- - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This week, a social media-driven political hackfest known as the “Live the Wage Challenge” will come to an end. For those not familiar with the Live the Wage Challenge (and I’m sure most Americans aren’t), ABC News offered this description:

“A trio of Democratic politicians are about to find out what it’s like to be poor.

“Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, announced today that they plan to “step into the shoes of a minimum wage worker and live for one week on just $77.”

“It’s part of the Live the Wage Challenge starting Thursday — marking the fifth anniversary since Congress last increased the nation’s minimum wage.

“From July 24 to July 30, the three politicians will chronicle their experiences on social media in an effort to shed light on the challenges facing minimum wage workers across the country.”

Apparently, the goal of the campaign is to shame congressional Republicans into passing a proposed federal minimum wage increase–an increase that a February CBO report suggests may kill up to 500,000 jobs. But instead of shaming Republicans, the patronizing political dress-up campaign exposed just how out-of-touch Democrats are in Washington.

Last week, Ms. Schakowsky tweeted out her interpretation of a poor person’s menu, which pretty much falls in line with meals for most folks living in the 99 percent.

Breakfast includes cereal, eggs and english muffins. Oh, the humanity.

The lunch and dinner menu offers Ms. Schakowsky the choice of chicken, tuna, spaghetti, hot dogs and vegetables.

Holy cow, Jan — chicken salad AND tuna salad for lunch? Both? In the same week? How will you be able to make it through such hardship? I hope one of your staffers stays close by with emergency crab cakes, just in case things get a little too real for you.

Rather than playing poor and mapping out a hypothetical “life of Julia,” Democrats should go out and meet the real working America–what’s left of it anyway.

They can start with my story. When I was in my early 20s (back when being 22 was considered an adult), I moved out of my parents’ house and rented an attic that was converted into a one bedroom apartment. There was no air conditioning. It was a sauna. I’m talking hotter than the inside of an outhouse parade float. Oh, and the shower was in the hallway.

That’s right, the hallway.

My “Live the Wage” menu consisted almost exclusively of eggs, bread, mac and cheese, ramen noodles and frozen burritos. I ate so many ramen noodles in the 90s that I still can’t look at them in the grocery store without getting nauseous. I don’t need to play pretend for a week to remind myself how much it sucked.

But my story isn’t unique. Most non-Kennedy Americans can point to similar hardships when they first moved away from home. But you know what got me out of that situation? It wasn’t waiting around for the federal government to raise the minimum wage.

I had enough of showering in my hallway. I began to hate ramen noodles. Turns out, chicks don’t dig guys who live in attics with showers in the hallway.

I wanted more out of life. I worked hard. Attained marketable skills. Went to college.

After 5 years of hard work and with the help of my family and friends, I was able to climb into what my liberal friends would call the “middle class.” That’s how most people get out of poverty.

Nowadays it’s harder to get out of poverty, but it has little to do with the minimum wage and everything to do with an anemic economy. Electricity rates are up. Food prices are skyrocketing. A gallon of gasoline is nearly double the price it was when President Obama took office.

The progressive solution? Wage a war on coal and energy as a whole. Continue to implement Obamacare, regardless of the fact that it’s a documented job killer and lost at least 5 million people their health insurance–insurance the president promised they could keep.

And now, the topping on the turd sandwich that is the Democrat’s Middle Class Rescue Plan: a minimum wage increase that is projected to cost half a million people their jobs.

Their agenda doesn’t help the poor, it hurts the poor. Over and over again.

Before Ms. Schakowsky checks out from her DC grocery line, she should return to Illinois and check out exactly how tough the job market is back home before making it worse.

While Rep. Tim Ryan is playing make believe, he should go back to Ohio and spend a week as one of the few remaining coal miners in the state. I’m sure a middle-aged miner would love to show the Congressman how difficult it is to work tireless hours while listening to our President outline his plans to send him to the unemployment line.

Since you are on such a tight budget Mr. Ryan, here is some free advice: pawn the beautiful dark wood desk and gold plated plaque that the cash in your recent tweet is fanned out on, and maybe then you can treat yourself to the Charlie Palmers steaks to which you have clearly grown accustomed.

You get no compassion points for playing poor house for a week, pretending to be a part of the working class, then returning to your life of luxury as a member of Congress.

That’s not empathy. That’s insulting.

Fingers Malloy is the host of The Snark Factor Radio Program on FTR Radio (FTRRadio.com).

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