A Lesson in Economics

I have been following the progress of the workers at McDonald’s trying to get the company to agree to pay a living wage. The company responded by posting a sample budget online showing how they could live on the wages they are currently getting paid. I thought the best part was the line item showing income from a second job. The budget is no longer available online.

I have no idea whether McDonald’s could afford to pay their employees more and still make a profit. However, the whole conversation made me think about life at Ralph’s (of course). The hourly pay scale tops out at $10/hour, with a couple of positions going to $11. The team leaders start at $10.50. Since it is a family-owned business, I can’t find out how much money the company makes.

So I’m trying fantasy economics (like fantasy sports, but less fun). Because I really hate math and accounting, I am not dealing with administrative and overhead costs, taxes, sales v. profit, or any of the other things that would actually make this a useful analysis. I am attempting humor after all, and it’s hard enough when you’re dealing with numbers.

The cheese I stock brings in an average of $6,000 – $8,000/day (insert joke about local bowel habits here). During the holidays and other busy times, it can earn twice that. I am the only employee in that section of the store. In the interests of fairness (probably the only time I will worry about it), I am going to use $7,000 as my basis. That equals $49,000/week or $2,520,000/year.

I wanted to have some type of comparison for the numbers, so I decided to look up some things that I could buy for $7,000.

I could get 3 pairs of Christian Louboutin Python pumps at Bergdorf Goodman ($1759 each). Unfortunately, I couldn’t wear them to work and I’m sure my friends wouldn’t know enough to be impressed.

Instead, I could get 3 Armina Aquamarine beaded necklaces ($1745 each). I really wish there was a Bergdorf’s around here. If I’ve calculated correctly, it would only take me 10 weeks to get the pumps and the necklace.

I could get 5 3.1 Phillip Lim Goat Fur satchel bags pink and black ($1395 each). Goats in New York must be different than the goats out here. Our goats come with hair not fur.

How about 12 Rebecca Taylor leather/ponte paneled dresses ($550 each)? I think it’s a regional thing. Even when I worked as a consultant, I would not have worn a $550 leather dress to work.

Every fashionable woman has heard of Hermes scarves. How about 6 cashmere and silk shawls ($1125 each). I would probably get toner on it the first time I wore it. You never hear about getting them cleaned.

If I went to Macy’s, I could get a nice 1 ct. t.w. diamond engagement ring. At $6900, it pushes the limits of the $7000, but it does come with a 15% discount. Of course, I’d have to figure out what to do with the old one (and explain to my husband why I needed to buy one for myself).

On a more humble note, I could get 700 dinners (mostacolli, lasagna, or chicken) at my local pizza place ($9.99 each). I might want to order a few less and get a few 2-liter bottles of Pepsi at $2.25 each. Besides I don’t know 700 people. And when my daughter eventually gets married, I imagine she probably will want something different for dinner.

So, I’m thinking that maybe raising my ceiling to $11/hour might be a financial possibility. Or more realistically, I should probably start buying lottery tickets.

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