American Dream Just a Dream: Most Latinos in LA Can’t ‘Make Ends Meet’

LATINO PERSPECTIVE-The American Dream is the ideal notion that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. But for many Latinos living in Los Angeles, this is really just a dream with little chance of becoming a reality -- unless their standard of living changes sometime soon. 

In a recent study, the Economic Policy Institute found that 78 percent of Latinos in Los Angeles have “insufficient incomes to make ends meet, compared with about one-third of whites and nearly two-thirds of African-Americans.” This is unacceptable for a 21st century city like Los Angeles. 

A staff writer for made the following calculations. (Keep in mind that the current minimum wage in Los Angeles is $9 per hour.) 

“In order for a single person without children working full-time to have a minimum living standard he or she would have to earn $34,324 per year. That’s $16.50 per hour. A couple would need to earn $46,750, and a family with one parent and one child would need $60,600. Parents with two children would need $72,697 and three children would need $91,950.” 

We cannot wait for the State of California or the U.S. Congress to raise the minimum wage. The well-being of many families in LA -- especially Latino families -- is at stake. This is why earlier this year the Los Angeles City Council agreed to draft an ordinance raising the $9-an-hour base wage to $15 by 2020 for as many as 800,000 workers, making LA the largest city in the nation to adopt a major minimum-wage hike. Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle already have approved similar increases. 

“Make no mistake,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who was instrumental in shaping the city’s plan, “today the city of Los Angeles, the second biggest city in the nation, is leading the nation.” 

We need to look after the well-being of families who can’t live in this city making $9 per hour; that’s why raising the minimum wage to $15 is the right thing to do. At the same time we ought to take care of businesses in the City who already pay a lot in taxes. We must find incentives for them to remain in Los Angeles and prosper, while at the same time providing a living wage to their employees. Yes, we can do both. 

Let’s prove to those who think that the American Dream is dead that it is actually alive and well. Let’s give Latino families in Los Angeles who believe in the dream the tools and means to make it a reality. After all, we are Americans: We make our dreams a reality, no matter how long it takes or how many sacrifices we have to make and no matter how hard we have to work. 

(Fred Mariscal came to Los Angeles from Mexico City in 1992 to study at the University of Southern California and has been in LA ever since. He is a community leader who serves as Vice Chair of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition and sits on the board of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council representing Larchmont Village.  He was a candidate for Los Angeles City Council in District 4. Fred writes Latino Perspective for CityWatch and can be reached at: Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.





Vol 13 Issue 89

Pub: Nov 03, 2015