Thursday, February 23, 2012

How would you raise $75 a month?

Suppose you had no job, no credentials, no benefits, no savings. Where would you find seventy-five dollars and how would you pay for it?

A HUD bill now before the House calls for a new rule fixing minimum rents in all subsidized housing at $69.45 per month. President Obama's budget goes slightly worse, calling for $75 a month. I guess that's because the President can't look too soft on destitution or someone might accuse him of being a Democrat. Or just because the gov't. needs every widow's mite it can collect. After all, there are contributors' earmarks to fund.

Oh, but anybody can scrounge $75 in a month, right?

Well, maybe, but how?

We're talking about a minimum charge that would be socked against tenants with *zero income*. That is, people who aren't getting welfare or disability or unemployment or wages or *anything*. People who might therefore, incidentally, get uncomfortable questions about how they did manage to raise the money at all.

- The last I heard, which was several years back, illegal loan sharks tended to charge 100% interest for a one-month loan. Some legal "payday lenders" are much worse.

- Earlier this month, scrap copper was fetching about $2.20 to $2.65 a pound, average price $2.40. That is, with a decent bounce in prices and not too much gouging, you could raise a month's "minimum rent" by finding and turning in 30 pounds of copper. That sounds difficult to do legally. (By the way, this train of thought led to a fascinating blog on the sociology and criminology of metal theft.)

- Handworker? Take a look at this discussion on Etsy about setting prices for knitted items. Some sellers say they try to price by the time an item takes, at $15 to $25 per hour. Sounds nice, but others say they can't find buyers at those prices so they multiply the cost of materials by three or four. Handbag crocheting specialist Shelly Johnson, who mentions on her catalog page that she is chronically ill, wrote this at 4:17 a.m. last November 16:
"Some of the things I crochet take 20-30 hours. I can't even pay myself $5hr for those. And then I see people in Eastern Europe price things at a level that woudn't even cover my costs. It feels like I can't win. So I use the material cost multiple and hope to gradually raise my prices, at least on the high-end intricate work."
- Blogger? That's a joke. Over the past year, ads on this blog have earned a grand total of four dollars and fourteen cents.

Seventy-five dollars isn't nothing. I'm just saying.

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