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The old model was "build a crapload of crummy single-family houses way out in the sticks and let people commute into town", but that doesn't work with today's job mobility and vastly increasing urbanized area. Sprawl ain't working.
But sprawl ain't going away, either, because most people can't begin to afford to live in the city (a handful of @1's "baristas" notwithstanding). The areas of sprawl need to become areas of dense development. These may not be hiply desireable like Pike/Pine, but they need to be more than they are now, because an area the size of the LA-Long Beach CSA with the population density one-fifth as large, which is what we've got now, just doesn't work.
We need to become LA, basically. Our only other choice is to become SF, with Bellevue our San Jose. Hipper, maybe, but less affordable.
A $15 wage is a good start, but it's not going to solve the problem. Neither are a handful of apodments or whatever in desireable areas. We need several million housing units, not several hundred.
It seems high to me, but I also don't have many recipients. I spend maybe a third to half as much, but I only spend real cash on my boyfriend. Everyone else gets a gift that ranges $10-$20 in worth depending on if it's store-bought or made by hand.
The average density of the CITY of LA and the CITY of seattle are roughly the same:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles (8,225/sq mi)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle (7,402/sq mi)
The metro areas are pretty disparate (12,113.9/sq mi v 4,721.6/sq mi), but the Seattle metro has a lot less people and a lot more low-density areas than the greater LA metro area and blah blah blah:
The thing about the LA area and environs is the never-ending sea of people. Sprawl and transit are huge issues, but better examples of sprawl are places like DFW Texas with half the people spread over twice the area.
That said, let me assure everyone that it sucks making less than $14/hour in Seattle.
If I may ask, how does it suck?
No movie theaters? no restaurants? hand-made Christmas gifts? Not sure what you mean, but happy to hear you out.
BTW good luck keeping rents down once poorly educated burger flippers start making $15/hr and start hunting for apartments.
"Conclusion: people should stop having so many fucking kids."
Liberals feel the same way about condoms as they do about evolution: love it in theory, hate it in practice, and when it goes wrong, someone else has to pay the bills.
That's an interesting question, but I don't have an answer. Goldie would be a good person to answer you. He seems to know a lot about life.
You're going to get all kinds of weird averages if you average together the spending of the 1% with the 99%. The concept of "the average American" only means something if you have approximately a normal distribution of wealth and consumption. But all the curves now are drastically skewed.
We need to start talking about "the average 99%er", not "the average American".
Tons of occupations. Take your pick.
What's a kia lease for nowadays, $150 a month ? Two tanks of gas a month ... insurance... add that in you've got maybe $350 a month. Where does that get up to $620 ?
A bus pass is still $99 a month, right ?
Rims. They're a basic human right. Especially 20" ones.
But seriously, the idea that I can barely afford to live and work on the SAME STREET is madness.
Entry level out of college? What are you smoking? Entry level out of college is maybe $24,000/year for non-specialized white collar workers, which, by the way, is exactly the same dollar amount as it was when I graduated. I've been in the workforce for ten years, and I make about $35,000.
"Guh. Stupid poors, thinking they get to enjoy life. How dare they?"
Normal people are finally starting to understand that the artificially low minimum wage is driving people into poverty and stagnating the economy.
With a couple of kids the cost would skyrocket : a bicycle, a gamenox and some games, maybe an I -pad, some stocking stutters. You get the picture.
@28 and @41 - Certainly there should be incentive to work hard and ... study, delay gratification, or whatever it is you seem to think those who struggle aren't doing, haven't done, etc. But just as a "for instance," the city is where the arts live. It's the great paradox of the artist--the lowest-paying field requires either residence in the most expensive areas or a commute that quickly eats up any savings. A lot of people in those service jobs we're talking about are probably pursuing something else for which they have a lot of expensive training (or, conversely, some hard-won wisdom and experience; often a little of both) but which comes attached to no reliable income stream.
We can't legislate or engineer our way out of that struggle, and I wouldn't suggest we could. But the notion that these folks should simply have picked something more "practical" presumes that what you do isn't completely made up to fulfill an engineered desire. Apologies if you're a farmer, doctor, or sanitation worker, but if you're anything else, your job was made up from whole cloth; it serves no material need, and is no more "practical," in the reptilian sense, than contemporary decoupage.
That said, there's reasonable concern that the folks really getting the shaft are the ones in the first tier or two over the minimum wage. What about the receptionist currently making $12.50/hr.? I'm sure he or she will be initially appreciative to get a bump to $15, but how long will his/her increased buying power last if the burger flipper down the road is making the same thing? How do we keep those who aren't making minimum wage, but who also aren't making $15/hr., from becoming minimum wage workers by default? These jobs, in my experience, are the ones held by people who are reasonably competent in the general sense (and can thus be reasonably and reliably competent at whatever slightly-higher-than-entry-level job they happen to hold) but who are either reserving their energy for other pursuits or are most interested in cultivating self and perceptions. I worry that these are the people who will lose what little access they currently enjoy to even a lower middle-class lifestyle in an urban environment.
Additionally for @41 - I realize that the idea of an aesthetically and spiritually fulfilling life has no meaning for you; you're welcome to die rich, fat, impotent, and unknown in your smug certainty that your cold and useless pursuits won you that wealth and power you consider the pinnacle achievement of this flatworm with thumbs we call man. The presumption that some of us, even while knowing that man is no more objectively important an organism than a virus--value not existing in nature, after all--would hope for more and strive to imbue existence with something resembling purpose is at the heart of my take on the matter. I can no more leave that presumption aside in my analysis than I can force you to adopt it for yours.
I'm not suggesting that the needs of people who actually produce something that make us (if only temporarily) something other than chattering organisms destined for eventual distinction should dominate the discussion, but cities are, and always have been, cultural hubs. The people who make culture should be able to afford to live where culture and its markers are made and exchanged.
Accounting is an interesting example, because it's a fallacy. Money is no more extant than drama (and arguably less so). You count beans arbitrarily assigned fictional values to create a false basis for exchange. Why that may or may not be better than barter or horticulture or hunting and gathering might make for an interesting discussion. But the point is that theatricians and bean counters are both maintaining systems by which we allow ourselves to function. What you offer helps impotent, fat, rich people know how much money they have in the bank; what I provide makes existing a more enticing choice than suicide.
Frankly, though, this is just a distraction--the mechanisms of whether you and I will ever agree on the value of our respective pursuits or the demonstrable meaninglessness of your paltry existence is a matter for another discussion. What interests me is that people who have managed to work past the minimum wage mark aren't really being considered in the discussion. Whatever their reasons for being there, I'm interested ensuring that, say, the second through fourth rungs of the ladder still represent steps up, even as we find ways to get those on the bottom rung more buying power.
That is, what about those who aren't, or shouldn't be, "poor"--those who are working full time beyond the minimum wage. Oughtn't wages in ANY geographic area reflect the cost of living in that area?
I was actually naive enough, at one time, to believe this sort of sexless, soulless sycophant was wholly a Hollywood invention.
Considering that Australia basically just sidestepped the recession, I'll take some of that, thanks. And, yes, just like in Scandinavia, living in a first world country is expensive.
Your "approach" to the economy has fucked this country for the past 30 years.
Here's my story: I've been working a good union job for the past 16 years, I'm now at the top of my wage scale at about $22/hour. AND THAT MEANS that my income qualifies me for subsidized housing in the city of Seattle.
My commute used to be 3 hours a day, 90 minutes into the city, and 90 minutes out, from White Center to Cap. Hill. So a little over 2 yrs ago, I thought 'heck, I'll move closer to work.' EVEN WITH SUBSIDIZATION, I still pay nearly half my monthly income in rent, which has gone up once since I moved into my tiny studio (not an apodment). Yes, I made that choice in order to regain some of the time lost in commuting, but clearly I can't continue to --gasp-- live near where I work, it's untenable. It is now untenable for a person who makes $22/hour to live in Seattle. THAT is the reality.
I know that it's only a matter of time until I'm forced back out of the city but I will never be at peace with the trends in housing that are occurring. We need more truly affordable units and rent control in Seattle and we need it NOW. Unfortunately for me, I know it won't come soon enough.
Silly me, all I did was maintain a stable work and rental history for 16+ years - where the HELL do I get off thinking I can live in this town? I don't even have an IT degree!!!
There are below market rate apartments that can be had in Seattle for less than what you're paying. Maybe not so much on Capitol Hill, but in neighborhoods that are at least closer than White Center.
Honestly, you're getting seriously ripped off especially since you're apparently living in a "subsidized" unit. (And this is a clear-cut illustration of how useless Seattle's 80 percent of median housing assistance is.) My boyfriend and I paid about as much as you for a two bedroom in Ballard, and Ballard ain't cheap.
To reach $620, consider:
$280 car payment ($13K cheap new or average used car)
$120 gas (avg 20mi commute plus weekend driving = 1000mi/month, 25mpg at $3/gal)
Assuming you don't use the leftover $120 for parking or take a ferry or toll bridge, this leaves you with 1440/year for maintenance and repairs, replacement tires etc. It's easy to blow through this budget with just one or two expensive items. A cheaper car will require more expensive maintenance, and/or needs to be replaced more often. (My most expensive car to own cost $2800 and lasted three months... sigh.)
Before the car payment, I used the bus, zip car and cheap car primarily to get around. That bill was $400 - $500/month depending on how much I used the zip car -- with gas, parking and insurance included. And this budget does not include the cost of repairs that were inevitable with my beater car.
But you are correct in that it is possible to get around for far less, but that could be at the expense of time and might not be feasible depending on the sort of life you live.
Perhaps, but there are also many people who make do with far less. I doubt most people making $16/hour or less are buying cars new and then paying a few to several hundred dollars a month on a car payment.
I just find these metrics to be a little unrealistic for many reasons. A low-ish income, single, childless person isn't likely to spend $600/month on transportation, but they are probably going to spend a hell of a lot more on housing.
This is why I think it makes more sense to parse out these kinds of incomes according to what financial "experts" say you're supposed to be spending (30 percent on housing, 10 percent on savings) and then compare those amounts to how much stuff actually costs.
I know you're too stupid to understand productivity gains and the role of technology, even in fast food, that allows fewer people to produce the same amount of value in a product. I mean, if we went back to 1900 technology, hell, we'd all have 4 jobs. And guess what, working at McD's is no harder today than it was when I did in 1983 making $3.35/hr ($7.86 in today's dollars).
Btw, gallon of milk at Costco is $3.20 this week. Who pays $6 a gallon? Yuppies at Whole Foods?
And, more clarity to what others have said: a low minimum wage sets a low bar to compare other careers to, and screws everyone. $13 or $15/hour sounds really robust compared to $7 or $8/hour, but it's really peanuts. The 1963 (national) average factory wage in today's dollars would be $18.50 - and that's for low-skill manual labor. That I know plenty of higher-skilled workers (with AAs, BAs or tech certificates) who make less than that really speaks to the problem. Our IT support, a position for which a BS is required, starts people at $16/hour, and then works them so hard that they quit before they're eligible for any (modest) raises. (yes, this also causes serious continuity problems where it's hard to solve on-going problems or even find someone who knows our systems well enough to solve problems efficiently) But they make more than they could without that education! Erm - sure...and they *still* can't afford to live.
The solution is DENSITY.
An email I sent today to my legislators:
Seattlites are fortunate that we were less affected by the recession than most cities. However, housing prices and rents are rising faster here than ANYWHERE else in the country. If action is not taken quickly to allow Seattle to impose rent control, we will lose our recent growth in web and startup businesses. Wages will rise to keep up with rents. Prices per square foot will quadruple in record time. And higher wages will drive companies out.
I have seen this happen with the banks in San Francisco. Bank of America and Wells Fargo moved out. So did the other large companies. The only companies left in town were the law firms. Rents then went down with recessions, and came back as dot-coms and web startups increased.
But today 6 people, share-renting a 2-bedroom apartment, is nobody's idea of dignity. You have professionals living in closets and living rooms.
Even though new Seattle apartment units are coming available, due to a building boom several years in the planning, they will soon fill up with those paying extremely high rents. And single family dwelling prices are already going through the roof, including rents on these SFD's. Seattle real estate prices have definitely recovered from the recession, and then some.
Before the situation gets out of hand, placing extreme pressure on wages and on people, I plead with you to introduce a bill removing the current state prohibition of rent control in Washington State, RCW 35.21.830. We must act now or see a situation where Seattle turns into San Francisco. And we wouldn't want that, would we?
$15 across the board minimum is the wrong answer though and will be used to fuck over more people.
money is a vote too. society pays more money for what it values not necessarily what is deserved. food workers and janitors do great things for society yet we don't vote with money to value it
if we raise minimum wage it is silly to think that prices won't raise. capitalism will get that money. spending your vote money wisely is how to improve the world.