Point of View
The Debate About The Minimum Wage
By LaDale Anderson
Oct 19, 2012 - 5:39:28 PM

UNITED STATES—This is something that has bugged me for years.  I could never understand why the government would set a standard on what the federal minimum wage could be for someone working.  In what world, do we live in where we can actually say if you make $7.25 an hour that is a sufficient amount of money to support yourself?  I want to send a clear message to Congress; it's not! 


Someone earning $7.25 an hour working 40 hours a week has a gross pay of $290 for one week of work. In a month, they would earn $1160.  In a year, that person would earn $13,920.  Please be aware that all of the amounts I am reporting are before taxes are taken out.  After taxes, that person could perhaps have a net pay of about $9,000-$10,000 a year, maybe less depending on the state they live in.  Now, let’s factor in expenses.  Groceries alone would be an expense of $150 a month for one person. Now if you’re talking about a family of three or four, you would have to double that amount.  You’re looking at about $2,500 a year in food. 


Gas and electric bills vary depending on the region you live in.  In some states, more electricity is used compared to gas, in others there is a balance between the two based on the times of year.  An average person might spend $200-$300 a month on both utilities.  In a year, that’s about $2,500.  So far half of your income is gone.   We still have transportation because you have to get to work. Whether it's public transportation or putting gas in your car, you might be spending $40 a week for that expense.  In a year, you might be spending almost $1,700 on transportation costs.


This leaves the worker with about $4,000 to work with the rest of the year, but here come more expenses.  What about health insurance, telephone, unexpected home repairs, clothing, etc? Before you know it the so called minimum wage that any American should be able to live off on is completely gone.  How in the world are we supposed to assist those in the lower class and poverty to escape that unspeakable burden when they are not being paid a reasonable wage to have the simple amenities in life?  The answer to that question is that no reasonable human being can. 


For anyone in Congress who states the minimum wage has to be set at this degree for small businesses to thrive, ask yourself the question, “Could you survive living off of the minimum wage for one year?”  I can almost guarantee no one and I mean no one in Congress could make it.  And for the small businesses, they are still able to live a sustainable lifestyle just by paying their employees a little bit more.  There is enough to go around for everyone.  It sometimes feels like the rich keep getting richer and the poor, well, they seem to go nowhere.  And it’s not all stemming from education.


I know people who have graduated from major universities with degrees and all they can find is minimum wage paying jobs to start. What’s the point of going to college if you can’t find a reasonable paying job upon completion?  It’s a defeating purpose for so many who have been “promised” by some if you have a degree you will make big bucks and it’s not always the case.  The playing field has to be even for everyone if we want to ensure success for all those who work so hard for it. 


Just imagine how much crime is likely to decrease if people were earning a reasonable income. Or the fact that so many people would be able to invest more money into the economy as they would have the extra cash to spend vs. making a choice between food or paying the electric bill.    


If we had all working citizens earning at least $35,000-$40,000 a year things could be so much better for children whose parents sometimes just don’t have enough food for everyone.  The debate regarding the minimum wage is one that will be an uphill battle.  For anyone out there who thinks it should not be raised, ask yourself the question that I posed in this piece.  Could your survive making only $7.25 an hour without any assistance?  I can guarantee almost 100% the answer to that question is NO.

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