From the Winter 2013-2014 issue of Jewish Currents
WHEN THE NEW YORK TIMES DEVOTES FOUR ENTIRE “JUMP PAGES” to a cover article about the horrible impact of homelessness on an 11-year-old African American girl and her family in New York, you know that the powers-that-be are at last realizing that a poverty rate of nearly 50 percent in one of the world’s wealthiest cities is intolerable. “[A]s the city reorders itself around the whims of the wealthy” wrote Andrea Elliott on December 9th, sounding more like a journalist for The Nation than the Times, the “traditional anchors” of the poor such as “affordable housing” and “jobs that pay a living wage… have weakened.” By focusing on an entirely unemployed (and perhaps unemployable) couple and their kids, however, this first of a five-part series only flirted with the one fact about poverty that has most appalled the American public: that even many fully employed people cannot make ends meet. One fundamental step to change that shameful reality is to lift the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 to $15, as minimum wage workers and the labor movement are now actively demanding. It’s time for Democrats, and whatever Republicans still have a conscience, to line up behind them and insist on a livable minimum wage.