To the Editor:
Beginning with Pope Leo XIII’s teaching in Rerum Novarum, the Catholic Church has been an ardent supporter of unions because of what they represent: dignity and fairness to workers in a capitalistic system that worships profit as deity itself. Capitalism has arbitrarily determined the value of some hard-working laboring positions to be less than a living wage. Raising the minimum wage can only ease such inequity. Actually, we need to enact an even higher-paying “living wage” for all laborers. Every working person should by law earn enough to have adequate food, shelter and health care for themselves and their families. That is simply Christian justice.
Anti-minimum wage folks erroneously claim that raising the minimum wage will hurt small businesses. Not true, and it never has been. Small business competitors are all in the same boat. They all have to pay the same minimum wage. What is true is that raising the minimum wage will increase prosperity for all because low-income earners will spend every cent, thereby immediately creating more demand for goods and services. Oddly enough one major beneficiary is small businesses.
Not increasing the minimum wage means asking the lowest-wage earners to subsidize your purchases at McDonalds, Wal-Mart and other notoriously poor-paying employers. Minimum wage workers are not on the public dole, their employers are. We already subsidize numerous low-compensation businesses with taxpayer-supported Medicaid, food stamps and public housing that cover many of their hard-working employees and families.
Simply stated, raising the minimum wage is clearly a Christian way of bringing some dignity and justice for low-earning, hard-working Americans.
To the Editor: