LETTER: Low-wage problem is deeper than Wal-Mart
Why the daily anti-Wal-Mart reporting? It’s the season, perhaps. The world’s largest successful marketer of “low cost” goods is being hammered about its cold, calculated low-wages strategy and its anti-union activities. But it is a symptom of a larger issue.
Economists say the slow jobs recovery has forced many people into the “unskilled” labor market, and they struggle to make ends meet. But entry-level jobs pay entry-level wages regardless of age or situation.
While I empathize with those folks, I can’t sympathize with them because I am economically blessed. But some family members struggle, and my eyes have been opened to the dedicated local organizations that work with compassion assisting those in need.
Focusing on Wal-Mart may be an object lesson in what Pope Francis eloquently addressed as the dark side of unfettered capitalism. But it is not alone. Other employers hire at the minimum wage or close. They may promise a future wage “review,” but when reminded they’ll only throw in another quarter or two per hour.
Why do we need a minimum wage, and what are its objectives? Food and shelter, for sure. Reliable transportation, health care, child care, a modicum of distracting entertainment? Computer or cell phone? Those are increasingly needed for any job. Just what are “the basics”?
Rush Limbaugh’s perhaps aberrant claim that the Pope is a “Marxist” illustrates differing views. Personally, I wish for my family members something more than food stamps and uncertainty about making their rent.
Does charity “begin at home” and how big is home? Families help their members as they can. But did the “Thousand Points of Light” alleviate poverty? Local charity is vital, and I encourage donations to local charities. But these are Band-Aids.
There is no effective lobby for our poor, though they are more numerous than we who are financially comfortable may want to know. Think about it. The person selling you those fries or bagging those groceries is making a Wal-Mart-like wage even if they’re 50-something. I’m not advocating any boycotts. Just confessing a personal angst or hypocrisy that’s not unique in our society.
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