There are many different opinions on how to improve society, but most people agree that every person deserves to have a dignified job and a stable income. Mary Beth Maxwell, Executive Director of the nonprofit organization American Rights at Work, has spent her career fighting for economic equality. Here are five interesting facts you may not know about the movement for economic justice.
1. Aims To Close the Wealth Gap
A wealth gap happens when a small percentage of people holds a large portion of a country’s or community’s economic resources. Advocates of economic justice want to implement policies that make the wealth gap smaller. The movement supports initiatives such as progressive tax rates and affordable housing for all.
2. Intersects with Social Justice
Although they may appear to be distinct causes, the movements for social and economic justice intertwine. Social issues such as the fight for racial equality, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ rights are closely related to economic inequality. People who experience injustice or oppression usually face more than one issue at the same time. Although it is effective to propose specific policy updates rather than scattered or vague ideas for change, activists know that it is important to include social justice perspectives when fighting for economic equality.
3. Has Ties to Martin Luther King Jr.
The “I Have a Dream” speech is instantly recognizable as the work of Martin Luther King Jr. What many people don’t know is that the famous Civil Rights era activist was a strong advocate for economic justice as well. In fact, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote at length about the importance of fighting for economic equality.
4. Argues for a Higher Minimum Wage
Any economist will tell you that yearly inflation is a normal part of capitalism. The economic justice movement doesn’t disagree. But advocates in the movement have pointed out that the amount of money that workers make has not kept up with rising prices of rent, groceries, and utilities. Raising the minimum wage is one of the most important goals of people who fight for economic equality.
5. Fights for Workers’ Rights
Workers have not always been able to organize and ask their employers or business owners for safe and fair working conditions. Fortunately, there has been a lot of progress since workers began to create unions over 200 years ago. Society no longer accepts child labor, and people get paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. The economic justice movement fights for the same values, including that workers deserve decent pay and a safe workplace.
Movements like the one for economic justice may seem complicated or distant from everyday life. When you break it down, most people will encounter problems related to economic inequality. For example, it is hard for many people to pay for gas and rent when inflation outpaces wage increases. Regular people fight for economic justice all the time. At the end of the day, championing a cause can help people find purpose and develop an optimistic outlook on life.