Alive or Living. National Minimum Wage.

Posted: 19/02/2013 in Latest Ideas and Opinions
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President Obama has decided to increase the minimum wage in America. Now most people will think this is a noble act of someone trying to put an end to poverty, in a nation where people are still starving to death. A similar action was taken in the UK a few months ago. My opinions of the minimum wage are pretty honest, I don’t think it helps anyone.

Lets face facts, money is generated to spend, save or borrow. If we earn more we’ll have more money in our pockets to spend. True enough but what happens to the things we want to buy, they go up in price due to increased cost in production, distribution and retailing. All these areas rely on staff accepting minimum wage to make good profits. Looking at the costs in the home alone, we don’t benefit at all.

I decided to do a little case study based on a 21 year old, single person, living in Bude, Cornwall who needs to be a car driver due to poor transport links to work. Below are my estimates.

Income

Lets look at our minimum wage of £6.19 an hour (21 year old) on a 37.5 hour week.

This gives us a £12,070.50 per annum gross salary. Without being too accurate with regards to tax and National Insurance, this would give us roughly £10,740 per annum to live on or £895 pcm.

Expenditure

Rent for a 1 bedroom flat in Valley Road, £395 pcm.

Water Bill £50 pcm.

Electricity/Gas £99 pcm.

TV Licence £21 pcm.

Phone Line/Broadband £14.50 pcm

Car Tax £11.25 pcm

Car Insurance £100 pcm

Petrol/Diesel Costs. £80 pcm

Now based on those estimates that leaves us £124.25 per month, give or take a few pound.

Food/Household

Now the above to me are standard living costs. But we haven’t even done a basic weekly food shop for around £29. The cost of food has risen dramatically over the past few years, with even basic cupboard fillers such as bread and milk being unaffordable in my opinion. With this sort of budget you have to pick and choose which area of your life you forsake.  You  can’t pick and choose any products, you have to take what you can find, which in the majority cases are heavily laden with salt and sugar to make them taste a little better. You have very little chance to buy anything fresh, as the cost of these products mean you’d have to leave other products you definitely would need. And lets not forget the hygiene and personal health aspect. I have no issue stating that cheap toilet roll, as a massive example, is absolutely useless. It is not good for your health, hygiene and in reality your pocket, as it’s so thin you use a roll per curry. But it is all you can afford.

Social Recluse 

Now even though food is the necessity  This is the area that really gets to me the most. We are all overweight, spend too much time indoors watching TV and playing on our game station  This person is living alone and can’t afford to socialise. What doesn’t cost these days. They could join a local football club. I pay £3 per week for the privilege of playing. About going to the gym, only if they don’t eat for the month and use the entire shopping bill to afford the membership. Maybe they could try the pub and meet new people there. Hmm, maybe not. So what is available for this person, that works hard on the minimum wage purely to stay alive. Not a lot in my opinion.

Now all of the above is an example in my eyes of a person living on the national minimum wage. Although personally, all the wage is actually doing is keeping the person alive. The worst thing about the example is, I haven’t even included the credit cards, loans or overdraft the person will now doubt have by this age. Whether it be through educational costs, living expenses or once in a while, a night out with friends or family.

What is the answer?

In my mind, living in a world where money is everything, I don’t see how we can improve things easily. We could put the wage up some more and go full circle. It makes no difference what we’re paid, as it’ll increase the cost of buying what we need. Perhaps the answer is driving the costs down by using local suppliers, wholesalers and retailers. Taking the national status and scrapping it. Making communities self sufficient and supportive of each other.

Can’t see it and neither can you but inevitably, something needs to change. We can’t live, while we’re just trying to stay alive.

Thanks for reading…

Lee

Image : http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/2012/08/what-i-used-this-summer-sensuous.html

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