I was at another one of those meetings for area pastors yesterday. We use the term “religious leaders” instead of pastors because we don’t want offend the Muslim and Jewish leaders in our community who NEVER attend.
Anyway, we were talking about the problem of the needy in our community. Here is the consensus analysis from the group:
- Wal-Mart is bad, their fat cat owners are misusing their employees by paying them a government mandated minimum wage. We don’t know that is true, but know that Wal-Mart would pay lower wages if the government wasn’t making them pay what they are paying.
- We don’t use the term minimum wage because that isn’t enough for a family to live on in our community. Instead we calculate a living wage. Since no one should pay more than 1/3 of their wages toward housing we should either raise the living wage to $11 per hour or mandate that landlords set a maxim rent that is about 2/3rds of what they are getting now.
- Did you hear that we said that Wal-Mart is bad?
Although I also claim to be a Christian, respect the teaching of the Bible, and am working at a church in Iowa my conclusions are:
- Wal-Mart has singlehandedly improved the quality of life for millions of lower-income Americans by making nearly everything more affordable, created thousands of jobs in America, and countless manufacturing jobs around the world.
- As Christians we should not rely on the fat cats in congress to use the long arm of the law to step in when two adults have agreed on a price for service at a rate that the boys in Washington consider as inappropriate (minimum wage laws) and arrest someone. Don’t we understand that minimum wage laws are one of the largest causes of unemployment among youth and the poor? Didn’t we learn from prohibition and laws against adultery that it is a mistake to rely on the sheriff to stop people who are exercising their personal liberty when we don’t like it? I think the minimum wage should be abolished not raised.
- One reason that employers can get by paying low wages is because of food stamps and 101 other programs allow people to get by on low wages. Reducing the taxes for programs that help only those who really need them will further lower prices and give people more income to buy what they need. This would also raise the demand for higher wages.
The point here is NOT the justification of minimum wage laws. The point is that these issues are incredibly complex and our simple solutions to solve them and our disdain, including mine 🙁 for people whose simple solutions that are the opposite of ours is usually overstated and unhelpful. Instead of fixating on Fox News or CNN or congress and President Obama to add to our outrage about what’s being done, how about fixating on extending the reign of Christ in our own communities? What can we learn from this:
Jesus called them over and said to them, You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life — a ransom for many. Mark 10:42-45.
Who can you influence and serve in your community today? That’s not as fun as complaining about those who have power to influence the decisions on the fiscal cliff, but does much more good.
What’s another example of an overly simple solution to a complex problem?
See post from the last meeting: A small investment now pays off big in the future: third grade literacy
See also my post giving into the temptation to find simplicity in complexity… I’m right though! It’s not rocket science: five doable steps that we can all agree on to get our government on track