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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 10:46 AM
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70 Cents An Hour
70 Cents An Hour

by dday

As the final phase from a bill passed back in 2007, today the federal minimum wage rises to $7.25 an hour from $6.55 for workers across the country. This brings the federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, back to where it was in the 1990s. It's hard to determine how many minimum-wage employees there are out there, but the best guess is that five million people get a raise today. Here's one of them.

While those workers include thousands of financially secure students still living with Mom and Dad, they also include thousands of the most impoverished and vulnerable members of the workforce those who sink further into debt each month as ordinary expenses outweigh their meager paychecks.

April Greer, 36, is one of them.

Her troubles began in December, when her husband was sent to prison for a parole violation, leaving her the sole provider for her three teenage children who live with her.

In January, she was fired from her job at a cellular provider. She said she was late for work because her sister-in-law commandeered her car.

She spent early spring trawling East Dallas for a new job, but, like millions of Americans, she found none.

In early May, Greer's electricity provider finally turned out the lights. A few days later, her landlord changed the locks. She and her children crowded into the South Dallas bungalow of her husband's parents.

She finally caught a break two months ago, when a nonprofit agency helped her land a part-time, minimum-wage job at T.J. Maxx, taking home about $800 a month.

Two weeks ago, after she started having dizzy spells at work, she collapsed and spent two days in the hospital.

Doctors aren't sure what's wrong with her. Maybe diabetes. Maybe her heart. Maybe just stress.

Greer knows she can't afford $434 a month for the medication her doctor says she needs. She can barely afford the $100 a week she's been paying her in-laws to cover their ballooning utility bills.

She wants to find a second job, but doesn't know if her body can take it.

"Since I'm the only one right now for my kids, I have to take care of my health," she said.

Those with the lowest incomes are often those who have the most health issues. That comes from stress, overwork, the lack of a nutritious diet, living in low-income environments where more pollution exists, and a variety of other factors. In this most cruel of American landscapes, the poor and the sick often are the same person.

But what we'll hear today is how adding 70 cents an hour will bankrupt businesses. In actuality it will act as a mini-stimulus, giving the poor about $28 more a week for necessities that will almost certainly get spent and cycled into the economy.

What we certainly won't hear about is how the struggle of these minimum-wage workers fits into the health care debate.
Many are probably already on Medicaid, but a provision in the bill would limit out-of-pocket costs for everyone, and expanding access would help make sure nobody who needs health coverage slips through the cracks. The air-blown press corps may have thought Obama's press conference was bor-ring, but the issues discussed directly affect the lives of people like April Greer. It would be nice if they could take up the debate with some inkling of concern for her, rather than acting like theater critics critiquing how folsky or animated the President was during his press conference.

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DarthDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 11:05 AM
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1. Outstanding Take

Thanks. Stories like that lady's are simply heartbreaking.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. And multiply her story by tens of thousands of people.
Yet we're going to hear a collective groan that it will cost us all too much. Sad, isn't it.
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Statistical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 11:57 AM
Response to Original message
3. As sad as it is you are right it will be 100% stimulus.
The working poor usually have a 0% savings rate. Most also do not borrow much so they have little to know debt to payoff.

Instead they live paycheck to paycheck spending 100% of what they make.

$28 per week * 5 million people = $100 million extra consumption per week = $5 billion increase in net consumption per year.

Give the poor $1000 and they are likely to spend it.
Give the middle class $1000 and they are likely to pay off debt.
Give the rich $1000 and they are likely to invest it.

If you need to increase economic output you need to increase consumption and increasing take home pay of the poor is the most effective way to do that.
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 12:13 PM
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4. There was a colossal slanted report on npr yesterday
bob branson was interviewing some asshole "economist". this moron stated that basically the minimum wage rate will have zero effect on the economy. They then go on to interview some dopey ass 20 year old college student who works a part time minimum wage job and how the increase will effect her.

I was boiling mad.

I wrote those dumb bastards a nice long letter with links siting the positive benefits to society that an increase to the minimum wage has on the economy and links including what it's like being a parent raising kids all on a minimum wage salary.

God, they so frigging stupid on that station sometimes.

Thank you for your post. :) I know you know of what you speak and write.

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Lorien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
5. I never pay anyone less than $10 an hour even though I have next to nothing
I CAN'T pay anyone less than that. It';s simply not ethical. I use laborers from a labor service from time to time and I always add a tip at the end of the day that brings them up to at least $10 an hour. How can anyone argue that an hour of a human beings life is worth LESS than that???
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dugaresa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. agree with you completely
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Union Yes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-24-09 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
7. Shame that our MW isn't at least $12 an hour.
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