Day 407: Givez me some Minimalism

McDonald's seems to be well aware that its employees are unable to survive on their minimum wages, so the company has come up with a solution - go out and get a second job.
The fast food giant became the object of ridicule this week when its financial planning site called Practical Money Skills for Life created back in 2008 in conjunction with Visa and Wealth Watchers International to help its workforce caught the attention of several media outlets.
The portal provides a sample monthly budget, which makes a series of assumptions that have been slammed by McDonald’s critics as both naive and condescending about the workers' ability to supports themselves while earning $7.72 an hour after taxes.
Suggested monthly expenses for the hypothetical McDonald’s employee working a 40-hour week include $600 for rent - a figure that has raised eyebrows among anyone familiar with the housing market in cities like New York and Philadelphia.
While it is still possible to find housing with three-digit rent in some parts of the U.S., an average apartment in Manhattan rents for about $3,000 a month. Even in the outer boroughs it is nearly impossible to come across anything cheaper than $1,400 a month.
The sample budget also sets aside only $20 for health care and $150 for car payments. The financial planning tool, however, does not include allowances for either food or gas.
McDonald’s charges workers who have been with the company for at least year $12.58 for its most basic health care plan. New hires have to shell out $14, according to The Atlantic.
In a surprising bit of self-awareness, the McDonald’s mock-up budget includes lines for monthly income from a first job totaling $1,105, and a second job, which brings in $955.
Those figures suggest that the hypothetical worker has to toil away for more 60 hours a week at minimum wage, or earn more than $12 an hour on a 40-hour work week.
In 2009, the federal government set minimum wage at $7.25, CNBC reported.
In comparison, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson received a compensation package worth $13.8million in 2012.
Others entries in the fictional McDonald's-Visa financial plan include $100 allotted for cable and phone, $90 for electric - just below the national average of $103 - but no money set aside for heating, which would not work for employees living anywhere outside of Hawaii or Florida.
Since the budget includes no separate line for groceries, it may be assumed that either the workers have to rely on leftover French fries for their meals, or they have to use the $27 a day in spending money to buy food.
The sample financial plan also makes no mention of basic necessities like child care expenses, water or clothing, to name a few.
In recent months, industry workers have gone on strike in cities across the U.S., including Chicago and New York, to protest for higher wages. - Mail Online

It's easy to talk about how possible and plausible it is to live on minimum wage. Yeah, sure - it's possible - it's not pleasant though. Not everyone has lived through financial pressure, but I think most have, at one point or another. Living without financial security is not pleasant. Living from paycheck to paycheck, knowing that if some unexpected expense comes up then you have no way to pay for it - is not pleasant - it creates a constant dread that eats at you every day. Not being able to send your kids to the best schools, or the best doctors, or feed them the best organic foods, is not pleasant. Having to cut expenses to be able to survive inflation of prices is not pleasant. Having to constantly think of how much you're spending, to not go over budget, to turn off electrical appliances to save a few extra bucks because those few extra bucks actually make a difference - is not pleasant. Not being able to do the things you enjoy because you can't afford to is not pleasant.

You'll notice an interesting thing: All the people who post comments defending the minimum wage are not living on the minimum wage. Some may cite some family member, or friend or a friend who does live on the minimum wage and say "well I know someone who survives and they seem to be doing just fine. They even spend some of their minimum wage on cigarettes!" Obviously they are going to sped money trying to relieve the pressure they're feeling, because there is no school class all about living on the minimum wage and not getting stressed about money. People don't know how to deal with stress in ways other than dependencies and such. The second point is that obviously people who live on the minimum wage will seem to be fine to other people, most people don't want to air their laundry to the public by showing how depressed and stressed they are. Do you really think that life should be just about surviving and getting through another day or another month without compromising on some aspect of your life to make ends meet? If you do, then why don't you live that way? Seriously, this is a question I actually want you to answer.

Anything that you feel confident in justifying on another person's behalf - like minimum wages and bad education programmes - you should be willing to live yourself and put your own family through. You think living on $8 an hour is OK? Do it then. If you are not willing to do it, then don't justify it. The CEO of McDonald's was paid $13 million in 2012 alone - you think he has any idea of how he is forcing people to live? He lives in a fantasy world and is likely completely incapable of putting himself in someone else's shoes. Unfortunately this is the case with most people in the world who earn a decent living wage or more.


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