On (Not) Getting By in America

I would find it almost impossible to live off of minimum wage even in Massachusetts where we have one of the highest at $8.00 an hour. Ehrenreicht says that according to the Coalition for the Homeless, in 1998 it took an hourly wage of $8.89 to afford a one bedroom apartment. Costs of living have only gone up since 1998.

When you add children to the equation, it becomes necessary to work more than one job to make ends meet unless you want to live in the crowded (and many times full) homeless shelters. It then becomes necessary to provide for child care which isn’t cheap. Welfare would be an option but providing for two kids takes money and no matter what aid a mother gets, if she is earning minimum wage, food and basic needs will go unmet.

As much as it would be great for minimum wage to go up, small business owners are strapped already and raising wages would put some businesses under which would be counterproductive.

2 thoughts on “On (Not) Getting By in America

  1. This problem of not getting by in America seems absolutely ridiculous. A lot of the issues surrounding finances could be resolved if perhaps our government would institute more programs to aid struggling Americans as well as free classes on money management to less privileged people. Of course, “American priorities” might also need some adjustments as many are so used to luxury that basic needs of others have become less of concern for our country as a whole. Many need to be reminded that there is much we could go without, but simply choose not to. On the same note, I strongly believe that the standard of living should be the same for everyone, but just how we get there is the greatest challenge.

  2. I agree with both of you that the problem of living off a single minimum wage job (or even several) can be nearly impossible. However, increased government subsidy is not necessarily the answer either. The effect on small business of increasing the minimum wage is an easily and commonly used example of the potential negatives. But increasing government programs has a price tag. Progressive taxation could cover the budgeting problems but only if the legislation could pass.

    Government programs have the appeal that they impersonalize the problem and eliminate any responsibility that a community may have in alleviating the problem. Community outreach and cooperative programs can go a long way towards supporting those most in need. While I am willing to pay higher taxes to support social welfare, I think if I truly believe in aid to low-income families, I must also be willing to contribute to local non-governmental programs that have similar goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *