At the beginning of this school year, students from the Honors College at Abilene Christian University began their very special three year course of study that will see them focus as a group on poverty in inner city Dallas.
Already my young friends have turned up ugly evidence of what affects our economy so adversely. These bright students discovered that in several South Dallas zip codes the average household income hovers around $10,000 annually. Hard to imagine isn't it?
If you and/or your family had to make do with $10,000 a year, what sorts of things would impinge on your life, your decisions, your attitudes and your expectations? Hard, but very good and fair questions for those of us who are doing so much better to ask and answer honestly.
According to Wal-Mart, the average pay to its employees in Texas is $12.31 an hour. According to the union, the company's average hourly wage for the nation stands at $8.81.
If the company is correct about its Texas employees, a person working a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job and paid for 52 weeks (both unlikely assumptions) will earn $25,605 annually.
If the union is correct and making the same assumptions, a Wal-Mart employee will earn $18,325 annually.
What is life like for households living on wages at this level?
How do marriages fair?
What health issues do these families face?
How is the psychological health of these wage earners?
What are neighborhoods like for communities who earn wages at this level?
How do wages affect housing stock?
Code enforcement and neighborhood amenities?
What impact do wages at this level have on local economies and on economic development?
What factors are at work here to encourage or discourage the development of retail outlets?
How is job growth in these areas?
The realities of capitalism force on us tough questions about how we might make changes to help our working poor neighbors These realities make a strong case for the expansion of public efforts such as the Earned Income Tax Credit program. They also argue persuasively for increased investment in public education, early childhood programs and workforce training initiatives to enhance and diversify the skills of our labor force.
Things will not improve unless we get involved and begin to insist on the needed changes.
March 2, 2014–Transfiguration Sunday
6 days ago