Governor O’Malley: Realizing the Dream

Governor O’Malley’s blog post on celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Today I join the people of Maryland, and the entire nation, in celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. Dr. King’s enduring legacy of fighting for civil rights, workers’ rights, and economic justice was written in far too short a time, but we strive to carry on his memory and work every day here in the State of Maryland.

In the speech that changed the course of our history, Dr. King spoke of a nation where many lived “on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”

Too many of our people are still stranded on that island. In recent decades, we’ve seen people work harder and harder, only to fall further and further behind — while, at the same time, incomes in the top 1 percent have skyrocketed.

The way we grow our country and the way we grow our economy is to grow our middle class.

If workers don’t have money, businesses won’t have customers. Better pay for workers means more consumer demand. More consumer demand means more customers for businesses. And more customers for our businesses mean a better and stronger economy.

We have an opportunity here in Maryland to do something that makes a difference. It makes a difference in putting food on the table. It makes a difference for kids and their moms and dads to be able to put a roof over their heads.

This year, we are taking an important step to grow our middle class and reward hard work: passing a $10.10 minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. Twenty-one states have minimum wages higher than Maryland’s—while we have the highest median income in the country, and one of the most highly educated workforces.

This effort is important to protecting the dignity of hard-working Marylanders who are more productive than they’ve ever been, yet are falling further behind. And it’s important to a strong economy. A thriving middle class isn’t a consequence of growth…it’s the source of growth.

With his life and his words, Dr. King called us to action. The work he set in motion is not finished. The dream is not yet realized.

But we are united in our belief in the dignity of work, the dignity of home, and the dignity of every individual. We have a shared belief that each of us can make a difference and that all of us must try. We believe that our children deserve a future of more opportunity, not less.”

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