What exactly is a livable wage anyway?

I'm not asking for a textbook definition or what the government might consider a livable wage. But, when people are "hey, hey-ing" and "ho, ho-ing"  in the streets demanding a livable wage what are their expectations?

Is $15 an hour a livable wage? Is $20? What kind of purchasing power do these folks anticipate if they were to achieve the so-called livable wage? Should someone working an entry-level position at say, McDonald's or Walmart expect to be able to own a brand new car? How about a 60-inch television? Should they be able to afford an annual vacation on a livable wage?

All of these are fair questions, no?

The Poor People's Campaign is planning non-violent civil disobedience across the country this Spring as a call for a "moral revival." They believe that the poor are being shortchanged by the government (us) in terms of wages, health care, equality, and opportunities. Their organizers believe America to be a racist nation that spends too much on military defense and not enough on social programs for the poor. Giveaways.

They also believe that there should be limits on how much a person can earn and that anything above that amount should be redistributed amongst the poor. Socialism.

They insist that government should sustain the poor and refuse to acknowledge that family values, education, and hard work are the keys to ending the cycle of poverty. Poverty is their business and provides them with a livable wage. When poverty is wiped out these advocates, often paid with federal and state grant money are out of work. Poverty is a cottage industry.

Many at the poverty line have limited educations and limited skills due to decisions they've made, yet they demand a livable wage from those who have been more industrious. So, next time someone demands a livable wage ask them what exactly it is they expect and what they plan to do to end the cycle of poverty in their own families.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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