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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.

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

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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less