Against Those Who Oppress the Hired Worker In His Wages

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:5, ESV)

What exactly does it mean to oppress the hired worker in his wages? I’m thinking it means to not pay him, or hold his pay. If I remember, people back then got paid every day at the end of the day, and it was frowned up to not pay at the end of the day. But I don’t think people had steady jobs like we do either. I think jobs were kind of on a first come, first serve, day to day, basis.

But I wondered if this applies at all to today, and the first thing I thought was, are we paying too little? Should we be paying someone $15 an hour to flip burgers? If we’re not, would that be oppressing them? I don’t think so, especially in light of the fact that professionals start out working many jobs around $18-20 per hour. Most of these minimum wage jobs aren’t intended to be career choices. Just because someone has chosen, or been forced, to make a career out of flipping burgers, in my opinion, doesn’t change the fact that it’s an entry-level job, that you’re supposed to move up from.

But, there is an area that I think the hired worked is being oppressed in his wages, and it comes from the government. The average American worker spends almost three and a half months of every year working, essentially, for free. This year (2019), Tax Freedom Day is April 19. In 2018, it was estimated that America spent more on state and local taxes than was spent on food, clothing, and housing. In 1900, Tax Freedom Day was around January 22. Think about how much money you’ll make between January 22 and April 19. How would you like to put all the money in your pocket instead of Uncle Sam’s? How’s that for oppression?

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J. Alan Doak

J. Alan Doak is a blogger, reader, writer, news junkie, and student of the Bible. He is married and has three grown children. He holds a bachelor's degree in Pastoral Studies, and has blogged sporadically at this website, Reflection on Plumb, over several years.

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