Realities of the Minimum Wage

It’s been 10 years since the Occupy Wall Street movement introduced discussions about wage gaps, the 1%, and wall street’s leaching into the main stream, and the national minimum wage is still $7.25. Inflation alone should’ve raised the minimum wage to $8.43 in order to have the same buying power as in 2011. But $8.43 is nowhere near enough, not with record high rent costs, mortgage rates, car payments, health care costs, and all the other baseline expenses required just to stay alive.

Could you live off $7.25/hour? — Let’s break it down:

$7.25/hour at 40 hours/week is $290/week or $1,160 a month and that’s before taxes. That’s not even taking into account that most minimum wage jobs are part time, rather than full time, meaning most have to have two or more jobs to make ends meet.

Some might say, “well, the cost of living is different everywhere, $7.25 works for some places.” And, while technically correct, places are different, the fact remains that $7.25/hour is still too low. Let’s look at one of the cheapest places to live in the United States: McAllen, Texas.

Texas’s minimum wage is the same as the national: $7.25. Currently on Zillow, the cheapest property for rent is $500/month for a 1 bedroom, 1 bath. Even with the tacked on $250 safety deposit, that’s only $750 for the first month. With $1,160 a month, that might seem doable on paper.

But most rental companies and landlords require income to be three times the monthly rent. Someone renting a property for $500 would have to make at least $1,500 a month for most landlords to except. Add on utilities, commuting costs (gas, rideshare, public transport), and other expenses and $1,160/month (minus taxes) doesn’t cut it.

19 states still have a $7.25 minimum wage. The most expensive place to live in a 7.25 wage state is Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Currently on Zillow, the cheapest property for rent is a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment for $1,095/month with a $500 deposit fee. That $1,160/month barely covers the rent alone, and doesn’t leave any room for any additional expenses.

This is the reality of the rental market for most Americans. That’s not even taking into consideration the required credit score to rent the property, or the potential commute to work. Even in McAllen, one of the cheapest places to live in the country, the minimum wage doesn’t cut it.

Statistics from :

Opinion: Biden Needs to Give Checks Quick If Dems Want to Win in 2022

$2000 checks out the door was one of the biggest campaign promises made by Joe Biden during his run. Of course, like most politicians’ promises, he’s since walked it back. $2000 rolled back to $1400 and has been stuck in a holding pattern ever since. At this point, Americans really should’ve been receiving monthly stimulus and relief payments to help stimulate the economy and cover rent, bills, and other expenses for those living paycheck to paycheck.

If we do ever want the economy to reopen fully, Washington needs to be committed to making sure Americans can afford to live that long. Even if corona spares households, financial hardships can be just as deadly and damaging. The solution is not to just drop restrictions and open up businesses, we’re a year into this, savings are depleted. Even with the economy reopened, without the stimulus or the relief, consumers’ pockets are empty.

Stimulus and relief are both necessary; and the difference between the two is important. First, we need relief checks. Relief checks are designed to help cover living costs: bills, rent, loans payments, etc, while Stimulus checks are meant to be spent on elective shopping such as retail, restaurants, etc. With only $1400 set to roll out, that covers neither stimulus or relief for millions of Americans. For most, that $1400 will immediately go to rent, bills, and mortgages; ie immediately into the pockets of landlords and banks and therefore not stimulating the economy.

When the 2022 race comes around, Republicans will not be holding back. Biden going back on one of his biggest campaign promises is perfect cannon fodder for attack ads. If democrats want to hold on to any of the national support they gained in the last election cycle, they’ll need to change course quick. On top of checks not rolling out, Biden has been making big promises regarding vaccines, expecting all American adults to be vaccinated by the end of May.

With only two months to keep this promise, stakes are high. Americans are watching closely, having just dealt with the disastrous handling of COVID by the Trump administration. Voters’ faith in the process relies on seeing the clear differences between the two parties. So far, we’ve seen more of the same. The national mask mandate was really the only change, but was quickly super-seeded by governors in Mississippi and Texas.

Saying you “believe in the science” isn’t going to help us through the pandemic. Most politicians still seem to be stuck in last March where a lot was still uncertain. Now, a year later, we’ve seen the benefits of mask wearing, of stimulus checks, and we’ve seen the consequences of relaxed restrictions, holiday surges, and reopening too soon. We have the means to get through the pandemic, it’s just up to the government, and the Biden administration, to decide if they want us to.

Essential Add-Ons for iPhone Photographers

With the latest generation of iPhones boasting impressive camera specs, there has never been a better time to pick up photography as a hobby. In the past, the high entry price of cameras and equipment turned away perspective photographers. Now, having quality cameras built into the phones we carry around every day has opened the field up to new photographers. While the iPhone 12 Pro camera alone boasts impressive specs, the right accessories can elevate your photos.

A great way to boost the quality and ability of any camera is additional lenses, and iPhone photography is no exception. While lenses are commonly on the pricier side, there are a range of clip-on lenses for any price point.

Which lenses you buy will depend on what subjects you plan on photographing.  Wide angle lenses are best for sprawling landscape photography, while macro lenses are great for picking up small details in close-ups. Whatever your goal, any of the below lenses are sure to upgrade your photography to professional quality.

The best lens under $50

KINGMAS 3-in-1 – great for beginners!

At just $6.78 for three lenses, this price is hard to beat. It’s the perfect starters kit with a wide angle, macro, and fisheye lenses included. Although there are better lenses on the market, there is no beating this price. This is a no-brainer purchase for anyone just starting out with iPhone photography.

The best lens under $100

APEXEL 4K 5-in-1 – excellent range of lenses for any subject

Like the KINGMAS kit, this APEXEL 4K HD 5-in-1 Lens kit provides a range of lenses for all your photography needs. At $44.95*, this is more of an investment than the previous, but the upgrade in quality is worth the price for the serious iPhone photographer. Getting five quality 4K lenses for under $50 is a bargain, especially considering APEXEL is a top brand in mobile camera lenses.

(on sale for $44.95 at the time this article was written. Regular price: $55.95)

The best lens under $200

Moment Wide 18mm – perfect for capturing landscapes and architecture

Unlike the previous two, the Moment Wide 18mm is a solo lens instead of a kit. Intended for photographers interested in landscapes and architecture, the wide field of view helps to capture rolling hills and towering skyscrapers with ease. While the $119.95 price tag may give some pause, this professional grade lens will guarantee sharp, 4K photos any time you go to shoot. 

Opinion: Chuck Schumer Didn’t Cross A Line, But the Media Did

How journalistic sensationalism buries real issues

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has had many opinion pieces written about him since he said the above last Wednesday. Here’s one more:

Continue reading “Opinion: Chuck Schumer Didn’t Cross A Line, But the Media Did”

The Rise and Fall of American Mall Culture

Series: 21st Century Americana

From the birth of malls in the 1950s, the pop-culture iconography of malls in the 80s, to the predicted death of malls today, mall culture has been a roller coaster over the past 70 years.Continue reading “The Rise and Fall of American Mall Culture”

Why I’m On YouTube – NEW VIDEO

YouTube has been a big part of my life for a while. In this video, I discuss how it got me to where I am today, as well as what I hope my channel can be for other people.

Continue reading “Why I’m On YouTube – NEW VIDEO”

Yoga for Non-Athletic People

Ever since I took a yoga class in high school and hated it, I’ve been on a mission to teach myself yoga instead. Exercising is all about going at your own pace, if you push yourself too far too soon, you’ll hurt yourself (like I did in 7th grade track!)

Continue reading “Yoga for Non-Athletic People”

Chicago to Los Angeles

I traveled over 43 hours from Chicago (which has been my home for the past four years) to Los Angeles (my new home). The train took us through sweeping plains, mountain passes, and vast deserts.

Continue reading “Chicago to Los Angeles”