Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Taxpayers top up low wages

It's long been clear that American taxpayers are subsidizing the fast food industry because so many of its low-paid workers end up needing some form of public assistance. But banks? Banks are one of the nation's most profitable businesses. They pay top executives huge sums. Why is it that nearly a third of bank tellers rely on government benefits of one kind or another to keep their families afloat? The low pay in too many areas of the private sector essentially transfers responsibility and costs to the public sector that are paid by taxpayers instead of business.

America's widening income inequality is largely due to industries such as banking that bring in billions of dollars in profits but pay low wages to rank-and-file employees. According to a recent report from the Committee for Better Banks, a coalition of labor advocacy groups, the median annual income for a bank teller in the United States is $24,100, or $11.59 per hour, an amount so low it qualifies 31 percent of the nation's half-million bank tellers and their families for a range of government benefits.

The report says that when all those benefits are added up, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, children's health insurance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and other forms of welfare, it costs taxpayers nearly $900 million a year. The public perception of bank tellers may be that they have middle-class jobs, but every year bank tellers rely on $105 million in food stamps to help feed their families.

Meanwhile, the median salary for a banking chief executive is about $550,000 and within the industry there are some eye-popping pay packages. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan received $12 million in 2012.

This doesn't just happen. It is the culmination of industrial policies that have allowed the economy's gains to enrich those at the top without being fairly shared with employees who work lower-rung jobs. More than half of families of fast food workers receive some form of public assistance, costing American taxpayers $7 billion annually, according to a study by the University of California Berkeley Labor Center and the University of Illinois. Workers need the ability to seek reasonable compensation and decent benefits as a reward for hard work, or increasingly the government — meaning taxpayers — will have to step in to make up the difference.

Raising the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour ($7.93 in Florida starting Jan. 1) to $10.10 per hour has been proposed by Democrats in Congress and is supported by President Barack Obama. But it should appeal to conservatives as well. Working parents gain pride and independence when they are able to provide for their children rather than be forced to rely on government safety net and entitlement programs. Workers who make a decent living become taxpayers and homeowners, which brings stability to communities. And experience shows that modest increases in minimum wages have little or no significant impact on employment levels.

Most bank tellers earn more than the minimum wage, but a raise for workers at the very bottom can help raise wages up the income ladder. Taxpayers have a stake in making work pay fairly, but it will only happen if government insists that government stop subsidizing private enterprise.

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Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18