Thursday, July 25, 2024

Editorial: Americans suffering to survive

 In modern times, many on the left side of the political spectrum have gripes with former President Ronald Regan. Due to Reagan’s policies, the federal minimum wage no longer coincides with the cost of living. If it had, federal minimum wage now would be around $21.50 an hour, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. That’s an additional $14.25 an hour, nearly two hours worth of federal minimum wage. 

Rebecca Parson, a Democrat running for Congress in Washington, tweeted: “The median annual pay during the Great Depression was 22% of the cost of an average home. Today it’s 14%. That means pay relative to home cost made it easier to buy a home during the Great Depression than right now. This is absurd.”

In the third quarter of 2022, the average price of a home was $542,900, according to the Federal Reserve Economic Data. With the federal minimum wage being $7.25, it would take roughly 74,883 hours of work, not accounting for taxes. That’s roughly nine years of straight work, 24/7. In the demographic of Americans 35 and under, only 38.1% own homes, according to the census. In opposition, 75.7% of those 55 to 64 own homes and 79.3% of those 64 and up own homes. 61.9% of young Americans — 35 and under — rent or at the very least do not own the property they stay on, meaning any money that goes towards the home, such as rent, will never be seen again. That money does not add to the investment of the home, at least not to the tenant. The homeowner, the landlord, profits off of the necessity of a home, and continues to do so while work is being done and the housing market crashes. 

Homes aren’t the only luxury either. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the price of food inflated a total of 8.2% from September 2021 to September 2022. Families, students and adults are now struggling to pay for their weekly groceries. The USDA also states: “The food-at-home (grocery store or supermarket food purchases) [cost] increased 0.6 percent from August 2022 to September 2022 and was 13.0 percent higher than September 2021. The food-away-from-home (restaurant purchases) [cost] increased 0.9 percent in September 2022 and was 8.5 percent higher than September 2021.”

When the pandemic hit, so many were reliant on services such as GrubHub and Doordash to get meals delivered as it was unsafe to go to the grocery store, especially for those immunocompromised or treating the sick. Prices have skyrocketed. What used to be able to feed a family of four might feed two. Nutritious foods are only more expensive, which will inevitably lead to the less fortunate being sicker, malnourished and in debt to the medical system. It’s a never ending cycle. 

America is facing a new recession, again, and there are few signs of what politicians plan to do. It doesn’t affect them. Lobbyists will continue to line their pockets with thousands of dollars, and those multi-multi million dollar corporations will report record breaking profits, again. Meanwhile, the lower classes will scrounge up any penny they can to get crumbs of a meal while killing themself at their nine to five minimum wage job. 

Workers need to unionize, even as union busts spread across the nation. Workers need to stand up and demand better working conditions, better pay, or it’ll be us, the working class, who will pay for it.

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