In 1950 the minimum wage in the United States was 75 cents per hour. The average rent was $42 per month. That meant a person being paid the minimum had to work 56 hours a month to pay his or her rent.
The good news is the wage has increased steadily over the years. The bad news, it can't keep up with what it costs to rent a home or apartment.
By 2010 the minimum wage hit $7.25 per hour. Not bad for flipping burgers, or frying fish fillets right? Well the average rent is now up to $789 per month, unless you live in the New York City and North New Jersey metro area. There it is well over $1000 per month. What it boils down to is that you now have to work 109 hours a month just to keep a roof over your head. In NYC-NJ you have to put in 155 hours a month. All this is before you buy yourself some food, or pay a utility bill, make a car payment, or kick in for the insurance on it. In short, if you are living by yourself, or rather trying to live by yourself and making $7.25 an hour you are screwed. Your diet probably consists of mac and cheese and a lot of raman noodle soup. Something akin to a night on the town is simply science fiction.
Someone is going to read this and think, hey, it isn't my problem. They should have stayed in school. Well most of them actually did and most of them graduated from high school somewhere. That is as far as any of them got, because to them college is a myth reserved for people they don't know and have never been around. They've probably been working part time during high school since it was legally permissible just to ease the financial burden on their parent, or parents. Those ripe blue collar manufacturing jobs are gone to Mexico, or Korea, or China where there is no minimum wage and profits are higher. Hope has, in fact, left the building.
Now enter presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney has a plan to save the economy. He is going to give a $249 a year tax cut to the middle class. He is going to lower taxes on those who make over a million a year by $146,000. To make up for the revenue short fall he is going to raise taxes on those making $7.25 per hour.
According to him this will fix everything. We'll all be happy and the grass will grow and the rivers will flow. Unless you make $7.25 per hour. But then if you do you, you are all ready fucked, so a little more buggery will probably come as no surprise.
A number of years ago that arch liberal, George Herbert Walker Bush called this trickle down nonsense "voodoo economics". That is an insult to practitioners of voodoo every where. What it really is, is a crass shakedown perpetrated by the powerful. Capone was a cheap two bit hustler compared to these brutes.
Oh Mitt will pitch this well. That all American smile and perfect hair do will make it seem so very right. He will talk about a return to greatness and the beauty of free enterprise. All the while he'll be praying that those who do make minimum wage will be too busy trying to grind out a living to spend time in line to vote. He'll have his thugs challenge the ballots of every man and woman wearing a Burger King uniform at the polls. He will speak in tongues and many will hear and follow him.
It is beautiful magic. All you need to do is believe and it will come true. Give it all to us and you shall benefit greatly.
Now I know where TV evangelists and used car salesmen get their material.
And their morals.