We don’t need more services for the poor – we need higher wages

There was an announcement this week that the School for the Deaf was purchased to become a center for helping people living in poverty. As we all know, it will probably be tied in with some kind of ‘Ministry’ like most services for the poor are in Sioux Falls. But that is NOT the issue with the project.

It seems over the past couple of years our services for the poor have been exploding in Sioux Falls even though unemployment is very low. Feeding SD has expanded, the Banquet is building another location, The Barrel House restaurant has held several fundraisers for school lunches, The Bishop Dudley house has been built and likely will expand, the St. Francis House is expanding and so is The Glory House.

The Thrive report last year told us the problem, people can’t afford housing in Sioux Falls on the wages they are making. Sioux Falls also doesn’t have rent control ordinances.

While I commend those who want to help the working poor, creating more services for the impoverished doesn’t solve the underlying problem, LOW WAGES, Right to Work laws, and restrictions on Unions.

Not only do higher wages help to relieve poverty, they actually help the economy. When people make more money, they spend more! Raising wages would be a boon for our community.

I also see a secondary solution to poverty. I think the city, county and state should invest in a FREE birth control program, and I’m not just talking about FREE condoms at Monk’s House of Ale Repute, but women being able to get a prescription FREE. In Colorado State, with the influx of taxes from Marijuana sales they implemented a FREE birth control program. In the first year of the program’s usage, teen pregnancies were down 40%!

I know the good Christians in Sioux Falls want to do the right thing and help the poor, and we will never be able to eliminate poverty totally. Some people can’t work due to disabilities, some are just too old and others are just damn lazy. But I think workforce development tied in with family planning would go a lot farther then handouts, which are just subsidies to companies who want to pay low wages while the stockholders get richer by the day without paying a corporate income tax.

We need to stop the ‘Whack a Mole’ mentality when it comes to poverty in Sioux Falls. We need to start paying people living wages and educating them on SEX.


#1 anonymous on 05.17.19 at 4:43 pm

How does a non-profit like this come up with 6.9m?!

#2 Matthew Paulson on 05.17.19 at 6:47 pm

Anonymous – They own some real estate down town that will be sold to help pay for this. They also have some wealthy donors that are stepping up to help fund the purchase. They are also partnering with another non profit on the property as well. A lot of groups are coming together to make this ministry campus a reality.

I think it’s going to be a really huge blessing to the city when fully transformed. It’s in the perfect place in town to help refugees, immigrants and other economically disadvantaged groups. Multiple organizations will be housed there. They’re making free community soccer fields for kids in their neighborhood too. I’m all for higher wages too, but this project will be a huge help to those that need it.

#3 l3wis on 05.17.19 at 7:12 pm

I figured that there was some private donors. And I would agree, they will do great things. My bigger point is why don’t these private donors pay their workers more instead of giving to charities to help poor workers (oh, that’s right, it’s a tax write-off).

#4 matt johnson on 05.17.19 at 7:21 pm

Hate to break the news to you Wis, but wages are also a tax write-off as a legitimate cost of business. Should an employer choose to get his write-offs in that fashion he or she can do so. However some of the people giving the money to the ministries are not the ones making those employment decisions- or even operating those businesses- so please don’t criticize the private donors

#5 scott on 05.17.19 at 8:30 pm

i hate to say it, but it may be part of a bigger plan to get “those people” out of downtown and keep them in the whittier area.

#6 "Very Stable Genius" on 05.17.19 at 8:58 pm

Well, I have said it many times on this site and I am going to say it again. There is wage collusion in this town and state.

Now, some disagree with me, but if you do, you are in denial. Nothing proved the existence of wage collusion in this town and state more than when Neel Kashkari, a Republican Federal Reserve banker, came to Sioux Falls in August of 2017 and spoke to the Downtown Rotary Club, where he chided that group for not raising wages, claiming that if you want more workers then you need to raise wages. Kashkari knew actually who he was talking to. He was talking to a crowd that is anti-wage and a crowd that over time has created an inherent collusion against living wages in this town and state, and shame on them.

When Jankow died and KELO spent a week memoralizing him, they interviewed a prominent Republican who claimed that Janklow not only brought Citibank to South Dakota with better paying jobs, but he also brought to Sioux Falls a company that offered benefits like health insurance; and that prominent Republican said the local business leaders then realized collectively that they needed to offer benefits to their employees too, to compete for employees. So don’t tell me there is no collusion within our local business community on workers’ rights, wages, and benefits, because there is. This example maybe almost 40 years old, but many of those who were involved in that transformational moment in South Dakota and Sioux Falls history are still around, still involved in our affairs, or were involved in our affairs not that long ago and are the ones who have created this modern day inertia of collusion against workers in this town and state when it comes to wages and benefits.

One of the ways we can end this collusion is by requiring that all job postings list the pay schedule for a given job. It is time we promoted competition, when it comes to hiring, and ask our business leaders in this town and state to practice what they often preach when they speak of the virtues of competition and capitalism. I don’t know about you, but collusion is not capitalism, rather it is a toxic by-product of it, that smells of a control, that is more characteristic of a socialistic state than a credible and genuine capitalistic state.

As far as relief for the poor, I cannot fault that in time and place. But I have always found it amazing how the conservative mind, the one who often expounds the virtues of capitalism, is also the same mind that will promote food banks, food banquets, and food drives for the poor, while in the same breath they will indict food stamps or SNAP. Frankly, what is the difference?

Well, the difference is found in the minds of our conservatiive friends actually. Although, these conservatives often indict programs like SNAP because they claim such programs make one dependent and lazy, they seem to lose that concern as long as they can directly be involved in the distribution and control of relief to the poor, because such conservatives are in love with a “My Lord” relationship with the poor in the absence of government, because they depise government and in so doing they depise democracy itself.

Only when you understand that conservative mentality, do you begin to understand this conservative logic and the conservative distinction between private and public food relief, or any relief for the poor; and when you discover this twisted logic is when you uncover the true and selfish greed of conservative politics that works to diminish democracy and underpay, and thus to underfeed, their fellow man in the name of what they claim to be true or genuine capitalism in place of a faith in true or geniune democratic state.

#7 Blasphemo on 05.17.19 at 9:35 pm

So: from whence do wealthy private donors amass sufficient affluence to make donations of great enough consequence to assist with such major acquisitions – if not directly or indirectly from business enterprise… which are employers – ?

#8 Rachel on 05.18.19 at 12:28 am

I agree with MP.

#9 Matthew Paulson on 05.18.19 at 8:46 am

Of the donors that I know are involved with this project, they all pay well above average wages. These people have excess capital for charitable projects because they have done very well in business and have taken care of their people well. These donors employ probably less than 1% of the city’s work force though.

Wages are a real issue in this city, but I think the issue is that there aren’t enough middle class jobs. There’s some great white color jobs available and lots of entry-level jobs, but not enough 40-80K jobs for entry-level employees to work their way up into. The economic development folks in town are well aware of this issue, it’s just a difficult problem to solve. You need to recruit companies that pay true middle-class wages to Sioux Falls and encourage different types of companies to grow in Sioux Falls.

It doesn’t really work to tell McDonalds and Walmart they need to pay $15-20 an hour, because those companies can’t operate profitably at those wages. People are only willing to pay so much for a cheeseburger at McDonalds or plastic stuff at Walmart. People would just shop elsewhere. You’d really have to raise the minimum wage across the city or state so that there’s a level playing field among companies that are perceived to not pay their employees well enough.

#10 Blasphemo on 05.18.19 at 9:20 am

I AGREE WITH VSG! Very, very well reasoned & articulated assessment of conservative values where these issues are concerned. Bravo !

#11 matt johnson on 05.18.19 at 9:41 am

VSG, you are confusing a true democratic state with a true socialist state. Only in a socialist state does the government dictate wages and what is posted in job wanted ads. The people who amassed(or are amassing) wealth from business are those who have taken on the risk of doing so. They do not punch a time clock, take their two weeks (or more) paid vacations and holidays. They provide the benefits, the workplace and meet the payroll. Should you not be satisfied with the wages or salary, you can move on. The owner cannot. You state the point as to attract employees you can do so with higher wages- a fact of supply and demand. However when the cost of that wage affects profits either cost of finished product is raised or the company goes out of business. You indicate that there is wage collusion- how then do you describe the difference between wages at Kohls ($10/hour), Target ($13/hr) and Costco (I understand $15/hr)?

#12 Rich Merkouris on 05.18.19 at 5:31 pm

Thanks for sharing your perspective on poverty in our community. I have an opportunity of being a part of this project. There is no doubt that services are exploding in our community. One key aspect of this project is that we do not want to create new services or ministries. We want to see them come together and work together.
The ministries and services that I work with on a regular basis are seeking to help those in poverty in healthy ways not just hand outs. Poverty is extremely complex. I’ve never seen an instance where one thing solves it. Higher wages and job opportunities that match the skills of people are key aspects. There are others issues that have nothing to do with wages such as broken relationships, addictions, etc.
I hope our business community does seek to improve wages and create jobs that benefit all skills. This project will hopefully be a piece of the puzzle in helping people in our community.

#13 l3wis on 05.18.19 at 5:42 pm

Thank You for your input. I do commend what you are doing, my point is that it takes a combination of solutions and one of those is ending wage collusion in this town. I have told councilors that the city council can pass two ordinances. 1) A minimum wage standard in city limits 2) A requirement to post the starting salary in job ads.

#14 Rachel on 05.19.19 at 4:05 pm

It a an issue that requires a dual approach. Right on that Scott. People should be paid a living wage, regardless if they work at Walmart or are an attorney. They shouldn’t be paid the same, but the Walmart employee shouldn’t have to suffer while their CEO’s and upper management make money off the backs of those living in poverty. I also think as a country we should support and uplift those whom are struggling. Since CEO’s aren’t willing to do this through wage and benefits, then I think we should have extensive social service programs in place to help those most in need.

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