Thursday, January 11, 2007

Minimum Wage Bull

Today in my local newspaper is the following letter (to the editor):

It is past time to raise the minimum wage. A minimum-wage worker earns $10,712 a year working full-time. Those efforts bring them to less than half of the poverty level for a family of four. An increase to $7.25 an hour would help more than 12 million low-income people, mostly women, by an additional $4,400 per year.
The average chief executive makes 821 times the average minimum wage worker. That is obscene.

My first question, is how someone could possible expect to be the chief breadwinner for a family of four, if the only makes minimum wage? Assuming the father holds this status, perhaps mom should consider going out and getting a job as well? That would double the house-hold income to almost $22,000 a year, and VIOLA, they are out of poverty (the 2006 HHS poverty guide lines rank the level, for a family of 4, to be at 20,000).

Of course, to back this up a bit, perhaps an individual who only makes minimum wage should hold-off on the whole marriage and family routine for a while. For a single person, the poverty level is a meagre $9,800, so that minimum wage job is already keeping them above that lower thresh hold. He (or she) might not be living large, but with a room-mate, and a used car (I didn't have a new car until I was 27, and even then it was "our" car, as in the new car, shared by a married couple), I'm sure he, our minimum-wage-earner, can struggle by for a while until he either get a raise, or finds a new job. That is simply the natural order of things.

Now, the letter-writer compares our minimum-wage earners to chief executives. I'd like to compare them to something else; Hollywood stars.

Nicole Kidman made 14.5 million in 2005, which is 1353 TIMES what your poor minimum wage-earner made. How is THAT for obscene? But, this is kind of fun. Johnny Depp made 3457 times what the minimum-wage earner made! Damn, I hope that our minimum wager earner didn't waste any of his cash seeing Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean movies, because that would certainly be obscene.

Of course, I am being ridiculous, because we don't compare - we can't compare - minimum wage earners to Hollywood stars (or NBA or NFL players, or other performers), because everyone knows that Hollywood stars care about the little man (by doing things such as calling Bush "Hitler" who used Katrina to kill brown people), while chief executives are just greedy corporate hogs who only achieved their largess by stepping on the backs of their fellow man.