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Endless Bummer

Welcome to the longest day of the year!  No, it’s not a 24-hour “According To Jim” marathon, but the summer solstice -- the first official day of summer.  For much of America’s youth it’s time to put away those schoolbooks and final exam answers you downloaded from the internet, and start thinking about that sticky rite of passage: the summer job.  It doesn’t matter whether you land a classic summer gig like lifeguard or caddy or sperm donor, or have to suffer the indignity of working in the same soul-sucking workplace as your dad for three long months that will seem as endless as detention at Guantanamo -- you’ll learn a valuable life lesson that will prepare you for adulthood:

Work blows.

For starters, there's the pay.  As a laborer as unskilled as, say, our president (whose previous jobs as owner of a major league baseball team and executive at an oil company were given to him by his dad when all else failed), you can expect your starting pay to be in accordance with the federal Minimum Wage, currently $5.85 an hour.  As bad as that sounds -- and it sounds as bad as "Karaoke Night" with Gilbert Gottfried -- it's actually much worse: adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is 30% less than it was in 1979.

Before you start whining about how much more in real or inflation-adjusted dollars you could earn apprenticing in a meth lab, consider yourself fortunate to be the beneficiary of Congressional largesse that finally raised the minimum wage last year for the first time since 1997 – a decade in which that same Congress voted themselves seven pay increases totalling $31,000… a sum just slightly less than a minimum wage earner would make annually working three full-time jobs. Congress: Looking Out For Congresspersons Since 1789!

But there’s no reason for self-loathing just because you're forced into a minimum wage job this summer -- there will be plenty of time for that as an adult!  Especially if you wind up at one of America’s two biggest employers – Wal-Mart and McDonald’s – both of which start their employees at… you guessed it: minimum wage.  It’s all uphill from there, as you attempt the Sisyphean task of pushing your future ahead of you like a large rock toward the American dream, where the average hourly wage for a non-managerial worker is less than 18 bucks.  That adds up to about $36,000 a year for a full time worker, and with double-digit food and oil inflation nibbling away at your purchasing power like a flesh-eating staph infection, that's barely enough for a single-earner to raise, feed, clothe, educate, and afford the gas to drive his family of four to the poor house.

Now for the good news:  if you’re feeling depressed about the prospect of sweating out a long, steamy summer over a hot fast-food grill or, worse, the basement of dad’s hardware store, chances are you don’t have to worry.  According to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, the 2008 summer job market for teens will be even worse than last year – which was the worst on record in the post-World War II period.  The Center’s predicted summer teen employment rate for this year is 34.2 percent, below last summer’s historical low, and 11 percentage points below the summer employment rate of 2000.  Pass the sun-block!

You can thank our tanking economy for your summer at the beach: many restaurants and retailers – the life-blood of the summer teen, along with the aforementioned meth industry – simply can't afford to hire additional summer help.  And those employers that can, however grim the job may be, can cherry pick their next disgruntled employee from the multitudes of laid-off workers and recent college grads before the high school kids can finish singing, “no more pencils, no more books...”  Add to that any number of full-time workers trying to pull their families across the poverty line with a second – or third – job, and employment prospects are pretty bleak for that pimply teen on summer break.

Unless your dad has a baseball team or an oil company he'll let you run.

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Disclaimer: This website is satirical in nature and naturally satirical.  Although many of the facts, figures, statistical information, and events both current and historical contained herein are true and accurate, "Eat The Poor" also contains elements of parody, including exaggeration and ridicule, regarding events, public figures, corporations, government institutions, and others we find deserving of unwanted attention.  No harm is intended to figures both public and private and/or institutions or corporate entities mentioned herein.
The use of the phrase "herein" herein is hereby acknowledged to be unnecessary and excessive.

A Modest Proposal for a film by Kurt Engfehr and Ken Pisani.
2006 Ken Pisani and Kurt Engfehr.  All rights reserved.
All "Blogging Poorly" posts  Ken Pisani.