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I'm a single Mormon Democrat, an NPR & BBC news junkie, a dog lover, opera buff, bookavore, migraineur, knows just enough about technology to be a danger to myself, fan of James Bond and Godzilla. 

Micah 6:8; D&C 11:20 

"do justly, walk humbly, judge righteously."

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Ethics of Minimum Wage

Conservatives like to talk about how dangerous raising the minimum wage would be. But they also complain about the social safety net. I believe that increasing the minimum wage would help reduce the money spent in social safety programs. Now, I am no economist, I don't know if there is any truth to all the scaremongering. However, I do believe there is an ethical answer to this. 

The federal poverty level for 1 person is $11,490/year. The lowest state minimum wage is $5.15/hour ($10,712/year at 40 hours/week) and the highest is $9.19/hour ($19,115/year at 40 hours/week). It is my belief that if you do not make over the federal poverty level and you work 30-40 hours per week then there is something significantly wrong with the American dream. 

Now, you can say that the minimum wage is not the right way to go. Well, what other answer is there? Perhaps you should increase social services for employed people. In many places, welfare and other social services penalize you for being employed. 

If a person works 30-40 hours per week (full time), they should not have a problem meeting their basic expenses: housing, health care, food and sanitation, phone and heating. In fact, I believe that any employer that pays less than poverty levels is not only behaving unethically, but criminally. 

Or we could go the way of price controls. Certain things that are needed for health and safety must be provided at poverty levels. 

I am not talking about redistribution. I am talking about being ethical. The conservatives like to think of themselves as the values voters. What kind of values supports not only not paying a living wage, but cutting the social safety net needed to provide basic subsistence? Forcing women to not have contraception and to carry babies full term in a world where you cannot even afford to feed and house yourselves is not a value I care to emulate.

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