The Minimum Wage Is A Spiritual Issue

By | March 20, 2013

Coins in hand-865432, sxc@hu, sufinawazThis morning, as I was reading in the book of Amos, I was struck by the depths of God’s concern for the poor, and His disdain for those who disregard or exploit them.

Amos 8:4-7 (NIV)   Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with
the poor of the land, 5
saying, “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?”– skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, 6  buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat. 7  The LORD has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.”

Here’s what I wrote in my journal after reading this:

The ultimate “me-ism.” Is this not a good picture of where we are in America today? Taking note of the poor only to find better ways to exploit them. Utterly cynical. Their only value was making money. How we treat the poor matters greatly to God. It is part of the measure by which He judges the land.

One of the places I think this attitude shows up is in the debate surrounding raising the minimum wage. Many people strenuously object to doing so, asserting that raising the minimum wage costs jobs and retards the growth of the economy. Even if that were so, it would not automatically be a reason to not even consider ensuring that the working poor can earn a living wage.

But it’s not true. History shows that these dire predictions of the harm raising the minimum wage would do to the economy have always proved false. I address that history in the article below.

It seems to me that those who dismiss any thought of raising the minimum wage, but take no thought for ameliorating the condition of people who are hard-working, but earning too little to provide even a minimal standard of living for their families, are taking a moral and spiritual stand, not just an economic one.

You can read my article on what history teaches us about the wisdom of raising the minimum wage here:

We Should Raise the Minimum Wage

– Ron Franklin

2 thoughts on “The Minimum Wage Is A Spiritual Issue

  1. Bereket Kelile

    The effect of the minimum wage laws has been actually devastating for the black community. If you look at the unemployment rate among black teens across the post-war period you’ll see that it rose dramatically after minimum wage policies went into effect during the 1960s and 70s. Since then it’s always been above 30%. This is particularly bad since this group of young men are most likely to go to prison. If we spent a little time thinking about the consequences of these proposals then we might be able to do away with these bad ideas and focus on policies that actually have a chance to do some good.

    1. Ron Franklin

      Thanks, Bereket, for your comment. But I don’t agree. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 1.6 million hourly workers in the workforce who earn the $7.25 minimum wage. Of these 24 percent are teenagers, and of those teens, 20 percent are black. So if you do the math, there are about 76,800 black teenagers now making minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage might displace some small fraction, but certainly not enough to cause “devastation for the black community.” The vast majority of minimum wage workers are adults whose families desperately need greater income. As I mention in the article referenced in this post, history shows that the dire predictions of what raising the minimum wage would do to employment have never come true. Again, history shows that reasonable minimum wage has made a big difference in people’s lives without causing any discernible damage to the economy.


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