Your editorial questioning the wisdom of raising Baltimore's minimum wage to $15 mentioned the possible unintended consequences of such a move ("A $15 minimum wage? Not so fast," May 1).

This has been the question for businesses every time there have been demands for an increase in the minimal wage.


However, we should not even be discussing a minimum wage but rather a "living wage" bill with an adjustable rate that increases as the cost of living rises.

Baltimore lives with undeniable consequences of poverty that we can no longer ignore if we are to see real progress.

Your editorial relies on a failed logic put forth by many in the business community who refuse to deal honestly with the problems in this city. It is this same failed logic that led us to the explosive response in the wake of Freddie Gray's death last year.

You acknowledge that wages have failed to keep pace with inflation but fail to touch on what that means in real world consequences for our city.

You are right, Baltimore is not Seattle. It needs bold leadership to break away from economic policies that have failed its citizens. Baltimore is a city where nearly 25 percent of its population and 35 percent of its are children living — and dying — in poverty.

An estimated 80,000 low-wage working citizens in this city will be impacted by an increase in the minimum wage. This is a life and death issue for a significant number of people whose economic struggles have been ignored for decades by city leaders.

It is urgent that city leaders raise the minimum wage to $15/hour if we are to begin transforming our city.

As pointed out by the Department of Labor, "the typical minimum wage worker is not a high school student earning weekend pocket money but in fact, 89 percent of those who would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase to $12 per hour are age 20 or older, and 56 percent are women." An increase to $15 will encompass more people and have even more impact.

Children raised in poverty have far less opportunity to succeed in education, employment and housing and suffer high risk for neglect, health issues and crime. An increase in the minimum wage stops punishing women who bear the burden of single parenting in our society and gives their family a better chance at succeeding.

Communities in poverty simmer with rage under the weight of neglect. Much of the drug violence we see in our city is fueled by economic instability and unending poverty. Much of the drug use and abuse we see is similarly related to people feeling hopeless and looking to escape their dreary existence.

We must have an economic justice agenda that tips the scale away from big business interests to the needs of people in our city. We must reject our city's failed economic plan for development that continuously tries to justify corporate welfare handed out to millionaires and billionaires in the forms of TIFs, PILOTs and other incentives. Money is being taken out of the pockets of Baltimore taxpayers without any improvement for those living in or just above poverty.

It is time that the business community meets its responsibility to give back to working people by paying a fair wage. Paying a living wage now, beginning at $15/hour, is the starting point of revitalizing communities, providing low income workers more disposable income to support local businesses and giving families hope that they can make ends meet without working hours on end to do so.

Baltimore needs a living wage bill starting at $15 an hour now, not in 2020, if we are to show the city that the message about real change has been heard by its leaders.

Nnamdi Scott, Baltimore


The writer is the Ujima People's Progress Party candidate for City Council in Baltimore's 7th District.