Fight for $15
When the Mayor vetoed the $15 minimum wage, the Democratic Party in Annapolis should have picked up the issue. Maryland is one of the wealthiest states in the country, with the most millionaires per capita, and yet we still have people in Baltimore working day and night and still not earning enough to support themselves or their families. No one should be working full-time and living in poverty. Minimum wages were first implemented because we once recognized that simple truth generations ago. If we are to maintain and enforce a minimum wage at all, it must be a wage that actually fulfills its purpose of providing a safe, livable minimum standard of living for the hard-working men and women who earn it. It's time to raise the wage to $15, statewide.
Anyone living in our district's most overlooked neighborhoods will tell you they don't care at all about a casino, a convention center, or a mixed use development somewhere halfway across the city, and their reason is simple. Despite what developers and investors may say, the economic benefits of large developments to not ripple across the city and into individual neighborhoods.
If we want our neighborhoods to be safe, vibrant, and desirable places to live, we need to invest in them, not in projects miles away. The same holds true for our city as a whole, because our city only does as well as its neighborhoods.
To heal our city, we need to start with our neighborhoods, consulting with individuals, families, activists, and entrepreneurs to find out what communities want and need and to chart a path forward that people across neighborhoods can rally around. After a neighborhood and its stakeholders unite around a plan, we can then work with the city, the state, and non-government groups to make that plan a reality. If our city and state can offer massive tax breaks to multinational corporations for the pleasure of their company, there is absolutely no reason our elected government can't also work with our neighborhoods to develop democratically enacted plans for the future.
The most violent parts of our city are not dangerous because its residents are evil. The violence comes out of desperation and that simple fact that for many young people in those areas, the only means of earning a living, however meager, is in the inherently dangerous business of drug dealing. For most people, dealing is incredibly risky and notoriously unrewarding. Only people unable to earn a living wage in the legitimate economy would ever resort to this line of work, where contracts are enforced with gunfights rather than lawsuits, and where the only retirement plan is an untimely death.
It's time to fund job training programs and incentivize the opening of small businesses in neighborhoods in need of employment opportunities and economic development. Inaction is complicity in the violence, and unbridled development that displaces community members is unacceptable. But we can work together with community leaders to bring jobs to where they are needed most, and we can invest in our transportation system and safety programs to make low unemployment and even lower rates of violence a reality.