The Herald Bulletin

January 28, 2014

Viewpoint: Three reasons for creating living wage

By James Willis Anderson resident
The Herald Bulletin

---- — People across America are starting to get it. American workers have reached a crossroads and the sign post says they are standing at the corner of Forgotten About and Left Behind.

Today I’m going to make a very simple case for raising what we have for so long called the minimum wage to a level we can call a living wage.

Simply put, there are three very compelling reasons for the creation of a living wage.

The first is that we have an economic imperative as a nation to create a living wage that will without a doubt create a permanent stimulus in our economy by increasing the demand for the goods and services that lead to both economic growth and more importantly job growth.

Secondly, we have a fiscal responsibility to each other as taxpayers and to the nation collectively to create and foster a wage scale that lifts people out of poverty and reduces the number of people receiving government assistance. Fiscally speaking, a living wage would reduce the drain on the treasury and create millions of new taxpayers paying into the treasury.

The third reason is as important or maybe it is even more important. We have a moral responsibility to each other in this nation and to people around the world to end the exploitation of unfair and inadequate wages. All honest work is honorable work and people should be given a true measure of dignity and that dignity comes simply from the fact that they can provide for themselves and their families because of their own effort in the workplace.

It would be easy for me to point my finger at the wealthy and blame them for all that is wrong in our economy, but I think we all bear some responsibility for the way things have gone for the American worker.

Our great failing has been that we have not as a people stood up for the people in far away places with names we can’t pronounce being paid slave wages, working in unsafe conditions, and with little hope of ever buying the very products they make. This availability of slave labor around the world has created fear in the workplace here at home as we have seen millions of jobs shipped overseas.

We have to come together and demand more from our elected leaders in the creation of a living wage. We can no longer be like many Northerners before the Civil War who espoused a hatred for slavery but kept buying bolt after bolt of cotton cloth that originated in slave states.

I make mention of that time to illustrate our time as we here in this country cry out about terrible working conditions and slave wages overseas but it doesn’t offend us enough to give up our cellphones and laptops. We cry out about a living wage in this country and talk about how bad it is for low-wage workers, but we keep buying things from Wal-Mart and eating at McDonald’s because we just can’t be bothered by doing anything about it.

Political freedom and economic freedom are intertwined and it is not possible to have one without the other. Just remember, a neccessitous man is not a free man and no one is truly free if any one of us is not free.