Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Get out of my house

Rand Paul: Get Government Out of Marriage

Yeah, I think so too.  But this article actually goes further than the headline would suggest by telling us what other GOP candidates think about the whole gay marriage thing.  And although this isn't one of my personal big issues for the 2016 election, it's a good a place as any to start looking at the candidates.

So, here's Rand Paul's reasoning in a nutshell:
“I acknowledge the right to contract in all economic and personal spheres,” he noted, “but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a danger that a government that involves itself in every nook and cranny of our lives won’t now enforce definitions that conflict with sincerely felt religious convictions of others.”
Right on.  I don't think anybody can really argue that the federal government is not becoming increasingly involved in all of our personal lives, and I for one don't like it and think we need to reverse the trend.

Of course, Rand Paul isn't the only candidate that is disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling.  Some candidates think that a constitutional amendment defining marriage is a proper response.  I have two problems with this.  The first is actually a broader restatement of what Mr. Paul stated in the above quote, that government won't now enforce definitions that conflict with sincerely felt convictions of others.  Whether my "sincerely felt convictions" are of a religious nature or not, the government should not presume to tell me how I should believe.  And I believe that individuals have a right to contract.  I don't believe they have the right to contract for the purpose of gaining additional rights at the expense of others who are not parties to the contract, and I don't think the government should have the power to force me to be a party to a contract that really has no effect on me otherwise.

The second problem I have with the constitutional amendment response is that it won't pass.  I'm not sure why anyone thinks it might pass, given that the majority of states have already legalized gay marriage.  The fact that it won't pass makes it nothing more than a talking point designed to get the votes of those people who truly believe that their religious convictions should be forced on others, and that somehow, they are entitled to special rights and privileges because of their religious convictions.

And then there's this gem:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal went as far as to say, “[L]et’s just get rid of the court.” 
Um, no.

It appears that Ted Cruz and Scott Walker also would support a constitutional amendment, meaning that they don't really have a response that will accomplish anything but want to make it clear that they don't support gay marriage.

Finally, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson all came out with a more or less "Oh well, what are you gonna do?  It's the law," kind of response.  Telling me that none of them really wants to take a stand.

So, there it is, and at this point, although this isn't really a major issue for me, Rand Paul has come out on top.  He's the one guy that actually has a real reason, other than his feelings, for not supporting gay marriage.  Yeah, get government out of my house!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Elitist ideas and more

Obama signs trade, worker assistance bills; measures advance administration's economic agenda

This way, we can buy cheap imports, and the government will pay to retrain us to do whatever is left over.  Yay!  Take it from me, though, if you're, say, 50 or older, that retraining won't likely do you a whole lot of good.  But what does Obama have to say about it?
But he said they will ultimately be good for American workers and for American business.
Okay, so, American business, I get because you can't beat cheap foreign labor.  And, it's also good for American workers, cuz, you know, we can all retrain at government expense into something awesome like Medieval  Dance, or flipping burgers at McDonald's.

AAP: Docs Have Role in Preventing Childhood Obesity

No, there's nothing really interesting in the above link, other than some smarty pantses did a study and arrived at some obvious conclusions, like kids should eat lots of vegetables, and not a lot of junk.  Nah, can't be right.  I think we need another study to make sure.

What Is Cryptosporidium, and Should You Be Concerned?

And in more health news, the only thing really surprising here is that people still swim in public swimming pools after all the publicity about it.  Apparently, some people still don't get that using a public pool as a toilet is just, well, rude.  And then there are some that don't see anything wrong with swimming in someone else's toilet.  So, sounds like a win-win for at least those people.  I think I'll take a pass on public swimming pools, though.

Supreme Court quashes clean air rule, says cost must be considered

It's been about 40 years since the Ford Pinto case caused national outrage that a company would actually do a cost-benefit analysis when considering whether to take an action that might save a few lives.  Now, it appears that the Supreme Court is saying that this is exactly what the EPA should do when considering environmental rules.  But, here's a comment that's truly troubling, made by Mike Duncan, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry group:
“Elitist ideas usually carry lofty price tags.”
Since when is clean air an "elitist idea?"

U.S. Healthcare Spending On Track To Hit $10,000 Per Person This Year 

This is from back in January, but so long as people keep yakking about how much Obamacare is saving us, I'll keep pointing out how much it's costing us.  It will only get worse.  $10,000 per year, per person.  That's a staggering number to me, and should be to everyone.  I know that I can actually live on less than that, and pretty soon, I'll probably have to, since, well, I have to spend on health care every year now, thanks to Obamacare.  Some people will say I've been lucky, and maybe I have been, but I've never come close to spending that much on health care in my entire life.  And yes, I get the whole idea that some people have health problems and so, their costs are much higher than mine.  But $10,000 per year per person is, well, mind-blowing.  Especially when you consider that this doesn't even include the administrative costs associated with Obamacare, like that disastrous website.


Out of touch

So, here's what I'm concerned about:

What's Killing the Babies of Vernal, Utah?

But the rest of the world appears to be more concerned with gay marriage.  Yawn.  I can honestly say I just don't care what other people do so long as it doesn't infringe on my rights.  What I do care about is the fact that certain people are apparently afforded special rights solely because of their marital status, and I don't think that's the way it should be.  I don't understand why people want to turn this into an argument about religion, or constitutional rights.  If people want to get married, I say, let them.  But don't confer special rights on them simply because they have agreed to have sex with only one person for a while.  Why shouldn't I, as a single person, be afforded those same rights?  And what can my sexual preferences possibly have to do with any of those rights?

But, here we are, with some people claiming that gay marriage goes against their religion, and so, shouldn't be allowed.  And some people saying that if you're against gay marriage, you're homophobic.  I'm neither for nor against it, which to some people means I won't take a stance in the discussion.  But I say, my stance is just the third position that no one cares about: the position of single people who are not afforded the same rights because they have chosen to not make a particular sexual relationship "permanent."  Because, shocking as this may be to some, most of those relationships are anything but permanent, and many of them are not even exclusive.

It seems to me that there are two fundamental problems with this whole discussion, besides the fact that there is a third side that no one talks about, that being the side of single people.  The first is that you can't legislate morals.  I thought people were beginning to figure that out back in the seventies, give or take a decade, but apparently I was wrong.  It hasn't worked, and it won't work.  While it may very well be that there is one "true" moral code, it is too much to think that over 7 billion people can ever possibly agree what the moral code is, which means someone is going to feel like their rights are being infringed on by the laws that are meant to enforce those moral beliefs.  The second thing is that it doesn't work to try to legislate guarantees of rights that are already guaranteed to everyone under the Constitution.  As soon as you pass a law saying that certain groups are specially protected, you necessarily infringe on the rights of others not in that group.  It seems that the only way to force equality for some is to step on someone else's toes.

The sad thing is that equality should come naturally.  We're supposed to be some sort of "advanced" civilization and yet we can't just treat other humans with the dignity and respect they deserve simply by virtue of their being human.  We should embrace our differences instead of arguing about who is right.  We used to say that the world would be a dull place if we were all the same, but now, we have to behave as if we are all the same, otherwise we're bigots, or we're stupid, or, well, fill in the blank.

Don't get me wrong.  There are stupid people.  There are bigots.  And unfortunately, that won't change because most of them don't think they are those things.  In order to not be stupid, you first have to acknowledge that you are stupid, and that's something not many people will do.  It's just like what they tell you in Alcoholics Anonymous.  The first step in getting better is to acknowledge that you have a problem.

So, let's see if I can guess what names for me are going through your heads.  I'm stupid, that's a given.  I'm a bigot, which is likely because I'm not "for gay marriage" and I am caught up in my own white privilege.  Of course, I'm a male, and I believe that women deserve special treatment, but I don't think they are so weak as to require special rules to make life easier for them.  I believe they are quite capable of competing in this world.  So, I'm probably a chauvinist.  I'm a dinosaur that needs to "get with the times."  Unfortunately, I don't really have a desire to get with the times.  I think I'll just stay out of touch with the world.

As some of you may have noted, I'm not really addressing the linked article.  That's because no one cares.  It's probably just some statistical anomaly, and we need to study the situation for years before we can possibly determine what, exactly, is killing those babies.  Certainly, it doesn't have a thing to do with fracking, but if it does, you can be sure we'll get to the bottom of it in due course.  In the meantime, why don't you just pack up the family and go for a drive, cuz, you know, gas is cheap, so take advantage while you can.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How our legislators are earning their paychecks

New seat belt law now in effect draws mixed reaction from Utah motorists

I haven't driven, or ridden, in a car without wearing a seat belt in years, so it seems like this law should be a non-issue for me, but, well, it isn't.  So, let me start at the beginning.

When this law first came into effect, I was actually unaware that it had passed.  I had heard something about it a  while back, but it didn't make much of an impression on me at the time.  So, I was a bit confused when I saw an informational sign along the highway saying that the "Primary seat belt law" was in effect.  I didn't know what that meant, and I wondered just what the secondary law was, and why the primary law was now in effect.

Of course, that was just my own ignorance, and eventually, I found that it meant that you could be pulled over for not wearing your seat belt.  I thought it was a bit silly because the police could probably pull about 90 percent (or more) of the drivers over for some other, more obvious offense.  For example, I counted 3 cars with burned out headlights in the space of a few miles, and while I was driving at the speed limit during that time, I was passed by at least 10 cars, all of which must have been speeding.  There were two occurrences of what I would call reckless driving, and one person who drove for miles with their turn signal on.  Personally, I don't care much about any of those things as long as they don't involve me in some way.  But the point is, there are plenty of reasons to pull drivers over already, and this law just seems to be an excuse to pull just about anyone over.

So, when I read the above linked headline, I really couldn't understand how there could be "mixed reactions" to a needless, and easily abused law.  Unfortunately, that's because I pretty consistently underestimate the stupidity of people.  So, here are some quotes from the story.
“I think the seat belt law is great. I think it promotes safety and unfortunately I wasn’t wearing mine, so kind of stupidity on my part. I think seat belts save lives.”
Huh?  You think seat belts save lives, but you weren't wearing yours?  It was already the law, and you weren't wearing your seat belt, but this new law is great because it will promote safety?  Why didn't the old law promote safety?  And really, if you're not concerned about your own safety, why should I be?  This traffic stop didn't even generate revenue for the state; it just cost money because the first offense is simply a warning.  And I'm willing to bet that plenty of people will soon revert to not wearing a seat belt after getting their warning.
“I think it’s just big government trying to be a nanny.” 
I suppose it could be that, but I actually think the government has no real interest in being a nanny.  I think it's more about being able to pull people over at will, and that's what bothers me about the law.  I don't think it's really possible to tell from a distance whether I'm wearing my seat belt or not.  And I suspect that even if I am, and I'm pulled over because the officer thought I wasn't, but then sees that I am wearing it, then I'll still have to produce a driver license, registration, and proof of insurance, all of which I have, but should I have to produce it because someone thought something?
Palmer argues the law won’t change his driving habits.
And I'm sure there are plenty of "Palmers" out there.  One thing's for sure: the new law won't change my driving habits, except for keeping my license, registration, and proof of insurance readily available.  Well, either that or my phone so I can make the awesome "Am I being detained?" video for YouTube.
The first time someone is stopped for violated [sic] the new law, they get a warning. The second time, motorists could face a $45 fine, which can be waived by taking a 30-minute online safety course.
As I said earlier in this post, this law will just be a drain on state revenues.  I wonder how much that online safety course costs us so that second time offenders can have a real opportunity to learn that "seat belts save lives."

I dunno, maybe the legislators here graduated from school after the schools around here started with the "two warning" rule.  When a kid acted up in school, he or she was given two warnings before any action would actually be taken.  The unfortunate, and not unexpected, result was that kids knew they could do whatever they wanted twice, and get caught twice, before there would be any real repercussions.  And the expectation of two warnings doesn't just disappear when a kid turns 18.

Perhaps, the worst thing of all is that this is just one of 389 awesome new laws that either have, or shortly will, go into effect in Utah,  Yay!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Nah, it's greed

Okay, so I admit being sucked into the abyss by some progressive click-bait headlines, and this time is no exception.  And usually, I just laugh at the foolishness and move on, but sometimes, I just can't, and this is one of those times.  It's not just the progressive foolishness that has me going this time; it's the entire argument.  Both sides are idiots, and do nothing but fan the flames of racism.

TEXAS REPUBLICAN PLAYS THE VICTIM CARD WHEN HE POSTS RACIST FACEBOOK POST

First of all, let me say that I didn't see anything racist about the Facebook posts, but then, I'm reading them from a position of "white privilege" at least according to most progressives, cuz, you know, I'm white and stuff.  At the same time, though, that post also shows what I think the real problem is, and how it is that the argument over racism does nothing more than fan the flames of racism.

It's true that having a "white pride" parade or "white history" month would be seen as racist, while "black pride" parades or "black history" month are not seen the same way, at least not by most people.  I have a problem, though, with any "race pride" parade, or for that matter, any "gay pride" parade, or when it comes down to it, a "white pride" parade.  All these things do is create a division between people, when what most people appear to want is to be inclusive and included.  And when it comes to things to take pride in, couldn't we find something else to take pride in?  I mean, race is something to be proud about?  Why?  Being gay is something to be proud of?  Why?  I'm not saying people should be ashamed of these things.  I'm saying they are an improper source of pride.  Gay people have made a significant argument saying they didn't choose to be gay, that they were born that way, and I don't think anyone has ever argued that black people (or any other race) made the choice to be that race.  So, I don't see how these things can be the source of pride.

And, it's my contention that they shouldn't be the source of pride, nor should they be the source of shame.  We are what we are, at least when it comes to race, and if you believe the gay argument, sexual preference.  I'm not sure about the gay argument, but it isn't really relevant to this, other than to raise the question, "Why do people insist on being proud of something they have no control over?"

Maybe this phenomenon has gotten to be such a big deal recently because people don't have anything else about themselves to take pride in.  I mean, awards and praise are handed out so often that they lose any real meaning.  Most people are too hung up on finding the easy way, and if there isn't an easy way, it's too hard.  Nobody wants to work hard to make a real achievement.

But, as usual, I'm digressing a bit.  In the above linked article, the author states that she "counter to each and every one of his points."  So, here are her counters to his arguments, and my counters to her arguments:
"There are also Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans but only one type of American was brought here en masse and by force. The rest came voluntarily."
This may be a true statement, but, what's the relevance?  The people brought here by force are not the ones living today, and I fail to see how the enslavement of someone's ancestors makes for a great source of pride.  As a white person, I take no pride in being white, and at the same time, I'm not ashamed of it either.  Any pride or shame I feel is the result of my own actions, as it should be.
"Poverty leads to crime. White poor people commit crimes as well. Of course, the biggest crimes are perpetrated by white men wearing suits. A poor black man might take a car or a TV but rich white men take homes, jobs and entire livelihoods."
I'm good with the first two statements here.  And yes, this actually was a response to a question that was asked in the original Facebook post: "Why are the ghettos are the most dangerous places to live?"  Any rational person could actually answer that question.  Poverty, duh.  But then, the author goes off the rails with the rest of that comment.  Apparently, the author thinks that it's a crime to repossess a house that is mortgaged when the owner doesn't pay for it.  And, apparently, she thinks firing, or laying workers off because business is bad, is also a crime.  And, apparently, she thinks that all white collar crime is committed by white people.  No, the people aren't all white, just the collars.  Besides, it's really debatable whether any of what she's referring to was, or is, an actual crime.  But, yeah, rich white people do those things, and so do rich black people.  It almost makes me want to get a mortgage from a black banker, and then default just to see if he will foreclose on my home.  Not really, because I know he would.  And if I have that part all wrong, then maybe someone can explain how it is that "rich white men take homes, jobs and entire livelihoods," but not rich black men.
"As for the this day this organization, every day throughout history has been for white people. Almost all the history taught in school is white history. Nearly every organization throughout America’s history has been white. It’s relatively recent that black people have been allowed to go to college or enter Miss America pageants."
I suppose the above statement depends on where you live.  I'll bet Japanese history isn't White history, for example.  Even so, if the majority of people in a given country are a certain race, then it shouldn't really be surprising that the majority of historic figures are of the same race.  The main problem with history, though, is that it is extremely subjective and open to interpretation.  And a lot of the interpretation has probably been done by white people.  So, if black people are concerned about it, then black people should write their own interpretations of history.  I, for one, would be interested, and it seems to me that this would accomplish much more than having a whole month to celebrate your own special history, of which, no one is much aware, apparently.  I can say, unequivocally, that I haven't become more aware of black history because someone decided that we should have a whole month devoted to it.  And finally, we need to talk about the specific meaning of "relatively recent."  It was more than 40 years ago that the first black woman made it to the Miss America pageant.  And all I can really say about that is that it's an indication of how far we've come, in a relatively short time.  The first black person to graduate from an American college, though, was nearly 200 years ago.  That is hardly "relatively recent" in terms of the age of our republic, but in terms of the history of the world, I guess it is.  For further research, I suggest checking out this list of African-American Firsts.

Finally, the author offers a list of black men who died at the hands of police officers in 2014.  It is tragic, to be sure.  But, the list ignores everyone else who died at the hands of police officers.  This isn't something that only happens to black men.  It happens too often to too many different people.

So, everyone, listen up.  Take control of your own destinies, do some hard work, accomplish something difficult, and don't put too much weight on what other people think.  Take pride in your accomplishments, not your race.  And, perhaps most importantly, pay no heed to the left and right wing alarmists out there.  If we do that, we may find that race relations here in America are a whole lot better than those people would like us to think.  After all, stirring up hatred and outrage generates clicks, which in turn generates ad revenue, so we can rest assured that those type of headlines will never stop, cuz, you know, greed.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

We're saved!


So, it looks as if Elon Musk has yet another plan to save us, while, of course, enriching himself.  He wants to sell us batteries that, coupled with solar panels, will provide round the clock electrical power for our homes.  He says that solar panels could provide enough energy, but of course, we would need to store the excess power that's produced during the day, and that's where his batteries come in.  Sounds good, right?

Not so fast.  First of all, the batteries themselves will cost as much as 3 years of electrical usage, at least for me.  Then, there's the cost of the solar panels, which I'm not going to look up.  I don't know how long this stuff is supposed to last, and I don't really care.  Let's just assume that this system can produce as much electricity as we currently use, and that the cost over time is the same as if we just continued buying from the electric company, making the economics on a personal level equal, even though I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be.

Next, let's forget about what happens to all those old batteries and solar panels when they need to be replaced.  We'll just go ahead and assume that they are 100 percent recyclable; again, something I'm pretty sure wouldn't be true.

Now it sounds super-duper good, right?  Not really, and here's why.

The chart below shows total electricity usage in the U.S. since 1949.  Not surprisingly, it's been a pretty steady upward trend over the years, even during those years when technology was creating more and more efficient electrical devices.


There were a couple of short periods wherein electrical usage actually decreased, but those don't actually represent a solution to the problem of increasing usage; those are most likely due to recessions.  Still, recently, it looks as if usage has flattened out some, and this while the number of end-users has increased.  The assumption, though, that this is the result of technological advances is, well, a bit of a stretch, and in fact, I think has little at all to do with technology or energy efficiency.  Because, what I haven't mentioned yet is the cost to electricity consumers.  As it turns out, between 2003 and 2013, the average price of electricity has risen about 35 percent, which I believe has had the greatest impact on constraining electricity consumption over the last few years.

It's not like there aren't other examples of this phenomenon.  When gasoline prices plummeted over the last months, there was a lot of speculation about what people would spend their extra cash on.  Not terribly surprising is that a fair amount of the savings was spent on, you guessed it, more gasoline.  Price does indeed affect consumption, just like they teach in Economics 101.  So, yeah, even if this new solar/battery home electrical system were to drop the price of electricity to nothing for your current usage, the likelihood is that you'll just use more electricity, until the cost gets to around about what you're already used to spending.

Of course, this system won't drop the price of electricity to nothing.  You'll need to install the solar panels and batteries, a significant up front cost, and then hope that it all lasts long enough to recover the cost before you need to replace the stuff.  And, you'll have to keep reminding yourself that you only have so much electricity that you can use, otherwise you'll either have to purchase more electricity from the utility company (which, if everyone were to convert to this new system might not actually exist any more), or you'll have to purchase more panels and batteries.  And that cost is "chunky" meaning that you can't just spend a few extra dollars a month to plug in that new big screen television; instead, you'll need to invest a considerable amount up front to cover your future increased need.  It makes that new television a significantly larger investment.

Not to fear, though, because I'm sure someone (like possibly our government) will find a way to hide the true cost of converting, likely through tax credits, because people forget that that tax money came from, well, them.  And some of those tax credits, you can bet on this, will end up in Elon Musk's pocket, and unless you read the annual reports for his companies, you'll never hear much about it.

And then, perhaps my biggest concern, even though I said "forget about it" earlier is, what happens to all those old batteries?  I don't believe that they will be 100 percent recyclable, and even if they are, what happens when some new technology makes those old batteries obsolete?  I guess we will find something to use them for, or if not, there's always the bottom of the ocean.  That's always a good place to store stuff you don't want anymore.

So, generalizing here, technological "advances" have nearly always, if not always, resulted in increased consumption, not less.  And anytime someone makes the claim that THIS technology will really, really, save us, it just isn't true.  Anybody out there remember the "paperless office?"  And yet, global paper usage has increased by about half over the last 30 or so years.

Now, some of you may be thinking that I'm just jealous, and, I am jealous.  I wish I had come up with the idea of scamming the taxpayers in order to enrich myself all the while making it look as if I'm doing them a favor, and having the masses sing my praises while I'm doing it.  But, I didn't.  Elon Musk did.

Incidentally, the data I used in this article came from the EIA website, which I'm assuming is relatively reliable, although I can't say for sure, being that it is the government.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Minimum wage revisited

A while back, I wrote a post wherein I said that, despite being against a federal minimum wage, I supported the federal government raising the minimum wage.  I still say that, at the time, it was what needed to be done.  However, as time passes, circumstances change, and, sometimes, people need to see what needs to be done now, rather than think that what may have been a good idea in the past will forever be a good idea.  This is, I think, one of those times.

First, let me go back a bit.  When I wrote earlier, I complained that places like Walmart and McDonald's were benefiting from government subsidization of the low wages they were paying.  Of course, in the end, that government money has to come from somewhere, so the result is higher taxes and nobody is better off.  But businesses (and rational people) tend to be risk-averse, and the idea of changing the low pay philosophy to one in which businesses compete for better workers, in part by paying more, may have seemed too risky.  The status quo appeared to be working.  I can't say for sure whether that was the thought process, but it seems logical.  In the meantime, these companies experience high turnover rates, which costs them more, even if the job isn't rocket science and therefore doesn't require a lot of training, as some people have said.  And paying higher wages is money out of pocket now, in the hope that things work out better in the future, a risky proposition.

Well, over the months since I wrote that, I started looking around at people, and it became clear that a lot of people who have jobs aren't actually doing work that is worth $7.50 an hour, and I began to question my original idea that raising the minimum wage was a good idea.  Still, from an economic perspective, I did feel like it might help boost the economy in the short term, but it would also depend on the government cutting welfare spending and subsequently cutting taxes, which, sadly, doesn't really happen much in real life.

But then, a surprising thing happened.  These companies gradually started upping their pay scales, despite not actually being required to by law.  To me, this is a sign that these companies are beginning to realize that they may need to compete in the labor market.  Of course, it may also be that there is some public pressure on these companies to raise wages for the workers, even if it means having to pay slightly higher prices.  Whatever the reason, I think it's a good sign, and perhaps the government doesn't need to raise the minimum wage now.  However, I do think the government still needs to look at welfare reform, as that is part of the total equation.

One area of our welfare system that deserves a closer look is Social Security Disability.  Since 1986, the population of the U.S. has increased by approximately 30 percent, while the number of people on current pay status for disability has more than tripled.  At the same time, the average benefit amount also tripled.  (For some context on that benefit increase, the CPI a little more than doubled over the same period.)  I think that's significant, and an unsustainable trend.  But what do I know, right?

I guess the final straw for me, though, was seeing the response of at least some of the workers affected by the wage increases offered by these companies.  Apparently, they don't feel like it's enough.  And all I can say to, not all, but many of them is, "Earn more."  Take your bigger paycheck and get the skills to get a better job.  But don't just think that anyone owes you more for flipping burgers. It isn't rocket science, and someone else that can do it just as well as you will walk in the door, and maybe they'll do it for less than you.

And another thing to those workers that think that they deserve more.  I know that I can live on $7.50 an hour.  In fact, I can live on less than that, but fortunately, I work hard and my employer thinks I'm worth more than that.  I developed skills over my life.  I've also been in the position where I didn't have a choice but to work for minimum wage.  But, I worked to get out of that situation, and thankfully, now I'm in a better place.  So, here's some advice.  If you are working for minimum wage, don't have that baby that you really, really want to have.  Don't spend your money on booze or drugs, or big screen televisions, or iPhones.  Spend your time improving yourself.  Get some skills.  You can pretty much get a college degree without paying a penny out of pocket, so do it.  It's really up to you, and it really isn't up to your employer to make life good for you.