A response to trust fund liberals who don’t understand minimum wage
So get this. McDonald’s had the nerve to try to help their minimum wage employees come up with a budget. Don’t worry though, because The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann let them have it. You can read his post here. It reads like it’s from a trust fund kid who has never had to pay a bill in his life. Here is McDonald’s sample budget:
His first complaint is the assumption that the employee will have a second job. Based on some of the budget amounts (such as $800/month for “spending money”) it seems like this is a budget for a 2 person household. He also complains about the $0 for heating…for a budget they released in July. The fact that Jordan doesn’t understand seasonal utilities is one of the giveaways that he doesn’t have to worry about paying bills. For example, my apartment is all electric, so my bill is higher in the winter and lower in the summer, usually averaging around…$90.
Jordan’s post also points out that the average rent in the US is $1,048, so the $600 mentioned here is laughable!…Except, if you’re making minimum wage, you should probably find a place with below average rent. My wife and I are living in an apartment that is $495/month (including water) while we save for a house. The drywall isn’t exactly forged from caviar, but we don’t have to poop in a bucket, either*. According to Jordan’s twitter bio, he’s a New Yorker that lives in DC. Of course he doesn’t understand how cost of living can be so low, because stuff like high minimum wage and other “helpful” government policies have made those places so expensive. And if you live in an area with a high cost of living and can only get a minimum wage job…move. What’s keeping you there, your minimum wage job?
One legitimate critique is the $20/month health insurance, I don’t know where they get that. But I see hundreds of dollars that could easily be taken from other areas, which I’ll get to later.
Now, I don’t say this as some rich Republican businessman. I graduated from college in December of 2008. The only job I could get was as a waiter at a newly opened Olive Garden. I was able to stick to a budget of $800/month. I got an apartment with a friend (and it was actually a fairly nice place), and here was my budget:
- $350/month for rent
- $100/month for bills
- $100/month for groceries
- $80/month for gas
- $40/month for car insurance
- $30/month for basic phone
- $100/month misc.
I had the same $1,000 car I bought 5 years earlier, so no car payment, and I didn’t have health insurance (but could have afforded it if I wasn’t stupid). This hypothetical minimum wage McDonald’s employee should either get a junker car or take the bus, eliminating the $150 car payment. You don’t need a smart phone or texting, you can get a basic talk-only plan for $60 for 2 people, and you don’t need cable. The $800 for spending money is way more than it needs to be. Take $100 or so from that and put it towards basic health insurance and you’ve negated the only legitimate criticism of this budget.
Living on an $800/month budget wasn’t fun, living on minimum wage isn’t fun, but it’s possible. I did that for about 8 months and then I got a job that paid $12.50/hr and I felt like Scrooge McDuck. And that’s the point. People with minimum wage jobs are not required to make minimum wage their entire lives. These jobs are typically first jobs for teenagers and entry jobs. Even if you stay at McDonald’s, if you work hard, it does not take long to move up to shift manager, etc. I had a friend in high school who got a job at McDonald’s sophomore year, by the time we graduated, she was making over $10/hr.
It sucked having to scrape by as a waiter, but if people like Jordan had their way, I wouldn’t have been making $15/hr (or whatever they think the minimum wage should be). I would not have been making more money, because Olive Garden would not have opened a new restaurant in the middle of a recession if they had to pay all the employees $15/hr. I would have been making $0.
*Note: I said we don’t *have* to poop in a bucket, not that we don’t.