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Letter: Seniors shouldn’t complain about minimum wage hike

Seniors shouldn’t complain about minimum wage hike

Several letters have appeared recently attacking the decision to raise the minimum wage for fast-food employees. It would appear that senior citizens are quite upset over this new dynamic, and many have stated so in this column. Their argument is that the wage increase will present them with an insurmountable obstacle in their daily lives. I’m assuming that their corporate-subsidized small coffee purchase will rise in price to such a degree that they have to choose between life-sustaining medications and the occasional hot beverage.

Perhaps a few facts about the economic health of America’s seniors are in order. The Washington Post published an article about this several months ago, and the statistics belie the selfish concerns of a few angry senior citizens. In 2010, only 9 percent of Americans over the age of 65 were below the federal poverty level, compared to 13.7 percent of the general population, and 22 percent of American children younger than 18 years old. The median wealth of those over 65 rose 42 percent between 1984 and 2009 to approximately $170,000, but that same measure of wealth for those younger than 35 shrank 68 percent to a paltry $3,662. Further, and more disturbing for those still working, the average retiree gets more in federal benefits than he ever paid in taxes.

Given this information, one finds it hard to believe that America’s seniors will face a bleak economic future over the overdue and, one should be reminded, gradual rise in wages paid to America’s most marginalized workers. Perhaps our senior citizens should do what the rest of us do when confronted with a luxury they can no longer afford – eliminate it from their budget.

Sean Birmingham

Grand Island