Friday, November 12, 2004

For a reader
See comments under Blahs for a little background info.

I am employed full-time and I am a full-time graduate student and I pay for my education. I have worked and lived off minimum wage (and slightly above minimum wage) jobs. I have struggled financially. Am I naïve and narrow minded? Well, I think I can be naïve on certain things, but I don’t think this is necessarily one of them.

First, my point in the post you commented about is creating policies on ones faith. If GW Bush is so faithful and he advocates laws based on the Bible, maybe some laws helping out the poor would be a good measure in creating a sort of Biblical consistency.

Second, I do know some teenagers working minimum wage jobs. I also know other people working minimum wage (or slightly over) who are raising kids, paying for college, or working with a college degree. I currently live in an area of the country that is experiencing more of an economic boom than other areas. However, my girlfriend is working in a low paying job, without any health benefits, and she has a college degree. I also know other folks who are working for the World’s Largest Corporation who have to work two jobs to stay a float. Yes, some of this could be due to poor financial management skills, but some of it is due to the lack of a living wage. I don’t know if you are aware of the idea of a living wage, so here are a few links about it.

Resources on the “living wage”:

From the Economic Policy Institute, Living Wage Issue Guide

From Responsible Wealth, Business Leaders and Investors for a Living Wage

I am pretty confident that if a living wage were instated (based upon the factors of each individual municipality) we would have more people working, more people staying at their jobs (because they are happy) and more efficiency in the work place. Part of the reason I left a job is because I was making too little to live off of, and I was working too much for the amount of money. Fortunately I had a little help from my parents to stay afloat, but I am lucky. I know many people who are not so lucky. If you happen to live in an area that has a tourist based economy, or generally has a very high cost of living (like California, NY, etc) you may understand this. I lived and worked in a town with a tourist based economy. The minimum wage jobs did not pay for rent. The minimum wage jobs (mind you, I knew people with Master’s degrees who had to work these jobs) did not pay for food. Most people had 2 jobs. These are people with kids, they are not just teenagers.

I think Joe made some great points in the comments and I don’t need to go over them. However, I will say that until the USA can become a place where everyone at least has an opportunity to get a better job or get an education we cannot be a place where true capitalism or even the bastard capitalism we have, can exist. If you think that everyone has the opportunity take a trip to the Mississippi Delta, or to Shiprock, New Mexico, or to downtown Baltimore and then tell me that all those people you see have the same opportunities as the kids growing up in suburbia. If they have the same opportunities to advance, then maybe, just maybe capitalism could work and be the best for all people.

Oh yeah, check out this information on Fair Trade. This is the way the USA should model its trading. If we cannot pay a livable wage to the citizens of our own country, at least maybe we can help those in other countries earn a living wage.

Resources on Fair Trade:

From the Fair Trade Resource Network, Fair Trade

No comments: