Decent living wage

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

I find it hard to understand the rationale that for some reason or other everyone is not entitled to a living wage, because some pundits claim the backlash would wreak havoc on businesses, contributing to massive layoffs and business closures. Talking about the economic and political ramifications shared by different factions could be stalling the progress necessary to move ahead. Maybe we should just do what is right and work out the problems as they occur. I know we live in a world where profit and more profit supersedes ethics and morality, but there comes a time when we should test what we are taught spiritually in our houses of worship. In case some of you have forgotten, that is treating people the way you wanted to be treated—extending to offering a living, and keeping many out of the doors of poverty.

I truly doubt that some of the employers or opponents against providing a decent living wage could personally survive with what is paid to some workers. The lack of a decent living wage has attributed to many of the factors that promote economic disparity, hopelessness, and crime. Many business owners claim raising the minimum age to a fair living wage would put them out of business or force them to drastically reduce their work staff—ultimately contributing to a higher national unemployment rate.

The truth of the matter is that businesses for the most part enjoy rights and privileges especially tax benefits not given to the public. Because some people don’t make a living wage (the working poor), we as taxpayers subsidize low paying employees with state and federally funded programs offering housing, food stamps, and medical and educational aid. Wouldn’t a decent living wage alleviate dependency on some of these federally subsidized programs?

A nationally established living wage could be a prerequisite in business startup plans, providing uniformity and a precedent for all businesses to follow making it the rule. At first, as in anything done differently, there will be problem. But given time, they will dissipate. For stanch naysayers against this raise, sometimes you make sacrifices for the greater good. I assume the loudest naysayers are those businesses that make exorbitant profits off people. Sometimes I wonder if by keeping people from securing a living wage is a form of maintaining status quo (the haves against the have-nots). Let’s look at some of the advantages that a decent wage would provide for society.

One of the most beneficial advantages of increasing the minimum wage is that more parents (especially single mothers) would be able to spend more time with their children instead of working two or more jobs to just make ends meet. Supervised children are less likely to get into trouble and commit crimes. More money also means more money will go back into services and to retailers, thus stimulating the economy. According to past studies, the increase in previous years of productivity alone justifies a living raise increase.

In all honesty, this change probably will be problematic for some small business owners in its implementation. But taking the optimistic approach, eventually everyone will gain in the long run. The national minimum wage of $7.25 is not a living wage and should be viewed as unacceptable.

The president has signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage of federal contract workers hoping other businesses to follow suit, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016. This is a start, but may be considered too low by some workers.

Don’t be surprised if it gets little support by many in Congress who are millionaires wooed by lobbyists representing big businesses, making them insensitive and out of touch with the day-to-day realities of the constituents they were elected to represent. Doing the right thing should not be high jacked by for political reasons or to convey party allegiance. A vote for a decent living wage is a vote for balancing the playing field for all Americans.