Dang hard to live on minimum wage

I can see by Jake (Jerry) Wren’s recent letter to the editor [Dec. 11 issue] that he thinks baby-sitters and lawn mowers should not be paid minimum wage. You’d think he’d realize that those who take care of other people’s children have the most important job in the world and should be compensated as such, but his current attitude doesn’t surprise me. He was my employer for seven years. I baby-sat for him from the fall of 1965 until the summer of 1972, got paid 50 cents an hour and never once got a raise.

In his letter to the editor, Jake said, “Better off all such individuals would be if given a chance to start at a wage the employer can afford, and then prove by his or her effort and performance that a higher wage is warranted!” Trouble is some employers don’t raise the wage even if it is warranted.

Was a wage increase warranted for me? When I started baby-sitting for him, there were five kids. Five more were added, four of whom were in diapers. It doubled my work. I also did laundry and cleaning and as I remember, I even had to bleach Jerry’s stinky socks. My wage, however, remained at the going rate — 50 cents an hour.

From my experience, it’s pretty dang hard to live on minimum wage. I worked two jobs for umpteen years, doubled up with roommates to survive and cut my expenses to the bone. Jerry, can you say the same?

For the record, Idaho’s minimum wage is $7.25/hr. whereas, according to “Living Wage Calculation for Idaho,” a living wage in Idaho for one adult, the sole provider who is working full time, is $8.09/hr. Add a child to the mix and the living wage is $17.32/hr.

It’s easy when you’re making good money to say that those less fortunate should receive minimum wage. It takes courage to stand up for the less fortunate who maybe didn’t have the luck or opportunities you did. Wise up, Jerry, and Happy New Year!

Joan Kopczynski

Spokane, Wash.

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