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Single moms and the minimum wage

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There is an attempt here in Michigan to put a the question of raising the minimum wage on the November ballot. Many of the proposal's supporters have concluded that people can't live on minimum wage.

Shocked? You shouldn't be. Yet what is so often forgotten is that no one generally has to live on it. The overwhelming majority of minimum wage earners are exactly those who don't need to live off of it. They are teenagers and others on the first step of the employment ladder, or the second wage earner in a traditional household. In short, they are, generally speaking, those just getting their feet wet economically. They're getting job experience; what ought they expect when just starting out?

But that is not a concern behind a recent study of minimum wage workers using the Basic Economic Security Tables for Michigan. One of the people it focused on was a 23 year old unmarried mother of two, trying to support herself and her kids working two jobs which paid between $9.50 and $13 bucks an hour. Another is a single mother of three who makes $7.54 an hour as a telemarketer. Single mothers... is anyone willing to stand up and point out that these are not traditional families?

How did they become single mothers? It doesn't matter, because we will be told that that's none of our business as a society. Keep your hands of our...bodies, we conservatives would be told. Yet when these single moms want sympathy, and a liberal organizations such as Wider Opportunities for Women and the Michigan League for Human Services, who created the report using public data, want attention to their views on how the government ought to run the economy, then their lot in life is supposed to be our concern.

To call that effrontery is to understate the point. Simple common sense says that if these single moms had waited to have kids until they were in a more stable and traditional home environment, or at least until they had gained the skills themselves to qualify for better jobs, then their current wages wouldn't be such an issue.

This is not to disparage all single moms. Some are in that position through no fault of their own, to be sure. But as to the ones who are in such circumstances as the direct result of free will actions of their own, it is fair to wonder exactly how much society ought to change for their benefit. Simple Christian charity indeed calls on us to help...but more for the sake of the children involved. They are the innocents. Their mothers are all too often merely insisting that they be allowed to act any way they want, then demanding society help hold the bag.

It is a point which should not be lost on the larger society when considering wealth and poverty issues.

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