Espíritu católico: Imaginando un Minnesota sin pobreza

(por Peter Noll)
Diciembre 18, 2012

A principios de este mes, una coalición llamada "Un Minnesota sin pobreza" convocó una conferencia contra la pobreza que involucró a algunos 40 grupos de defensa sin fines de lucro para colaborar, revitalizar y llevar a buen término las recomendaciones de la Comisión Legislativa para Poner Fin a la Pobreza en Minnesota por 2020, emitido en 2009.

Como defensor de los económicamente desfavorecidos y marginados, la Conferencia Católica de Minnesota estuvo entre las organizaciones de defensa participantes.

Este movimiento para ayudar a reducir la pobreza comenzó en 2001 dentro de la Arquidiócesis de St. Paul y Minneapolis se convirtieron rápidamente en una iniciativa ecuménica e interreligiosa para poner fin a la pobreza.

En 2004, los obispos católicos de Minnesota, junto con líderes religiosos de todo el estado, firmado "Una Fundación Común": Shared Principles for Work on Overcoming Poverty.” This document laid the groundwork to create the Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020.

The primary goal of the conference was to distill three key issues on which to focus their collective attention during the 2013 Legislatura.

Emerging priorities

A Minnesota Without Poverty will release these three key issues soon, but consensus in some promising legislative areas began to emerge by the conclusion of the conference.

The majority of the group already stands behind a family economic security bill that would, among other changes, increase the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour from the current state rate of $6.15 para los grandes empleadores y $5.25 para los pequeños empleadores.

En la actualidad, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for large employers trumps the lower state wage. Minnesota has a training wage of $4.90 applicable to any worker under 20 years of age for their first 90 days of employment.

Employees exempt from the Minnesota minimum wage include taxi drivers, babysitters, elected officials, firefighters and police officers, and any employee subject to the Department of Transportation’s regulations (truck drivers, mechanics, loaders, etcetera.).

Minnesota employers may not pay an employee under $6.15 per hour unless the employee or an occupation are specifically exempt from the minimum wage under state or federal law. According to a recent study, 4.5 percent of Minnesota’s hourly workers earn the minimum wage or less.

A second initiative to emerge from the anti-poverty conference is restoring work as a way out of poverty. Most people living in poverty are actively seeking gainful, meaningful employment to support themselves and their families.

An additional initiative may be increasing financial assets for households falling 200 percent or more below federal poverty levels (es decir, $37,060 annually for a family of three). Específicamente, there are three types of assets: home purchasing, post-secondary education and small business capitalization.

More information about services provided by Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota can be accessed by visiting http://www.minnesotafaim.org.

Catholic perspective

Como católicos, we believe that God has a special concern for the poor. The Church calls on all of us to put the needs of the poor first. This preferential option for the poor must include full participation in society and the economy.

According to our Catholic faith, each person has a right to the necessities for living a decent life — food, de la vivienda, cuidado de la salud, education and employment.

Catholic social teaching holds that work is more than a way to make a living: it is a form of participation in God’s creation. Ultimately then, the value of work is grounded in the dignity of the human beings who do it. Wages are a critical way by which we recognize that dignity.

En su carta encíclica, “Quadragesimo Anno,” Pope Pius XI did not retreat from the teaching that workers were due the wages needed to support their families.

En sus 1986 pastoral message, “Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy,” the Catholic bishops of the United States emphasized the importance of full employment for all who seek work, which is predicated on the conviction that human work has a special dignity and is a key to achieving justice in society.

The bishops acknowledged that government has a prominent and indispensable role to play in addressing the problem of unemployment by coordinating general economic policies and job creation.

Along with our coalition partners and state lawmakers, the Minnesota Catholic Conference supports this sustained effort to help reduce poverty for the over half-million of our Minnesota brothers and sisters suffering today.

Peter Noll is education director for the Minnesota Catholic Conference.