Dem presidential candidate says opposing $15 minimum wage is immoral and unchristian

By David Flemming

During the Democratic primary debate in Detroit, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said, “The minimum wage is just too low, and so-called conservative Christian senators, right now, in the Senate, are blocking a bill to raise the minimum wage, when scripture says that ‘whoever oppresses the poor taunts their maker.’”

Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg

The bill in question languishing in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate is remarkably similar to Vermont’s $15 minimum wage bills. The Vermont proposal that would have raised Vermont’s minimum wage to $15 by 2024 or 2026 nearly made it to Gov. Phil Scott’s desk before Democrat infighting in the House and Senate killed the bill. The federal proposal Buttigieg is pointing to would raise the U.S. minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

Buttigieg’s comment about “so-called conservative Christian senators” could mean several things:

  1. Conservatives who oppose the minimum wage can’t be faithful Christians because they are living in blatant disregard of the Bible’s teaching (Buttigieg, a progressive, considers himself an Episcopalian).
  2. Christians and/or conservatives are morally obligated to support the minimum wage hike because Christians should use public policy to help the poor.

His first moral judgment is the more insulting of the two. He seems to be claiming that the only sincere Christians are those with a non-conservative ideology, questioning the faith of millions of Americans (including the author) who have conservative views and are Christians.

The second moral judgment is more deserving of a response. Buttigieg quotes Proverbs 14:31 from the New American Standard Bible to reveal the supposed contradiction in the GOP’s policy: “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.”

Who are the poor in question, and how would they be affected by a minimum wage hike? There are four groups of the poor who would be potentially affected by a $15 minimum wage hike nationwide:

  1. Those getting a pay raise with the same hours
  2. Those getting a pay raise and a cut in their hours
  3. Those who are never hired because an employer couldn’t afford to take a chance on hiring them
  4. Those who are let go because their labor is not worth $15/hour to their employer

If Buttigieg has overwhelming evidence indicating that the vast majority of the poor would see an overall increase in their pay (despite working fewer hours), then he could conceivably have an argument. But given that many minimum wage studies contradict Buttigieg, and may actually point to higher rates of unemployment among the poor after substantial minimum wage increases, Buttigieg’s inaccurate remarks become even more incendiary when he claims that “so-called Christian conservatives” are morally wrong to oppose a $15 minimum wage.

So how has Mayor Pete treated the poor in his town of South Bend?

Shawn White, a black 24-year-old from South Bend’s lower-income west side, said he used to see Buttigieg’s mayoral predecessor, Steve Luecke, around his neighborhood. But Buttigieg?

“I ain’t ever seen the dude,” White said in a CNBC interview. “Tell him to chill with us for three or four days.”

Buttigieg’s housing demolition program in the poor areas of South Bend didn’t go so well, according to the CNBC report:

“One of the first problems to emerge was the clouds of dust, feared to contain lead and asbestos, that spread uncontained from the demolition sites. Soon, wild animals, like raccoons and groundhogs, appeared in people’s homes. Vacant lots, where crumbling houses once stood, became dumping sites as tall grass grew.”

As Matthew 7:5 says: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Perhaps Mayor Pete should talk to the poor in South Bend before he starts proscribing labor policy for the nation.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Lorie Shaull and Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore
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7 thoughts on “Dem presidential candidate says opposing $15 minimum wage is immoral and unchristian

  1. I wish someone could examine the true cost of the $15 hourly wage. First that is $ 600 a week, good pay for a first job. Add Social Security, medicare, bookkeeping and gov’t reports, time off, vacation, sick time paid, Now add your own, and someone total up the whole truth.

  2. Excuse me –Who’s living in blatant disregard for the Bible ?

    The Bible says that marriage is intended solely between one man and one woman and is backed up by the verses Genesis. 1:27-28; Matthew 19:4-6, and Malachi 2:15.
    By that standard you are not a faithful Christian as you have a husband, so don’t single out Christians as not being faithful to the Bible.

  3. Pete Buttigieg confusion between socialism and Christianity is a quite common mistake, even though the two are very opposite. Just a couple days ago I posted the following on a FB page where a person expressed confusion about socialism.

    True liberty requires embracing personal responsibility … or an internal law that is higher than man … a Christian concept. Socialism moves that responsibility to the state, which then applies an external human law … a humanist concept. As a people reject internal laws, which is the case in American culture, collectivist ideas like socialism that see the state as supreme take over and liberty leaves. This can be a long road or a quick one, but the point is liberty goes as socialism grows. There is not way to prevent that. It is a shift of power from individual people to the state. And with that goes a lot of creativity that makes life so fulfilling and meaningful … and as life has less meaning, the entire culture slides downward.

    It is no accident that our nation based on individual liberty was birthed in a world where Christian ideas were very understood. Today, even among conservative Christians, few really grasp the fundamentals of the faith. Freedom of religion itself is a Christian concept, because faith is first in the heart and then works its way out. Real religion cannot be force upon or out of anyone.

  4. Hey Pete, as long as you are quoting the scriptures, I suggest you check out “judge not lest you be judged”. Works both ways Pete.

  5. Sure it’s great to have a job that pays real money. But if the choice is between good money and no money at all, no thanks!
    I’ve done both, and was grateful when I could at least make something. These utopians have no concept of reality, or they just don’t care. Also, where’s the incentive to improve one’s skills, or reputation?
    Have they ever tried collecting bottles for the nickels?
    Anyway if they succeed, inflation will soon make $15 worth $2.50, and we are back at square 1.

    • So $12 per hour is better than $0 per hour? And a $3 loaf of bread is more affordable than a $15 loaf of bread? Quick, tell the liberals

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