It seems to me rather ironic that, while Canada’s Toronto Daily Star is running a series of reports on poverty, the Provincial Government of Ontario has established the minimum wage at $8.00 per hour. Personally, I doubt that any government jobs pay minimum wage, so I see it as a concession to the business lobby. Of course, for the CAPTAINS of industry, even that is TOO HIGH, so they send jobs to places like Mexico and China where $1.00 per hour satisfies their need for profit.
I did a little basic arithmetic and developed the following numbers. A 40 hour week at $8.00 per hour provides a wage of $320.00 per week or, (for fifty weeks) a yearly figure of $16,000.00. From this, I deducted three annual fixed costs; Federal tax – $1,050.00, Transportation – $1,200.00 and Rent – $9,000.00. The last figure is based on the rent one of my sons pays for a one room apartment with kitchenette and small bathroom. This leaves a balance of $390.00 per month, out of which one must pay, GST, provincial tax, sales tax, food, clothing and any discretionary expenses such as entertainment or furnishings. This provides a minimum existence and dampens any hope for the future. I believe this scenario is below the poverty line so one immediately questions why such a worker has to pay any INCOME TAX at all! It also explains why so many young adults live with their parents, well into their “thirties”. One of my sons has explained to me that he cannot afford dating, so marriage is not happening in the immediate future, although this son is already thirty-five! The frustrating thing about all of this, is that the CAPTAINS of industry and government cannot see how this is changing our economy and birth rates. Young people are not thinking about families because their situation makes this impossible.
There is another effect. This economic scenario drives some young adults to the streets, working in the sex trade or drugs. It is very sad when our young folks have to resort to this means to exist. Generally, these activities lead to criminal activity, thereby adding costs of policing, correctional and rehabilitation activities. So, I suggest that this minimum wage has major implications, long-term and short-term, for our economy and the basic unit of our economy, the family.
This led me to take a look at the $10.00 per hour wage that was rejected. For a forty hour week, it would provide $20,000.00 per year or a discretionary monthly amount of $680.00. That is not likely enough either, but if the income tax were eliminated the discretionary amount would be $820.00, more than double the amount yielded by the $8.00 per hour amount that currently prevails. Although this amount would not be a cure, it would be a good step towards a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour which would provide $30,000.00 annually and discretionary spending of $1,400.00 per month.
Having taken myself through this look at poverty, I wondered what the Bible might have to say on this subject. First, I was led to the wisdom of Solomon found in Proverbs. Here are some quotes to consider: Proverbs 10 : 15, “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, the DESTRUCTION of the poor is their poverty.” 11 : 24, “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth MORE THAN IS MEET, but it tendeth to poverty.” 14 : 31, “He that OPPRESSETH the poor, reproacheth his Maker; but he that honoureth him hath MERCY on the poor.” 19: 17, “He that hath pity on the poor LENDETH UNTO THE LORD; and that which he hath given will HE pay him again.” 22: 16, “He that OPPRESSETH the poor to INCREASE HIS RICHES, and he that GIVETH TO THE RICH, shall surely come to want.”
I think the advice of James is also useful to consider; James 5 : 1 – 6, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries which shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the HIRE of your LABOURERS who have reaped down your fields, which is of you KEPT BACK BY FRAUD, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabbath. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.”
And Revelation describes a chaotic scene when Christ returns, Rev. 6:15-17, “And the kings of the earth and the great men, and the rich men, and the CHIEF CAPTAINS, and the mighty men and every bondman, and every free man hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; For the great day of His wrath is come and who shall be able to stand?”
Finally, as we consider the wages of the poor, we leave the last word to Jesus, who, when instructing His disciples as He sent them out to preach the Kingdom, said, Luke 10:7, “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give; THE LABOURER IS WORTHY OF HIS HIRE.”