Some people think the minimum wage should be $15. Let's see how it stacks up to the current minimum.

Here are two workers. One earns today's minimum wage of $7.25. The other lives in a hypothetical happy land where the minimum wage is $15.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

That's about $15,080 per year (before taxes).


Image via Fight for $15.

A lot of people think we should raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

That's about $31,200 per year (also before taxes). Now, how big of a deal is that extra $7.75 an hour? Let's find out.

We'll start with the monthly costs of just a few basic living expenses. And to keep things simple, we'll focus on the average costs for a single person.

BIG DISCLAIMER: Everyone's experience is different. These are crudely assembled hypothetical scenarios to help us simply consider the relative impact of a $15 minimum wage.

FOOD: The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the food costs for a single man are $188 to $373 per month. The range for single women is $167 to $331 per month. Since I'm a guy, I'll just use that figure. (No offense, ladies.) And let's assume some serious penny-pinching here by going with the low end.

HOUSING: There's a general rule of thumb that affordable housing should be no more than one-third of a person's income. That's getting harder to achieve in an age of flat (or declining) incomes and skyrocketing housing costs, but let's just run with it for the sake of comparison.

FUEL: The average consumer spent just over $2,400 on gasoline in 2013, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey (divided by 12 months).

Food, housing, and fuel costs alone soaked up nearly two-thirds (64%) of the monthly earnings of the $7.25-an-hour worker.

The $15-an-hour worker spent less than half (48%) of their income on the same needs.

Again, this is PRE-TAX. So these figures are a little more generous than the reality. But food, housing, and fuel aren't the only things we spend money on, right?

We have utilities, phone bills, car payments, insurance premiums, and medical bills. We pay for all sorts of small necessities that can really add up. And if you do have a family, then you definitely don't need me to tell you that raising a kid is not cheap.

And what about savings and planning for a better future — that whole "pursuit of happiness" thing? It's looking pretty impossible on $7.25 an hour.

Damn you, Skipper! Image via KnowYourMeme.

A $15 minimum wage would lift millions of people out of poverty.

But it wouldn't just be a win for the workers — it would be for all U.S. taxpayers:

  • According to Americans for Tax Fairness, "Walmart pays its employees so little that many of them rely on food stamps, health care and other taxpayer-funded programs" — to the tune of $6.2 billion a year.

Call me old-fashioned, but an honest day's work should provide for everything workers need now with some left for their future — not leave them grasping for welfare straws.

If you agree, share this post and join the fight for $15.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

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Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

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In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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