…why do we not hear from our ecclesiastical authorities about the obligations of workers toward to the owners of businesses? For example, we are typically subjected to calls from our bishops for increases in the minimum wage. Why is this always an automatic “good” when it can be demonstrated that giving in to the demands by workers for increases in the minimum wage will inevitably lead to higher prices and job losses for others? How about the social obligations workers have toward their fellow workers and duty not to demand confiscatory wages from their employers?
Those are the words of a Catholic deacon in the comboxes of The Catholic Thing last week. I sat, somewhat stunned, when I read this. “Confiscatory wages”? By demanding a raise in the pathetic minimum wage? What in the world is he talking about?
Catholic social teaching has always been clear that a living wage is a natural human right, and it is clear to anyone with eyes to see that the minimum wage is nowhere near enough to live on, let alone raise a family. Disproportionate numbers of minimum wage and other low paid workers – or even higher wage workers with many children- need government assistance to feed and provide medical care for their families.
Not that there is not confiscation going on in minimum wage industries.
There clearly is confiscation going on here: corporations are confiscating the profit made by their low wage workers for their own. Defrauding the worker of his just wage is what Scripture calls one of the sins that “cry to heaven for vengeance”. If one thing is clear from the pontificate of Francis it is that the demands of justice and the cry of the poor are not secondary to proclaiming the gospel, but primary.
I might add that we need to educate deacons better.