A Question — Not a Statement — About the Minimum Wage

I’m against poverty and I’m against greed.  As a Christian, I can –and I do say– that. But I have friends who are economists or have studied economics and I have friends who are union organizers and faith based organizers. I’d like to start a debate or hear both sides or hear all sides because I’m simple when it comes to this stuff.

My question is this: Math-wise — and that’s all this is — If we raise the minimum wage and people make more, and the government takes the same tax rate and companies raise their prices because it costs more to make the product and landlords charge more because their renters “make more”, how does this help? My daughters are taking algebra or pre-algebra, so this metaphor comes to mind — Aren’t we just changing the value of “X” in the equation while nothing changes? 

Is there a way that minimum wage can be raised and landlords not charge more for rent and grocers not charge more? The human condition hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years or so — we’re still greedy and if we see more, we’ll take more. In addition, the zeitgeist in America today (or recently, anyway) is that of increasing financial inequality and the rich having better lawyers/more control over the government so they get to determine the rules. So if the human part of the equation doesn’t change and we change the value of “X”, does anything really change? Or does it change briefly until the greedy people get back on their feet and start acting the same way? Even that would be a modest gain for the people I know — which is better than the trouncing they’ve been taking, I would settle for a brief respite from abuse for the poor folks I know, but I’d prefer an actual (i.e. long-lasting) change.

Now, before anybody goes there, I don’t want to hear how the best way to deal with the problem of poverty/income inequality  is “don’t make any changes and let the economy deal with it” because that plan is what we have and it’s not working. Clearly, we need to do something different, and the minimum wage is at least an idea to do something differently. If we think it’ll work, let’s do it or at least try it, but can somebody explain how it’ll work? It seems like “re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic” to me, but I don’t know.

Pastors and other leaders — how can we be anti-greed from the pulpit if that’s where the problem lies? Furthermore, are we just throwing stones that ripple with our own people if the country isn’t Christian anymore? Do we have any effect on the non-churched?  Does it even matter? Do we do what we can and see what happens?

I am not, in case people are wondering, hopeless or depressed. I’m trying to be realistic so that real change can happen, not just talk.

Thanks in advance…




What If … Just Sayin’

                                      “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” — Leviticus 19:18 (Hebrew scripture)
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law                                           and the Prophets” — Jesus in Matthew 7:12 (Christian scripture)

Apparently, some group of leaders in Arizona — like groups of leaders throughout history — have decided to make a stand for “deeply held religious beliefs” like anti-gay sentiments because they claim Christianity as their religion. At first, religious freedom, and the right to exercise your deeply held beliefs in the marketplace seems like a reasonable– if controversial — idea. But let’s think about this …

What if an Islamic taxi driver wanted a law to refuse service to Christians because of his deeply held religious  beliefs?

What if a female waitress wanted a law to refuse to serve men because of her pagan beliefs?

What if a transgender Buddhist wanted a law so they could refuse to serve heterosexuals because of their beliefs?

What if an African-American wanted a law saying they didn’t have to serve White folks because of their deeply held Black Muslim beliefs?

What if a Jewish couple wanted to pass a law so they could refused to serve Christians?

What if Native American casino owners passed a tribal law to refuse service to non-Native Americans?

What if atheists wanted to refuse to serve religious people of any stripe?

Would you be upset? Would you be howling at the indignity you suffered? Would you think they were bigoted against you? Would you think it unfair? Would you hold rallies against it and want your allies to join you? What if they publicly “excused” your anger because of your “ignorance” of their intent? Would that make it any better? Or would you just think it was a stupid, bigoted law?

Hey, it’s a free country and they have the rights to their deeply held religious beliefs.  Just saying…

Arizona “leaders”, have you actually heard of Jesus or the God he claimed to have as his father? Do you really think you are defending them? Just asking… because I’m not seeing it.

Political “leaders”.  Don’t you work for all the people of Arizona? Just asking… because I’m not seeing it.

Don’t all different kinds of people vote in Arizona? Just asking… Because clearly, you’re not seeing it.

Just saying…