Free Custom «Social Stratification» Essay Sample
According to the research of the Economic Policy Institute (2015), 35 millions of Americans earn less than $10.55 an hour. These numbers mean that 26 percent of the country’s workers try to survive as well as raise their children on the minimum wage. Considering the experience of Barbara Ehrenreich, it seems to be unbelievably challenging or even impossible.
To analyze this case, it is vital to take into consideration the geographical location. The cost of life in some places is generally higher than in others. A good example is a rent in New York City and in a small town somewhere in Colorado. If you earn a minimum wage, it is more convenient for you to live in regions where rent, transportation, and products are cheaper. It gives you more opportunities to find a decent apartment and have some money for clothes and maybe a bit more than just basic needs. If a person does not have any children, surviving on the minimum wage seems very likely. Another instance is a family with children. A single mother or father would hardly manage to provide a decent level of living for their child. An adult can live in poor conditions and ignore all the inconveniences, but kids require more stability, many clothes as they grow very fast, nutritious food as well as daycare. One parent with one job will not be able to provide all these things and still find the time to bring up the children in a proper way. Moreover, entertainment for people with such a financial situation would be extremely rare.
If two parents earn money and there are two sources of income, they are more likely to be able to care for their child appropriately but still, it will cost them a lot of effort. Taking into consideration Johnson’s article (2016), the average minimum wage in the United States is $7-8. Wong (2015) states that the average apartment rent in the country is $769. Assuming that two parents work 40 hours a week earning $7 per hour, we get the total monthly income of $2240. With the rent of $769, $1471 is left for food and other necessities. This amount of money is sufficient if the family has one kid. Everything gets more complicated with two, three or even more children. Anyway, parents’ minimum wage cannot ensure children a life better than their parents have. They will have few opportunities to climb the social ladder and get a salary higher than the minimum one.
Another dilemma is which things Americans should consider a luxury and which a daily need. In this case, it is important to notice that people live in the postindustrial, information society. The individuals who are left out of the information and communication space are abandoned by the community. You look for a job on the Internet, rent an apartment online, talk to your boss, fellow employees, friends, and family on the phone. These are not the ways to entertain but to survive in the modern world. Of course, it would be possible to live without phones and the Internet, but it would bring stress and even uncertainty into an individual’s life. Thus, people need to stay connected to the others, and the best possible way is to use technological means. However, television as such is absolutely unnecessary. It is only a form of entertainment and it does not make life any easier, consuming a significant amount of money from a limited minimum wage budget. Regarding the entertainment, in the ideal world, it should be accessible for everyone because all people have the right to rest. However, in reality, it is rather a privilege of only about a third of the America’s population.
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According to Olivia Murphy (2010), the concept of the “American Dream” was formed in the 1930s and has been tempting several generations of immigrant for decades. They were told that hard work in this country would give them an opportunity to provide wealth for their children and have a peaceful life without any shortages. J. Kornbluth (2013) in his movie Inequality for All shows that during the 1950s and 1960s, it was achievable and millions of Americans were able to realize their personal dream to some extent. Nowadays, hard work does not guarantee a way out of poverty. The minimum wages and the money that top CEOs earn differ dramatically. This contributes to the wealth of 10% of the upper-middle class and current economic inequality.
To sum up, a family with children can survive on the minimum wage but their life would rather be called a bare existence. It would include the pay for a rent, food, transportation or gas for a car, daycare and basic clothes for children. Furthermore, the U.S. is considered to be one of the most developed countries in the world, that is why basic technological devices are not a matter of luxury, but the things that give the ability to function properly in this society. It would be a tremendous step ahead for the whole country if families with a minimum income could afford computers and phones. With the described situation, it is barely possible. Finally, the economy in the United States seems to be developing, but it does not improve the lives of the lower class because all money goes straight to 1% of the wealthiest people in the country.
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