The Moral and Economic Justification for a Living Wage,
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH
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The morality of not paying workers a living wage is not a frequent topic of social debate in the United States. Nevertheless, the dual moral and economic arguments for a living wage are compelling. Profitability and an ever increasing stock market continue to be the economic and social validation for using market forces to exploit labor. There are many reasons for the absence of a discussion of the ethics of not paying workers a living wage. It could be that as a society our ethical standards are low. We do not see the negative in the greed is good mentality reflected in popular culture and memorialized in the hit movie Wall Street . Possibly, Americans associate discussion of morality to religion, and our constitutional mandate for a separation of church and state instinctively cause people to shy away from a public discussion of the morality of the marketplace -- that is unless an advocacy group is able to capture national headlines as was recently the case concerning American sweatshops in the clothing industry. Maybe American life is too steeped in a belief of individual liberty to hold someone accountable for moral or ethical transgressions which do not amount to criminal acts. Perhaps, since life is substantively good for the majority of Americans, we are unwilling to morally examine a wage compensation system that has brought the nation prosperity and made America the most powerful nation in history.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Government and Political Science