Talk Poverty • Deepak Bhargava
To be “poor” in America isn’t an identifying characteristic or a defining trait, like being forgetful or creative or tall.
Being a low-income American comes from being paid a low income.
It seems like a basic point, but it’s one Andy Puzder needs to review. Puzder is CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., which employs more than 20,000 people and worldwide owns, operates and franchises more than 3,300 fast food restaurants, including Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.
In a recent op-ed, Puzder made the specious claim that the social safety net “can lock [people] into poverty.”
He argues that “these programs have the unintended consequence of discouraging work rather than encouraging independence, self-reliance and pride,” and that, because of government assistance, his low-wage employees across the U.S. are refusing promotions and additional hours “for fear of losing public assistance.”
What Puzder forgets to point out is that it is poverty wages—poverty wages paid by institutions like Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. to many of their 20,000-plus employees—that force families to turn to nutrition and housing assistance, and other government-supplemented work supports, just to get by.