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Living Wage Ordinance

February 02, 2000

Upon reviewing the recently published school test results and rankings, it is clear that the differences from top to bottom are based primarily on socioeconomic differences. The disproportionate distribution of wealth reflected in these rankings screams for remedy if for no reason other than to give our children a decent chance at realizing their full potential as adults.

The gap between the working poor and the wealthy is continuing to widen with the burden carried on the backs of the poor. All the more, then, does Ventura County need living wage ordinances. Establishing these ordinances countywide would begin to alleviate the economic disparities that are separating our various communities. When government entities give corporate welfare to businesses the recipients should then pay their workers a living wage and benefits.

We are the wealthiest nation in the world and should hang our heads in shame at what we don't do for our children. We will pay the price in another generation.

Let us heed President Clinton's pledge and ensure "that no child will be raised in poverty."




I believe the living wage movement in Ventura County will prove to be historic. Just as we now view counties without child labor laws as backward, the future will find us looking back at the pre-living-wage period of American history with amazement.

As a former Citizens Against Government Waste board member and a lifelong advocate for smaller government, I view the living wage movement as an idea whose time has come.

The living wage should be tied directly to the cost of rental housing in every community. Real estate lending standards preclude borrowers from incurring a housing-to-expense ratio of more than 35% to 40% of gross income. Neither should full-time workers pay more than 35% to 40% on basic rental housing.

When businesses employ full-time workers at less than a living wage, the result is overcrowding, crime, domestic stress and air pollution due to long commutes. We also know that children are often under-supervised when both parents are forced to work.

As a business owner and student of economics I value efficiency. As a society, we currently create affordable housing by sending tax money to Sacramento and Washington. The money comes back to our communities after an inefficient bureaucracy is allowed to siphon 80 cents from every dollar. The remaining 20 cents is used to provide affordable housing, effectively subsidizing the payroll of local farmers and other highly profitable, low-paying businesses such as Wal-Mart.

A living wage ordinance would eliminate the need for affordable housing schemes. The free market would be allowed to do what it does best: produce wealth by rewarding efficiency.

Americans from every corner of the political landscape should support the living wage movement. A living wage for full-time workers would result in greater economic justice, less government and greater freedom for all.



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