Just Thinking: Is Jesus for a Higher Minimum Wage?
January 22, 2015By

After watching David Oyelowo’s brilliant performance as Dr. King in the motion picture Selma, I know now more than ever the reason for civil disobedience. If a man is not disturbed or given a push to operate justly, he would more than likely not.


This world is unfair and unbalanced. Mankind is inherently selfish and greedy and not naturally given to generous impulses. But Dr. King said the time is always right to do that which is right.


I have seen, though, that a man will never proceed in the right direction unless he is propelled or impelled by an outside force. In a world not governed by God, the best we can hope for or expect is a grudging compromise to move anything forward.


In State of the Union address on Jan. 20, President Barack Obama proposed an increase in the minimum wage. The Republican Party has opposed it, bemoaning the idea that it will harm businesses. They are strong proponents of supply side economics which is the belief that business left unfettered without onerous regulations will prosper and the rising tide of this profitability will result in higher wages and employment.


I do not believe in supply side economics because it depends on the inherent good will of man. It assumes that the more he gets, the more he will want to share. Notwithstanding notable exceptions, history has taught us that the more a man gets, the more he wants to take and keep.


Have you ever heard phrases or terms like sweat shops, migrant labor, unsafe mining practices, price fixing, collusion or insider trading? For years it was an accepted practice to pay women and minorities less for doing the same work.


The late John Paul Getty once one of the world’s richest men was asked what would make him happy.  “One dollar more” was the cold calculating, chilling response.


The prevailing nature of man is the description and accusation leveled at Ebenezer Scrooge by the ghost of Christmas past- a squeezing, wrenching, grasping wicked covetous old sinner. That literary work by Charles Dickens was a thinly veiled condemnation of the despicable work houses and deplorable debtors’ prisons of Victorian England.


Time and again it has been proven that a man will never willingly concede or hand over anything unless it is demanded, commanded or he is motivated by the Spirit of God.


I challenge you to think of any great social revolution whose aim was the elevation of mankind that was not paid for with blood, sweat and tears. Our hands have never opened on its own accord to share with our brothers. Instead our clenched fists have to be forced open while kicking and screaming to address our brothers’ need and cry.


During the French Revolution whose motto ironically was “liberty, equality and brotherhood” blood ran through the streets of Paris like rivers.


Countless lives were lost in the struggle to abolish slavery -- the economic engine of the South.


Communism was not the primary focus of Fidel Castro while languishing in the Sierra Maestra mountains of Cuba. His desire was to overthrow the corrupt repressive regime of Fulgencio Batista and give his people a fair deal. People forget so easily that the good old days were rotten for a lot of people.


How about the Son of Man shedding his blood on a cruel cross?


Economic determinists say all actions are motivated by money. And even The Bible says “money answereth all things” and “the love of money is the root of all evil.” When a man acquires money, he is not inclined to share it.


If that was not the case, why have or need child labor laws, voting rights acts, strikes or trade unions.


Shared wealth, albeit anathema in many circles, will always be a good idea no matter how vocal or strident the opposition or logical the argument.


Why do you think God told the Jewish people not to glean the edges of their fields or oppress the stranger because they were once strangers in Egypt?  He further instructed them that every seven years they were to release the debtors of all their obligations so that he could turn the page and start a new chapter in his life. Even so the heart of man being desperately wicked despite written laws and fear of God, they would scheme, plot and invent ways to avoid doing the right thing. In the books of Haggai and Malachi, God scolded, cajoled and implored them to consider their ways and their disdain for God by offering upon his sacred altar broken,  left over and unwanted gifts. To add insult to injury, their words were stout in their defiance asking, “how have we robbed God?”


God’s response. ”You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.”  Even today statistics say that only 2 percent of Americans tithe and the vast majority of them are poor to middle class.


If knowing, hearing or seeing the wrath of God will leave a man undeterred and unwilling to share his wealth, how is supply side going to do it? It will not happen without some sort of government intervention, threats, penalties or work stoppages.


Most Republicans proudly assert that they are Christians, as that party shares most of the religion’s ideals. This is not one of those times.


“For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” - 2 Cor. 8:13-15.


That in a nutshell is the motivation behind charities or foundations and Bill Gates and Warren Buffet nudging their fellow billionaires to leave half of their fortunes to charitable causes.  Do you remember Oprah purchasing a brand new car for every teacher in the audience? They instinctively realize that they have more than enough-more than they or their children can use in their lifetimes.


It is no recommendation to us that the children of the world are leading the charge to combat poverty and lack.


I understand that there are charlatans, deadbeats and scamps who will try to take advantage of the system and there should be harsh measures in place to punish those who would seek to game the system. The Apostle Paul warned the people if a man does not work he should not eat and one who does not provide for those of his own household is worse than an infidel. I appreciate that sometimes union demands are unreasonable and outrageous requests oftentimes endanger the welfare of a company.


There should a mechanism in place to counteract abuses which will inevitably crop up.


There is no perfect solution but because something can go wrong is never a sound reason to delay doing what is right. The fallen nature of man is always bent toward evil and always desires to corrupt that which is good. Misdeeds of Medicare in South Florida are a prime example.


Therefore, as children of light, how can we in all good conscience deny a man enough to buy a house, to buy a car and put gas in it to go to work, put food in his belly to sustain him and allocate funds to educate his children to succeed him. One or two dollars more an hour is not going to hurt Walmart or Publix or cause them to go out of business. But for a man skirting the edge of poverty, it can mean a world of difference and relief. Furthermore, most people of my acquaintance would gladly pay fifty cents more for a product if it would mean their neighbor could find a job with a decent wage.


Refusal would be to shame us as believers and the one who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, who helped you when you could not help yourself. He paid for something that you or I can never, ever afford.  He paid a debt he did not owe and we owe him a debt we cannot pay.


Despite the loud protests and ridicule, it is still true- you did not create that and you did not get here all by yourself. Somebody, somewhere along the way gave you a break or a hand up. To deny that, is to spit in the face of your Creator who gave you the very air you breathe.


He reminds us that freely we have received and freely we should give.


How can you repay him by responding ,“ let them eat cake” when they cannot afford a morsel of bread.


It should always be in the forefront of every mind that I should leave the world a little better than the way I found it. If it costs us a few extra dollars, so be it. We are paying it forward in appreciation of the one who loved me enough to pay the ultimate price for me.


One sobering final thought. No matter how many houses you accumulate, no matter how many toys you own, no matter how many lands you possess, when the spectre of death confronts you—you cannot take anything with you.


 Just ask the late founders of Walmart and Publix  -- Sam Walton and George Jenkins.                                     



V. Knowles is a husband and father with an interest in penning issues that serve to uplift mankind. He melds his love for Classic literature, The Bible and pop culture - as sordid as it may be - into highly relatable columns of truth, faith and justice. Hence the name: Just Thinking. If he's not buried in a book or penning his next column, you may find him pinned to his sectional watching a good old Country and Western flick.



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