Everyone who works must be fairly paid.
Millions of Americans work full time for wages that prevent them from rising from poverty. The jobs these people work are essential and socially worthwhile. Many employers routinely obey the capitalist imperative to maximize profit by paying the lowest wage they can get away with. There is no law requiring employers to pay a Living Wage, something Australia has had for a century. This poor pay means that there is no state in the US where minimum wage will rent a two-bedroom apartment at market rate. Most low income workers have no health insurance. They cannot save for retirement.
We now know that any boost of equality has an almost magical multiplier effect. Improvement also improves crime rates, obesity, marriage durations, educational achievement, teen pregnancy, and practically every other social measure imaginable. Likewise, falling equality makes everyone, rich or poor, worse off. Equality is essential if we are to have a true democracy, and Living Wage laws make it happen.
The unfortunate must be protected.
This category includes the ill, the injured, the aged, and others who, because of circumstances beyond their control, are temporarily or permanently unable to fend for themselves. To fail in our duty to help them is a cruelty that is morally indefensible.
Everything that benefits the rich
must also benefit the poor.
An extractive economy occurs when all benefit goes to the rich, without any corresponding value for the rest of society. Such a scheme always worsens equality, which has broad negative effects on the entire country, rich and poor alike. The influence peddling and purchase of legislators and legislation by the rich for their own benefit over the past three decades has sharply reduced the quality of our democracy and the degree of equality we experience.
Many among the mega-rich reliably attempt to control the legal process for their own benefit. There are far more than enough American rich who routinely try to subvert democracy in this way. Our laws prevent classical extractive plutocracy, but the rich can still systematically influence government, and they do. With focused organizations of systematic exploitation like ALEC, their influence has become grossly distorted, so much so that the detrimental effect on others has become obvious. This differs from extractive plutocracy only in degree.
There is also work that contributes nothing to the welfare of the society. Such things as computerized trading produces nothing of benefit for anyone but those who control the computers.
Conservatives have a clear either/or choice. Either they support life in a democracy with equal opportunity and adequate pay, or they must admit to the fact that the course they are on leads inevitably to plutocracy, inequality, non-democracy, and inescapable poverty for a large part of the population. If they want to claim that all persons must be responsible for themselves, they must support the rights of all persons to a Living Wage sufficient to pay for health care and savings for old age. It’s a clear choice. You can’t vote for unequal pay and then say you are for democracy.
How do you suppose the Republican vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act stacked up in this light?