Editorials

No Free Ride for Bezos Socialism

Imagine an economic system in which government pays the wages of workers, but the businesses where they work remain privately owned, and profits accrue to the owners.  Could this fairly be called free-market capitalism?  It sounds more like socialism, even Soviet-style communism: Workers are maintained at public expense, while the commissars line their own pockets.  Yet this is the system that Conservatism, Inc. and supposedly libertarian economists have lately been defending against attacks from Tucker Carlson.

At the end of August, Carlson spoke a damning truth about some of America’s largest firms: namely, that they use the welfare state to depress wages.  Workers at Amazon and Walmart who would not be able to live on what those companies pay are able to make ends meet thanks to food stamps and other poverty programs.  Amazon is not a company hurting for profits; it could afford to pay its workers better.  But why should a company pay more to its employees when it can offload the expense onto taxpayers instead?  In a perfect world for Jeff Bezos and the Walton family, they would pay their workers absolutely nothing, and the public would foot the bill for 100 percent of the workforce.  But since the United States has not yet reached that point, the owners of Amazon and Walmart will take what they can get in the meantime, with a workforce subsidized by whatever programs happen to be available. ...

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