Kassidi Stynnett
August 29, 2023

The True Cost of Just Being in America

The True Cost of Just Being in America

In the 1960s, an average new car would cost you about $2,750, monthly rent was about $108, and the cost of a home was $20,000; even in what was and still is considered a metropolitan area. Regardless of how inflation has drastically changed this over the last 60 years, everything seems to cost unequivocally more and employers are not willing to be “competitive” or transparent enough about paying their employees a livable wage. Everyone has some variation of a side business and people have to charge up the yin yang just to pay their bills, let alone make ends meet. Also, people have died because they could not afford a few ounces of medicine in America? It has long surpassed the point of “What is going on?” when it comes to why things cost what they cost, why companies aren’t paying their workers more and what are we going to do about it? Overall, it’s giving land of the unfree, but this is America.

The federal minimum wage in California as of 2021 is $14.00. In New York it’s $13.20, in Texas it’s $7.25 and for employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, they must pay the $7.25 Federal minimum wage. It’s safe to say that in any state in 2021, $7-$14 can afford you what exactly? Not peace of mind that things are going to increase for the livelihood of the working class to not need a side hustle to show they are raking in two to 3 times the rent. Also, did anyone notice nothing stopped in light of the pandemic? If you google this, we gained more billionaires during this pandemic and most people don’t even fully grasp just how much one billion dollars is.

Why is it that the food that’s better for you costs way more than going through a McDonald’s drive-thru, or how the majority of houses in LA County are over a half of a million dollars, even in what’s considered “the hood”—gentrified or not. How does the government determine what truly meets federal student aid criteria when they aren’t truly taking into account parent’s overheads? Why are frontline workers considered “unskilled” laborers, when they have to deal with the general public’s never-ending narcissism going into year 3 of a global pandemic? There’s no reason for salad leaves to cost you more than an over processed cheeseburger. There’s no reason a house should cost you more money than you might see in two lifetimes and school should be overly-affordable or close to free.

Even if you work at a wildly successful tech company or a fortune 500 company that’s been around since before our grandparents, most don’t want to be transparent about salary ranges until you’ve basically accepted the job. In addition, once you receive your paycheck, you realize the “mandatory” taxes have obliterated your gross by the cost of one month of daycare. Also, where can we see our tax dollars at work? We get the spiels during these local and national elections, but really when do we reap any actual benefits of massive amounts coming out of our checks? People should be able to work and afford decent living conditions, pay their bills and afford nice things!

EDD payments have stopped, qualifying households received only three stimulus checks over the course of 2 years, the holidays are here and people are literally robbing Peter to Paul to make it look like they’ve got it together for the internet or whoever is paying attention. Did I mention we are also still in a pandemic?

Overall, stop asking us when we are having kids, why we haven’t bought a house, why we are in so much debt, why we don’t want to work for pennies or why we still live at home. If the powers that be aren’t ready to acknowledge AND restructure this anarchy that has fractured our country for decades, then there’s no need to keep pushing out this data that only reminds us of what we are suffering through. There are so many more nuances to this topic that I couldn’t have possibly covered in this one article, but prices need to go down, people need to actually start caring about the basic needs of humanity and truly think about what’s coming next if nothing changes.