Catholic social teaching supports basic income’s aim

As Ontario courts grapple with the case against the provincial government on basic income, the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice is reminding Catholics that Catholic social teaching demands society must provide an economic minimum that supports families and human dignity…

It is good to see more and more Catholics coming on board with this movement that will likely become a part of the future.


I’m pretty sure that nobody is out there, cackling with glee, at the thought of grinding down the poor.

What happens is trying to untangle the details to make things just.

The kid who works in a restaurant and lives at home and is supported by parents is there as a starter job—to pick up a few extra bucks and learn work habits.

But then you have a waitress who is a grownup, supporting a family and needs health benefits and to put a roof over their head and food on the table.


Do you pay them the same pay for the same work?


In the United States, there never has been a larger disparity between the very poor and the very rich.


But what does that mean? Does it mean the poor are getting poorer or that the rich are getting richer or some of both? Possibly both are gaining, but the rich are gaining faster. The reality is that wages were stagnant for decades but have now started to outpace inflation in a full employment environment.

One thing that needs to be realized is that many of the super high earners are only there for a short time. They don’t last at the top much longer than professional athletes do. Some Hollywood types last a lifetime, but many fade.


U.S. statistics show that there has been little rise is wages for the big majority of people in the work force. Wages are stagnant.
On the other hand, there has been a huge rise for the richest portion of the work force.
Bottom line, the ultra rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer.
Employment figures are skewed somewhat because many unemployed workers have stopped looking for jobs.
There are jobs to be had, but because they pay so little, many Americans are unwilling to take those jobs.
With a crack down on illegal aliens entering this country, many of those positions are going unfilled.
Employers love the illegals, because they will work for much less than Americans.


The gap does matter. Those at the top have more than enough to live a wonderful life, while those at the bottom half to scrape to get by. That is morally wrong.


But here’s the problem—how do you fix it, seeing that there are many different reasons for seeking employment, everybody has different needs, and some people don’t even seek employment at all, but choose to work for themselves, by farming or hiring themselves out for odd jobs, or making things to sell?

The first way to start fixing things is to increase the minimum wage. Be it a raise up to $15 an hour or more.
Those employers who hire illegal immigrants to work should be fined, because the inducement of their work, even at low wages, is what brings many illegals into our country.


But $15 isn’t the same across the board. $15 per hour in New York City is peanuts but a really good paying job in rural Ohio.

there are already laws in place that punish employers who use illegals. However it is small businesses, agriculture, and families that employ most illegals. It’s the maid, nanny, gardener employer who is the most involved in illegals holding jobs. Billion dollar companies don’t employ illegals. The majority of their workforce is overseas.

Our poor are so rich they don’t feel they need to work these jobs.


You’ve got to be kidding me. You know what companies will do? They’ll say, “Heck no I’m not hiring a bunch of fry cooks for $15 an hour each plus benefits! Engineers, go build a robot to make the food!” Because paying me twice that over a year or two to help develop that robot is cheaper than hiring five of those fry cooks.


Our local McDonald’s is already automated


Also, what happens to the employers who legitimately can’t afford to pay out $15/hr?
Like mom and pop stores or businesses just starting up, where the bosses don’t even make 15 an hour yet?


Minimum wage is a complicated issue.
On the one hand, without some outside pressure or regulation, employers will happily underpay employees.
Make the minimum wage too high, and there will be fewer jobs.
The large successful corporations really can pay higher wages.
The smaller employers aren’t always able to.


Yes, you do.

You can’t expect employers to know everyone’s circumstances and pay out what they think an employee “needs.”

But, to help out the person who’s supporting a family, we have government benefits that that person would qualify for. The “kid” wouldn’t qualify as their income would be aggregated with that of their parents, while the “grownup” might be income-eligible. Also the “grownup” would probably qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.


Although, that’s not necessarily the only way it can go down.

In ye olde days of the 50s, an employer might give an employee a raise because they were going to have another kid, or simply hire a family man at a higher salary than a single person.

But then, you ran into problems with how intrusive do you want you boss to be, or how much privacy to expect.
Or else, to hire a single girl at a smaller rate because she’s just gonna go off and get married anyway (especially if she’s pretty).

And, if you hire a “family man” more because he has a family to support than a “single girl,” there are unintended consequences. Employers would benefit by hiring women or
single people and paying them less.

Just like when people quote these statistics that women earn only so many cents for every dollar a man earns. Well, if it were true that employers were paying women less than men for the same job, wouldn’t employers fall all over themselves to hire women so they could save money by paying them less?


How is that relevant? What would matter is the conditions of the poor and whether there is opportunity to improve their lot.

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The gap exists because rich people have more wealth to begin with and this grows exponentially. The poor are actually getting richer too but nowhere near as quickly as the rich for the same reason.

As Catholics, we have an obligation to help the poor, but government enforced universal basic income is not the way to do so and could even harm the poor.


Wages are not now stagnant, and have not been for the last two or three years. Wages are increasing faster than inflation. Granted, for at least 10 years before that it wasn’t so.

What the rich make does not affect what the poor or middle income people make.


I would love to hear how.

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