An ancient Asian proverb says, "When spiders unite, they can tie down a tiger." Well, one of the most menacing tigers in our country is the low-wage policy of both big business and government, which are using everything from corporate downsizing to global trade deals like NAFTA to hold down the paychecks of working-class families. Despite generating record profits, productivity and stock gains for corporate America, eight out of 10 American workers have seen their incomes stagnate or fall
But so many can be taken advantage of for only so long. The establishment media has ignored this story, but all across America, the "spiders" have been getting organized, and they're beginning to tie down that low-wage tiger. Their silk thread is a powerful concept called "the living wage," which already has raised the wage floor in city after city.
The concept is that a minimum wage should not be an artificially low number chosen by politicians, but a fair amount that at least provides an income above the poverty line for full-time workers.
The grass-roots organization ACORN and the New Party have been leaders in organizing local coalitions of churches, unions, community organizations and progressive politicians to fight city halls for living-wage ordinances. Their approach is to attach the fair-wage requirement to city contracts awarded to big business. If the corporations are getting millions of dollars from us taxpayers, they should return some benefit to our communities in the form of a living wage to their lowest-paid employees.
The whole economy gains, as those employees have a few more bucks to spend locally -- rather than all the money being hauled off to corporate headquarters.
This is more than an idea -- it's now the law in places like Chicago, Durham, Boston, San Antonio, Oakland, Milwaukee, Des Moines and Portland.
To fight for a living wage in Central Florida, call ACORN at (202) 547-2500.
Jim Hightower is an author, radio commentator, public speaker and political sparkplug from Austin, Texas. For more populist commentary, visit his website.
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