increases by $260 million — every single day. How absurd is that?
And who pays for the public assistance subsidizing Mr. Bezos’s wealth? You do. The middle class subsidizes the wealthiest person in the world, while his workers struggle to put food on the table. That is what the rigged economy is all about. And in my view, that has got to end.
That is why I introduced a piece of legislation that aims to end corporate welfare by establishing a 100 percent tax on corporations with 500 or more employees equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low-wage workers.
So, if a worker at Amazon receives $1,000 in food stamps, Amazon would be taxed $1,000 to cover that cost.
The bill gives large, profitable employers a choice: pay your workers a living wage or pay for the public assistance they need to get by. It’s common sense. Now I want you to send a message to my colleagues that it has your support, as well:
Add your name as an original Citizen Co-Sponsor of my Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act and send a message that taxpayers should not have to expend huge sums of money subsidizing profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in America.
Make no mistake about it, Jeff Bezos is not alone in this regard. Some of the most profitable businesses in America sustain their wealth through this kind of corporate welfare.
According to one report, in 2014, Walmart employees received at least $6.2 billion in public aid every year. Walmart is owned by the Walton family, the wealthiest family in the country.
More than half of employees in the fast food industry rely on some kind of public assistance.
McDonald’s workers are actually encouraged to sign up for assistance, and the co-owner of Burger King has a net worth of $25 billion, while his workers receive an estimated $356 million in subsidies each year.
According to a study from the University of California, low wages cost American taxpayers $150 billion every single year.
So let me be as clear as I can be: The government has a moral responsibility to make certain that every man, woman and child in this country has a decent standard of living and that we provide for the vulnerable in this country — our kids, the sick, the elderly and the disabled. It is not acceptable, however, that the American taxpayer is being asked to subsidize the wealth of some of the wealthiest people in the history of the world.
And it must end.
The economic and political systems of this country are stacked against ordinary Americans and in the favor of the most powerful among us.
The rich get richer and use their wealth to buy elections — just recently, it was announced that Jeff Bezos made a $10 million donation to a Super PAC that in one place is running ads supporting a candidate who will “work with President Trump to fight for Florida’s conservative values.”
For the rest of us, who don’t have the wealth it takes to buy the legislative outcomes we want, it’s survival of the fittest.
That is not democracy. That is oligarchy. Let’s work together to end it.
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