Duplicate and distribute
this activity. Students may work independently or cooperatively.
Although the federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, many towns have
adopted a living wage ordinance specifying a higher minimum rate of
pay that reflects the cost of living in that community. As you saw in
Segment 7, San Jose’s living wage is now $10.75 an hour. Try to figure
out what a living wage would be in your town.
• Make a monthly
budget based on a single person’s basic needs. Remember to include the
costs of rent, food, phone, utilities, and transportation. You might
ask a parent or friend to give estimates on these figures.
• Based on these
monthly expenses, determine what a person’s hourly wage would have to
be to meet these expenses, assuming a 40-hour work week. To find out
more about the Living Wage, where is practiced, who started it, and
where to find out more, check out Livelyhood’s Living Wage feature (http://www.pbs.org/livelyhood/ourtowns/livingwage.html).
To look up important
issues related to Wages
in the United States, (http://www.pbs.org/livelyhood/classroom/resources.html)
check out that section on the Livelyhood Resources page . You may want
to extend the activity by holding a debate about whether a living wage
should be established in your town. Ask questions like these:
• Who would be affected
by a living wage?
• How might small
business owners be affected by the new living wage?
• Does a living
wage have any disadvantages for a community? If so, what are they?
• Does a community
have a responsibility to ensure the well-being of its citizens?
Use the ideas expressed
in the debate to write a well-argued op-ed piece for or against the
adoption of a living wage ordinance. Submit it to your school paper
or to a local paper.
In Green Bay, Wisconsin, the entire town is economically and emotionally
invested in their football team, the Packers, which they have owned
for a very long time. Review the story and find additional information
in Livelyhood’s “At Home with the Cheeseheads in Green Bay” Web feature
What would it take to establish a publicly owned sports team nowadays?
Explore the potential expenses and benefits of this kind of town investment.
• Choose a sport
without a current professional league. (Some possibilities are soccer,
volleyball, skiing, softball, lacrosse, and swimming.)
• Decide on the
specifics of creating a new team: How many players are there to pay?
How much would they make? How much would it cost to rent or build a
space for them to play? What would be the costs of uniforms, equipment,
staff? [Note: You might want to look up the actual prices of these items
by searching catalogue / distributor sites online, or by asking your
school athletic department head or local recreation department for figures
and scaling up.]
• Consider how many
games there would be in the season. How many would be played at home?
How many seats would there be in the arena? What would the price of
Using all this information,
make an estimate about the total cost of creating a new professional
sports team in your town, and how much income you might generate each
year. Then think about whether you could make this a publicly owned
company. For help deciphering share cost and info on the stock market,
check out The Newshour Online Extra’s feature, “Investing 101” (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/on2/money/stocks.html).
• Considering your
estimate, how many shares of stock at what price would you have to sell
to cover the expenses?
• Is there a chance
this could work in your town? Would other areas consider joining this
• What are the benefits
to having a publicly owned sports team? (You can find out Green Bay’s
stock history at (http://www.packers.com/history/stockhistory.html).
• Are there any
potential drawbacks to this kind of investment? If so, what are they?
Create a proposal
for your new sports team, and present it to the class, along with your