As a kid, I had jobs. My dad ran a shoe store, and I did a lot of odd
jobs around the shop like washing the windows. And I got paid. Not
much, mind you. I started at 10 cents per hour. My own kids would never
work that cheaply, but for me it wasn’t a matter of getting all that
money, my main object was to do my part. I wanted to have the
responsibility and be depended upon to do it properly.
The pay did
increase eventually. I don’t remember how much or when. But I do
remember when I got my first non-shoe-related job during college, I
worked for a salary of $150 a week. Of course, I was working way too
many hours for that to be good pay, but it beat that old dime-an-hour
pay I once received. Most of the rest of my life I worked in management,
so I put in way too many hours each week.
I also ran my own
business (with my family), and put in 100-150 hours a week (as most
people running a business have to). For the past decade, I have worked
either two or three jobs, with my total hours per week being a number I
really don’t want to think about. Point being, if my pay was calculated
as an amount per hour, I haven’t spent a lot of time on the good side of
minimum wage. I work too much for that.
This week I saw a story
about some politicians who are planning to spend one week living on
minimum wage. One whole week. Seven whole days. Wow. Alright, I applaud
the effort of these people, including a former Ohio governor. But let’s
face it, to live on minimum wage for one week these people aren’t going
to sell their homes, cancel their insurance, and pay all the larger
bills that most everyday people have to pay.
So basically, we’re
talking about food and incidentals, right? The satellite dish isn’t
being pulled down for this demonstration. Of course the whole thing is a
stunt anyway, but let’s follow this through.
We’ll say these
politicians are working 40 hours next week and will be paid $7.25 an
hour. That’s $290 minus whatever taxes are taken out. One group claims
that leaves them with $77 for the week. But of course, don’t forget that
the biggest chunk out of a minimum wage salary is taxes.
a total of $213 is figured to pay taxes. This is obviously misfigured
unless there are special huge taxes for people on minimum wage that I’m
unaware of. But we’re going to pretend that the ex-governor, his wife
and staff are going to live on $77 a week. Can that be done? Well, I’m
figuring that food and gas are about the only things included in their
little experiment, so I’ll go on the record and say yes, it can be done.
And is done all the time.
Now, their point is to suggest that a
move to $10.10 an hour will make things much more livable. According to
my old-fashioned math, the suggested raise would cause a minimum wage
worker to pull in another $114. Sure that would help, but it’s not like
hitting the lottery or anything. And if the strange tax rate from this
exercise is used, that would still be less than $100 a week in take home
So on the whole, this is not a good example. It’s a ploy.
I’m not making fun of anyone on minimum wage. I worked at and below
minimum wage for a while. Many people do.
But the thing is, I was
not content to stay at minimum wage. I got a better-paying job. I
improved myself, added some skills, stayed out of trouble, and did
better, eventually landing the multi-million dollar position I have now.
Minimum wage jobs are not meant to be permanent jobs. If someone
absolutely can’t handle more of a job, then we can talk about another
But jumping the pay rate by three dollars per hour is just plain
silly. I’ve been the employer before, and I know that personnel costs
are a company’s biggest expense. The people paying minimum wage to its
employees aren’t usually rolling in money, and a large jump would make
too big of an expense to be continued at that rate. Many former
governors and politicians would lose their jobs under such conditions.
And we can’t have that.
I’m glad some people would like to get
more in touch with what it’s like to live on minimum wage, but it’s not
something you can do for a week. Just stop driving
your car, buy some Ramen noodles and cut off your phone, Internet,
cable, and all that silly stuff, and you’ll have a better idea. Oh, and
give up your household staff while you’re at it. You might find the real