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 As we approach the holiday season, it is so delightful to see Republicans embracing the true meaning of the season by cutting food stamps (the SNAP Program) and not raising the minimum wage.   All the while, these Republicans support tax loopholes for wealthy CEOs and the oil industry.  
  Ahhh…I can see it now, Jesus patting Boehner on the back for making cuts to the SNAP Program and standing strong against raising the minimum wage.  What a guy this Boehner is!  He and the Republican Party, making sure that those below the poverty level go from unbearable financial situations to beyond nightmarish scenarios.    
   Let’s see…what company is the perfect example?  Who has been all over the media recently?  McDonalds? That’s a good one. Total rubbish when it comes to employee wages.  Or Wal-Mart? Yes. Their employees recently made national news since many of their employees rely on food stamps or donations in order to simply put Thanksgiving dinner on the table. Heaven forbid that these large companies (and there are many more) actually pay their employees a livable wage.  
  Due to recent headlines, let’s continue to use Wal-Mart as the example. A Wal-Mart sales associate making $8/hour will bring home $16,640 a year (assuming they don’t take a single week off).  That averages out to $1,387 a month.  Let’s round it to $1400.  Subtract $830 for the median cost of a two bedroom apartment.  For our purpose, we will assume that there is one parent and one child in the household. They are now down to $570 for everything else for the month.  Subtract $160 for average utility costs. They are now down to $410. Let’s say a car is not an option due to low wages, so this person takes the bus. It is about $2 per day round trip to work, so we will estimate $40 a month. They are now down to $370. According to the USDA, the average cost of food for a single female is about $160 a month on what they refer to as the Thrifty Plan, meaning the plan that simply keeps you from starving. Let’s face it, Wal-Mart workers should be thrifty?  No splurging for them, not even for a holiday. So, now it is down to $210. For a single child living with their mother, the average food cost is about $135 (again, on the Thrifty Plan).  Now it is down to $75 (adding a second child to the scenario would put them well beyond their monthly budget).  With $75 left for the month, we must hope this single mother and her child don’t need a phone, a doctor, clothing, or any extra childhood expense such as a field trip, birthdays, Christmas, soccer, ballet, or that they ever, EVER want to dine out.  Yes, food for the month is only based on the cost of home prepared meals.  What mother wants to take her child out to dinner anyway, or to see a movie, to play mini golf, or anything extra for fun?  Why would Republicans possibly offer a higher, livable minimum wage or food assistance to this lazy mother who can’t afford a single vacation or sick day?  This doesn’t even account for day care, insurance or any other necessary costs that families incur.  
   I would love to see Boehner, Cantor, and McConnell live on this income for a month before they promote any more of their propaganda of the lazy, disgusting, dehumanized poor.  I would love to see Mike Duke (the outgoing CEO of Wal-Mart, who in 2012 received compensation of $20 million) or Doug McMillon (the incoming CEO of Wal-Mart whose compensation for 2012 was $9 million), live on this income.  I would love to see them work the hours, live the lifestyle, stay within the insanely tight budget with not one dinner out, not one extra trip to the store, not one splurge (not even a drink, boys!), nothing extra…or the entire budget would be off.  If any of these men had to face that moment when their child needed a new coat, but couldn’t afford it; if any of them had to send their six-year-old to school knowing his shoes were a size too small and their child’s toes were curling, but they couldn’t afford a new pair; if any of these men had to go to bed hungry, so that their child wouldn’t be hungry, or if any of these men couldn’t take their child to the doctor, because they couldn’t afford the co-pay; would they see what they are doing to their workers is wrong?  Would they pay their employees enough to survive?  What happened to the saying, “We are only as weak as the weakest link”?  Wal-Mart is weakening its own team with no regret or remorse.  Raising the wage to $12.00/hr would cost the consumer 46 cents per trip, according to Huffington Post calculations.  As a consumer, it’s worth it.  
  The Walton family, who owns Wal-Mart, has a net worth of more than $25 billion and they choose to send their employees home without a livable wage and without the means for basic needs. And, why?  So they can buy another plane or another multi-million dollar work of art?  I am sure that they and their peers with the same business practices are making Jesus proud, stuffing their bank accounts while screwing over the working poor.  Maybe this makes the Jesus they know proud.  Of course, this particular Jesus is the Jesus of twisted conservative fables…the Jesus who believes that the rich need more and to hell with the poor.  I’ve never read about that Jesus in the Bible.
   Every year millions of Americans read or watch Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.  It’s a story that we all know well.  Year after year, we are appalled by Scrooge.  This year more than ever, many Americans can relate to the greedy CEO who not only doesn’t care about his employees, he doesn’t even think of them on a human level.  This year, it’s the tragic American tale, led by the Republicans, the Party of Scrooge. Bah, freakin’ humbug!

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