What is a living wage?

Why do we not ask this question? Why do we not have this discussion?

Perhaps it suits our current capitalistic models that we keep the definition of a living wage this obscure, ephemeral thing. In some places we have replaced it with basic wage or minimum wage. If the last two years have taught us anything, it is that essential workers are often the ones on a minimum wage. When they stop working our system collapses. 

Theodore Roosevelt offered a basic definition in a 1912 speech: A living wage should let workers “secure the elements of a normal standard of living,” including education, recreation, child care, a cushion for periods of sickness and savings for old age.

If we are measuring human progress, what definition are we using? Our love affair with technology-will-save-the-world is hollow when we keep people in poverty. Surely we can spend as much time dignifying all of humanity as we do creating the next big thing in technology? 

A living wage. To enable living. To unleash synergy. We might start there.

Photo taken January 4th 2022

Share This