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An appeal to common sense and sense of justice



Published: Sat, October 28, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



EDITOR:

Passage of Issue 2 would increase the minimum wage in our state from 5.15 to 6.85 an hour, and adjust it annually based on inflation. I'm for an increase because I believe that justice requires it, and that it's also a matter of old fashioned common sense. By mandating an increase in wages for the poorest among us, we enable them to take a giant step toward self-sufficiency.

Why should the people of our state continue to supplement the payroll of businesses that refuse to pay employees a living wage. Because the minimum wage nationally has not been raised since 1997, the buying power of those on minimum wage is the weakest it's been since 1954. Indeed, the very fact that a minimum wage exists at all reminds us that in the past Americans have insisted our government set a standard which secures the unalienable rights of all our citizens.

In America we proudly confess to be "One Nation Under God". We visit nursing homes, drop money in Salvation Army kettles, and give to various charities because generosity is part of our national heritage. As a people who trust in God, we believe that helping our neighbor is what defines us as a people.

We have tens of thousands of families right here in Ohio trying to survive on 5.15 an hour, or little more. They are referred to as the working poor, but our faith reminds us that we are neighbors. Whether we are the middle class, poor, or wealthy, our lives and our fates are inextricably bound together.

We need to stand in solidarity with the poorest among us, and vote yes for an increase in Ohio's minimum wage. We're not being asked to make a donation or pay higher taxes, or for charity of any kind. We're simply being called to embrace justice for people who work as hard as anyone else, but receive too little in compensation. The working poor aren't asking for a handout, but simply for a fraction of the return on their hard work which professional athletes, CEO's and so many others receive.

While some claim that there are businesses that can't stay afloat if the minimum wage is raised, does any business really want to survive on the backs of people who are left stuck in poverty? If the minimum wage is a standard that represents the best judgment of society, shouldn't it equal an amount that reflects the dignity of humanity? Can we even begin to imagine paying rent for an apartment, utilities, food, clothes, health care, and transportation on 5.15 an hour?

A yes vote on Issue 2 allows Ohioans to put an exclamation mark after the words: "liberty and justice for all!" Here in the heartland of our country, we can remind the rest of America that the minimum wage for "workers" is a moral standard that reflects the kind of people we are. Whether it's a mosque, synagogue, church, or our own home that we pray in, we take pride in the principles that bind us together as a people. This election our vote can actually lift people out of poverty; only in America!

TERRY VICARS

Youngstown




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