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Minimum Wage

I am ashamed to admit that I had to look up what minimum wage is. The current rate of $7.25 an hour equals about $15,000 a year.

It infuriates me that political right-wingers have manipulated rural and Southern voters into believing that poor people, and especially African-American people who are poor, are moochers living off their hard-earned tax dollars. The truth is, of course, that the majority of people on welfare are white. Most also are disabled and just barely surviving. It was Ronald Reagan who invented the “welfare queen” and used it to appeal to barely hidden racism as a part of his Southern strategy to keep his party in power.

His strategy worked, and poor, white Southerners have been voting against their own economic interest for decades. Ironically, the county with the highest portion of its population receiving food stamps is an overwhelmingly white county in Kentucky that consistently votes Republican, despite that party’s effort to cut their support and let them go hungry. It is almost as if they would rather not eat than let someone get money they “don’t deserve.” These white, rural Southern welfare recipients are able to convince themselves that they somehow deserve support while others don’t.

Why aren’t we ALL pushing to raise the minimum wage? It is a LIE that teenagers in burger joints are the only ones working for minimum wage. The average worker is in their 30s. So, your right-wing racist relatives believe the myth about the welfare queen, but what is their excuse for not supporting the working poor being able to provide for their families?!? Don’t tolerate it. Confront it, challenge it, call them on it. It is a matter of Christian justice to demand that CEOs make a few million less so the working poor can make a living.

Blessings,

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Rev. Michael Piazza

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