The Case for the Living Wage

The Case for the Living Wage

2004 | 252 Pages | ISBN: 0875863035 | PDF | 1.5 MB

This well-documented brief demonstrates that both poverty and excessive economic inequality are inimical to the maintenance of a healthy republic, and notes that providing a living wage is not only fair, but is superior to any other public policy such as cash transfers (or the Earned Income Tax Credit) in the effort to fight poverty.
Societies have always struggled to determine what is right in providing for those at the low end of the economic spectrum; now that America has seen an enormous gulf open between those with the most and those with the least, the question becomes a campaign issue and a frame for how we define America's values.
What is the difference between a minimum wage and a living wage, a fair wage and a just wage? How are they the same and how do they differ?
Citing case studies and statistical analyses, the author explores the root causes of inequality and poverty, and compares efforts in the United States and the UK to address those problems. He considers what the principal religions have to say about poverty and inequality, and traces the evolution of the "just wage" tradition. In a review of American policy, he shows that the idea of a living wage was central to policy initiatives promoted by early advocates of the welfare state. In the wake of clear failures of the welfare system as it now stands, he urges we focus our attention again on the living wage, a promising instrument for economic justice and a means of contributing to general prosperity as well. Material conditions in America make it appealing to people the world over, and anything we do to make it a better place makes it more so. But that is fulfilling our history, from the Puritan wish to "build a city on a hill" forward. Should we reject expanding freedom of speech or building better schools because that might attract more immigrants? No. And we need to adopt a living wage for everyone who works in this country.

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