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    Tuesday, January 09, 2007

    Minimum wage

    The minimum wage has a lot of problems. Our economic system works best without it.

    As I understand it, most people do not stay at the minimum wage for long... they soon get a raise or it becomes the incentive to move on to a new job, perhaps by getting the training they need to compete better in the job marketplace.

    The Catholic complaint against too low a wage is exactly for those people that the Bishops are talking about. Those who for many reasons are only suited for the lowest pay work over their working life.

    I would like to see actual figures on how many folks this applies to. I am pretty sure they find themselves in this situation because of aptitude or age.

    And on a human level it is a shame that our labor economy discounts people with low apptitude or older workers. Some program should protect them from a life of poverty. The program can not be labor market driven, but most probably must come from the government.

    The program today is the minimum wage, as faulty as that performs. And raising the minimum wage seems to be the only way to reach these folks who want the dignity of work and should be protected from poverty.

    The minimum wage hurts the raw economic balance, and protects many workers who don't need protecting like young students and extra-income workers.

    What we need is a new idea to safeguard the sincere mimimum wage earner. I don't know what that is. So for the time being, for their sakes, an increased wage is the only tool out there.

    Politicians will vote for it only so they can claim they are 'for the worker' and of course get reelected.

    The Bishops are really only reminding us that the Capitalist system has flaws if it is expected to support worker's dignity. It doesn't. Society's management of the harsher elements of the system is necessary. The minimum wage will have to remain until a better idea dawns on us.


    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has long sought a raise in the minimum wage. As pastors, bishops see the tragic human and social consequences on individuals, their families, and society when workers cannot support themselves and their families by their own labor. The current minimum wage is still just $5.15 an hour, which is $10,700 a year for a full-time worker -- nearly $6,000 below the poverty level for a family of three. The minimum wage needs to be raised not just for the goods and services a person can buy but for the self-esteem and self-worth it affords. We urge you to support H.R. 2, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007.
    Work has a special place in Catholic social thought.

    Work is more than just a job; it is a reflection of human dignity and a way to contribute to the common good. Most importantly, it is the ordinary way people meet their material needs and community obligations. In Catholic teaching, the principle of a just wage is integral to our understanding of human work. Wages must be adequate for workers to provide for themselves and their families in dignity. The United States bishops' Conference has supported the minimum wage since its inception as a just means to protect the human rights and dignity of workers.

    Raising the minimum wage is only one step needed to address the larger, more pressing problem of poverty in America. In our shelters and soup kitchens, in our parishes and schools, we see working families who can't make ends meet. We serve too many families where men and women work full time and still live in destitution. Congress needs to make budget and policy choices that will ensure adequate funding to help families escape joblessness, move beyond welfare, choose decent education for their children, gain needed health care coverage, and overcome hunger and homelessness. Our nation needs a persistent and determined effort to overcome poverty. We hope you will work together across partisan and ideological lines to shape a comprehensive strategy and common commitment to lift all of our brothers and sisters out of poverty.


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