Father Jake has a good post on the failure of a Senate bill to increase the minimum wage. I love the FDR quote about the minimum wage and its implicit moral component. Riverstone picks up the idea and places it in the context of the teachings of Hazrat Isa. The two of them bring up an interesting point: If the people voting down this legislation are not interested in representing the will of the American people, nor in practicing the teachings of Hazrat Isa, are they the representatives of America? Christianity? If so, is this really what they stand for? If not, isn’t it a crime to impersonate other people?
Let me be clear on the living wage. I do believe there should be limits on the living wage, and on corporate executive pay. I believe in the latter as both someone interested in social justice, and as a corporate shareholder. However, it is disgraceful that the minimum wage does not allow people to live (significantly) above the poverty line. There HAS to be a moral quality to this argument, and if there’s not, we need to make a distinction between a minimum wage and a living wage.
Hazrat Ali says in one of his letters:
And everyone of this class has the right upon the ruler of the State that at least minimum necessities for its well-being and contented living are provided.
Let me remind you once again that you are made responsible for guarding the rights of the poor people and for looking after their welfare. Take care that the conceit of your position and vanity of wealth may not deceive you to lose sight of such a grave and important responsibility. Yours is such an important post that you cannot claim immunity from the responsibility of even minor errors of commission or omission with an excuse that you were engrossed in the major problems of the State which you have solved diligently.
Therefore, be very careful of the welfare of the poor people. Do not be arrogant and vain against them. Remember that you have to take particular care of those who cannot reach you, whose poverty-stricken and disease-ridden sight may be hateful to you, and whom society treats with disgust, detestation and contempt. You should be a source of comfort, love and respect to them. Appoint a respectable, honest and pious person – a person who fears Allah and who can treat them honourably, order him to find out everything about them and to submit a report to you.
Then treat these poor people in such a way that on the Day of Judgement you can plead your case successfully before Allah because of all classes of your subjects this class deserves more of your attention, sympathy and fair-deal.
Though everyone of these poor persons deserves your sympathy and you will have to do justice to His cause to achieve His favour, yet you should pay more attention to young orphans and old cripples. They neither have any support nor can they conveniently come out begging. They cannot reach you; therefore, you must reach them.
Remember that the fulfillment of this obligation and duty is considered as a tiresome burden by most of the rulers but to those who desire to achieve His Blessings and to enter into His Realm, even this work seems light and congenial. They bear it happily, dutifully and sincerely. They find pleasures in it and they believe in the promise made by Allah.
All this is a necessary factor of your rule because I have often heard the Holy Prophet (s) saying, “That nation or regime, where that rights of the depressed, destitute and suppressed are not guarded and where the mighty and powerful persons are not forced to accede these rights, cannot achieve salvation”.
Remember the least amongst us.