Minimum wage is $5.15 an hour. If full-time work is 40 hours a week, that is about $10,700 per year.

$10,700 per year.

I started at my newspaper job at $17,000 a year. I earn more than that now, obviously, and what I earn - in my mind - is a decent salary. I don't have high expenses, I don't eat out all week, and until two years ago, I had a roommate.

But when I tell people what newspaper salaries are, they look at me in disbelief. "How can anyone ever LIVE on that?" ask these people.

Their comments are pretty obnoxious, because they're basically trying to make me feel bad about something I didn't feel bad about.

There are a lot of spoiled brats in the New York area. Many of them consider $30,000 to $40,000 - for example - a low wage. I consider those very high. They are certainly $20,000 higher than minimum wage.

The other day I got a really stupid poem forwarded to me via e-mail about how people on Welfare sit around and collect cash. Pul-eeze. Not only do the fortunate among us not have any idea what it means to be REALLY poor (and $30k a year is NOT poor!!) - they could never survive on public assistance (and that's all it is meant for - minimum survival.) If you are someone who considers $40,000 a poverty wage, then boy, you are in for a rude awakening if you ever REALLY fall into poverty.

And by the way, yes, I understand that this is the New York area, and to live in New York you have to pay high rent. But there is no reason that a single person anywhere should consider $30,000 or $40,000 a poverty wage.

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