Minimum Wage should be indexed to 2% of a city’s median rent.

And here’s why:

Housing costs are the single biggest financial burden facing Americans today.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development define being cost-burdened as spending more than a third of your income on rent. By that definition, over half of the households in this country are cost-burdened. Source

If we want people to be able to afford to live in cities and not get priced out, we have to make a two pronged approach. One is to build houses towards all incomes and price ranges, not just luxury condos. And the other is a robust wage floor so people can actually afford to live.

Fight for 15 is doing an amazing job and I love them, but we have to realize that is quite a few places, $15/hr still isn’t enough to live on.

Which is where the 2% comes in. It allows a minimum wage that is flexible with regards to the costs of living.

And it wasn’t plucked out of thin air either:

Rent should be a third of a persons income, or to restate the equation: income should be three times a person’s rent.

And since a full time job is 8 hrs a day / 40 hrs a week / 160 hrs a month.

So when you do the math, the ideal hourly minimum wage as a percentage of rent works out to around 1.875%, which for ease of calculation is 2%.

Example minimum wages under a 2% rent rule:

  • San Francisco: $67.40/hr
  • New York City: $56/hr
  • Boston: $55.94/hr
  • Los Angeles: $27/hr
  • Houston: $21.38/hr
  • St. Louis: $18.22/hr
  • Billings, MT: $17.16/hr

I. That puts San Fran’s cost-of-living issue into perspective. 

DC: $47.

Fuck, that’s more than I make in my day job, and I have one of the better-paying jobs among my peers.

This is so close to understanding something that is fundamentally true and yet so far off the mark:

As things are currently set up, landlords and landladies are really no better than thieves. Even if it’s just 1/3rd of your income, especially with how much of this income is thrown at rent which never becomes anything other than getting to have a roof over your head for another 30 days, you’re paying 1/3rd of your income just to be able to have basic human rights–because look at how the homeless are treated. 

The fact that housing itself is not regulated in such a fashion that everyone has homes when so many homes continue to go empty, is shameful. Simply pushing wages higher will not solve the fundamental problem that is housing. It’s set up with few limits on what can be charged, few laws about actual affordable housing, and without it people are basically allowed to do whatever they want to you as you rely on scraps.

Pushing for small changes isn’t bad as long as it’s on the road to better ones, but seeing this only as a wage gap and not as a fundamental human rights issue that housing functions as it does misses why this became a problem in the first place: people who need homes don’t have them, and people who don’t need more money have access to basically a free stream of it. And yes, you can say landlords have a mess of responsibilities… but how many of them shirk these, or get them done in the worst ways possible with no respect to their tenants?

This is very true.

It comes down to the simple truth that private property is theft.

Your house is the one you live in. It is impossible to have more than one house as your personal property, because you can only live in one house at a time. But if you have the ability to apply coercive force (or, more commonly, a police state willing to apply it on your behalf), you can declare yourself owner of more houses than you can live in, and force people to pay you to live there. If they don’t pay you for all eternity, or you decide you don’t like them, or you just feel like it, you can snatch their home away from them because it’s “really” yours (according to a piece of paper filed with the government, and more importantly the armed thugs who will enforce that paper).

Landlords are one of the most blatant examples of how the parasite class–the owners and bosses–relentlessly squeeze out every bit of surplus value they can, feeding off the blood and sweat of the working class.