A Day Early, A Dollar Short: Ryan Ends Wage Challenge

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio --Minimum wage proved insufficient for U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and his family. The congressman spent his family's final dollars on a pack of trail mix in between back-to-back meetings Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., he announced on Facbeook.

On Monday, Ryan announced that he and his family had $30 left to last them through Wednesday, the final day of the challenge.

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, along with other politicians that included former Gov. Ted Strickland, spent the past week living on the same sum of money as families who living on minimum wage after housing and taxes — $154 in the Ryans’ case of two working adults.

“Do minimum wage families make enough money to eat? Yes, many can make it work,” he said in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon. “But the real question is -- what can’t they do when living on minimum wage?“

He continued, explaining that children with parents who make only the minimum wage are rarely able to experience events considered mainstays of childhood such as summer camp or music lessons.

“Without a living wage, it is hard to pay for tuition at a community college to learn a new skill or pay for the transportation to get there,” he added.

On all of Ryan's Facebook updates over the past week, commenters have said that living on minimum wage for one week is not the same as living on $7.25 an hour month in and month out.

“Living on minimum wage money for a short period of time is very different from doing a minimum wage job and then trying to live on the earnings from that job,” a commenter responded to Ryan's Tuesday update. “Most minimum wage jobs are physically exhausting and wear you down emotionally and then you get the paycheck and still can't eke by.”

In an interview Monday, Ryan said he knew from the beginning that he wouldn't be able to emulate what others experience every day, but that he took the challenge to get a better understanding of some of the challenges.

“The point is, if we want people to aspire for a better lives – to thrive, not just survive – and not rely on government programs, then we need to pay a fair wage,” Ryan posted on Tuesday. “We can't have politicians tripping over themselves to cut social safety net programs … and then have those same people refuse to give a raise to people who work hard and play by the rules because of some inconsistent and illogical economic philosophy.”

Ryan concluded Tuesday's update by saying that those who make the effort to better their situation should be rewarded.

“These folks are trying to help themselves and their families. They should not have to rely on divine intervention when a small act of human kindness from their fellow man would do the trick,” Ryan said.

CLICK HERE to read Ryan's Facebook posts and the responses.

Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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