Sunday, April 20, 2014

Minimum Wage (Post #1111)

Every gubernatorial candidate running ads on TV in PA is supporting a hike in the minimum wage.  It has become a religious issue as well as the leader of another denomination named Lutheran has written an open letter urging Congress to raise the wage to $10.10 per hour.  Her statement makes a lot of assertions about what Lutherans believe.  In fact, neither scripture nor the Lutheran Confessions address minimum wage laws directly.  One should be careful suggesting that one has a "Thus saith the Lord" mandate or consensus among Lutherans of all times and places on economic issues.  Is paying $10.09 a sin?  Is $10.11 a meritorious good work?   From the economic perspective, raising the minimum wage is not a good idea.  To remain profitable companies will either have to lay off employees or raise prices, both of which would be detrimental to the very people the wage hike was supposed to help.  Do you want to pay double for your Big Mac?  If companies reduce their profits, who is hurt?  One population hurt would be the retired people whose pensions are invested in stocks, etc.  Another would be investors, who, getting less return on their investments, would have less incentive to develop new products and the jobs they produce.  The argument is made that one cannot live on minimum wage.  Minimum wage jobs are usually meant to be "gateway" jobs for those entering or returning to the job market.  The law of supply and demand dictates that employers will pay the best wage they can afford to retain valuable workers; and workers will move to where the best compensation can be found for their skills.  Of course, it becomes an emotional issue as well.  Oppose minimum wage increases and you're a nasty person; endorse them, and you're a saint.  I worked for minimum wage when I was in high school and college. (Back then it was around ($2.00 an hour!)  Sure, I would have welcomed a pay raise --who wouldn't?  But as it was it was enough for me to meet my needs -- I wasn't raising a family on that wage nor would I try to -- and it prepared me for better jobs later.  Bottom: it is never a good idea to try and regulate the market, and an even worse or idea to force a theocracy on it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday: What Pastors Do

  • Go to the church and check everything needed for Sunday morning TWICE. (Bonus: you find something that actually needs to be done.)
  • Think about everything you could/should have done during Lent but didn't, and promise yourself you'll do better next year. (Bonus: you actually remember them next Lent. Super Bonus: you actually do them.)  
  •  Break into your Easter candy early.  (Bonus: all the candy is gone by Monday when you start your annual Day After Easter Diet.)
  • Try in vain to find something Easter related on TV that you haven't seen before or isn't an insult to your faith.  (Bonus: you watch part of the Pope's Easter Vigil on EWTN.)
  • Try to take a nap, you have to get up early tomorrow and it's been an exhausting week.  (Bonus: you actually fall asleep for an hour.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday Musings

Actually, I'm thinking more about Good Friday...

The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh has a special event every Friday they call "Good Fridays."  Even if the proprietors aren't Christian, do they have to mock our faith?   Andy himself would not approve, I gather.  Although his lifestyle was far, far from the Christian norm, I have read that he maintained the Eastern Catholic faith of his youth regardless.  It is said he would attend mass regularly in NYC, but not commune because he didn't want to confess.  Not ideal, but honest in a way.

Good Friday morning usually began with an urgent call from my grandmother when I was growing up.  Although we were Protestant, Roman Catholic traditions, even ones expunged by Vatican II,
held sway in Baltimore in the 1960s.  It was common to eat fish every Friday, and no meat on Good Friday was the rule under threat of eternal condemnation.  I never understood how eating meat was an affront to Jesus.  It seemed an arbitrary legalism to me, although I wouldn't have had that vocabulary at the time.  But I did welcome the cod fish, oysters and shrimp.  The explanation that it was merely a way the church tried to help the economy of  the fishing industry seems more like something a church critic would say.

Another Baltimore "Urban Legend" was that it would rain every Good Friday.  I guess it rains somewhere in the world every day.  In the movies the darkness that covers the earth during the crucifixion usually becomes a cloud burst as Jesus dies for 1.) dramatic effect, 2.) a natural explanation for the darkness, and 3.) a baptismal image.  That, and that Good Friday is in the spring and that it rains a lot in the spring, may have made those connections into a superstition. 

"B.C." is a comic strip by Johnny Hart.  He has been called "the most read author in the world."  When you think about it, it may be true.  Probably more people have read the comic page in the newspaper than picked up Shakespeare or the latest best-selling paperback.  I won't get into the irony of  the characters in "B.C.," meaning "Before Christ," being Christian or the whole Creationism debate.  Anyway, Hart caused quite a stir a few years ago with some blatantly Christians themes in his comics for Good Friday and Easter.  In fact, one is hanging on my "Holy Humor" bulletin board at church right now.  What is frightening was the malicious attacks on his character, calls for a boycott, etc.  Our rights to free speech and freedom of religion are under attack like I have never seen before.  Some of the things I have read in response to the firing of the Mozilla CEO, saying people with beliefs outside the prevailing status quo should just be quiet or expect to lose their jobs, is chilling.