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Thursday, November 24, 2005

The working poor

Willzhead (from the US) is talking about the working poor. This phrase is heard a lot these days in the debate on the Howard Govt's industrial relations legislation. People are looking to the United States, their minimum wage jobs; the fact that sometimes people have no wage and are expected to live off tips - which probably have to be shared with other staff; the gulf, the chasm, between the rich and the poor; the fact that people can hold down jobs and still be unable to meet their basic needs. What I find frightening in Willz' post is the term "food insecure". It reminds me that the other day I heard a conversation about the poor in India. The poor were not discussed in terms of income. They were discussed in how many calories they managed to consume a day: and there are people in India with wealth beyond imagining. So 38 million in the US are reported to be "food insecure". This is scary stuff. It reminds me of the verse in Ezekiel 16:49:
Look, this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

I am taken with the last part of this verse about strengthening the hand of the poor and needy. As I read this in the 21st century, I think of the economic infrastructure of our nations. How often does it operate to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy"? Modern economic infrastructure seems only to "strengthen the hand" of those who have more than enough. 38 million people in the USA - the richest nation on earth - who cannot put three meals a day in the mouths of their families! Do we send international aid for distribution in the USA?