Am I making it yet?

From George Will:

She leavens her sentimentality with nostalgia: “When I was a kid, a minimum-wage job in America would support a family of three. It would pay a mortgage, keep the utilities on and put food on the table.” Well. The Adam Smith Institute’s Tim Worstall suggests some pertinent arithmetic: When Warren was 10 in 1959, the federal hourly minimum wage ($1, which would be $8.55 in 2018 dollars) for 2,000 hours (40 hours a week for 50 weeks) would provide $2,000 a year, below the poverty threshold ($2,324) for a family of three.

Yes, I know, I’ve been doing this a long time and I should be blase. There’s still a certain perking up at seeing a point being picked up and broadcast in this manner.

Thin is though Warren’s been repeatedly claiming this. And I seem to be the only person who went do the sums. Why?

12 thoughts on “Am I making it yet?”

  1. “In Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrats have their Thatcher, if they dare.” Merciful heavens. Not even 1/1024 of the Iron Lady.

  2. The coinage has been debased by the same money-printing scum now whining about the results of debasing the coinage.

  3. Minimum wage jobs should not be family-supporting mortgage-paying jobs. They are there for you to get some kind of employment track record, learn some responsibility for a year or two. Anyone, except the most retarded or disabled, trying to raise a family on minimum wage, has failed at life. Spectacularly. A politician who thinks it should be possible is failing their fellows.

    The best earning from a minimum wage job is a glowing reference, not the money. That reference lasts for life. The people I hire are a long way from minimum wage, but I want to see their first reference, not their most recent one. How much effort did they put in for minimal reward?

    On a point of order, was 1970s Britain really “[a] flaccid centrist consensus”? Surely it was more a hard-left command-and control with lots of the economic elements of fascism thrown in for good measure.

  4. …$2,000 a year, below the poverty threshold ($2,324) for a family of three.

    Given that you can live quite comfortably on a sum in one place that would be cardboard-box-under-a-bridge in another I am skeptical that a nation wide poverty threshold has much meaning.

    $2000 p.a. in ’59 would have been about thirteen quid a week in the UK, which seems to my recollection to have been a pretty good income, certainly enough to support a wife and child. The dole at the time was only a couple of quid.

  5. By some miracle mortgages were payable on minimum wage yet house prices weren’t going through the roof? That’s a hell of a lot of money bidding up prices. Either a huge number of houses were being built or she is bullshitting.

  6. Stalin is reputed to have said, “You will get more with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.”

    The Adam Smith Institute’s Tim Worstall gets more attention than Tim Worstall.

    In fact, “The Adam Smith Institute suggests some pertinent arithmetic” could have stood alone.

    Just sayin’. You are on your way, Tim, but you aren’t there yet.

  7. On a point of order, was 1970s Britain really “[a] flaccid centrist consensus”? Surely it was more a hard-left command-and control with lots of the economic elements of fascism thrown in for good measure.

    @BiG: I think it depends upon what period you’re talking about. The Conservative governments during 1970-1974 and 1979 were certainly “wet managerialist” and remained so until Maggie purged them.

    During the Labour periods both Harold Wilson and James Callaghan tried to keep a lid on the worst excesses of the left, but were increasingly frustrated (leading to the devaluation, the IMF crisis, the Winter of Discontent and finally the fall of the government)

  8. When I was 18 or 19 I was going to junior college and largely supporting myself with part time work, some of which was at not much over minimum wage at the time. I was sharing a flat with two others, but the flat was affordable to three of us. Supporting a family would have been difficult, but a kid could get by. College costs were also more heavily subsidized than they are today.

    Housing costs are the big difference between then and now, and limiting housing development has been a left wing goal for decades. College students and their families are also bearing far more of the costs of education today than I did way back when. Again, this is a result of so much tax money now going to state pensions and other programs favored by advocates of more and more government.

    But by all means, let’s jack up the costs of pizza parlor owners and other exploiters of labor such as small retail shop owners. If they go out of business, well who wants them anyways?

  9. I was paid 8p/hr in my weekend & hols first job as a child in 1971/2 after ~year it rose to 10p/hr

    Hotel: dish washing, morning clean of table-service bar (inc finding cash for me under seat cushions), empty bottle sorting and crating/binning

    Harder work than paper round, better paid too

  10. BiG, you surprise me. Surely the point of minimum wage jobs is only to mop up the no-skill work you want to keep off your skilled worker’s desks?

    Hence the insanity of trying to create ‘living’ wages. It’s a totally arbitrary cost to productivity.

    I don’t disagree that a glowing reference is a valuable reward to the employee, but of no value to the employer (unless they are looking to hire from the shop floor, ofc)

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