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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

High Wages, Low Wages, and Morality

Published on Monday, January 30, 2006 by the Christian Science Monitor
by David R. Francis
  
It's unusual for a controversial economic issue to be fought on moral grounds. But ACORN, a public advocacy group, has been winning a higher "living wage" for workers in state after state, city after city, by appealing to voters' sense of justice.
 
"It's probably the best [argument] we have," says Jen Kern, director of ACORN's Living Wage Resource Center. A decent income is a moral matter of "fairness," she says. Those who "play by the rules of the game should be able to support themselves by their work."
 
"A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you poor," agrees Paul Sherry, coordinator of the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, a church-based coalition in Cleveland seeking to raise low wages.
 
According to the father of classical capitalism, Adam Smith, a Scottish professor of moral philosophy at Glasgow University in the 1700s, the "invisible hand" of self-interest ensures the most efficient use of resources in an economy, and public welfare is a byproduct.
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