… “We have come to see ourselves as lords and masters entitled to plunder her will.” (Laudato si. 24 May 2015) Pope Francis spoke of the plundering of our environment throughout the world. Continuing in his thoughts about how we were treating Mother Earth he states: “we have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshments from our waters.”
I wonder what the thoughts of Pope Francis would be regarding corporate and political leaders that would begrudge a worker compensation enough for food, shelter, healthcare, transportation and education. I wonder if he would shout from his mountaintop that these leaders have a moral responsibility to compensate their workers, at a minimum, a living wage.
The Pope has already called for equal pay for equal work to eliminate the gender discrimination found in the workplaces of most industrialized nations. Maybe the Pope will issue yet another apology, one that would address the meager compensation paid to the workers doing Church business. Thereby, setting the example necessary for other leaders to follow.
The established minimum wage in the USA is a farce. It is not an amount that would compensate a worker enough for a meager subsistence. I do not here refer to the subsistence for an extended family, rather, the one person, the worker.
In a country whose political leaders expound an idea of a family life it seems incongruous that our laws would require less than a living wage. For if the worker cannot earn the compensation necessary to support their own subsistence how then would it be possible for them to extend the compensation in support of their immediate family.
The attitude of, our political and corporate leaders that see themselves as ‘Lord and Masters’ entitled to continue to ‘plunder’ the worker does not bode well for our future. Clearly, it did not bode well for the 18th century aristocracy of England or France nor the 20th century aristocracy of Russia.
It’s time for the leaders of the 21st century to wake up to some simple facts. They do not stand on terra firma without moral validation. They cannot continue to dash the hopes and dreams of workers and their families without untoward consequences. They cannot continue to hoard billions while their workers queue up the lines for food stamps and soup kitchens and beg landlords to wait, yes, another week, please.
Do not doubt that these workers will survive. Know also, resentment is building. It grows with each succeeding generation. I’m sure there are metrics that estimate exactly how long a line can be stretched before breaking and just as sure that continued stretching will break any line.
If you are a leader in position to make a difference please be sure your constituent workers are compensated, at least, a living wage.