I’m sure you’ve read blog’s, news reports, and other media blasts on the poor in america. Some say it’s the “habits” of the poor. Many politicians firmly believe the US government has created a welfare state that has made the poor complacent and content to suck the welfare teat.
Rather than go opinion vs opinion, lets work with facts. I’d like to try basic math and see what we can come up with.
We will have a worker. I’d like to strip our “worker” down to the base, average, run-of-the-mill joe/jane. No rich parents, inheritance, lottery wind-fall, etc. Just Joe Schmoe/Jane Doe plain old human being, high school education. Since this is a perfect world, our worker will also start out with all the basic furnishings. A bed, couch, TV/Radio, pots, pans, silverware, cups, table , chair, lamp. What do you think..microwave ? Ok, a microwave. We can’t have our worker living in the dark ages. A basic wardrobe with some work acceptable elements. Sounds like all the modern day creature comforts are accounted for.
Now the job. The minimum wage is $7.25/hr (source here) so we will assume that as a base number going forward. I’ll also say that the average worker puts in at least 40 hours a week, single, no children.
$7.25 x 40=$290
Let’s use a standard two week pay period, and average two pay periods per month. 52 weeks comes to $15,080 yearly, $1,256 monthly, taxes are 15% -$188, monthly take home is $1,072- you can work that one out on your own.
Gross income is : $1160
Monthly take home: $928
Many full time workers are eligible for some type of health care from their employers (let’s not consider ACA for the moment) but we’ll leave that out and see how far we get with $928 a month.
Since our worker has all the stuff we’ll need a place to put it. A cheap 1 bedroom efficiency can vary in price depending on where you live in the U.S. but is usually in the $300-$500 range, so we can split the difference at $400. Given acceptable trends in most urban living areas in major cities, the closer in you are, you the more you pay. This cheap place isn’t real close and possibly just outside of public transportation lines.
- $400 monthly rent
Utilities ? We want our worker to have all the frills so- electrical, water, gas, and a land line with local calling only. And in our perfect little world there are no deposits up front, no credit checks.
-$65 electrical ( I have never had or seen a bill this low but it could happen)
-$50 water (usually includes waste disposal)
Our worker does not enjoy a cushy 8-5 work day like you and I, but rather shift work with a changing schedule which renders use of public transportation unlikely much of the time. It’s too far to walk and since the other people around also work or do not have transportation themselves we will need a reliable way to get to work. How about we give them a crap car that a shady friend of a friend sold them for a few hundred as is. (we loaned them the car money at no interest with no time limit on payback)
Most states require at minimum having liability insurance. Lucky us!! We found Billy Bob’s “We got ya covered” insurance plan!! Let’s give our worker a break and let them have a clean driving record.
-$30 monthly car insurance (your rates may vary, blah blah, read the fine print)
This mean machine certainly isn’t good on gas and our worker has to get where they are going and aren’t so lucky to live in an area where everything they might ever need is located within a 5 mile radius of home. A driving we will go ….12 miles to the gallon, 10 gallon tank. They drive a bare minimum but have to fill up about 2 times a month; joy rides have to wait for the Christmas bonus. (gas prices may vary)
- $80 gas for car
A worker has to eat but no fancy lunches for our little friend. It’s a daily sack lunch. We want them to at least get some of the basic food groups so an apple, a lunch meat sandwich w/cheese, a juice like drink, a pickle, and maybe a cookie or two. One meal a day certainly isn’t going to give our worker bee enough energy so we’ll need some breakfast. Two eggs, toast with jelly, milk/juice, coffee on occasion. And dinner- Ramen noodles, a burger, misc. veggies, rice, soup. Being presentable and clean is also part of the job so miscellaneous toiletries are on our shopping list as well. As much as our worker wants to eat the all natural, organic food, and use the chemical free soaps, shampoos, etc., it just isn’t in the budget. Thank god for no-name or store brand items. Those are just as good right ?
-$150 a month groceries
Not bad huh? $93 a month left over. If our worker is diligent, stead-fast, and doesn’t spend a penny outside of this budget they should be well on the road to riches right ?
So what’s missing ? We know our mean machine will run flawlessly without ever needing maintenance or breaking. And of course our worker is in tip-top shape so needing health care or visiting a doctor is never going to happen. Thankfully our worker bee gets all the socialization they need on the job so no need to go out and enjoy a movie or a drink or two with friends. This job is absolutely stress free so there isn’t any need for an outlet or hobby. If all goes perfectly at the end of a year our worker will have banked $1116. WOW!!
Our workers income is above the federal poverty average ( $11,490 for a single individual-source) so they wouldn’t qualify for any type of aid and by that they aren’t pilfering the coffers of the welfare system so life should be good right?
Who let the birds in with our bee ?!?! We suddenly have a child, but our worker bee has been doing such an awesome job that they got a raise to $7.75/hr. Not one day sick or a day off for vacation; or the birth of the mystery child. That got them up to $16,120 a year (52 weeks math). And hey, they are still over the poverty level of $15,510 for a two person household. Kids don’t have any extra expenses, no need for a doctor so health care coverage isn’t necessary. The little progeny is as fit as a fiddle just like our worker bee.
Sounds like easy street to me.