Like to play around with numbers? Let's say you are single, and have no dependents. You get a minimum wage job. If the MW is about $8 (to keep the arithmetic easy), and you work 40 hours, your gross earnings are $320. Your SS and IRS deductions will each be about $15. If you drive about 25 miles going to work and back, and you get 25mpg, you'll spend about $15 a week on gasoline getting there. Liability (only) on a cheap old car will run you about $60 a month, or $15 of that weekly check. Lunch is probably a burger combo on the run, at $5 a day, or $25 the week. After those deductions and daily expenses, your weekly take-home is about $250.

Not included in those figures is a payment on the car you need to have the job ($132/month?), uniforms or other special clothes, using a coin-op laundry for cleaning ($6/week?), makeup and grooming ($6?), and parking costs ($10?). If these are included, your net discretionary income is $195 a week.

That is to say, you must spend almost 50% of a minimum wage income for taxes, transportation, lunch and the like, just to service the job. Counting the two hours you must commit to rise, dress, and drive, the lunch hour you aren't paid for, and eight hours of sacktime, you have five hours a day left in which to live the life you are working for, and $35 each working day to spend. If you are very careful, and save $5 of that each day, you will be able to buy a pizza and a 12-pack of beer for the weekend.

Not included in these figures are your rent, utilities, other food, and whatever you do besides eat, sleep, and work…. oh, yes, and your health care.

Get a better job, you say? How about a good job, breaking that $10 per hour barrier? OK, start with $400 a week gross, and deduct IRS and SS, about $35. You'll be able to afford a newer car, raising your payment to $50 a week, and adding comprehensive raises your insurance to $35. You'll be able to eat at a restaurant for lunch at $10. You will likely need to improve your wardrobe, and add dry cleaning costs, as well as professional grooming. Even only doubling those from the very frugal costs above, that will consume $30. This goes way up if you are a woman. You drive to work in a nicer car, wear a nicer outfit, and you get to sit down to eat. Now you are left with $200 you can call your own (before your rent and living costs, and your health care), which is $40 per working day. If you are very careful, and save an extra $8, you will be able to take your sweetie to a movie on Saturday, and buy a bag of popcorn to go with that pizza and the 12-pack.

It surprises me to hear people whine they just don't understand why our youth, when told they need education to get a job, decide they don't want one of those, and they drop out of school to hang out with their friends selling weed to the working man to buy the beer.

James Nathan Post