McDonald’s has partnered with Visa to make a website dedicated to showing its employees how to properly budget their meager peasant salaries. However, what it actually does is illustrate the fact that it is nearly impossible to get by on minimum wage, as shown in this “example” budget chart:
Yeah– now, when I first saw that, I assumed that the top line was for a part-time McDonald’s employee. Then I got out my calculator– that is actually what you would make if you were working full-time at McDonald’s. 1,105 dollars a month.
Now let’s say that the “second” job that they budget in here (feels like cheating, but OK) is also minimum wage. That would mean you were working about 62 hours a week, on average. Oh, wait. That’s if they live in Illinois where the minimum wage is $8.25. The national minimum wage is $7.25. That translates to 74 hours a week. That’s almost a whole other full time job.
And what do you get for working 74 hours a week? Well, you don’t get heat, clearly. There’s a big ol’ zero next to the heat in that chart. In my building– we have separate checks for gas and electric– that would mean that not only do you not get to heat and cool your home, but also that you do not get to heat your water, or cook on your stove, if you have a gas stove (I do).
Also noticeably absent in this budget? Food. And gas. There’s a line for a car payment, but not for gas. Which is suspect, because if you’re working two jobs it’s possible you will pay more for your gas than you’d be paying for your car.
Also… health insurance for $20 a month? There is really no such thing as health insurance for $20 a month if you’re buying your health insurance on your own. I think the least amount is going to be about $215 a month– and that only covers hospital emergencies.
The minimum wage in this country is reprehensible. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation it would be over $10 an hour. If it had kept up with productivity? It would be $21.72.
Right now, we have people in our government saying that we shouldn’t even have a minimum wage. That employers should be free to pay people whatever they can get someone to agree to work for. If they can get someone to work for $3 an hour, then it should be allowed.
There are people who comfort themselves by telling themselves that poor people are only poor because poor people are lazy. Pretty sure someone who works 74 hours a week isn’t lazy.
You may think that most of these minimum wage earners are teenagers. Well, 87.9% of minimum wage earners are over the age of 20. 28% of those people are parents trying to raise a kid on this budget. That is not a good thing for our future and it is not a good thing for our economy. In order for the economy to thrive, people have to be able to buy things. All the money going to people at the top does not help us.
I don’t want to live in any kind of dog-eat-dog Ayn Rand erotic fantasy. Human beings are worth more than that. Anyone who works 40 hours a week (nevermind 74 hours) ought be able to take care of all the basic necessities in life. Corporations shouldn’t be able to pay their workers nothing, keep all of the profits to themselves, and expect taxpayers to make up the difference with social programs. It’s not fair to the workers, and it’s not fair to any of us.