working poor Viewminder/Flickr

الحد الأدنى للأجور أم الدخل الملائم للحياة؟

لندن ــ إن أغلب البلدان الغنية الآن أصبح لديها الملايين من "الفقراء العاملين" ــ المواطنين الذين لا تكفيهم أجورهم التي يحصلون عليها من وظائفهم للبقاء فوق خط الفقر، وبالتالي فإن هذه الأجور لابد أن تكون مدعومة من قِبَل الدولة. وتأخذ هذه الإعانات هيئة الإعفاءات الضريبية.

الواقع أن الفكرة قديمة للغاية. فقد نفذت إنجلترا قانون "سبينهاملاند" ــ وهو شكل من أشكال الإعانة التي يتم تسليمها إلى الفقراء في أماكنهم بهدف التعويض عن ارتفاع أسعار الخبز ــ أثناء حروب نابليون. وفي عام 1795، صرحت سلطات سبينهاملاند، وهي قرية في بيركشاير، بإضافات تكميلية متدرجة للأجور وفقاً لاختبار سبل العيش. وكانت هذه الأجور التكميلية التي تتلقاها الأسر تتفاوت وفقاً لعدد أطفال الأسرة وأسعار الخبز.

ولكن هذا البرنامج كان موضع انتقادات لأنه سمح لأصحاب العمل بإعطاء العاملين لديهم أجوراً أقل من الكفاف ما دام دافعو الضرائب يتحملون الفارق. وفي عام 1834 حل محل نظام سبينهاملاند قانون الفقراء الجديد، الذي كانت المساعدات التي قدمها مقتصرة على بيوت البِر، في ظل شروط مشينة بالقدر الكافي لإرغام الناس على العودة إلى سوق العمل.

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