Unz’s argument is a straightforward one: The American public will not allow the poor to starve. There will always be a “safety net” of some sort, no matter what political label the government happens to wear, and that net will be paid for by the taxpayers. At present, according to Unz, the country spends $250 billion a year to enable the working poor to survive. In effect, this is a government subsidy to low-wage businesses. We’ve all seen the reports about companies like WalMart instructing new employees on how they can obtain government assistance through food stamps, etc. What this amounts to is the government supplementing those workers’ wages.
Isn’t it the case, Unz asks, that conservatives deplore handouts to the poor? Don’t they believe that such handouts are a disincentive to work, and create an unhealthy (and un-American) dependency upon the government? What if there was a way to stop those charity payments, and, at the same time, encourage the poor to get jobs and support themselves? There is such a way: raise the minimum wage to a level that enables workers to rise above the poverty level, support themselves, pay taxes and funnel money back into the economy.