Some say that the age of capital has arrived and that technology has made the labor of the high school drop out obsolete. It is this argument then that supports the idea that uneducated laborers should be paid a wage that does not sustain life. Yet the vast majority of the world does not exceed this poorly educated standard of learning. Are we saying then that the majority of the world should not exist? The creation of computers, while making the world vastly more productive, has not yet made mankind extinct.
The ability of a country to lift its people through education determines its ability to compete on the economic frontier of the world. The fact that only 4% of Detroit’s eighth graders can pass basic knowledge tests in math is an indicator of the abysmal condition of America’s system of preparation for competition on that economic frontier.
Yet, whether or not we are adequately preparing our nation for the leading edge of national production, we still are producing more humans. These humans have value, a value that is economically determined by our ability to educationally prepare them, but that has value nonetheless.
America continues to replace human capital with machinery and computers to compete with other parts of the world that still uses human capital at a much lower price. America has seen fit to add $15 per hour equivalent through regulation and set a minimum wage of $7.25. With our artificial barrier of $22.25 in a world with a median income of less than a dollar, technology must prevail.
Yet those are artificial barriers we set for ourselves that drive labor decisions in America. Therefore, we are content to give on top of those barriers an additional equivalent of $13 per hour to every citizen that we keep sidelined and unemployed. It is our artificial barriers that attempt to create obsolescence. However, even if we removed the barriers and reformed our abhorrent educational system as we should, America would still have a segment of our population unable to rise to the levels of knowledge required to compete for those jobs that are left with our $22.25 barrier.
Are we then divinely just in letting American labor sit idle while millions provide similarly educated labor in other countries to supply us our goods?
There is strength in Biblical verses about work. Several contain the context that men must work to eat. For instance:
1. Thessalonians 3:10
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
Now if the Bible says if anyone is unwilling to work let him not eat, then if follows that if they are willing to work then they should eat. The laborer is not the owner of the work. The master of the work is the capitalist that has provided for the business owner.
1. Timothy 5:8 states:
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
How could God allow the servant of a master’s work to become an unbeliever and deny his faith because he cannot provide for his relatives simply because the master of the work does not provide a living wage? If God commands a man to work and to provide from that work for his family less he be deemed and unbeliever condemned to Hell, then God must want for this man to earn a living through honest work.
Ephesians 4:28 says:
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
Yet, we turn our backs on our failing schools, condemning millions to a life unprepared for honest work. We then turn them to the streets where high school drop outs and failed students cannot earn a living wage, and we force them into making a poor choice between public handouts and lives of crime.
The idea that a man can condemn another to work for wages beneath his ability to sustain life has been tread out through the ages and always ends in fallen governments and revolution. The Arab Spring happened because the world’s economic implosion brought food prices beyond the reach of North Africans. Just because men can lower wages below livability does not mean that God supports their power.
For the scripture of 1 Timothy 5:18 says,
“You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
The Bible is replete with verses that support the concept of work equating to a living wage. It certainly does not state that the laborer will become wealthy from his toil. Yet, it does support the idea that man should be provided through his toil his needs so that he may come to God in solitude with good prayer.
If this is so, then our leaders are called to come together to determine how all can earn a living wage through a community’s toil.