Minimum Wage in USA

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As I finished adding up my total living costs, I was shocked to see how much money I would need in order to live my current lifestyle by myself. At earning minimum wage it became clear that I was not going to be able to survive without the assistance of government programs. The three primary expenses I decided to apply for and reduce my cost of living are School expenses, Medical costs as well as Grocery store purchases.

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The specific programs I chose for the following categories are The Board of Governors Fee Waiver program, Medi-Cal and the Calfresh program. With education being a top priority in my family, the pursuit of my education was not going to be withheld. The Board of Governors Fee Waiver also known as the BOGW waives the enrollment fee and provides students with one less burden to live with able to keep up with their fees. With the average cost per unit at $46.00 (Admissions Office 2018) some students are unfortunately unable to keep with up these costs.

Along with reducing the tuition fees the BOGW also reduces health fees as well as the cost of a parking permit. Before the help of government assistance my total cost for my tuition totaled up to $707 including the parking permit. Although with the help of The Board of Governors Fee Waiver the amount came down to a total of $45. With the BOGW being a big relief to my tuition costs it still didn’t cover everything. I still have to cover expenses such as books and supplies, which can vary depending on the class requirements.

With the BOGW being such a relief for the average student not everyone qualifies to receive this assistance. One of the 3 requirements is for a single person household income to be $17,820 annually. Working at a rate of minimum wage, I would qualify for this assistance reducing my monthly costs. Another expense the average American individual has to deal with is Medical Insurance. Although there are many Medical Insurance companies up to date, the one I decided to choose was Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal is a program that offers free or low-cost health coverage for children and adults with limited income and resources. Medi-Cal is a very helpful program due to individuals who complete the application and enroll pay no premium, no co-payment and no out of pocket costs (Medi-Cal FAQs 2014). Fortunately, I would still be able to use my current medical office as well keep my current doctor.

As well as providing medical insurance Medi-Cal also provides Denti-Cal for one automatically enrolled into the Medi-Cal program. Although Medi-Cal has many qualifications in order to receive benefits the qualifying annual income for a one individual household is $16,395. Unfortunately, due to my annual income, I would not be eligible for this program and its benefits. Other qualifications include being 65 or older, blind, disabled or currently pregnant (Medi-Cal Eligibility 2016) all which I do not fall into. This would conclude me having to pay my current health and dental plan of $350 with no assistance.

Lastly, for the final program I decided to research for assistance is the CalFresh program. CalFresh is a government entitlement program that provides monthly food benefits to assist low-income households in purchasing the food they need to maintain adequate nutritional levels ( Although Calfresh may help many families and households it does not have many benefits. For example CalFresh benefits can only be used on foods for human consumption and seeds and plants to grow food for household use (CalFresh FAQ).

It can not be used on items such as vitamins and medicine, alcoholic purchases or any food that can be eaten in the store. Another flaw with CalFresh is that CalFresh denies assistance with dining out expenses. It can be reasonable due to their policy of wanting families eating healthy, home cooked meals, with the average amount of assistance being $200 a month per family. A low income family can easily depend on this. In order to qualify for CalFresh benefits individuals must have a low income whether that be working or non-working.

The income eligibility for a household size of 1 according to Calfresh shall fall below $2,010. According to these criterias, I would be eligible due to my minimum wage income of only $1,920 a month which would cover a portion of my expenses of $120. Leaving me to only pay for fast food meals and occasionally eating out. Lowering my monthly expenses to cover for other items.By applying for these government assistance programs I was able to reduce my monthly fee by $782 reducing my living cost.

The Programs I researched and applied for were The Board of Governors Fee Waiver, Medi-Cal, and Calfresh. Although these programs prove to be very helpful, I could still not survive on a minimum wage. My grand total after government assistance decreased to $2,988. At my attempt in enrolling into Medi-cal, I was unfortunately unable to qualify due to my annual income being too high for their requirements.

Applying Sociological Concepts

Sociologists like Karl Marx perspectives or theories have made an impact on today’s society on our views. Marx believed that society was made up of two parts which he called class conflict. He describes this as society being divided into two social classes; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are the capitalists, those who own the means of production and the proletariat the exploited workers who do not own the means of production (Origins of Sociology). Marx explains that by exploiting the proletariats which are the lower working class the capitalists receive their success and wealth.

This can be seen in the higher education field, costs vary depending on the location but all have one thing in common which is the high prices students are forced to pay. Schools train those in working classes to accept their position as a lower-class member of society leaving the student with an abundant amount of debt. Therefore as students attempt to make ends meet school education is usually the first to go. Which leads to a student accepting his/her current job making minimum wage due to a higher more successful profession being harder to reach.

This is due to the requirement of successful jobs demanding those with education and training achieved in schools. This theory surprises me due to the fact that many americans which are living at or below the poverty line once attended a higher education institute but were unable to keep up with the rising costs. As generations have gone by people have had to meet ends in order to survive. “Survival of the fittest” is what Herbert Spencer called this theory.

The theory is defined, “As generations pass, a society’s most capable and intelligent members survive, while the less capable die out” (Origins of Sociology pg.5). Spencer states that societies evolve from a lower class to higher civilized form. This can be seen in today’s society due to lower class members surviving only on government assistance. Eventually they won’t be able to survive without help from the government.

As individuals solely rely on outside assistance Marx theory predicts they will unfortunately die out and the intelligent, capable members will survive. Those that make up the one percent, the wealthiest, will survive. The financially stable don’t question there status due to inheriting or being born into money. With many Americans looking for low housing costs it typically results with a few flaws. According to the Broken windows theory by James

Wilson and George Kelling which used to be a metaphor for disorders within neighbourhoods. This theory describes certain communities with disorder causes crime, which causes further disorder and crime. Although this theory was created back in the 1990’s it can still be seen up to today.

For example cities where rent is typically lower than average is because crime rates and the cities economic status may not be the best. Which can influence certain programs available as well as resources due to city funds. This means that a person that may live in one of these cities requires medical attention may not receive it or up to their prefered standards. In contrary to someone that may live in a wealthy area needs medical attention receives care above there standards. As well as resources and crime rates being affected, opportunities are scarce too.

The broken window theory is divided into two types; physical disorder which is described as vacant buildings, broken windows and, abandoned cars and social disorder which relates to the people living such as noisy neighbors and, aggressive panhandlers. As rates continue to increase Americans will soon be seeing more of these broken window neighborhoods.

My Reaction Unfortunately, I was unable to reach my ends meet with my current lifestyle on my current minimum wage income. After adding up all of my costs and evaluating my current situation I would require $2,988 to continue my living standards for one month. Currently I am earning a little bit more than minimum wage at $12.00 an hour. Due to my current hours of working, I am unable to add more to my weekly schedule other than overtime hours and a couple more hours that I can receive.

Though this would be an improvement I would only be able to bring up my annual income by a few hundred dollars. The monthly rent for the apartment I had chose was $1,950 which is around how much I earn a month. As a result, all my hard work for the month would only be enough to pay for rent. After realizing that even after receiving government assistance I still wouldn’t be able to continue living my current lifestyle, I knew I had to take action. These actions consisted of reducing my current spending limits as well as cutting down on some auxiliary expenses. Although there are many expenses I can cut back on or completely remove myself from, the one I cannot change would be the rent. By paying for my rent at a monthly rate of $1,950 my entire check is just to pay for a place to stay. A possible solution would be renting the other room to a friend or stranger in order to relieve some of the cost. Or coming to a conclusion of moving somewhere else where I could afford. Another way of reducing these costs would also include choosing a rightful and less expensive health and dental plan. When trying to apply for Medi-cal I came to a conclusion that unfortunately I would not qualify due to my income.

As much as I would like to cut down on these costs, I wouldn’t put my health at risk due to my minimum wage salary. The costs of living are currently at an all time high. With minimum wage currently on the rise so is everything else. With prices skyrocketing so is the poverty rate in California leading to more homeless people out in the streets.

Poverty is one thing many Americans fear the most. Even with many government assistance programs implemented and families taking advantage of there are still some households today that don’t know whether they’ll have enough money for their next meal. This a problem Americans face that can not be simply ignored or set aside. It’s up to us to make a stand and make certain programs available for all americans. With the help of others, living everyday life on minimum wage will not take a toll on human life.

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Minimum Wage in USA. (2022, Jan 30). Retrieved June 5, 2023 , from

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