Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 18, 2018

We need a livable minimum wage

By David Sands | Jul 05, 2018

To the editor:

Even in rural Iowa, it takes two minimum wage earners’ incomes to afford a modest apartment. This means living paycheck-to-paycheck and never accumulating any savings to put a down payment on a new car or a home, let alone save for retirement.

You buy only cheap or second-hand things. You never take a vacation. If you have debt on a car, furniture, appliances or a home, and you lose one of those incomes, you can’t make your payments, so you lose what you borrow on. You are forced to accept public assistance. It’s degrading, constantly challenging and there’s no way up.

Living on the edge isn’t fun. You never get ahead. Meanwhile, the Republicans bemoan your taking public assistance, claim you can’t manage your money and make your life even more difficult by eliminating consumer protections and unshackling predatory lenders.

The only real solution to this financial prison is to raise the minimum wage to a livable wage, about $15 per hour in rural Iowa and more than that in urban areas such as Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Here in Jefferson County, at $15 per hour for 40 hours per week, you won’t live high, but you can breathe. You might not need support from the state. You get some dignity, knowing that you can earn enough to live on.

We also need to provide healthcare to all, including reproductive care and mental health services. Providing healthcare to all means viewing healthcare as a basic human need rather than a luxury that only the rich can afford.

Raising the minimum wage to a livable wage means treating labor as a resource to be nurtured rather than a commodity to be exploited. We must change our concept of a society from a dog-eat-dog view to a community view. We always take care of members of our group; we just have to expand our view of who’s in our group. Currently, the Republican view is that the group is composed of the wealthy elite. Everyone else must serve that elite.

The leadership of the white Christian fundamentalist movement gets a seat at the table but the populace gets only an illusion of inclusion and protection from outsiders whom they are told want to take away what little they have materially and socially. The elite promulgate fear to keep the support of the populace, but it’s only self-serving. The working class gets nothing and the middle class, what’s left of it, gets very little.

This inequality of wealth and wellbeing creates a dangerous situation. Suppression of the 99 percent produces anger and resentment. If the system doesn’t change to serve the majority of people, revolution is inevitable. It’s only a matter of when. What that might look like is hard to say, but hardship for most of us is likely. Therefore, we must work diligently to correct the systemic financial and political imbalances before a revolution becomes the only solution.

 

- David Sands, Fairfield

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