Now, I’m no political or financial guru. I’m not a math or economics major. I’m going to be a Spanish teacher. Regardless, I think it takes a little bit of common sense to see that raising the minimum wage from 7.25 to 10.10 is not really the best idea for everyone’s best interest.
First off, we hear all the political hype about the minimum wage needing to be raised in order to give everyone a living wage. That’s where I see the problem. I think we live in a world too full of smartphones and fast food for us to realize that we have a fairly skewed definition of what a “living wage” is.
I understand that the living wage is more than just meeting basic survival needs, it’s about having a decent life, shelter, food, amenities, etc. I do think that people have grown to embrace a different definition of a living wage. According to Wikipedia, the living wage includes, “shelter (housing) and other incidentals such as clothing and nutrition.” However, the living wage calculator includes some other costs if you’re living in Provo, like me. Click on “Provo” and check out the table. Let’s go through the cost of being a single adult in Provo.
Food: Table says 242 dollars a month. My wife and I spend a max of 150. Combined. On a living wage, on top of groceries and fast food and eating out occasionally, we have a hundred bucks left. I could take my wife to Olive Garden every weekend of every month (in addition to our normal spending) on the living wage for one adult. Am I the only one who sees that as a problem? Am I the only one who wants to redefine “living wage”?
Medical: Table says $131 a month. Thanks to Obamacare, my wife and I are still on our parents’ insurance. We pay slim to none except for medical emergencies. There was a $1,100 visit to the ER that insurance didn’t cover (emphasis: INSURANCE DIDN’T COVER IT, Obamacare or not). Spread out over a year, though, that’s less than $100 a month. The medical expenses are pretty well rounded for someone who takes good care of themselves and pays insurance. I like this, but it unfortunately makes a pretty strong case against Obamacare which has left many paying over 500 dollars a month for their healthcare. But that’s a different topic for a different time.
Housing: $544 monthly for 1 adult. My wife and I share a roomy 1-bed basement apartment for $550 a month. Also, when we were single, we each paid about $200 a month for a year-round contract. 544? I don’t think so. Supposing I were single and paying my $200 monthly again, I would have 350 dollars left over every month to do whatever I want with. Four grand a year. On a living wage, with leftover money from my housing, I could take a trip to South America every year.
Transportation: $285 a month for one adult. Really? Gas and insurance combined, I pay less than 200 a month. I understand that we don’t make a car payment, since the thing’s paid off, but it’s not that hard to pay off a car if you’re willing to get a junker. My dad and I have bought cars for $1,000 before. No car payment. Write a check and transfer the title, and you’re done. Cheap cars are easy to find on craigslist.
Other: $72 monthly. There’s no real inventory on the things that “other” entails, but I would imagine it includes clothing, cleaning supplies, other activities (lie a date night or something), parking tickets, phone bill, internet bill, etc. Tallying up my ‘other’ costs ($15 phone bill, $15 internet bill, $5 a month on clothing when spread over a year…) I’m spending about 35 maybe 40 dollars a month on ‘other’ things before I include activities like going to the movies. According to the calculator I have about 35 dollars left in my other category, which means that I can take my wife to the movies and see a brand new movie (with huge popcorn) twice a month. That sounds luxurious to me.
Sure, I don’t spend a lot of money. I prefer to save and invest. I am not a big fan of purchasing “consumables”, or things that you can only use once, like food. I can live on the minimum wage. My wife and I, two adults, can live on one person’s minimum wage. We can thrive on it, while at the same time paying for college tuition and books. It’s because we’re okay with not having the iPhone. It’s because we can learn to fix things ourselves. It’s because we are willing to cut costs.
It’s not time to #RaiseTheWage. It’s time to #RedefineTheLivingWage.