Thursday, July 26, 2007

Minimum Wage Fun Facts


  1. New federal minimum wage that went into effect this week: $5.85/hour
  2. Number of increases in minimum wage in the past ten years: 1
  3. Annual income of minimum wage earner working 40-hours per week: approximately $12,000

  1. Minimum wage of Congress: about $86/hour
  2. Number of "cost-of-living" increases in Congress's salary in the past 10 years: 10
  3. Annual income of member of Congress receiving its "minimum wage": $165,200

(a) Does anyone else find it ironic that someone with a 6-figure salary needs annual cost-of-living readjustments to their income, but believes that someone making less than $10,000 a year doesn't?

(b) I'll admit that it is sort of cliche to compare the minimum wage to the salaries of Congress. And, is it really a surprise that when people are in a position to vote for their own pay raise they would act in their own self-interest and do so? Not really.

But if they're going to lift their own boat, they shouldn't keep other people anchored to the bottom. Especially since their own boats were yachts to begin with.

Call me communist but I don't think it's okay for someone working full-time to be living in poverty.

(c) We are living in a country of great economic inequality.

Yesterday, upon browsing a People magazine I was reading about Eva Longoria and Tony Parker's wedding, on which they spent millions. Her wedding dress alone was about $500,000. I guess we, the readers, were supposed to be in awe of her dress and their rings and extravagant parties.

For many reasons, I wasn't.

(d) The very next article in this People magazine portrayed some of the families in Michael Moore's new film, Sicko. These families were touched by leukemia and cancer and either got screwed over by health insurance plans that refused to cover necessary costs, or their insurance only covered very small portions of their medical bills. These families are now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and some of them have lost loved ones because they had no way to pay for necessary health care.

It's not Tony and Eva's fault that so many people can't afford health care.

Let's just not let the media fool us into thinking that famous athletes and politicians and "movie stars" really are "just like us." Yes, they, like some people, have weddings. They have probably even have multiple weddings, like most people. But what they throw away on their weddings would pay for many people's health care, many people's college tuitions, many people's rent or mortgage or car payments, and perhaps hundreds of lowly commonfolk weddings.

And therefore, I don't care about Eva and Tony's or Tom and Katie's or anyone else's million-dollar wedding. I don't care if "it's so beautiful" or "so fun" or "elegant." I would be far more impressed if they had a simple ceremony and used the money they would have spent on an unnecessarily extravagant wedding to do some good in the world, OR even better, if they didn't get married at all until that privilege was made available to all loving couples.

(e) But what I guess it comes down to is this: Forget the extravagant weddings, the fancy cars, and the huge mansions. Do you really think that movie stars, professional athletes, and politicians are more worthy than you are of decent health care, college, and a place to live?

Well, just remember that most of what they have is on your dime.

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