Help the Needy, Increase the Minimum Wage
America is called the land of opportunity, but upward mobility is much more of a challenge in 2014 than it was in past decades. Wealth is becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of the one percent while wages in the middle are becoming stagnant. Further compounding this problem is the fact that the minimum wage has become dated—it does not rise with inflation or increased living costs. The current federal minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour–its value is so low that it cannot keep a single parent with one child out of poverty. For the countless individuals living on the minimum wage, any chance of advancement or prosperity can seem impossible.
Most Americans are cognizant of the need to raise the minimum wage. Roughly 71 percent of adults stated that they would support a law that raised the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour. Despite the differences between the political ideologies governing in Washington, a majority of Americans firmly believe that nobody who works a full day should live in poverty.
As Jews, we are instructed to stand up for those who do not have the ability to do so themselves. Proverbs 31:9 reads “speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.” Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 or even $9.00 per hour will not solve all of the problems, but it is an effective first step towards tackling poverty in America.
Greg Klein is studying history and political science at the University of Michigan. Originally from Deerfield, Illinois, he is a member of Congregation Solel. As a Machon Kaplan participant, Greg is interning Jobs With Justice this summer.