Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
The $50 Lesson
Recently, while I was working in the flower beds in the front yard, my neighbors stopped to chat as they returned home from walking their dog. During our friendly conversation, I asked their little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, “If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?” She replied… “I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.” Her parents beamed with pride! “Wow…what a worthy goal!” I said. “But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that!” I told her. “What do you mean?” she replied. So I told her, “You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and trim my hedge, and I’ll pay you $50. Then you can go over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out and give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house.” She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?” I said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.” Her parents aren’t speaking to me anymore.
It makes so much sense right? We should all put aside our liberal ways and vote Republican!
Except all this does is highlight the sheer child-like ignorance of the Republican standpoint. The Republican in the story fails to point out some pretty obvious reasons why this wouldn’t work.
For starters, no one is homeless by choice. Think about it: shower every night, a roof over your head when it rains, warmth in winter, a cool place to relax in summer, you can go to the bathroom in private…or…you can sit around outside dealing with exposure, wondering where your next meal is going to come from, and being kicked around and treated like a sub human by jerks in business suits.
So why might this guy have no job? Mental illness? Disability? But there’s “entitlements” for that!
Here’s the deal though: in order to get on disability you a) have to have a diagnosed problem, and b) have to have months worth of bill and rent money to sit on while your case is being processed. Or else, you get evicted. What happens if you get evicted and have no family or friends or church groups to help you out? You end up homeless.
Say they get lucky, and they get a full time minimum wage job — Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. You work about 38 hours a week. Your gross income is $14,326. After taxes, it works out to about $1000 a month for a single person.
Out of that $1000, you have to pay your transportation to work, say, the bus. Busses cost, say, $2.00 a trip. That’s $4 a day, or about $120 a month. Now you are left with $880. You need to eat, and you don’t have a house, so cooking a meal at home is out of the question. McDonald’s it is. Two meals a day (because you are trying to save up here) at $6 a meal, is $12 a day, or $360 dollars a month. You are now left with $520. Then there’s the laundry costs. You can’t go to work in stinky clothing. One load of laundry a week is what, $10? $4.25 for a washer, $3.75 for a dryer, plus the cost of detergent. That’s $40 a month. We are down to $480.
You’re gonna want a place to sleep, most cheap motels have weekly rates of about $200 a week, or $800 a month. We arrange a roommate to split this, $400 a month.
The most you can really afford rent wise is $800 — that is what you are paying now for a motel with a roommate. First month’s rent, plus a deposit are going to cost you about $1600. Add in another $200 or so for utilities. $1800 gets you an apartment with no furniture, but power and water! You can sleep on the floor.
It would take you 23 months to save up that $1800. 23 months is just under 2 years — assuming you never have a sick day, never have your hours shorted, and your bills don’t go up.
It isn’t as easy as Republicans seem to think.