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The subject line is one definition of a Living Wage that is one that allows the earner to pay for at least his or her basic necessities, without public or private assistance. Is this but one definition of economic justice?
The distinction between a living wage and a minimum one is that an earner on the later cannot live without food stamps, housing grants, dental clinic and free clinic care or Medicaid or other aid, even if they work full time. If Congress decides it has to slash social safety net programs in its budget and debt ceiling negotiations, we will see young Mothers standing on street corners begging for food.
These are the very same desperate people who turn to “Payday Lenders” who charge usurious rates of 300 – 400 or more percent interest rates on what becomes a rolling loan that inflates the rate with each rollover. These predators never existed before we deregulated banking, depressed wages to the point that people are desperate and will accept any terms to save their car, pay their rent, or other basic necessity.
In other areas of the country, activists have worked with their local governments to set up a Living Wage Standard compliance system that included:
Arlington County already has a Living Wage Standard -- so half of the advocates' work is done.
One young mother I talked to recently after GA in North Carolina, told how she was able to go back to college part-time once she began to earn a living wage, which allowed her to pay for child care for her young son on the nights she had classes. She now looks forward to the future that holds the promise of a social worker position following her graduation. She's just getting by, but she can do it on the Living Wage she now receives.
Let’s not stand by and ignore this problem when there is such opportunity to do what is right that is right in our reach. We can do what the activists elsewhere have done that has made a great change in their local communities. We might be able to think up other ways to make a change here in Arlington.
What do you think about this issue? I look forward to hearing from all of you who are concerned about economic justice. I believe the time is right to raise this issue and show how we can all benefit by seeing that a living wage becomes the standard for all hourly wage earners. Contact me at email@example.com.