Col Owens: It’s time to ditch Sen. Mitch McConnell’s plantation economy and move the country forward
Senator Mitch McConnell berates the Biden administration for providing improved unemployment benefits to the unemployed during the American Rescue Plan pandemic. He claims workers stay home because the government’s generosity makes them more than they can work.
That argument only goes to show how aloof McConnell and his students are. These workers, mostly in the service and retail industries, are not staying home because they do not want to work. They stay at home because they don’t want to work for poverty wages.
As soon as these unemployed people have enough money, even if only for a short time, this trumps – no pun intended – their immediate return to work.
This action, in turn, outrages McConnell and his friends so much – that low-wage workers would dare to act in their immediate self-interest – is a sign of their profound entitlement to their position, income and lifestyle. Regardless of the impact on those on whom they depend to maintain their status.
Most observers of our economy in recent years have noted one of its largest and most troublesome components, which is the rise in income inequality. While wages stagnated – the minimum wage, which has not been raised since 2009, is 60% of the poverty line – the incomes of the richest have skyrocketed.
Not only corporate leaders fall into this category. While many small businesses are mom-and-pop businesses, many are not, but businesses where owners or partners generate very high incomes. While their support staff, suppliers, and maintenance staff don’t.
The problem begins to resolve itself when wages rise. Data from the recovery of the pandemic clearly shows that workers will return when wages are increased. And there is no shortage of money to pay higher wages. It just sits on their masters’ accounts.
McConnell and his colleagues want to maintain this plantation economy that they have exploited for years. You don’t care about working Americans. This is so evident in the tax cut laws passed in 2017, where most of the benefits went to the richest Americans. The analysis of his performance shows once again the failure of the trickle-down economy. There was no trickle-down under Reagan. There is no trickle-down now.
It took the American rescue plan and its aftermath to reveal the simple solution to getting people to work. Pay them. Fair and appropriate. It will be just amazing how quickly they take on the jobs McConnell and his friends want and need in order to secure their lifestyles.
Eventually, to reject this simple, justice-based approach, his followers call them socialists. What a joke. There is nothing socialist about it. Workers believe in capitalism. They just want it to work for everyone, including them, as it does in other parts of the world. CEOs don’t have to earn 400 times as much as their employees. It’s not practical. It is unhealthy. It is unfair.
It’s time to leave the plantation behind. It is time to transform our economy into a locomotive that pulls the whole train forward.
Col Owens is a retired attorney teaching poverty law at Chase College of Law. He is the author of the recently published book Bending the Arc Toward Justice (Cincinnati Book Publishing, 2020), which is available at. is available colowensbooks.com.