Thursday, February 20, 2014

Is your Hourly Wage actually Less than What you Thought?

Currently in the United States, the Federal Minimum Wage is set at $7.25 an hour. A state is able to set the wage higher or lower, however, if the state minimum wage is set lower than the federal wage, than automatically the state's minimum wage is the federal wage. If the state decides to raise their minimum wage to be more than that of the federal minimum wage, than the higher of the two rates is applied.

Now an interesting thing - whatever your hourly rate is, is not actually what you are being paid.

Let's look at a practical example:

Say you are working in a position that pays minimum wage, which was reported to be about 4.7% of the working class in 2012. Doing the basic math, we can see that if you were to work 40 hours in one week, at $7.25 an hour, your gross pay would be $290 (40 x 7.25). Usually pay periods are every two weeks, so calculating the pay check to be expected for one pay period would be - keeping up with the 40 hour work week - you would gross $580 (290 x 2).

So that is a 'standard' paycheck for working 80 hours in one pay period. Yet here, you are not actually bringing home the 'minimum wage' set by the law as the federal requirement. The reason being, there are taxes that are then taken out for various purposes. Mainly, in the US, we have the OASDI and HI taxes which are the Social Security and Medicare taxes, sitting at 6.2% for OASDI and 1.45% for HI (Medicare).

So let's now remove these taxes from your taxable wages, which is what we calculated above, the $580.

The amount taken out for OASDI would be $35.96 (580 x 6.2%), and the amount taken out for Medicare would be $8.41 (580 x 1.45%). So taking into account these taxes that are being removed from your paycheck (35.96 + 8.41= $44.37), you would receive a total of $535.63 (580 - 44.37).

Once the taxes are removed and you are given your paycheck, the total hourly wage you are ACTUALLY "making", or is for you to support your life, is now at $6.69 an hour (535.63/80 hours). What this means is that after all is said and done, you are making lower than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which is apparently set as a standard to ensure a minimum wage for all workers in the US. Yet we can clearly see here that we are not actually making that amount - we are making 56 cents less than that amount. One might say that is nothing to gripe about, yet it all adds up.

Now I'm not saying that we should not have to pay taxes or that 'taxes are the bad guys, and do away with taxes', what is clear here is that the Minimum Wage should be set as a rate that takes into account the taxes that are being paid. The Minimum Wage should be set at a rate in which, once the taxes have been removed, equals that of the Federal Minimum Wage, definitely not lower. I say definitely because it does not make any sense, why set a MINIMUM amount when one is actually making LESS than the MINIMUM amount?

We already know that the current minimum wage of $7.25 for an individual working full time, does not cut it in terms of actually supporting one financially, and then we see now that we are making even less than that. The point of the Minimum wage would to be to ensure that a minimum amount is guaranteed for ALL workers to ensure their ability to provide themselves the access to ALL Human Rights - food, shelter, water, education, health care, etc. The Minimum Wage is currently providing the most minimal standard of living and cuts people off from accessing a more dignified, comfortable life. No one should have to work more than 40 hours a week to survive, if they choose not to. No one should have to work more than one job to ensure they are making more than the hourly minimum wage rate. No one should have to be forced into positions where they are stuck, doing what they can, just in order to put food on their table and a roof over their head. This should all be guaranteed, because it is a human right.

No one should have part of their less than effective income be removed to then pay in to support others. It's not "Give and Get Less," it's "Give and you shall Receive." And so as we give, we should receive - a balance economy that is effective in supporting everyone - that is truly an advanced society; one that functions in harmony.

So the point I wanted to make here is simply that we are fooling ourselves in thinking the current minimum wage is doing it's job effectively, when we can see in the numbers above that the actual minimum wage is not the real minimum wage that goes to those that are working the hours.

Why not give a wage in which takes into account these other costs and yet still allows one a decent wage to live.

I will go more into various other perspective in regards to Minimum Wage in blogs to come. In the meantime - investigate the Living Income Guaranteed proposed by the Equal Life Foundation that recognizes the fact that we have lost sight of how to ensure a healthy and thriving population, which in turns provides a healthy and thriving economy. It realizes that a Living Income becomes more effective than a Minimum Wage and should be set to ensure a standard of Living that is Best for Everyone, because in the end, that is our Basic Human Rights.

Investigate, Question, Find Solutions... Till next time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Living Income for Difficult Times

Imagine yourself a young parent, with a child less than a year old. Your partner faces inner demons that drive them to abuse substances that create them to no longer be a supportive role in this child's life. They lie, cheat and steal for their addiction and you are put into a situation to make a choice. Stay or leave - what is best for the child?

You decide to leave and seek refuge with your family. They offer you a temporary  place to stay while you fight for rights to your child to ensure you are the one responsible for the child's well being and that until the other parent has proven to support themselves through the addiction and stable enough to support the child, you are the sole custodian.

Meanwhile you must continue to work. You are now a single parent, paying legal fees to ensure the child stays in the safety of your home, you cannot count on family for child care, as they are already given you a place to stay. You have to work so you have to pay for someone to care for the child while you work.

All the while, facing the internal struggles of what this situation is showing you - is there any hope for the future? How can you provide for the child alone? What is the main point within all of this... money. Money is the one thing that will ensure a stable process of finding you and your child a place to call home and your ability to pay for legal services and child care. You must also remember to provide food and clothing for yourself and your child, as well as transportation cost for all the required traveling. You are pushed into a situation where you are not free to move about and make the rational decisions that are currently necessary of you, as you are also faced with the emotional turmoil of losing your partner to addiction, while attempting to remain focused on the child's best interest.

What do you do? What do you do in a world where you are not given the proper support to walk through this transition period? You must not only focus on the child and their well being, and your stability in a living environment, and that you are the one responsible, legally, for the child, you must also ensure you have the Money to pay for this all, within also ensuring your own sanity in this whole thing.

Imagine now if there was a Living Income Guarantee that allowed you the financial support to do what you needed to do in order to get your life aligned to the best possible situation for you and your child. You would be given the resources you needed for child care, food, shelter and transportation. You would not have to worry about work and the time away from making sure all these other things are in place, as you are given the support to do that without having to work. It is a bridge of support, a temporary relief from any added stress so that you can handle and take care of what is necessary to get through a difficult time, without having to worry about where the money is coming from - it's here for you. Because as a human, you have a right to your basic human rights and the rights of your child. You have a right to take care of priorities without having to worry about the time you must put in to work to ensure you have the Money that, without it, wouldn't give you the opportunity to walk through this time in your life with as much ease as possible.

Why is this not a guarantee for all? Why does our money system say it doesn't matter what happens, if you don't work, you cannot survive, because you need money to buy your life. Why do we not unconditionally care and support each other to do what is necessary to take care of ourselves, our children and our family? Why do we not honor each other with that ability - the ability which is our birth right?

This is another situation that many have and are facing where a Living Income Guarantee would support. You are given the money necessary to take care of your basic needs of survival to walk the process to ensure everyone is stable and cared for. You do not have to work to make money through this stage, unless you see you are able. You can take the time you need to get support for your partner. The opportunity that opens up for the one individual is beyond what we have at the moment, not to mention the self-care available as the time for oneself to work through any internal conflict or struggles that happen in such a situation.

Our economic system should not put more stress on an individual, it should in fact be a life-support system that allows one the ability to live - isn't that what we strive for in our technological, social and economic claim of advancement - a better standard of living for all? If all are not having access to such a point, then we have failed in our "advancement" - we have only then re-designed the same pattern where some are kept in dire situations of worry, stress and fear, while others are ensured their life and living is comfortable and so any unexpected events, such as the one above, does not become a burden and an experience of hopelessness. We have come too far along in our history to have not yet learned that when all individuals in a society are supported to exist in a state of well being, which is supported through ensuring all their basic rights as a human, than you have a healthy society as a whole. It is a disservice to ourselves as a whole in not making sure money is used to support All life, through all situations and events, and not used as a weapon to keep people trapped, in fear and without hope.

Stand in the Shoes of Another, Imagine who you would be and what would best support you. Ensure that you could trade the lives of anyone on Earth and still live in dignity - Investigate the Living Income Guarantee, proposed by the Equal Life Foundation. Stand up for those that are not in a position to do so.