Off The Grid contributor Alex Logan sounds off on the war against minimum wage.  After doing the math on the minimum wage, no wonder people are protesting in the streets.  While the poor march for a fighting chance, the rich fight to keep them poor. 

Why a person would oppose a higher wage is absolutely beyond me, their argument is utterly baffling.  Imagine you’re a business owner and the minimum wage is increased…Did the world come crashing down around you, Chicken Little?  No? Of course not.  But workers suddenly have more disposable income.  If you aren’t a complete idiot, and you offer a worthy product or service, those workers will buy your supply, and you’ll make more income.  It’s as easy as that!

Maybe the increased wage cuts into your bottom line, but this should be offset to some degree, if not completely, by your increased sales as you’ll sell more products.  There will definitely be a period of adjustment, but we adjust for inflation, so why not for an increased cost of living?

And honestly, how rich can one person be?  You can’t take the cash to the other side, there’s no special, “rich guy” heaven.  If you’d like me to quote that holy book you probably never read, but will defend to the death your right to use it as a way to exclude others’ rights and simple pleasures, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”  Or the tl;dr version—even God thinks you’re an asshole, rich guy.

Not convinced?  Fuck you!  But let’s also do some simple math work on what a minimum wage paycheck looks like.  I hate math too, but that doesn’t mean we can pretend like it doesn’t exist and it isn’t happening in our schools.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  Sure, some states have a higher one, but this is a nationwide problem, so let’s start there…

$7.25 per hour (times) 40 hour work week (times) 52 weeks a year = $15,080.00

Then, let’s adjust for taxes — something that we should DEFINITELY be subtracting from these workers’ small wages, but not from major corporations(sarcasm alert).

According to the Congressional Research Service, you’re left with about $13,662.00 as a single person with no children.

The average rent in the United States in 2013 is $962 a month.  Multiply that by 12 months, you’re at $11,544.00.

Descend the stairs of your ivory towers and make the United States the greatest nation in the world once more, merely by giving its people – your friends, neighbors, employees, and colleagues – the ability to live the lives they deserve.

After rent ALONE, you’re left with $2,118.00 to feed, clothe, and entertain yourself (plus, pay for utilities, education, a cell phone, the bear necessities to be alive in 2015).  Two grand—whoopty fuckin’ doo!  That rent figure may seem a little high, but it’s not in the major cities (considering an average studio in New York City costs $3,095.00 per month in 2014, I think the Statue of Liberty needs to rewrite her line about “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” to “Move here if you have a kickass gig or rich parents”), where cheap labor is relied upon to keep the trains on the tracks and the wheels in motion.

So like the rest of us, you get a roommate, whom you think will be tolerable, maybe even a friend, but he turns out to be a borderline sociopathic nightmare.  You lose your security deposit (and half of your underwear) moving out in the middle of the night to avoid ever talking to him again, and you’re back to square one with that $2,118 to support yourself after working your ass off all year (nothing to link to as this is just personal experience, and if you see my old roommate, run!  Run as fast as you possibly can).

There are always other options to get ahead, like massive amounts of overtime (if your employer even offers it), second and third jobs (because who needs sleep), predatory lending companies that you should never EVER borrow from (honestly, you’re better off taking money from a loan shark than a Check Into Cash).  Or you can just work your body, until it quits, and you’re buried in a pauper’s grave with no marker. Sorry to be so grim, but it’s the truth.

And this is why so many minimum wage workers are on some form of government assistance (still don’t buy it?  Try this link then) – they have to be to survive, and to survive is to be human.  I know, the U.S. was built on slave labor, and later by unfathomably cheap immigrant and child labor, but those days are gone (thank god).  We fought a Civil War over slavery, people rose up and went on strike against every other form of mistreatment and oppression.

Now they’re back in the streets again, demanding a fair shake.  So let’s give it to them!  Descend the stairs of your ivory towers and make the United States the greatest nation in the world once more, merely by giving its people – your friends, neighbors, employees, and colleagues – the ability to live the lives they deserve.

To quote a hero of mine, Woody Guthrie:

“I’m a-lookin’ for a job at honest pay,

I’m a-lookin’ for a job at honest pay, Lord, Lord,

An’ I ain’t a-gonna be treated this way.”

This isn’t a new concept.  That song was first recorded in 1924 by Henry Whitter; Woody popularized it some years later.  And I can promise you this: the song will continue to resonate with new generations, until something is done to fix this problem.

So what do we do?  We raise the minimum wage.  Or else we’ll be at your front door with pitchforks and torches.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.

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