Last month, AT&T announced a bonus for all employees, citing the Republican corporate tax slashes as its impetus. The announcement came a few days after my AT&T bill arrived with a 9.7 percent increase. Put 2018 rates into effect one month early to cover the bonuses without impacting the sacred bottom line. Make a hullabaloo publicity stunt to thank your Congressional lackeys. Start the new year with the new rate and less taxes to pay. And, if you’re a large enough company, “bonuses are a deductible business expense, in the category of ‘payment to employees,’” according to Jean Murray, writing for The Balance.
Last week, Wal-Mart announced a new minimum wage and storewide bonuses up to $1,000, again citing that wonderful tax giveaway. Yeah, buddy. If you’ve been to the Duncan Wal-Mart lately – and who can avoid it – you’ve seen gaping empty spaces where cash registers once stood, plus a large empty space near the original do-it-yourself-because-we-don’t-want-to section. Ooh, major expansion of the customer-unfriendly self-checkout program. So, along with the ballyhooed wage hike, we will soon see fewer of our neighbors working their stations. I won’t take bets on whether the money saved by the firings offsets the wages for those lucky enough to stay employed.
The subsequent announcement of the closing of 63 Sam’s Clubs will also boost the profit margin. And, thanks to Greed’s Own Party’s tax law, Wal-Mart and other companies are being encouraged to fire as many workers as possible as fast as they can. In fact, the way the law is written, cutting work forces will appear as a mandate to the bean-counters who control our corporations.
According Lauren Hirsch, reporting for CNBC last month, “…the effective cost of buying new equipment will drop and savings from reducing payroll costs could jump by at least 20 percent. In other words: Buying labor-replacing machinery may be cheaper and firing employees may save more money. Hirsch explains: “Under the law, companies will now be able to write off the cost of new equipment immediately rather than over an extended time, thereby lowering their short-term taxes. Because money is worth more now than in the future (the time value of money), they will save more in the long run from deductions than they would have previously. With this provision set to begin to phase out in five years, retailers looking to automate are under the gun.”
Yet, while the retailers are “under the gun” to cut jobs now for their greater profits, the workers are just under fire for their future livelihoods. “Up to 7.5 million retail industry jobs are vulnerable to automation within 10 years, the Cornerstone Capital Group wrote in May.”
“Meanwhile,” Hirsch continues, “as the corporate tax rate drops from 35 percent to 21 percent, companies can keep a greater share of their income. That also means they can pocket more savings achieved through cost cutting, like laying off workers.”
Needless to say, the Republican’s repugnant enrich-the-richest tax bill has no provisions for re-training “fired” workers. These folks are not “laid off,” as if lolling in a hammock somewhere. As someone whose job was “eliminated” temporarily until after my termination, I can assure you that I was not “let go” either, as if kite wafting into the blue. It was more like a thud in the pit of my stomach. So, this “Tax Cut and Jobs Act” that’s supposed to spur new hiring doesn’t bode well on the job front – unless you’re a robot.
A recent Rolling Stone included an article about the impending automation of the trucking industry. Self-driving trucks threaten the jobs of about 1.7 million truckers. The sub-head wonders, “Will it also be Trump’s greatest betrayal of his blue-collar base?”
Back when Steve Bannon was known only as the right-wing racist nut job which he still is, Karl Rove devised the GOP strategy of loading elections with false social issues with convenient “others” for “good people” to hate. Then, having secured the votes of gullible social conservatives, the Republicans took power and began economic warfare against their duped working class followers. And that plan continues today, with overt racism somehow unifying bigot-backing public Christians with an economic banditti not seen since the Robber Barons of the 1880’s.
Well, some of us share the opinion that the current Republican ascendancy is nothing more than a “mock alliance between hypocrisy and credulity.” Maybe five percent of Americans are rich enough to benefit from the Republican’s corporate socialism. The rest are continually sold a bill of goods – or a bill of bads as it turns out.
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)