Letter to the editor -
I just read an article prepared by the chairman of the St. John's Board of Trade entitled "Poverty and social justice: The business perspective," July 3. It concerned the recent 50-cent increase to the provincial minimum wage and its implications for social justice. In my view, never was so little said by so many words.
It appears to me there is something disingenuous in suggesting, on the one hand, a symbiotic relationship between business and labour characterized by common goals of social justice, while, on the other hand, cautioning us to temper our generosity to the weaker elements of society because "50 cents per hour per person has to be passed on to consumers for goods and services sold by a business."
The last time I looked, $10 per hour is substantially below national poverty standards. I'm not sure social justice can be purchased for $10 an hour and all the prescriptions you can fill.
Further, had the chairman suggested ways that business might not have to pass on this cost to the consumer, he might have captured my imagination.
Perhaps become more efficient, perhaps cut the dividends to the almighty shareholder, perhaps lower management bonuses, perhaps a lower margin of profit, perhaps a lot of things.
Passing the half-buck, literally so in this case, simply means that business is profit-neutral and even a tiny advance in social justice costs them nothing.
The chairman then goes on with a long list of lofty platitudes from the business playbook that we've heard many times before ... "because we have similar overarching goals for ourselves and our society, like giving everyone a chance to improve their lives; like spreading prosperity rather than risking it through imbalance; like achieving important collective goals."
All this for 10 bucks an hour!
I have never read such patronizing drivel, especially from a no doubt talented leader of our community. But the chairman needs to be told, so that he will not repeat this embarrassing effort.
I'm sure at the core he's a good man and will offer more creative and substantive ideas in the name of social justice as his term progresses.
Let's hope so.