Monday, September 8, 2014

Livable Wage And A Healthy Economy


     President Franklin Roosevelt stated in 1938: “No business which depends for its existence on paying less than living wages ... has any right to continue in this country. By living 
wages ... I mean the wages of a decent living.”
     Pope Francis, in 2014, called for “general temporal welfare and prosperity ... and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labour that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives. A just wage enables them to have adequate access to all the other goods which are destined for our common use.”
     Henry Ford spurred the economy in 1914 by raising his workers’ daily wages to $5. Later he explained “We were building for the future ... A low-wage business is always insecure.”
     A fair economy insures, through our labors, a decent living for ourselves and our families. I define a decent living as a place to call home, food on the table, clothes on our backs, heat in the winter, transportation, some money in the bank, a good education, and a better life for our children.
     While Vermont’s pristine beauty is ideal to promote tourism, any industry that exists through underpaying the workers who sell merchandise, operate ski lifts, serve food, change beds and clean toilets, should be examined, not just by FDR, Pope Francis, or Henry Ford, but by all responsible citizens. A decent return on investment for businesses must be matched by a decent return for those whose labor creates the economy.  
     There is good and thoughtful talk of creating high-paying jobs in Vermont through entrepreneurship, incubators and workforce training; all of which I support. Regardless of new jobs created, however, we will still need a hands-on labor force to sustain our retail and service industries.
     An immediate and equitable way to grow the economy is to enhance the pay of existing, necessary jobs. The myth that if wages go up jobs will be lost is dispelled by extensive studies to the contrary. Additional income increases spending, stabilizes the workforce, grows industry and creates more jobs. More money flows into our economy and more residents, not just out-of-staters, will be shopping in our stores and dining in our restaurants.
     Three ways to raise pay are: By enlightened action by employers, which is happening in many businesses in Vermont; by collective bargaining through unions; and by legislative action, which happened in the last biennium with overwhelming citizen support and nonpartisan action. 
     With the continuation of low paying jobs, we are experiencing decreases in tax revenues and increases in financial assistance needs, and thus, are facing another budget gap for 2015.  It is time for us to push for a robust Vermont economy that balances a decent return on investment for those who put forth capital and a livable wage for those whose labor creates our prosperity.
     For anyone with questions or comments, please be in touch by mail at 58 Hi-Hopes Road, Wardsboro, VT 05355, by phone at ​802-896-9408, by E-mail at or by website at
    Thank you.
    State Representative John Moran
    Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and Whitingham

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