What is ? ?

The terms of ‘living wage’ and ‘decent wage’ have been used on severel threads with out saying what they were and how they would not effect prices. What are your ideas what they are? :slight_smile: :smiley:

Whaatever the speaker wishes them to mean. Just rhetoric.

Sometimes I wonder if our society is supposed to be like Walmart, lowest prices guaranteed every day. What if prices did go up? What if we all had to pay a little more, so that lower-class working folk could afford the basic necessities? Would that be the end of civilization as we know it?

But if the prices go up in order for the “lower class working folk” :shrug: (I work so I guess I’m lower class than someone?) get more money, then doesn’t it all come out in the wash anyway?

As prices go higher, people buy less of a higher priced item. The same applies to the price of labor. As the price of labor rises, employers buy less of it, hiring fewer workers and putting more money into capital equipment, resulting in what we have today–high productivity with high unemployment.

Lower wages in some jobs provide entry level work for many people, until they are priced out of the market.

Sounds like all we need to fix our economy is to lower the minimum wage… :wink:

There may be some places in which lowering or eliminating the minimum wage might help the local economy and other places where it would not help. If the minimum wage is below the market rate for similar work, it has no effect. If it is higher than the market rate, it will cause more unemployment.

Minimum wage is, after all, nothing more than an imposed price control, and price controls seldom work well over an extended area or an extended time.

I guess it would be a wage at which one could live on–and you’ll find endless debate on what that is as well as those who don’t think the minimum wage should be a living wage–they will say there should be an “entry level” wage–implying that some jobs should only be for kids and shouldn’t have to pay a subsistance wage because after all they are only for “pocket money”. If you could find a full time minimum wage job in my state (and I am sure we have one of the higher ones) and you worked 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year you would make $18,616 a year or $1,551 a month and most likely without benefits. Is that a living wage? I don’t know but it sure doesn’t seem like it given rent, gas and food prices here. My daughter’s teaching job pays about a 1/3 more than that and she’s still trying to find a way to move out on that salary.

Part of the problem is that we don’t live in a bubble. That’s why sweat shops keep moving around the world seeking those who will work for next to nothing while being kept locked in unsafe buildings–all so we can have cheaper clothing or so large companies can make larger profits. Profit is not bad but when we go in search of larger profits and treat people badly or inhumanely subjecting them to working conditions we ourselves would not tolerate and have legistlated against–then we have a problem with our quest for profits–with our quest to squeeze out one money penney per share in earnings. I’ll go even farther and say when we buy these products we too have some guilt on our hands.

It is hard to believe that people are not troubled by the growing wage disparity and are not disturbed by the salaries paid to top executives–often even when their companies do not perform well. But maybe that is because most of those who might be concerned are too busy trying to survive to complain and those living at the top have the attitude of “let them eat cake” or of “Scrouge is dead, long live Scrouge”. I don’t know.

Here is what I do know–when I was in school my dad and another gentleman purchased a business and as things go just prior to a recession–and my dad always made sure his employees were paid first before our family and that made for some stressfull times. Today I see a lot of owners paid first with employees getting whats left. It the owner wants to make $X – they pay themselves first and that leaves $x for their employees who help them make the money and so that is what the owner pays them and how the owner determines what the job is worth. I’m not sure that is right. But heck what do I know–I live in a world were you don’t just mark your product up X% for a fair profit and return on your investment–you mark it up XXXX% if the market will support it. I am not sure that is right either.

Anyway it’s a complex discussion–and what you have above is a sound bite and what you will get from others will also be sound bites. Unless the world is united in labor policy, wages and environmental regulation–then it is hard to tell what effect any particular policy will really have–so don’t hold your breath–our 50 states are not even united in labor and wage policy. All we can do is what we beleive is right based on Catholic social teaching as both employers and consumers.

The Peace of Christ,
Mark

A wage that pays enough for the worker to survive and provide for a family. If businesses can’t do that, then the state has an obligation to help. At least that’s my take on C.A #8.

Here in KY, I believe the minimum wage is $7.25, and if someone works 40 hrs a week, that is only $290. before taxes, next the cheapest apartments locally are around $500 a month, not including utilities. Then you have food, vehicle, and other expenses. It is a shame people are expected to live on this wage. I am a big supporter of the ‘living wage’, if applied here in KY, would amount to about $12. per hour, this would give an employee enough to at least survive on. I think this is common sense, people have to earn enough to live on, PERIOD!

It is pure greed on behalf of company owners that prevents this from happening, they claim to care about their employees, but truthfully, they only care about what they can do for the company, not the other way around. One example would be ( I saw this in a newspaper article) This particular company likes to say that an employees smile is the most important part of their uniform, but employees wondered why the company did not even offer dental insurance, (or any insurance for that matter).

It all boils down to the fact that these companies claim they cannot afford to pay the ‘living wage’ but that is not true because most of their CEOs are paid 300-500% more than the regular hourly employee, so yes, they CAN afford it, but do not want to, oh, but when those employees are at work, on the clock, they expect 120% output from them!! LOL

I think employees that work at these companies should bad together and tell their bosses, that if they are paid $7.25 hr, then the company is going to get $7.25 hr worth of labor, after all, thats only fair, you cant expect ANYONE to give $40. an hour worth of work/labor for $7.25. That is basically a couple steps up from slavery imo.

I suppose it depends on the business. An increase in the minimum wage may not affect a very large company much. It will find a way to shift costs. And it may increase wages while lowering benefits. A small company or a family business is far less flexible. Small businesses have less flexibility and may not even be making a profit. So attributing “pure greed” as a motivation is not necessarily true. Shall we have the minimum wage apply only to large businesses?

And no matter whether large or small, labor costs are a business expense. Increasing expenses drives increases in prices. It doesn’t help much to have a continually increasing minimum wage coupled by continually increasing prices. I’d be happier with stable prices and stable wages.

My impression is that, from the standpoint of the Church, you’re correct, except adding that it would be relative to a person’s station in life. Therefore, for instance, one would feel obliged to pay a family man or woman more than one would a single person, particularly if that working parent was the only working parent.

But that part is illegal in the U.S.

True, but if you look at most items for sale, over a number of years, they usually end up going up in price anyway.

Small businesses have been around for a long time, as well as large businesses, they tend to stick it out no matter what happens in the larger economy, so I doubt a living wage increase would change that. There will always be people starting new companies.

Yes, prices tend to increase over time no matter what. That’s not a law of nature, it’s official government policy.

You can find birthday cards which show the cost of living for things in the year of your birth. They always look remarkably cheap. New home, $20,000; average annual salary, $6,000, loaf of bread 20 cents, etc., that sort of thing.

When one projects this into the future, one can expect bread to cost $20 a loaf, the average home to be $1 million, etc. Really, I sort of doubt that permanent Fed-mandated inflation as policy can continue indefinitely. It also makes saving impossible and feeds stock market and commodity bubbles.

Continuous inflation means that any minimum wage must be continuously adjusted upward, thereby continuously increasing labor costs, thereby contributing to more inflation.

Small businesses stick it out if they can. No business, particularly a family owned business, can afford to operate at a loss on an indefinite basis. And it’s getting harder and harder to start a business, especially one that involves any kind of physical product. That’s why service businesses stay in the U.S. while manufacturing moves overseas. Fewer government obstacles.

Sounds about right.

This is pretty much the way I remember it from a course in the encyclicals Rerum Novarum and Quadrigesmo Anno many years ago. A living wage was one sufficient for a breadwinner to support a family in accordance with his station in life. I don’t recall that there was any thought given to the fact that there might be two income households, which would have been seen as a sort of de facto abandonment of parental responsibility for children.

In any case, some employers did take such a view. My first ‘real’ job paid a starting salary in which there was a deliberate differential between a single and a married employee in identical jobs. I got less because I was not married at the time. And I didn’t see anything wrong with that. The company’s rationale was that the married employee had a family to support.

But as you noted, that provision of Catholic social teaching is now illegal in the U.S.

We really need to get back to this idea. Everyones situation is different, they have different needs, so it only stands to reason, their starting pay would also be different. IMO, starting pay should be based on a given survey, so they can find out what a persons expenses are, and cost of living, and go from there to base the wage. A ‘generic’ across the board starting wage for everyone makes little sense to me, as everyones personal situation is much different.

There might be something to be said for basing pay on family responsibilities, at least to some extent, but the whole concept is now legally anathema. The EEOC and the Justice Department would be all over any employer who tried it. Equal pay for equal work is the catchphrase now.

And as I mentioned, when Rerum Novarum was written, most families were one-income families. It might be nice to be able to leave such things up to the discretion of an employer, so that he would have the option of paying a married person supporting a family more than a single person, for example. But even giving an employer such discretion is currently illegal.

Do you think that teenagers should have a chance to gain job experience by working a summer job while still living with their parents, or should it be illegal to pay them what they’re worth?

There is nothing wrong with a teenager working a summer job, no matter if they are living with their parents or not.

However, lets say they decide to get a job at a burger joint, they obviously have less bills and other expenses of the 35 yr old guy with 2 babies at home, who just got hired there too, so it is unjust if they are both paid the same amount of money per hour, they both have VERY different circumstances and situations, their pay should be different, that is common sense.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.