Thursday, September 4, 2014

Minimum wage test? I’d sooner get bucket of water dumped over my head

I’ve never personally tried to do the stunt that many politically-minded people are taking on these days – living for a week on an amount of money they estimate they would have if they were to earn only the minimum wage for a salary.


Perhaps it’s because I have memories of the days in decades past when I earned salaries that were at, or barely above, minimum wage. I remember how tight financially things were. I don’t need to engage in a silly symbolic stunt to prove a point.


PARTICULARLY SINCE IT always seems that the person doing the stunt always manages to reinforce whatever ideological hang-ups they carried with them prior to the test. What really gets proved?


For the record, the most recent person to take on this alleged test is Gov. Pat Quinn, who estimated that after paying for housing, travel and taxes, a minimum wage-salaried person has only $79 to last for the week.


So he’s going about with only that sum of cash for the week. If he runs out, he’s broke – in a symbolic sense.


He’s been quick to tell us of his banana for breakfast, or how he couldn’t order the deluxe hamburger for lunch and had to settle for the child’s menu version instead.


HIS LATEST FUNDRAISING e-mail message tells us that Quinn is, “draw(ing) attention to the struggles that far too many Illinois families face every single day.”


Although I also remember when an Indianapolis radio broadcaster (whom I knew back in the days when he was a Springfield, Ill. Broadcaster) took on a similar challenge (and wrote about it all over his Facebook page) and went out of his way to claim that holding down his expenses was no big deal.


As though people who couldn’t confine their spending to minimum wage were somehow being wasteful. Although I suspect what many of the ideologues really believe is that some people aren’t entitled to have certain things. Or else maybe they really believe they’re better than the rest of us and somehow are entitled to finer items in life.


My guess is that is what they are thinking these days now that the tidbit has come out that Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner is a member of a private club that charges him in excess of $100,000 per year to buy wine made from grapes grown at the Napa Valley Reserve.


PERSONALLY, I’M NOT a wine fanatic. I don’t know how wonderous the wine from this particular place is. I also appreciate that people have a right to spend their own money on whatever luxuries they particularly desire.


But Quinn is going out of his way to let us know he’s going broke for a week while Rauner is guzzling down (or so he’d have us believe) unique wines that most of us couldn’t even dream of buying.


Whether people will buy into that line of logic is uncertain. We’ll have to wait and see come Nov. 4 for the vote tallies. Although I think there has been enough evidence to show that Rauner isn’t like the majority of us (he once self-described himself as part of the “0.0001 percent” of society).


But I’m not sure that someone who has been a part of public life for as many decades as Quinn can truly claim to be a part of us either – even if he’s using his latest campaign ad to show himself mowing his own lawn.


A COMMON MAN touch similar to how Dawn Clark Netsch shot pool in her 1994 campaign ads? That was gimmicky too, just as the so-called minimum wage test is.


For the reality of living life poor is that you don’t just get to do it for a week, then know that things will return to normal. It becomes a condition that becomes such a permanent mindset that it is next-to-impossible to figure things will ever change.


It makes me think the minimum wage test tells us less than those people who are having water buckets dumped over their heads to show solidarity with those suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis


It makes me wonder if Lou Gehrig himself would want to knock a foul ball into the stands off of one of these peoples’ heads; in hopes of knocking some sense into their craniums.



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