I called home to say I was leaving work today and my wife informed me that our dog’s vet visit cost us more than $600.00!!!!! Pardon the pun, but the price of things is one of my pet peeves right now. Neither she nor I mind working, and we both love the dog, but son-of-a-gun!!!! Man’s best friend and we can’t afford to have one???? I’ve never heard of such a thing!
At church yesterday, they presented a slideshow about the cost of basics in the Hartford area as part of the Walk for Hunger (which is next week, BTW). I hope I mis-heard the speaker who said, “It takes 3 full-time jobs at minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Hartford”. She must have said 3 part-time jobs in order to get said apartment but… “that doesn’t include food“. How is that possible? More to the point, how do people (owners) expect other people (renters) to do it?.
Next, we went to the movies to celebrate our daughter’s birthday. Because it was a new 3-D movie, tickets cost us $75.00 for 5 people!!!! I’ve never paid $75.00 for a movie in my life. If tickets cost $15.00 and I can easily remember paying $1.00, 3.50, 5.00, 7.50 are the movies really 5, 10, or 15 times better? Adjusted for inflation, what is that? Disney (and every other studio), if you’re listening: I can’t go to the movies anymore. IT doesn’t matter how good the movie is, I can’t go unless you bring prices down to where I can afford them. At minimum wage (8.75 here in CT), it now takes 2 hours worth of work to see a 2 hour movie. This is fine, I guess, if you only want to see movies alone, but I don’t. I want to have my family go see a family movie or my wife and I to go see a romantic movie. But for every person that attends, a minimum-wage worker works about 2 hours to go to the movies. That means at minimum wage, I would work a full day to take my family to see a two hour movie. I was appalled a few years ago when clients of mine bought pirated new movies, but now I understand. I still won’t do it, but I won’t go either.
Which leads me to our National Pastime. In Boston, anyway, I can’t afford tickets for game. It’s our National Pastime and a great number of the people who live here can’t see a game. It’s at least 2 hours of minimum wage to see a 2 – 3 hour baseball game. And don’t — under any circumstances — buy a hot dog and a beer or soda. You could easily go to 4 hours of work for the combo!
And what of the American dream of “house with a white picket fence, 2.2 children, a dog and a car in every garage”. If the car costs $20,000 (cheap by today’s standards), it takes 2285 hours at minimum wage to pay for the car! More than a year of full-time work to afford the car!!! And that’s without interest on the loan, gas for the car, insurance for the car or food and housing. Work an entire year plus for a car you hope will last 10! And we wonder why nobody’s buying new cars!
Lastly, there’s the house. It used to be that for every 10 years that you held a mortgage, it cost the house’s worth again. For example: $100,000 home over the course of a 30 year mortgage is $300,000 by the time you’re done! At 8.75 per hour, that’s more than 34,000 hours to pay for this home!!! That’s 4 years of 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks per year, work without food or water or family or anything. At one shift per day (40 hours per week), it would take all of your money for 16 years to pay for this house!!! No food, no water, no electricity, or heat is figured into this. That’s more than 50% of your income just for housing over the next 30 years!!!! Economists used to suggest no more that 25% for housing.
So, as far as The American Dream goes — basics like housing, a car, and a pet — we can’t afford them! And a “extras” like a trip to the movies to forget how hard we work? Forget it! A chance to see our National Pastime? Guess it must not be that important, because it’s never going to happen.
So how can we call this The American Dream ? If by “dream”, you mean “fantasy”, maybe. But actual work leading to this dream of every American? Isn’t that what we say, “work hard and you’ll live the American Dream”? The economy is insane — still — even after the crash of last year. Our correction hasn’t corrected much.
Yes, I could blame unions or management or owners and all would have a part of why things are the way they are. But I’m not here to blame anybody. I just want to point out that it’s not working. Maybe next time, Crazy Eddie will be the Chair of the Fed because this economy … it’s in-sane!