With no rise in the cost of living
HERE is probably no subject on which Catholic writers and
speakers can be so airy. The dictionary tells me that "airy" means unreal or unsubstantial or visionary.
The vision of a really Christian society in which every aspect of life is firmly grounded on divine revelation is something that keeps us going but today it has no substance and it would be most unreal to assume that perfection will be achieved by more than a very few families.
Yet, even while we are realistic enough to remember this it is still good for us to paint an ideal picture because it is only then that we fully realise the extent of the mess that is modern society. As we discuss the economic conditions necessary for a good Catholic home we begin to realise how many sectors of the social and political system are involved in this one system.
Family Wage THERE is the question of the family living wage.
We all accept this as part of our social doctrine. We all advocate it and indeed today we are beginning to assume that it is a reality. It is when we begin to translate the principle into pounds, shillings and pence that we begin to realise how complicated it is to define what is a family wage.
It obviously must be !sufficient to clothe, feed and house the family. Even on a very low level it would take over £7 a week to do this today. If the family is living in a modern house the rent might be over LI a week in a small town and over £2 a week in London-and if the advocates of a revision of the rent restriction Acts have their way, even the low rents that remain from pre-war days may rise to this level.
But even this is not enough for the Catholic idea of a family wage.
In his excellent commentary on the Social Encyclicals, Fr. Raymond Miller describes the just *age as e "living, family, saving wage." When one realises that the Church looks to all of us having some property and declares that the normal way to achieve this end is hy having wages high enough to save, it would he easy to argue that a family living wage ought to he a minimum of £8 10s. to £9 a week, and probably more like £10.
A sane order
THEN take into account the differ" entials that must exist to encourage men to forgo early high wages to learn a craft, or the incentive schemes designed to persuade men to work extra hard, or the increments that ought to go with long and faithful service and the multitude of other factors that have to be taken into account in designing the wage structure of any business and it is easy to see that to provide the first element of a sane economic order would mean a vast increase in wages.
Such an increase would have to be accomplished without any rise in the price of goods.
If you are an employer. especially if you are not on "easy street," you will already he getting ready to write indignant letters to the Editor.
But pause a moment, please.
I realise as well as you do that this could not be brought about this year. Yet this is surely the minimum that Catholic teaching demands, and we are so far from it that we ought to be spending some of our time in finding how to change our economic order so completely that it would be possible.
This reasonable wage level is the first essential in the economic sphere for the good Catholic home. To a large extent the other things depend on It. I.et us look briefly at the other things and then note their close dependence on good wages.