Living on Minimum Wage: One Mother’s Story
Shaniqua Davis, a fast food worker in New York City, talks about the struggles she faces trying to raise a family on the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. She plans to participate in a nationwide strike scheduled for Thursday. (Aug. 29)
Shaniqua Davis, 20, lives in the Bronx with her boyfriend, who is unemployed, and their 1-year-old daughter. Davis has worked at a McDonald’s a few blocks from her apartment for the past three months, earning $7.25 an hour. Her schedule varies, but she never gets close to 40 hours a week. “Forty? Never. They refuse to let you get to that (many) hours.”
Her weekly paycheck is $150 or much lower. “One of my paychecks, I only got $71 on there. So I wasn’t able to do much with that. My daughter needs stuff, I need to get stuff for my apartment,” said Davis, who plans to take part in the strike Thursday.
She pays the rent with public assistance but struggles to afford food, diapers, subway and taxi fares, cable TV and other expenses with her paycheck.
“It’s really hard,” she said. “If I didn’t have public assistance to help me out, I think I would have been out on the street already with the money I make at McDonald’s.”
When I was still practicing criminal and family law and I had a client who was going to plead poverty to the judge I used to make sure they were not wearing expensive jewelry when they walked into court. Believe it or not it was a frequent issue.
I don’t know anything about the circumstances of Shaniqua Davis except what is presented in the video and article above. But if you want to convince me you are poor you should look poor or I’m likely to be skeptical. When you have a big-screen television and a laptop computer (neither of which I own) in your apartment it conflicts with your claim of impoverishment.
There are a couple other inconsistencies to this story as well. If Ms. Davis is working less than full time, why is she striking for higher wages instead of looking for full time employment? I know it’s politically incorrect to say this but I think it’s irresponsible to be getting pregnant when you are unmarried and unemployed.
The gist of this story is that Davis and her fast-food co-workers should be given raises because they need more money. But that’s not how the market works. Workers get paid according to their value, not their need or the employer’s ability to pay.
Yeah, I know it is coldblooded and heartless to say that, but you can’t legislate prosperity. If you could, why not just pass a law requiring that every employee be given 40 hours a week at $50 hour? Then we could eliminate unemployment by decreeing that every person who wants a job be hired.
There is an economic system that tried giving every able-bodied worker a job and basing their pay on need. It’s called communism. It didn’t work out so well in practice.