Confronting the Parasite Economy
Why low-wage work is bad for business—and all of us.
There are two types of businesses in America today: those that pay their workers a living wage—the real economy—and those that don’t—the parasite economy. And all of us who live and work in the real economy should be royally pissed at the way the parasite economy is sucking us dry.
Here in the real economy, we solve the problems, build the things, and pay the wages that make America great. When politicians of both parties promise to attract “good jobs” to their districts or states, they’re talking about the kind of real-economy jobs that pay a decent middle-class wage—jobs that provide the income, benefits, and security necessary to participate robustly in the economy as a consumer and taxpayer. It is the real economy that drives both production and demand, and that fills our tax coffers with the money needed to educate our children, maintain our infrastructure, invest in research and development, fund our social safety net, and provide for the national defense.
But in the parasite economy—where companies large and small cling to low-wage business models out of ignorance or habit or simple greed—“good jobs,” and the economic dynamism they produce, are in short supply. This is the economy in which tens of millions of Americans work for poverty wages with few if any benefits, often in the face of abusive scheduling practices that make it impossible to plan their life from day to day, let alone month to month.
The difference between these two economies is stark. The real economy pays the wages that drive consumer demand, while the parasite economy erodes it. The real economy generates about $5 trillion a year in local, state, and federal tax revenue, while the parasite economy is subsidized by taxes. The real economy provides our children the education and opportunity necessary to grow into the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders, while the parasite economy traps them in a cycle of intergenerational poverty.
The real economy delivers on the promise of capitalism.
The parasite economy relentlessly undermines it.