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Subsidiarity and the Just Wage: Implications of Catholic Social Teaching for the Minimum-Wage Debate

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Abstract

Catholic social teaching is frequently cited in support of minimum-wage legislation. Yet the principle of subsidiarity—that a higher association should not interfere with the legitimate functioning of a subordinate association—although it would seem to be relevant, does not appear in just wage discussions. This article seeks to correct that omission by exploring the theoretical implications of the principle of subsidiarity for the just wage debate and whether it is legitimate to claim that Catholic social teaching provides unambiguous support for Federal minimumwage legislation in the United States. The article reviews Catholic teaching on just wages: their definition, the causes of unjust wages, and who bears responsibility for achieving justice in wages. It then examines the relevance of the concept of subsidiarity to just wages and shows how there are several levels below that of the Federal government where justice in wages could be pursued.

Andrew V. Abela, "Subsidiarity and the Just Wage: Implications of Catholic Social Teaching for the Minimum-Wage Debate," Journal of Markets & Morality 12, no. 1 (Spring 2009): 7-17


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