Minimum Wage

Politicians' Minimum Wage Challenge Only Proves Politicians Don't Know Jack About Budgeting



Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland two other Democrats, Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), staged a publicity stunt last week that really didn't prove much except that they don't know jack about budgeting. Strickland, who is president of the pro-minimum-wage-hike Center for American Progress Action Fund, and the others "tried" to live on the minimum wage for a week. All they proved was that they either don't know how to budget, or they think their constituents are dumb enough to believe their conceit.

Amid a bunch of stiff indignation and self-congratulation, the ex-governor detailed in Politico his crazy difficulties like having to take off his jacket and walk over a mile in 90-degree heat because he couldn't afford a cab to his office. What he and the other #LiveTheWage challengers really hit on, though, was food.

"I truthfully rarely think about how much it costs," said Schakowsky, who invited cameras into his home to document the horrors of eating tuna sandwiches.

Apparently Ryan doesn't either, because he "spent about seven bucks … on a couple cans of sardines and a bag of crackers from the convenience store up the street." Then, just before quitting the challenge early, he used his "last couple of dollars to buy trail mix."

Similarly, Strickland, who blasted other pols as living in "a bubble," blew his money on meals from McDonald's and other highly processed and expensive foods like bologna.

He failed his challenge and concluded that "raising the minimum wage to $10.10 will increase the average annual salary of a minimum wage worker to $19,777, hardly a living wage, but a major step forward for the 30 million hardworking Americans who live in poverty while earning the minimum wage." Not according to the Congressional Budget Office, which says that it would push a much more modest 900,000 people above the poverty line, at the cost of about 500,000 jobs. 

It's been so well established that home-cooked meals are more nutritious and less expensive than processed junk food, it's absurd that Strickland and company have to be debunked yet again. Watchdog's Maggie Thurber today published a far less dramatic chronicle of planning, couponing, and budgeting so she'd have some cash left over after purchasing plenty of healthy food as well as gasoline to drive to work. Even the left-sympathetic Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out how unrealistic the politicians' spending habits were.

Thurber points out some important facts, too:

Only 1.7 percent of Ohioans are single parents earning minimum wage, while less than 5 percent nationally are heads of households earning minimum wage. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 4.3 percent of those in the workforce earn at or below the federal minimum wage.

And those individuals are eligible for several other government benefits like SNAP, Aid to Dependent Children, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, utility vouchers and transportation vouchers. They're not really getting by on just $77 a week.

Nobody wants people to be stuck in poverty, living off junk food. A lack of good-quality food in urban areas is a serious problem, but these politicians aren't part of the solution. Rather than promoting policy changes that would reduce regulatory barriers to work, they want to hike the minimum wage, which is effective at increasing unemployment pricing young people and low-skilled workers out of jobs and guaranteeing that small, local businesses cannot compete with bigger companies.

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  1. “I truthfully rarely think about how much it costs,” said Schakowsky, who invited cameras into his home to document the horrors of eating tuna sandwiches.

    Well why would you, bitch, when I pay for your splendor?

    1. Cat fight!

    2. She could ask her husband about economizing on the prison food diet?

    3. I’d also point out that Jan Schakowsky is a woman. She has a husband who is equally moronic and likes to think they’re a combination ticket.

  2. A lack of good-quality food in urban areas is a serious problem

    FOOD DESERTS!!11!!!

    Seriously, hasn’t that been thoroughly debunked at this point?

    1. Seriously. Even the crappiest grocery store I’ve ever been to sold fresh vegetables and lean meat.

        1. Way to lord your $30 of disposable income and access to clean water over the rest of us, insufferable bourgeois scum.

          1. HM is a known kulak.

            He may be a hoarder too. No word on him being a splittist or wrecker at this time.


          2. I admit that I splurged on the planter. But it’s close to the 1st of tha month.

            1. HM, you’re like the coolest guy, ever.

        2. Let them eat homegrown tomatoes!

    2. Indeed. Between supermarkets, ethnic produce shops, and farmer’s markets, I find it hard to believe that many people live in “food deserts.”

      1. Yeah, well darkies aren’t intelligent enough to go to those places. They shop for groceries at the Family Dollar. That’s why then need the white hand of liberal government to lead them to fresh meat and vegetables.

        1. Even if you lead a horse to water…

        2. They shop for groceries at the Family Dollar.

          Shit, I do too. I mostly buy canned food there and get the fresh veggies and meat either out of my garden and chicken coop, or from Martin’s (as Giant is now called in VA)

          Fresh bread on Mondays and Fridays, for a dollar a loaf. Name brand too. Buy 6 loafs, freeze 5 and I’m good for the month.

      2. Not only are you victim-blaming, but encouraging these impoverished souls to compromise their own cultural heritage by appropriating the cultures of their neighbors? You are literally worse than Hitler.

    3. Nothing is ever debunked if it’s convenient to a current Dem talking point. Why do you think Tony keeps using “government is more efficient because no profit” as if it was axiomatic?

      1. Because he’s supped at that teat for so long he cannot fathom how a body manages to sustain itself otherwise.

    4. Yeah, I call BS. In Oakland one of the best supermarkets around is Mi Pueblo, and that’s in a “bad” urban area.

      1. This. The hispanic grocery stores always seems to have tons of super-fresh, cheap produce.

        Wonder why that is …

    5. There is the problem of urban planners who won’t allow large supermarkets to build in urban centers. If there are food deserts, they are created by elitist twits who can’t bear to see a Walmart super center in their precious, authentic inner city.

      1. Or they only want the “correct” kind of business to come in.

        Whole Foods in Englewood, Chicago

        A little background on Englewood

  3. I was happy when I woke up one day and realized that I’d managed to stop having to scrutinize the price tags on every piece of food I wanted to buy. I’d reached a point where the food budget could reach my general preferences and My diet wasn’t dictated by my wallet. While I still don’t spend that much on food, I hate the memory of the time when I’d have to tell myself “It’s pasta until payday or there will be a $35 NSF charge on my bank account.”

    1. That’s where I was at a few years ago. Then the ACA came along, and now my take home pay is down $100/wk from what it was three years ago. Back to looking at price tags.

    2. When my wife and I were first married and dirt poor, she made this Korean soup that consisted of rice cakes, greens (spinach or sea weed), bean sprouts and 1 dumpling. I referred to it as poor soup because we ate it pretty much non-stop during the last week or so of the month.

      Now she makes it for our kids and it has all sorts of dumplings. She also adds a lot of other delicious things like fish or baby octopus. My kids love it, but to me every time she makes it I get flashbacks to living in our hovel in Memphis.

      1. When I was single and working my way through college (you could do that once, no kidding!), I made a meal of the last drops of Ragu poured over split dinner rolls (one was getting moldy) with parmesan on top, broiled. I washed it down with a bottle of Reading beer, which I got a case of for $6, in dimes.

        I knew how much I had in my bank account, down to the penny, and wasn’t about to spend it on trail mix and $7 convenience store sardines. Rice and chicken thighs for the win.

        1. Totally know what you are talking about. My last year of college was married and poor.

          Before I got married and I lived with 5 other guys in a 2 bedroom apartment. Crowded, but since most of us were always at school or working it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.

          We also always had a giant pot of red beans and rice cooking. We would hit the baker up every few days to buy his old bread from the day before at a big discount. The best score though was at the local Krugers that had a “Reduced for Quick Sale” table in the meat department. If there was something there, you would always snap it up on the cheap.

          1. Even today I make sure to hit the grocery store at about 9 a.m. on Saturday or Sunday. That’s when the butcher marks down the meat. Great deals, especially now since beef and pork can bust your wallet.

          2. Did we live together? Because this sounds exactly like my situation in college. I mean come the fuck on, I ate beans and rice every, fucking, day and it set me back like $10 for a week. I’m not talking about a side-sized portion either, I’m talking like a 3+ cup serving to serve as a breakfast and lunch.

        2. My first job (outside of College work study) was above Min. wage…it was 7.10 and hour. That was like WOAH!!! I am fucking rich!

          I drove a mustang, drank beer (Silver Plume), and ate well.

          1. P.S. MW was like 4.50 or something.

          2. I had no idea Silver Plume had a brewery until now.

            1. It doesn’t anymore. They made an AWESOME amber. It was PURPLE for fucks sake. It was my first and favorite real beer…before that was the dark ages where I though Michelob was good beer.

        3. albo, check your privilege.

  4. Does unemployment pay better?

  5. “I basically had a couple bags of peanuts in the cloakroom?and there was a little fruit in the office that I ate yesterday,” Rep. Ryan told ABC News. “I spent about seven bucks last night on a couple cans of sardines and a bag of crackers from the convenience store up the street.”

    Emphasis added. Cloakrooms and convenience stores. HAHAHAHA!

  6. ” Not according to the Congressional Budget Office, which says that it would push a much more modest 900,000 people above the poverty line, at the cost of about 500,000 jobs. ”

    This is really what they want anyway. To keep people on their dole.

  7. One time, during Prohibition, I survived for three days on nothing but bread and water.

    –W. C. Fields

  8. I remember one time, shortly after I remarried and my oldest daughter came to live with us so she could attend a local college. Our daughter wanted chinese food one night. We had to explain to her that after paying all the bills (and paying for her flight, etc), we had $23 dollars left to live on until the next payday. somehow, we survived (this was 1994). I may not have liked it, but I knew how to do it, and we made it through that week.

    I am grateful that I don’t have those constraints, now, but I don’t think it hurt our daughter at all to see that you might have to make choices until your income exceeds your need to do so.

    1. But truly poor people shouldn’t be forced to make these kinds of decisions, because, to quote a great Attorney General of the old west, they’re such children.

      1. Yeah, and this was my “mild” story – forget when I was 19 and my first wife was pregnant with our daughter, and I was making so little I qualified for earned income tax credits. Living on Top Raman back then was just more incentive to get a better job – I know that is callous towards those that are incentive-challenged.

        1. I was 21 when my first was born, but same story otherwise.

        2. I was 21 when my first was born, but same story otherwise.

          1. Hooray, I rolled doubles.

            1. Appreciate a fellow traveler, even if you roll doubles!

  9. A perfectly reasonable story until “processed junk food”…

  10. 7 bucks for some sardines and crackers? You can buy 20 pounds of rice from Wal-Mart for 9! Great job stretching those dollars (as if they were really trying).

    1. How can you expect this politician to lower himself to going through the doors of a Walmart? Have you no shame?

      1. How can you expect this politician to lower himself to going through the doors of a Walmart?

        How about the doors of a local library? Free internet means that UPS will drop it at your door for free, but you have to be bourgeois enough to buy at least $50 at a time.

        Food deserts, just like regular deserts except people routinely deliver food and water to it.

    2. There’s a Wal-Mart in DC? I thought stores with reasonably priced food and other merchandise were a stain on society.

  11. The times that I wasn’t working during college, my parents (in their supreme Dutchness) would only send me $35 every two weeks. This was back in the early 90s, but I still managed to (barely) live on this – including gassing up my truck and an occasional 40oz of Mickey’s beer.

    If I had been smarter and not so proud, I would have supplemented my rations by visiting the local food bank which was handing out grocery bags of FREE FOOD.

    My first job out of college – a princely $13/hr – and I felt as if I could buy the world. Of course living with my brother and driving one of my dad’s old cars made living expenses low.

    1. “I truthfully rarely think about how much it costs,” said Schakowsky, who invited cameras into his home to document the horrors of eating tuna sandwiches.

      It’s “her home”.

        1. Oh and “(in their supreme Dutchness0”

          Donder op, je!

    2. I’ve only ever seen Mickey’s in wide-mouthed grenades.

      1. About the time you reached the three-finger mark on a 40 of Mickeys, you wanted to drink barf instead.

  12. “Sardine” is the name given to a variety of small oily fish. And they are delicious.

    1. I’ve got sardines in oil, sardines in mustard sauce, sardines in hot sauce, sardines in mustard and dill, and this seafood medley that’s got a few kinds of fish and shellfish with tomato, carrot and a couple olives. The olives are unreal after sitting with all that seafood.

      1. Do you have a paella or gumbo recipe you are not sharing with us?

        Sardines + horseradish is a winner in my household because a. it’s mouth-watering good, and b. provides peace by chasing off the olfactory-sensitive wife and kids.

        1. Do you buy them in the horseradish or add it yourself? That sounds good.

          1. Add it. I’ve never seen sardines already in horseradish. Someone missed a market.

            1. I’ve got some King Oscar in the cupboard and some ground horseradish in the fridge. Think I know what I’m bringing for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for the idea.

        2. I like mine in apple cider vinegar with a generous amount of hot sauce. Serves the same purpose.

    2. They also keep 30 to 40 years.

      1. Only because no strain of bacteria could make them taste any worse.

  13. You can buy a corn silo of quick oats at the store for $1.99. Just stir in some peanut butter or mash in bananas. Seriously, who do these fucking pricks think they’re fooling.

    1. I’m a pretty good cook when I want to be, but there was this time that my wife was traveling and I was just feeling really lazy and uncreative. I called her to ask for dinner ideas but she was not being helpful.

      So I threw some oatmeal, chicken breast, dried apricots, dijon mustard, pickled jalapenos, and probably some other stuff — basically anything I could grab out of the pantry or fridge — into one pot and cooked it all together.

      That was the worst fucking thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. I hate throwing food away. I threw that away. It was awful.

      And my wife didn’t even show any sympathy.

      1. This is a reason to always have a can of spag sauce and some pasta in the pantry. Just cook the pasta, then go through the fridge for any leftover meal or vegetables or cheese, mix with the pasta and the sauce, then back.

        It’s how I clean out the fridge and cook lunch to take to work for the week.

      2. Too many things at once. I find that if you’re combining more than 4 ingredients for the first time, you have no idea what it’ll come out tasting like.

        1. “I find that if you’re combining more than 4 ingredients for the first time, you have no idea what it’ll come out tasting like.”

          Good point.
          Unless you’ve got a recipe you know is good, keep it simple.

      3. That was the worst fucking thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.

        When I was in H.S., this this wasn’t a challenge, you just fucking did it.

        Protein wasn’t cheap or much more appetizing and you left out the banana’s and honey and other good-tasting shit to avoid carbs.

  14. What dumbass buys food from a convenience store? And FUCKING TRAIL MIX?! Shit is sooo overpriced!

  15. This discussion is going on in the comments section of the Chron. The Oaktown gov’t gave up on raising the M/W when a local charity said ‘Fine; go ahead. We’ll have to cut our training program 30%’
    In spite of the evidence in front of their noses, the brain-dead lefties are still saying that there is no loss of employment when the M/W is raised!
    I guess you need that 2X4 to get their attention.

    1. Those employers are obviously just bluffing so they can protect their PROFITZ@!!

    2. Not true. You can also get their attention with a 4×4. Or a gun.

  16. I galanced at a few of these guys’ (and lady’s) menus, admittedly through less-than-sympathetic sources. The thing that struck me was how godawful they were at shopping or cooking. For the price of some of their meals, I could have prepared a lot better dinner, and I’m not exactly a gourmet chef.

  17. Similarly, Strickland, who blasted other pols as living in “a bubble,” blew his money on meals from McDonald’s and other highly processed and expensive foods like bologna.

    Okay Governor dummy, here’s how this goes: Let’s assume you work for the federal minimum wage ($7.25) and you put in a 40 hour week. If you a single male, let’s say you walk away with $232. So let’s plan it out.

    Breakfast: Chicken legs/thighs (0.75/pound), Eggs (1.29/dz), Whole Wheat Bread for Toast (1.19/loaf), margarine for toast (0.99/1 lb).

    Lunch: 2 peanut butter jelly sandwiches (1.59 for jar of peanut butter, 1.79 for a jar of jelly)

    Dinner: Chicken legs/thighs again (0.75/pound), Rice ($4.00/10 lbs. bag), Canned Green Beans (0.75/12.5 oz).

    $7.50 for a 10 lbs bag of chicken thighs, 1.29 for eggs, 1.19 for bread, 0.99 for margarine, 1.59 for peanut butter, 1.79 for jelly, $4.00 for rice, and seven cans of green beans ($5.25). So you end up spending $23.60. The eggs should last about two weeks, the chicken about 1 week, the margarine 2 weeks, the peanut butter about a month, same for the jelly, the rice about four months, and the green beans about 2 weeks.

    Methinks Mr. Strickland has never actually budgeted a single meal, much less his own food.

    But what do I know? I’m just a guy who has actually lived on minimum wage. Then I discovered that child labor was much more profitable and became a libertarian.

    1. Who eats chicken legs for breakfast?

      1. Someone who doesn’t have meat for lunch? I’d swap the two, personally.

    2. Now that I am married and have a real job and can afford to not scrutinize every price tag, I somehow still manage to eat for ~$5/day. I even skip the chicken thighs and get boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fresh spinach, rice, tomatoes, carrots, eggs, whole wheat pita, and cottage cheese.

      How these rubes couldn’t even make this work is beyond me, until I remembered that this was just a ploy to get you fat, rich, white bastards to sympathize with the “poor” to garner more votes.

      1. I’m pretty much the same way, but my humble suggestion would be to get a boning knife and spend 10 minutes on youtube learning to break down and debone a whole chicken. Totally worth it.

        1. I used to do that, and occasionally still do for when I want to make chicken stock, but I’ve started working more hours and am willing to fork over a little extra cash to *not* have to do that.

          My point really was that I’m able to buy the most expensive part of a chicken and *still* eat for less per day than these two idiots.

    3. My god is that what food costs in the real world? It’s at least double that for every item on the list here in NYC. Of course nobody earns MW here either.

  18. In grad school I lived on my teaching assistant stipends, and that was it. I got $5k for each semester. That meant that I had $10k to live on for the 10 months of the year I was there. First, please note that working a minimum wage job for 10 months would actually earn you about $12.5k.

    I lost about 25% of that income to taxes ($2,500). Next, I had rent. So I had the cheapest (and crappiest) apartment I could find with less than a 25 minute walk to campus. That was $400 a month ($4000). That leaves me with $3,500 for 10 months of “food, transportation and day-to-day expenses”. That’s $56 per week, well less than these guys had in their “challenge”. I survived fine. Yes, my “big” entertainment splurge was the biweekly trip to the brewpub for their $9.99 wings and two pints special while I did my laundry in the laundromat next door, but I managed to eat just fine on $20 less a week than them. They weren’t even trying.

    1. Same here.
      $1,000 per month (roughly).
      $450 rent, for a 1-bedroom apartment (a luxury, considering many gad students have roommmates),
      $150 utilities (gas, electric, phone, internet)
      $60 car insurance (car was paid off)
      $40 gas (i didn’t drive much)

      General food and stuff ~$200/month (typical credit card bill).

      That left $100/month for entertainment.

      I could afford to chill at coffee shops and even eat out and go to movies once in a while.

  19. These are such bullshit stunts. What irritates me is that, if they fuck it up and buy stuff outside the budget, they don’t go hungry or have to skip a lunch or two. They just decide the stunt is over and have dinner at that nice thai restuarant down the street.

  20. I’ll add, does anyone want to bet none of these clowns bothered to look for a little thing called “a coupon”?

    1. Coupons are for the peasants, not the ruling class.

    2. Coupons? Check your privilege!

      1. How are coupons a sign of privilege?

        1. Most coupons require an ability to read English and perform simple math. You know, rich white people skills.

    3. Maybe we should elect some of those coupon fanatics that get 8 carts of groceries for $3.42 to congress?

      Couldnt hurt.

  21. Maybe these retards should start a movement to get the price of everything lowered instead of getting everyone paid more. Because the problem is obviously that shit costs too much.

    1. But that would mean deflation. Which will be mean economic doom, and roaming rape gangs, and the mid-guard serpent would devour the sun. Why do you hate the sun?

      1. and roaming rape gangs

        … are you really Tasha Yar?

  22. Tonysock should be trolling this thread hard; where is it?

    Hey Tony, tell us again how great nationalized healthcare will be.

  23. Ted Strickland was the fucktard governor of Ohio when I lived there. I’d hoped his criminal retardedness might have resulted in him offing himself by now, but no such luck.

    What a dumbass.

  24. One of my friends has volunteered for these community non-profits that teach people how to shop for groceries.

    All privileges aside, I hadn’t realized that some people wouldn’t have the sense to compare two numbers. I’m glad that he found an NGO that helps those people, but I’m sure it’s government funding.

    And frankly, I’d blame things on public education. How does our society have public grade school education hat 99.9% of people have access to, and we still have people in society who don’t know how to shop for groceries?

    1. I don’t really want schools teaching “life skills”. That’s what parents are for.

      I remember the attempts to teah us stuff like budgeting and balancing a checkbook in school and I remember thinking “isn’t that obvious?”. How fucking hard is it to figure out that you can only spend as much money as you have?

      1. That part is easy. The hard part is learning how to game the system so you can spend more money than you have. Otherwise known as Congressional life skills

      2. It’s pretty obvious, but there are some people who need to have their hand held and be walked through the process at least once.

        IMO, they should do budgeting in math class when you learn how to add an subtract. It would give students an understanding of how math skills benefit them in the real world.

    2. No shit. A couple of years ago I overheard 2 girls discussing the various prices on a type of item (I forget what.) One was saying “This one is cheaper.” The other one was saying “But this one is bigger.” I had to point out the unit price on the shelf labels and explain it to them. These were maybe early 20 something girls, obviously not used to living on their own, not fucking TOP MEN like these pols in the story. God we’re ruled by imbeciles.

  25. You have to admit, though, that the folks who dumped on Rand Paul for proposing teaching welfare recipients how to budget were right.

    The classes should be for Congress.

  26. How is a solution to the supposed food crises trying to revert the country back to an era where people had to subsist on hardtack and scrapple? I hope at some point people will realize, while there certainly has been a much greater production per person, and therefore living standards have risen, there’s still going to be a population of people who don’t have the best diets or access to the best foods. Hot Dogs are still made for a reason. But the idealists don’t seem to realize that their quest for everyone to be above average is to break the system and send everyone (except the select few) back to hardtack. They won’t stop until the middle class is erased.

    1. Scrapple is awesome.

  27. “Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland two other Democrats, Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), staged a publicity stunt last week that really didn’t prove much except that they don’t know jack about budgeting. ”

    What it proved is that the only real issue for them is trying to gin up anything they can to improve the electoral chances of Democrats in the mid term elections.

    Just like the ginned up so-called “war on women” and Obama’s “economic patriotism” bullshit, that is all this minimum wage increase agigation is really about as well.

    1. The minimum wage agitation is about turning out the base.

      1. Yes and so is the “war on women”, “economic patriotism” and all the other bullshit they’ve been increasing jabbering about heading into the mid term elections.

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