Thursday, April 20, 2006

Oprah Tries The Pity Approach

I was flipping through the stations Monday afternoon, and it happened that I came across Oprah for about 5 seconds and saw a familiar face. It was the guy who did the Movie "Super Size Me". She was doing a special on the poverty line, and how she felt that the minimum wage should unquestionably be raised to $7 or $8 per hour. Disregard the fact that now someone who is making $10/hr is almost at minimum wage, or anything like that. Oprah is famous (and extremely rich), so she knows best. That wasn't the worst part though. She followed some people who were working full time, and were living either in debt, or just poor.

I was confused at first when they said that they were getting paid in the high $8/hr, and $9/hr, and still living in poverty. Then all of my confusion turned into a mix of outrage, and sudden knowledge of how to fix the problem. What caused that turn about? Their budgets. For example:
Food: $450/mo
Transportation: gas or bus fares
Insurance: Varies
Rent for a 1 Bedroom Apartment: $850/month!
I'm not lying to you! These people were living in the heart of downtown SAN FRANCISCO. One of the most expensive places to live...PERIOD.
The guy who did "Super Size Me" at least looked for a cheap apartment:
"The first step for Morgan and Alex was to find an apartment within their $400-per-month price range. The only neighborhood they could afford was in "the Bottoms." At one time, the apartment below was a crack house."
I live in rural TN, and you know what my VERY NICE, 625 sq foot, one bedroom apartment costs me? $345/month, with water and sewage included. The stable bills I pay are rent, electricity, and cable, and that comes out to about $650/month, with my cable and internet being $120 (and optional). The rest like gasoline, food, and things like that vary.

Here's my quick and apparently un thought of solution to all of your problems. For one, move the hell out of San Francisco, New York, Chicago, WHERE EVER, and go out to the suburbs where it is cheaper to live!
For example. A person making a mere $18,000 ($9/hr) in Athens, TN needs to make over $45,000 in San Fran to live at the same level. Check out the Salary Calculator, and see how cheap it is to live in the suburbs, compared to the big city. You know what else helps? TN has NO STATE INCOME TAX, compared to California where if you make over $38,000 you pay 9.3% out of your pay check to the government, on top of what the federal government takes out...AND, California is in a HUGE budget deficit. Tennessee, a 9.25% sales tax on what you SPEND...and NO DEFICIT.

Raising the minimum wage IS NOT the solution. It's a way to pander to the poor to make them think that you still care. The real solution is moving to where you can actually afford to live. Leave the rich to live in the big cities, and the poor move out. That fixes your inner-city poverty problem, and helps millions live better.