You don't think it is an employer's responsibility to pay their full time employees enough to function on their own without gov't assistance?
Imagine if I came up with a business plan that said that in order for me to keep my prices low AND net huge profits (like 15.4B annually) I just wasn't going to pay my employees at all; the goverment would need to pay them the full amount they need to live. You'd probably laugh and say that my business model is ridiculous, right? But when it comes to mega-retailers like Wal-Mart, we're basically halfway there. I think it's kind of like the whole lobster pot scenario. I don't think that's how Wal-Mart started out, but over time as they and other stores continued to compete for lower prices and higher profits, their ability to pay a competitive living wages inched down over time, like turning up the heat on a lobster so he doesn't know it's getting hot until he's boiling.
Realistically, I don't know what we could really do about it at this point without a major shift in our culture, which is why I guess we keep doing nothing and just paying the difference so Wal-Mart employees can live while Wal-Mart nets (NETS - this is their revenue AFTER they pay their bills) all of those billions of dollars annually. To tie this back into unions, if there was a union at Wal-Mart they might be able to fight for higher wages so that we paid less to subsidize Wal-Mart employees. True, that would cut into Wal-Mart's profit margins, which means that in order to retain those profit margins they would have to raise prices. So it's kind of lose-lose, isn't it?
A business has expenses. The cost of making a product, the cost to ship and sell a product, and so on. If you were to raise salary of all retail workers to the currant cost of living, the price of the product would be so high that the cost of living would go up so they still would not be making cost of living.
If you want to make more than cost of living, go to college and get a good paying job, not retail.
If you double Walmarts costs by increasing the pay of its cashiers by more than double, they will increase the cost of their goods by double so I would still be paying for that worker to have a living wage, the same as if that worker was on assistance. I think of Walmart as a job to gain experience and to learn from, not a job that someone should strive to work at their entire life.
If you paid an unskilled Walmart worker the same as someone who went to college for 4 years to get a good job, who would go to college? It would also bring the skilled pay workers pay down in comparison to the cost of things because the cost of necessities would go up so much.
I know this is blasphemy, but if we didn't think that corporations needed to maintain 15.4B annual profit margin, and were willing to raise the prices a bit, they might be able to pay a little bit more. That's what I'm saying about a cultural shift in attitude though. As long as we value dirt cheap prices and large corporate profits, we will continue to pay for it elsewhere. *shrug*
I wasn't specific to Walmart. I think all business should pay living wage. Living wage is the very minimum to survive without public assistance.
I didn't go to college for 4 years to make a living wage. I went to make a higher salary so I could buy my own home, have children, money to enjoy things like trips etc. Living wage covers food, rent in an affordable building not a luxury one etc.