Friday’s Weekend Column
America Claims to Be A Christian Country

by James Glaser
January 12, 2007

I don't know if there are more poor people in the South, or if they are just more visible. Homeless people in Northern Minnesota are pretty non-existent. The extreme cold of the winter must drive homeless Minnesotans to the South. That may be the reason that they are so visible down here. The mild weather draws them down here like the snow birds that come every winter.

Last week Charlie Crist had his inauguration to be sworn in as Governor of Florida. The Governor's mansion is just a few blocks away from mine. . . . although the Governors' is a bit larger than the house I live in. I can pass by his place every day on my way to the studio, and on several street corners near his place I always see people standing there with signs that say, "Homeless, God Bless," or "Homeless Veteran, God Bless." They walk up to your car with a pitiful look and lots of people hand them dollar bills or a hand full of change.

On inauguration day those homeless people were no where to be seen, and it looked like the streets had been washed and swept during the night. I hope who ever moved those people from "their corners" gave them a good meal as they were literally taking their livelihood away from them.

Now that the Governor is all moved in, the homeless people are back on their corners, and they still have that same pitiful stare.

Democrats Screw Low Wage Workers

The House Democrats in Washington are running around telling who ever will listen how great it is that they passed a new minimum wage bill. They tell how this bill will raise the lowest worker up to $7.25 and hour. Well isn't that great, but what they don't tell you is those low wage workers will have to wait 26 months before they see $7.25 an hour in their pay check. Those Democrats just couldn't see giving these people the whole raise all at once, so they are spreading it out in three steps over the next two plus years.

At seven dollars and twenty five cents an hour your gross pay a week is $290.00. Now even with this whole jump in pay, we are not talking about a livable wage, we are still keeping hundreds of thousands of workers down in poverty.

Most Americans think minimum wage jobs are held by high school kids, but at least in Northern Minnesota there are many people working back breaking jobs in saw mills, on farms, in kitchens, working at resorts, and any number of other jobs at this low pay scale.

Many families are raised on both parents working jobs that pay the minimum, and many of those parents have two or more jobs at that scale.

Drawing on government data, labor economists highlight several patterns in the low-wage work force:

  • Most workers don't work the minimum wage for very long. Of workers who are 10 years into their careers, only about 13 percent have spent half or more of their career earning within $1.50 of the minimum wage, according to a 2001 study.

  • Minimum-wage workers are concentrated in low-skill service-sector occupations, including food service, retail and motel housekeeping. Among Labor Department occupations, "leisure/ hospitality" leads the pack with 14.3 percent of workers earning $5.15 or less per hour.

    (Workers in some occupations such as food service can earn less than $5.15 if they earn enough tips to equal the minimum.) By contrast, just 0.4 percent of manufacturing workers earn minimum wage.

  • Of the 6.6 million workers who would be directly affected by the proposed minimum-wage increase to $7.25 an hour, 61 percent are female, 29 percent are age 16 to 19, 21 percent are Hispanic, 16 percent are black, and 9 percent are single parents, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

  • Many low-wage workers also face a high level of job insecurity. People with low skills are more likely to be unemployed, according to government data. And many have only part-time jobs. Of those directly affected by the proposed wage increase, 21 percent work fewer than 20 hours per week. In addition to low skills, barriers to employment can include substance abuse or mental illness and other disabilities.

    The Christian Science Monitor

6,600,000 is a lot of people working for not much money. Most Americans can't even imagine what it is like to live on a wage that low. Living might not be the right term, "existing" might be a better one

Every one of those low paid workers is just one accident away from being that homeless person I see every day in Tallahassee.

But those Democrats are still patting themselves on the back claiming that they are out to help the little guy. What we should be talking about is a "living wage." That wage is different depending on what part of the country you are in, but for sure it is over $10 an hour no matter where you live.

If those Democrats really cared about those at the bottom, they would be voting on a "living wage" bill. "Every one does better when every one does better." I don't know who said that, but I believe that is true. Most Americans are doing pretty fine, but we do have a segment of our country that lives like shit.

771,000 is the number of Americans our government says are homeless. Many of them work, many of them have their kids out on the streets with them, and most of us look the other way when we see them. Not only do we look the other way, but if we have some sort of festivity going on like an inauguration for a new Governor, we hide those people.

Once again. . . . America claims to be a Christian Country What was that about helping the least of these my brethren?

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