A Livable Minimum Wage

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by scheherazade, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    Don't really know. Most young people seem to be living shared accommodations. They don't want to live with their parents, so they opt to live with friends, sharing a house or an apartment. I think it all depends on what you consider to be a modest life. I suppose it depends on your expectations. I know someone who works 20 hours a week and rents a bedroom in a house. They seem content.

    I remember fighting with my employer to get a $10.00 wage. Now the minimum wage is $12.00. It's all relative. Stuff has gotten so expensive that people don't even bother thinking about ever affording such things as a new car or a house.
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Or children.
    A normal, average, modest life is now expected to be childless, apparently. Children have become a remote aspiration, something the ambitious and unusually capable and lucky can achieve later on in life.
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  5. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    Good point.
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  7. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Not really, at least when it comes to cars. The MEDIAN price of cars has gone up, but that's because nowadays people are spending $160,000 for a car. The cost of budget cars hasn't changed much.

    In 1965, the cheapest car out there was a VW Beetle, for 1663. (13,432 in 2018 dollars.) In 1980 you could get a Ford Fiesta for 13,300 adjusted. Today you can get the modern version of the Fiesta for 13,660. (And it's a much safer, more capable car to boot.)

    Also, real estate prices haven't gone up much for what you get. In 1950 average homes cost 75,000 in 2018 dollars - but were under 1000 square feet on average. Today home prices average 236,000 for an average of 2500 square feet. So home prices have gone from 83 per square foot to 94 per square foot in real money, which isn't a huge move.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The high end doesn't affect the median.
    Relative to the median wage, the total cost of the minimum vehicle (purchase and ownership) has gone up a lot.
    Even just in my lifetime, the beater pickup for the rural working life went from hundreds to thousands - wages did not go from double to triple digits.
    False comparison - the question is what you have to pay relative to takehome pay for minimum digs.
    The median hourly wage once bought the median new house. Now it doesn't rent the median 2 bedroom apartment, in most places.
    The choice of a cheaper, smaller house is not there.
    Example: Twenty five years ago minimum price land in my area - a patch of dirt legally buildable, somewhere one could park a trailer and drive a well and install a septic system - could be had for $150 @ acre. Now, it's 1500. People making five dollars an hour back then are not making fifty now.

    As far as the bigger, fancier house? As with the cars, management figured out there was more profit at the higher end of the market. Most of the rural real estate listings at the low end near me are now advertised as hunting and seasonal properties - one sees four bedroom two bath homes with attached garages and outbuildings on twenty acres advertised as "ideal hunting cabins" and "base camps". The wealthy have been driving the real estate market, as the rich can afford three houses at prices the poor cannot pay for one - and it's a good investment for them.

    Increasing economic inequality - it has these effects.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Of course it does. If you sell more $160,000 cars and fewer $13,000 cars, the median price goes up. That's high school math.
    Right. And the cost of AVERAGE digs has gone up tremendously. The cost of MINIMUM digs has not gone up much, in terms of real dollars.
    Exactly. It only gets you a crappy house in a crappy location. Which is what people used to buy.

    There's this "golden age" myth that things were so much better way back when. They weren't. When my parents bought their first house they complained nonstop about how ridiculous housing prices were, how no one could afford a house, how it was insane that they BOTH had to work to be able to afford a house at all, etc etc. And they had to buy a house in the middle of nowhere.

    Today that house would go for almost a million. Not because it was in a great place but because the place got built out, and it's now in the middle of a nice development.

    So today if someone wanted to buy a house, they'd say "look at that! Almost a MILLION for that crappy little house! We'd have to move to freaking WYANDANCH to get a house we can afford, and even then it would be a crappy little house, and it's in the middle of nowhere! Housing prices are just insane."

    And their kids will say the same thing.
  10. mmatt9876 Registered Senior Member

    Some people are investing in tiny homes now to escape high mortgages and to downsize.
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not necessarily. Revisit your high school math.
    I was talking specifically and explicitly of minimum digs, in my area as an example.
    Not those making the median wage.
    They bought small nice new houses in ordinary developments. At least, they could afford them, by the numbers.
    Now they cannot even make rent, on average.
    We're not dealing with myth. We're running the numbers. It's simply a fact that an ordinary job bought some stuff then that it can't buy now.
    And some of that stuff - medical care, housing, education, land, transportation, children - is right in middle of "livability".
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Yes necessarily.

    Let's take a simplified example. There are eleven cars on the market, ranging from a $1000 cheapo car to a $9000 luxury car.

    You have eleven cars that people bought in one year. They cost 1000,1000,1000,2000,3000,4000,5000,6000,7000, 8000 and 9000 dollars, because people like that cheap $1000 car. What is the median cost of a car that year?

    Let's say next year you have eleven cars that people bought. They cost 1000,2000,3000,4000,5000,6000,7000, 8000,9000,9000 and 9000 dollars, because it was a good year and people bought the $9000 car more often. What is the median cost of a car that year?
    Which, back then, they considered cheap shitboxes. They were also very, very small (under 1000 feet) - smaller than some apartments nowadays. Which is why they were so cheap.
    Today's McMansions are way more expensive. The average size of a home has increased to 2700 square feet. So they are more expensive.
    Good! 2700 is much larger than 900 square feet. Plain old numbers.
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    No. This is not up for discussion - the median does not necessarily move in the situation you described.
    Examples in which the median does move prove nothing.
    And your example is impossible to decipher. The median price in the first list is 4000. The median price in the second list is undetermined (it looks like the 6, 7, and 8 thousand dollar buyers upgraded to 9000, which would not move the median at all - but would change the marketing and manufacturing pressures. There's a lot more profit in the 9000 car - the 1k car is going to disappear.)
    Or we could try lining up your list changes with your original description - a lot more high end, a lot fewer low end, right? : so all the 1k buyers upgraded to 3, the 4k buyer slid to 3, and everybody else bought 9k cars. That matches. The new median is 3k - it went down.
    Which now are considered nice small new houses in decent neighborhoods - much better than what the median wage can buy.
    The median wage once bought a nice small new house in a perfectly decent neighborhood. Now it does not rent the median 2 bedroom apartment.
    They aren't cheap any more. It's a problem.
    But the median wage cannot buy the 2700 square feet.
    And it can't buy the 900 square feet in a decent neighborhood either - there aren't any, for one thing. The median is 2700, and the low end tail of the distribution is very skinny.
    It's been priced out of the market.
  14. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    "investing" is a bit of a loaded word. it can mean many things.
    im really pro the idea of tiny homes though in general.
    the idea of modern technology allowing us to minimalise our carbon footprint and be more green while making less mess. requiring less electricity, less cleaning products, less waste.
    i think its a really good idea.
    also with the modern worker, they have a lot on their plate. the idea of having to fit their 50 to 70 hour week around other people in a group living environment is probably quite an old worldy type thing.
    group living in tiny apartments seems to be much more efficient & effective for allowing people to live busy lives and pursue hobbies that would otherwise clash inside house sized group living.

    generally the idea of living alone in a dwelling has been psychologically DOGMA ridden into a position of social unacceptability.
    this DOGMA is slowly being removed by intellectual minds and evolving culture.

    technology allows us to have company while not forcing company to be in our personal space disrupting sleep, meals & rest time & hobbies.

    previousely space has been the factor. having a huge house allows you space to pursue your own mind and personality.
    now technology is closing the gap with modern cost of living and THE vastly increasing requiremnts for intellectual learning on a near constant basis.
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Nope. If more people buy the more expensive car, the median price goes UP. If more people buy the less expensive car, the median price goes DOWN. The only time this doesn't happen is if every car in the middle is exactly the same price - which doesn't happen in the real market.

    Again, basic high school math.
    Correct. It only buys the shitbox. No one wants the shitbox any more, even if those homes were the core of the market 70 years ago. It doesn't mean that available housing isn't affordable, it just means that people's demands have changed.

    My grandparents came from Ireland in the 1920's. They lived in a 500 square foot apartment for 45 years and raised two daughters. Nowadays those apartments are still available - but no one wants them. You can't raise a family in a 500 square foot apartment!
  16. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    Alright, as I'm reasonably certain that both of you know how to calculate the median, maybe you could just drop this weird argument over something about which ample information simply wasn't provided--more buying this or fewer buying that is kinda insufficient.

    Rather, the matter of whether the total cost for the lowest priced vehicle has risen commensurate with the lowest wages seems more pertinent here. Or house. Or education or healthcare, for that matter.

    As to cars--who knows? The lowest priced new car has risen fairly consistently with wages, but I think the lowest price for a beater has far surpassed the corresponding increase in wages.

    Whether we're talking houses or cars or anything, this can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes technological advances almost mandate that people's demands change, though "needs" might be more accurate than demands (or desires): the unemployed can no longer depend upon a newspaper for job listings, they need access to the internet. Whether they need a computer, or simply access to a library is up for debate, I suppose.

    My car--an '82 diesel Westfalia--doesn't have power steering, or power anything, for that matter. I'm pretty certain (ok, I'm a hundred percent certain) that most cars these days do have these things, so if a person wishes to buy a car with feature X, is that a matter of them having higher expectations, or is it more one of kinda almost being a necessity?

    Seriously, several years back I was visiting my mother in Arizona, and I asked her to move my van for some reason or other. She was 64 at the the time, and she is a very small person but by no means fragile or weak, yet she couldn't move it! She couldn't turn the damn steering wheel.
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not necessarily. Review my explicit calculation from your list and prices set up to match your original description of the change in distribution:
    A 900 square foot brand new house in an ordinary neighborhood that could be bought for the median wage would sell in a heartbeat in my area. If you as the trustee of an estate in most cities sold a mint condition 900 sq ft house in a decent neighborhood for median job wage money you'd likely get sued.
    Available housing isn't affordable, as a matter of observation, on median wage money. Run the numbers. It doesn't matter what the "demands" are. We had a real estate bubble in this country, and it hasn't deflated to the wage trendline.
    You can house two families in a 1000 sq ft apartment - and a good thing, too, because it takes at least two jobs to pay that rent.
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Without even figuring ownership. A beater nowdays is insured for modern medical costs, maintained using diagnostic software, etc.
  19. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Agreed there.
    Beater here in San Diego - $500, $300 for cash.
    People have always been able to find these 25 year old cars that "need a little work" for next to nothing.
    That's definitely true. The times are changing. But many of the changes are for the better, even if they're not distributed equally. For example, the Internet is now available - but not equally. If you are rich you have 4G on your phone and broadband at home. If you're poor you have to go to the library and use their free (and slower) Internet. So both groups are better off - but one group is MUCH better off.

    And that problem (the growing disparity between rich and poor) is indeed a big problem for society in general - it distorts politics and economics and moves the majortity of the power into the hands of a very small minority. It can be easy to extend that to "therefore everything is worse for poor people." And that's true - but only on a relative basis. On an ABSOLUTE basis, all parts of society are improving in a great many aspects.

    Well, since you can get a beater where most of that stuff doesn't work, it's definitely not a necessity. But because of societal pressure - people think it is.
  20. river

    Minimum-wage increase is a way to spread the wealth that corps. Have a problem with .
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Your example is of a non-running car with visible accident damage being sold for more than its junk price;
    For five times as much as I paid for a running car, rust but no such red flag, years ago (ok, three times as much - I paid cash);
    and four times as much as I sold a working, street legal and capable, rust but no crash, pickup truck less than fifteen years ago (ok, twice as much, I got cash).
    in a cheap car region - doesn't have to start in the winter, electrical can be shaky, etc.
    Wages have not risen anywhere near that fast. And you haven't figured in ownership.
    Btw: the fuel pump will run you 100 - 200 dollars if you do the work yourself - and the diagnosis, and that's the only problem. So your poor person has tools, a garage or the like, computer access (and credit etc), expertise, time, and about 750 dollars they can afford to lose.
    You can't drive it on the highway if the computer stuff is on the fritz. It won't run, windows won't close, instruments won't read, etc.
    This is the central confusion.
    In the case of many resources and living circumstances, the relative governs the absolute - the cheap house is not built, the easily owned car is not available, the nice neighborhood is not available, and so forth, because in a greatly unequal economy the profit and focus of the economy lies in catering to the rich. This imposes increasing expenses on the lower classes, and prices them out of various markets (some real estate, medical care, education, tickets to concerts and ball games, quiet surroundings, clean surroundings, etc) entirely.
    Example: car insurance. The poor must carry it, to protect the rich - but the possessions and expenses of the rich have rocketed in price. So it is 1500 dollars a year rather than 250, for that beater car, and wages haven't risen that fast.
    The group that must now take time off of work and make their way across town during spotty and varying library hours to file their taxes, where before the forms came free in the mail and could be filed for the cost of postage, is worse off. That's before counting the learning curve and mishap costs - security, audits, records, etc. The risk premiums have increased on top of the pocket costs - for the poor.
    Good example.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Meanwhile, buying the line that everyone is better off than in years past occasionally runs governments into trouble: https://www.washingtonpost.com/loca...fa705927d54_story.html?utm_term=.5941223b1238
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    And as far as the influence of inequality on minimum livable wages: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/opinion/columnists/great-recession-economy-gdp.html

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