Dr. Aparna Jonnal, an Orange county physician, has a great essay over on Blue NC today that serves as an apt follow-up to Miriam Thompson’s fine op-ed that ran in Raleigh’s News & Observer last month. The subject: the societal imperative to combat poverty with living wages and the critical need for even those who wouldn’t benefit directly to join in the fight.
This is from Dr. Jonnal’s post:
“As a doctor, I learn about people’s lives in an intimate way. I can easily say that the greatest obstacle to health that I have seen is poverty. So many of my patients have been very poor, crushingly poor where they have to choose between basic necessities such as food and heat, where there is no chance for them to buy presents for their children, where they lie awake at night wondering if they will have a roof over their heads the next day. And most of them are working.
In fact, being a doctor has often been disappointing because I have to prescribe treatments that people cannot afford, and I have to treat symptoms of problems that have their roots in poverty. This is what led me to work on raising wages for working people, but this fight is a long, hard one. In my years of working toward economic justice, I have only seen the wage and wealth gap grow, and the conditions for low-wage workers plummet. I hear presidential hopefuls talking about the importance of raising wages and raising taxes on the wealthy but none of this will happen without many, many of us working toward these ends on our own.
This struggle should not fall solely upon the shoulders of low-wage working people. Ms. Thompson wisely writes that we all have ‘…the awesome responsibility to challenge the current economic environment.’ I wholeheartedly agree, and believe that the lion’s share of this responsibility is actually on the shoulders of those of us with higher paying jobs.”
Jonall concludes by asking folks of all income levels to become engaged in the Fight for 15 movement. Click here to learn more about that outstanding cause.