Last night was the first episode of Morgon Spurlock's new show "30 Days". The premise is pretty simple, and obviously lifted directly from his film "Supersize Me". In each episode someone tries to do something for thirty days and the experience is documented ad presented to us, the viewing audience.
In the first episode Morgan and his fiance Alex move to Columbus, Ohio and try to live off minimum wage jobs for a month. They get a terrible apartment in a bad area of town, get jobs doing yardwork and washing dishes and go to it. For the next hour we watch as they struggle to pay the bills, have to go to the hospital because of injured wrists and urinary track infections, walk rather than ride buses to save $2.70 a day and so on.
Of course by the end of the show they have expenses equal to more than twice what they made during the month. Mostly because of the medical bills. Things like having too pay over $800 between the two of them just for the emergency room fees (not the actual medical services or the $40 ace bandage fees - $800 just because they had to use the emergency room).
The show did a pretty good job of highlighting the idea that there are people out there (a LOT of people) who are struggling to get by and are not getting any breaks in this land of opportunity. They worked hard, they tried to save as much money as they could (they spent about $70 dollars to have Morgan's niece and nephew visit one weekend; $50 on supplies for the kids and $20 to go to the dollar movies) and ended up spending $45 dollars going out to dinner for Alex's birthday. The budget for the birthday got blown when, after dinner ($23) they discovered that the buses didn't run after 6:00 so they had to take a cab to get home. Otherwise they ate beans and rice every night, worked multiple jobs to try to make ends meet, found a charity that give them free furniture, and still ended up at the end of the month in debt.
I hope that at least some people will see this episode and realize that maybe poor people aren't lazy people who deserve what they get. Our society and or government are really stacked against our poorest, who we under pay (because paying them a living wage is bad for business), and provide almost no support services for. At the same time our government (and religions) advocate abstinance and tries to suppress information about birth control resulting in the these people having to support children on the pittence they can get paid for their work.
Overall a pretty interesting show. I was aware of the issues already, but it was a good illustration of the plight of the working poor.
Of course, throughout the whole thing you know that in the end Morgan and Alex re only going to have to do this for a month, and then they will be able to go back to a comfortable life. The people that they meet during the experiment aren't going to have that option.
Me, I'm in favor of nation health coverage for all. That would have almost made their situation doable. Of course, we can't do that becasue it would be "bad for business".