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Having worked as a family law attorney for 18 years in Oakland, California, I know that the single greatest cause of the breakup of families is economic stressors. This is especially true for the working poor families of our country.
Working for poverty wages creates family conflict when you have to choose between paying for rent and food, phone or medicine. This stress causes friction, blame and break-ups.
But it isn’t just families who suffer because of low wages. All workers working for minimum wage today need more than one job to get by.
A key factor in addressing poverty is raising the minimum wage. While the November 2014 elections were disconcerting on many levels, one bright spot was that Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota all passed increases in their state minimum wages. This is good news! With corporate profits and CEO salaries at all-time highs, it is time that those who work to create the profits should share in the profits they generate by their labor.
When we deal with poverty, we need to heed what Pope Francis says in Joy of the Gospel: “We are not simply talking about ensuring nourishment or a ‘dignified sustenance’ for all people, but also their ‘general temporal welfare and prosperity.’ This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labor that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives. A just wage enables them to have adequate access to all the other goods which are destined for our common use.”
In short, just wages allow workers and their families to live in dignity. The minimum wage in the United States today is not sufficient to do this. Low wages are a moral crisis in our time. Let’s be converted from that sin and give our workers the just wages they deserve. To take action on wages and other economic security issues visit my organization’s website at NetworkLobby.org.
The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.