Thursday, February 23, 2017

Living Wage by Walter Lippmann

"Wouldn't it be absurd to assume that minimum wage legislation is a kind of omnibus for paradise. To fix a 'living standard' would be a great advance over what we have, but by every civilized criterion it is a grudging and miserable thing.  In those moments of lucidity when we forget our hesitation before brute obstruction, it sees like a kind of madness that we should have to argue and scrape in order that we may secure to millions of women enough income to "live." If we had not witnessed whole nations glowering at each other all winter from holes in the mud, it would be hard to believe that America with all its riches could still be primitive enough to grunt and protest at a living wage, mind you; not a wage so its women can live well, not enough to make life a rich and welcome experience, but just enough to secure existence amid drudgery in grey boarding-houses and cheap restaurants.

We may fail to secure that.  As far as the press is concerned, the issue hardly exists. It lies at the moment stifled in platitudes and half-truths about "not hurting business." From the little comment there is, we might think that a business was sound if it rested on the degradation of its labor; might think that businessmen were a lot of jumpy neurotics ready to shrivel up and burst into tears at a proposal to increase their wages bill a penny or two on the dollar; might think, from the exclamations of Mr. Brown and his friend Smith, that a campaign against sweating would do no less than ruin the country.

But you cannot ruin a country by conserving its life. You can ruin a country only by stupidity, waste and greed."

March 27, 1915

No comments:

Post a Comment