The government shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing poverty. If we’re giving subsidies to businesses, we should demand that they offer jobs that pay a living wage. We cannot continue to silently watch people be marginalized at the expense of our taxpaying dollars. On May 12 there will be a chance to speak up. The New York City Council will hold a hearing on a proposed law that would impose a living wage ($10/hour+health coverage or $11.50/hour without health coverage) for all businesses that receive financial assistance from the City.

Opponents will argue that the timing isn’t right, that we cannot afford to pass this legislation in this economy. They are wrong.  The truth is that we cannot afford to wait. Working families are not the only ones who bear the burden of low wage jobs. Taxpayers also share the cost when working families must rely on public assistance to meet their basic needs because they do not make a living wage.

There is an abundance of empirically sound research that says living wages are not only good for working families, but also good for the communities where they live and work.  Here are links to just a couple of resources:

http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/research/livingwage.html

http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/research/minimumwage.html

New York has long been a place of tremendous inequality with an estimated million and half New Yorkers living below the poverty line and a shrinking middle class. If the political will exists, public resources and tools can be used to raise the standard of the city’s livability landscape, ensuring that public resources benefit businesses that provide good, family-supporting jobs. See you on May 12!

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