I mulled the idea of experimenting living on minimum wage for a week but dropped it like a hot potato. I could not put myself through the shock of a sudden change in my erstwhile modest lifestyle. But recently, a former Governor of a State tried (another term for political stunt) to make a point with this hot button issue.
The Governor started with a budget of $77 (how he arrived at this figure, no one knows). Which was to cover his feeding, transportation and any other expenses that could arise. Well, by Thursday he failed and miserably he did. He spoke about certain tough spots he found himself in – the fact that he could not take a taxi (he had to walk a lot more, which made him late for his engagements), cessation of impromptu coffee (definitely Starbucks) stops. His most telling revelation was his inability to have a balanced diet during meals hence he had to skip meals. Finally, he muttered, what if a medical emergency sprung up? One word…DISASTER!
His findings caught my attention for its visual appeal, but it also raised counter arguments as to the validity of his claims. Firstly, let’s use a State with the lowest minimum wage Wyoming $5.15. Assuming the average Joey six-pack works an average of 4 hours per day for 5 days in a week, this gives you $103. Which makes you wonder how the Governor arrived at his dramatically low budget.
Also, most folks who live on minimum wage barely use taxis, never know what a the inside of a Coffee-house looks like (why spend money to get coffee when you can mooch off free coffee at work) and most importantly, they know how to get creative with meals (I guarantee that the governor’s idea of a balanced diet differs from the average person). According to the US Department of Agriculture, the cost of feeding a family of four a healthy diet can run $146 to $289 a week. On average that roughly translates to $54 for a single person – this puts you comfortably under your weekly budget. If Joey is creative on costs (like getting an apartment close to his job, skipping meals when possible), Joey has some money left over to treat himself once a week.
Lastly, let’s assume the Governor’s claims were accurate. If you can’t get by with your current income, why not get another job? Or better still increase your work hours – it’s not common sense, its basic survival instinct.
On a side note, if you are Joey six-pack and you have four kids on a minimum wage paying job, I don’t think the problem is your minimum wage.