Melissa’s Story


In early October we were treated to Melissa’s Story. A story posted by ProgressNow Colorado and promoted by Colorado Pols. The story claims to have gone viral with 60,000 views is 48 hours. A story with that much interest deserves to be revisited in light of the November 8, election results.

Coloradans, heart broken by the plight of Melissa’s story came together and passed an increase in the minimum wage effective January 1, 2017. That increase raises the minimum wage from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour.

If you remember, Melissa is a single mother with two children. A son, age 19 and a daughter 10. They live in a shelter with the children bunkbeds in one room and Melissa’s bed in the living room. Melissa recognizes that she is not the only mother suffering this plight and laments that “we cannot survive of $8.31 per hour”.

So how is Melissa doing? Have the economics of the new minimum wage legislation changed Melissa’s plight? It is doubtful ProgressNow Colorado will check in with Melissa to see the amazing difference this change will make so we will have to do some basic arithmetic to see the impact.

A standard work week contains 2080 hours in a year, at $9.30 per hour equals an annual income of $19,344 gross wages before payroll taxes. This is an increase of $2059.20 annually. On a weekly basis, at 40 hours per week her wage is $372.00, an increase of $39.60 per week. Of course this assumes that a person can find a full time job that has not been destroyed by Obama Care. Let’s further assume that Melissa’s tax situation is that she only pay SS and Medicare, which will put her at approximately $347.82 net income per week.

The question is, can a family of three survive on $347 per week with the new and improved minimum wage? Absent other financial support from government or private agencies it is doubtful.

What has been accomplished? Liberals and Democrats get to pat themselves on the back for being caring for the disadvantaged, unions get to use the delta difference between minimum wage and their current wage to demand more compensation. The impetus to increase automation is accelerated. Fewer job opportunities for low skilled workers. More demands to spend on welfare, higher taxes, and more government employees to manage programs. And Melissa’s plight has not changed!

The cruelty of the minimum wage hoax perpetrated on Melissa by ProgressNow Colorado is egregious. Melissa is the victim ProgressNow wants her to be to advance their political agenda. Melissa through her own words fully owns her victim status, “you should be able to do the extra stuff you want to do for the betterment of your family”. The fact is, if you work for minimum wage you will live a minimum lifestyle and not get to do the “extra stuff”. Nothing will change for Melissa until she breaks the victim cycle and obtains a skill set that will make her more valuable than minimum wage.

Melissa would have been better served if ProgressNow Colorado had solicited $1 from each of the 60,000 viewers of the viral video and given that money outright to Melissa. She could have used it to obtain a skill in demand or she could have gone to Blackhawk, at least she would have had a choice.


55 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Thank you. This is brilliant!

  2. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Isn't it adorable that Fluffy thinks his own diary is brilliant? 

  3. kwtreemamajama55 says:

    So, PP, since you're so very concerned about Melissa's plight, you have called her to check on how she's doing, right? And she's told you:

    "You arrogant ass, the minimum wage law mandates $9.30 an hour with annual increases of .90/hr. We get to eat meat twice a week now! We don't have to buy all our clothes at the ARC!….but thanks so much for checking to see how I'm doing. Oh, and thanks for voting and supporting Donald Trump, who will try to gut all childcare programs, workplace protections, my right to sue if I'm sexually harassed, and all environmental protections. "

    "What exactly do you mean by "breaking the victim cycle"? Should I um, become  a man? Because that would mean 30% higher wages, for sure. Should I get married to the first chump I can?  What if I end up supporting him? What if he beats me or abuses my children? Will you approve your tax dollars going to social service programs or free legal aid? Of course you won't. You'll just sit on your high horse looking down on everyone, feeling smug that you aren't a "victim".

    "And thank you so, so much for presuming to tell me that I don't deserve a higher wage, but that you emphatically deserve bigger tax breaks. You're mighty nice to yourself."


    • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

      Your vote for the minimum wage was such a courageous act. You told your friends, I voted for the increase in minimum wage so Melissa and her family could eat meat twice a week and shop at Wal Mart instead of ARC. That's far as the liberal mind wants to be involved.

      if you believe $37 a week is going to make a difference in Melissa's circumstances, you have not been to a grocery store or any other store. You will never say to Melissa, Melissa, if you want the "extra stuff", you have to find a skill that pays more, you have to find a job and keep it, you have to come to work on time, you have to stop making poor personal decisions, you have to make yourself so valuable to the employer that there is no way he would ever consider letting you go. You won't have that conversation but you will be happy telling her it's someone else's fault she can't have the "extra stuff". And the victim cycle continues.

      • kwtreemamajama55 says:

        What the fuck would you know about what $37 a week can do? Have you ever had to tell a kid, "No, you can't go out for basketball/football/cheerleading because those uniform fees are too expensive?" Have you ever let a stupid parking ticket go unpaid until it is five times the original cost because it was more important to buy the mac and cheese that week? Have you ever borrowed money from a payday lender for rent and taken a year to pay 10 times the amount back?

        I'd bet you've never been poor in your life, just insufferably smug and self-righteous. You vote to gut programs that are in fact, a hand up, not a hand out. Programs that do build the skills and self confidence you claim you would want underemployed people to have. Yet you'll never vote for those programs, because, "I've got mine- let the rest of the world rot." That's the Christian Calvinist idea that God smiles on the already rich, and that the poor somehow deserve to be poor.


        • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

          Nothing you have voted for, nothing you have said, nothing you have done has changed a single thing for Melissa. 

        • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

          Your anger is deep and your hatred is strong for those who could afford the uniform fees, for those who obeyed the parking regulations, for those who care about credit. What benefit have you received from this hate? Are you teaching this same hate to your students?

          • kwtreemamajama55 says:

            Always with the teacher jab and the accusation of "hatred". So freaking predictable.

            • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

              I'm I wrong in how I characterize you?

              • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

                Putrid – I've known MamaJ for a long time.  I've seen her when life was not being kind to her and she never gave up.  A devout educator, she's a wonderful person with deep empathy for the least amongst us.  

                I count myself blessed to call her 'friend'.  


                • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

                  As long as you agree with her she is fine. Challenge her politics and you don't deserve to live. Not surprising you are both friends.

                  • kwtreemamajama55 says:

                    Whoa! never said you didn't deserve to live, PP. You must be taking lessons in the old Voyageur hyperbole school of rhetoric. Maybe you two should be friends. cheeky

                    Anyway…..much appreciated, Michael, and back atcha.

                  • dm_ox12dm_ox12 says:

                    Listen to this you sanctimonious dickhead.

                    There is no more empathetic, intelligent, competent, and dedicated person who appears on this blog, than mama. She has consistently been a force for love, understanding, and fairness here and in everything she does.

                    You, on the other hand, are an insipid, intellectually challenged, troll. You are not worthy to lick the soles of her shoes clean. If you enjoy being the subject of unending invective and ridicule, I suggest you keep insulting mama j.


                    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                      As it happens, mama, I sometimes use the same server as dm_ox12. I forgot to log him out but the above comment is by me.


                      …though I know he agrees with me wholeheartedly.smiley

                    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

                      So Fluffy's not the only one with an alter ego around here! Me. too. If you ever see anything on a comment board on another site signed Old Married Lady, you'll know it's me.


                    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

                      Shall we do the over/under on how long before Putrid's left hand logs in and defends himself? 

  4. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    Thanks for reminding us that you lost that vote big time, impotence bpy!  Haha!  You lost!  Colorado won!    And you still have that impotence problem!  

  5. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    To bring in a different viewpoint; a viewpoint that is different from some of the hysteria directed at Powerful Prune's column; the 19 year son is old enough to be on his own. What's his story? What is he doing to improve his situation? Where is the father of the 10 year old and what is he doing to support the girl? What steps is Melissa taking to avoid bringing more children into the world, if she can't support them?

    • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:


      Your trying to make sense of a situation when the Liberals and Democrats demand emotion. They are not interested in any perspective that involves some degree of personal responsibility, it's always someone else's fault.

    • kwtreemamajama55 says:

      To your point, CHB: What difference does it make to the issue, which is whether raising the minimum wage helps people like Melissa?

      What do the moral ramifications have to do with the price of hamburger?

      Scenario 1: Suppose a young mom had a period of sexual promiscuity. Her kids have different fathers, and she isn't receiving support from either one. Her 19 year old son lays around playing video games all day.

      Does she not still need and deserve a higher wage for her labor? Would you actually advocate her receiving less than the morally responsible mother in

      Scenario 2: A young mother had high moral principles. She could have aborted the child from her failed first love, but didn't. She adopted a young nephew when her sister died from cancer. The nephew is now 19 years old, and works nights at a pizza delivery service.

      Would you actually advocate that her employer  investigate, try to determine whether she has made / is making responsible choices, and then decide to pay her a higher / lower wage based on the employer's judgment about whether she is "deserving" of the higher wage?

      Of course not. This flies in the face of equal treatment under the law, privacy, non-discrimination, and many others. So while the employer might privately censure a single mother, he would not, and should not, be able to incorporate his personal moral and religious beliefs into a discriminatory wage structure.


      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        The whole Melissa story is nothing but sound bite journalism, originating from Progress Now. I recognize the tactic, since El Rushbo Limbaugh and Hannity use the same tactic.

        And where did I say anything at all about MORAL RAMIFICATIONS? I'm asking practical questions as to why she is in this situation and what she is doing about it. Has nothing at all to do with what the employer thinks; none of their business. I'm seeking the truth behind the smokescreen. And then you chime in with imaginary scenarios. The reality here is that Progress Now is at fault because of engaging in the same type of journalism as the far righties. 

        • kwtreemamajama55 says:

          CHB, Your perspective is from the point of view of a caseworker in the human services system, if I recall correctly.  So your questions would be legit ones to ask a client in those circumstances.

          However, PP is coming at this from a policy point of view. His original argument, absurdly, was that it was better to do nothing about low wages since the "raise" is so small that it wouldn't have much of an impact. I agree, actually….$15 an hour is a more realistic living wage, especially with inflated rents in Denver.

          My point was that when one is really low income, an extra $40 a week makes a huge difference, and I've named some of those differences. I'm not negating personal responsibility and accountability for one's own choices, by any means.

          But from the point of view of an employer or policymaker, the worker's access to a living wage can't be affected by his/her choices. The employer or legislator can't pry into the bedroom to figure out who gets paid how much.  Everyone should be paid enough to live without having to depend on welfare . I would think that would be a conservative value.


          • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

            You misread my argument. I did not say it is better to do nothing. I said minimum wage legislation will not make Melissa's life better, and voting for it has done nothing to help Melisa. Melissa is the only one who can make her life better for herself and her family. 

            As an employer  I don't care what the choices an employee might or might not of made. I care whether they can do what the job requires, come to work on time, treat people with respect, and not hurt themselves or others. 

            If my labor rate is $9.30 per hour, I'm going to look for the best person in that group. If the labor rate is $15.00 per hour I'm going to look for the best person in that group. If it's $60,000 per year I'm going to look for the best person I can hire. Who I hire is not based on what they need it's based on what I need. You probably think that is cruel and unfair.

            Generally when employees tell employers the things they can't or won't do, they limit their own value. Employees who say, "what can I do to help", their value increases, these people will not have to worry about what a government decides to be their wage.

            As an educator you know about the Bell Curve. There will always be a population at the extreme ends. The lower end will need public assistance to survive. It will be up to those in the middle and upper end to decide what the level assistance will be. 

            Melissa may always require public assistance, never being to afford the "extra stuff", or she may see a path to the middle of the curve where the "extra stuff" resides. I sincerely hope for the best for her and her family. If she relies on the government to determine her wage she will remain bitter and unhappy.

            • kwtreemamajama55 says:

              The greatest generation would disagree with your argument:

              Generally when employees tell employers the things they can't or won't do, they limit their own value. Employees who say, "what can I do to help", their value increases, these people will not have to worry about what a government decides to be their wage.

              You're ignoring the entire history of collective bargaining in America. The rise of union power is tied to rising wages is tied to buying power is tied to prosperity. Union power and the GI bill brought about our parent's era, when one income really could support a family, buy a house and a car. Those days are gone, lost to a relentless attack on unions and decline in union membership.

              If Melissa were a union member, the government wouldn't have to step in to raise her wages – her union brothers and sisters would collectively  negotiate for it, and America would benefit, as it did in the 50s and 60s.

              It was not beneficent employers who expanded the middle class – it was the workers themselves, all the Melissas and Joses and Williams and Tianas in collective action.

  6. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Seattle's minimum wage hike has enough history now to draw conclusions.  It's provided benefits to both the wage-earner and, as important, the broader economy.  So even if we accept Fluffy's assertion that it won't help Melissa, it appears to be a strong catalyst for growing an economy.  When did that become a bad thing?  You're not getting one without the other in this scenario.  

    This video is still one of the best there is to refute neanderthals like Fluffy – who'd be better suited to live in Kansas.  They're living the Trickle Down nightmare that's once-again about to be bestowed upon a nation.  States are suppose to be laboratories for democracy – and when an experiment fails you don't double-down by making it a national experiment (in a rational world).

    • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

      You you may already know this, it appears the fellow in the video is giving a TED talk ( He is presenting his big idea that he believes will be of great benefit.

      His idea is that consumers need to be able to afford the products being sold. A concept a kin to being opposed to child abuse.

      He professes taxing the rich, like himself, allows the government to make investments that provide wealth for consumers to afford the products being sold. He uses the example that he only has three cars and he can't  spend enough to make an impact on the economy. Further he claims business large or small are not job creators, that consumers are the job creators. Straight from the heart of Elizabeth Warren. I wonder, what is the name of the consumer who invented the lphone.

      I expect that the money this fellow has after he has fulfilled his needs he invest in stocks, bonds and savings, all of which benifts the economy by providing capital to people such as myself or other entrepreneurs. If he really believed in his idea he would have written a check directly to the Treasury Department for his excess funds.

      The economic model that allows government to allocate capital is Communism. I don't think the fellow is advocating that, but he believes that some kind of hybrid is more advantageous. More like China. 

      Government is inefficient in allocating capital. That's because people can not be trusted with money that is not their own, or better known as waste, fraud and abuse. 

      It is true, when the government spends a dollar, you don't get a chance to. Money the government takes from you, you are not able to give to Ace Hardware, Safeway, Toys R Us, your favorite restaurant, or the "extra stuff" that Melissa wants to make her life complete. The only money government has is what it takes from its citizens.


      • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

        The economic model that allows government to allocate capital is Communism.

        You're so fucking stupid you don't even know that Ace Hardware is often the hardware store for local cooperatives like our own. 

        You mean 'communist things' like the great programs that underpin rural America? The Rural Electric Associations? Rural Telephone Coops?  Farm Cooperatives?  Using your twisted logic our REA is stealing from Xcel Energy, our rural Telephone Cooperative is stealing from CenturyLink.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Sorry Michael. But I don't see Seattle as being a good example of a minimum wage increase working. Seattle is too top heavy with high paying tech jobs and swings leftward on political issues. I think a progress report on more conservative and rural states that raised minimum wage in 2014; thinking Arkansas and South Dakota; would be more informative. I know another increase was on the South Dakota ballot this year. 

      • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

        Washington has the most time under their belt, as you know.  It will be interesting to see how other states play out.  It's true that even if every American had a college degree we'd still need cooks, janitors, bus drivers and pizza delivery staff.  Seattle still needs all of those as well.

        I'm not sure whether swinging left of political issues has any bearing on how this plays out, unless you're referring to the fact that left leaning units of government are already well-positioned to support a broad range of economic challenges.  One only has to look at the differences between Colorado and Kansas, or Minnesota and Wisconsin to grasp that Trickle Down is a joke for everyone except those at the pointy top of the pyramid. 

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          In general, I wouldn't consider Colorado as a left leaning state. The legislature is still divided, which helps moderate the eventual product in my opinion. Most liberal friends I talk with agree that the Dems over-reached in 2013-14 when they controlled both houses. Kansas… we're talking just plain stupidity, both in the form of the governor and in the people that re-elected him. At least far rightie Congress critter Huelskamp got the boot this year.

          • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

            Compared to Kansas we look like flaming liberals! You may have missed my post earlier this year but the majority of Americans (53% are represented by split government (three (Blue) states to that exception).  47% are represented by a Republican trifecta.  I must say I'm really enjoying the whining by McCrory today.  In a state where they held their Senate seat and went for Trump – this spineless ideologue couldn't pull out a win. 

            • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

              McCrory's getting what was coming to him. Whatever one thinks of the "turn away the gays law", it has had a devastating effect on the state's economy. Several of the legislators who were keen on that hot mess were also told to go get a private sector job.

  7. kwtreemamajama55 says:

    Thanks, dm_ox…wink

  8. dm_ox12dm_ox12 says:

    Just to clear up any confusion that may have occurred on this feed. Duke actually did call Powerful Pear a sanctimonious dickhead using my account. I forgot to log out the last time I was online. I'm not a sock puppet. On that note, after reading this feed, I feel that Powerful Pear is truly a sanctimonious dickhead and full out prick! Why you gotta be hater?

  9. Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

    40 Comments, can we get to 41. 

    My compassionate Democratic friends have called me: Arrogant ass, dirt bag, putrid, sanctimonious dickhead, insipid intellectually, troll, fucking stupid, prick. And that's just for this one idea. You will not find where I have responded in kind. 

    Frankly, I knew when I started this experiment that an opposing idea or thought would bring out the bullies, and I was not wrong. I'm not amazed, shocked, or intimidated with with the groups remarks, it's what the modern Democratic Party has to offer America.

    So when you ask "why you gotta be hater", you should ask your fellow Pols. I don't need to name them, they have the acclaim they desire.




    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      Arrogant ass, dirt bag, putrid, sanctimonious dickhead, insipid intellectually, troll, fucking stupid, prick.

      You have not responded in kind because the polsters who have been receptive to responding to you have seen your kind spewing the same garbage, over and over again, and are simply identifying the easily have no defense for that.

      You bring nothing but baseless bullshit to the discussion and then have the audacity of defaming someone you do not know…

      Dogwhistle bullshit and contrived crapola seem to be all you have to offer.

      You deserve any and all insults and abuse heaped upon you…

      I don't know about the rest of the human beings on this blog, but I have no compassion for punks like you…none.


    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      Don't forget that impotence problem, powerless pair.   It kind of defines you.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        Powerful Prune: kindly don't mix me in with your "compassionate Democratic friends."  At times, I may agree with you. Other times, I'll be happy to nail yo ass with common sense conservatism.

        • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

          I don't consider you a Pol or adversary, we my differ from time to time but you are enough of a wordsmith you don't have to f bomb to make a point. 

            • Conserv. Head Banger says:

              Unfortunately G. W. Bush never followed through on his "compassionate conservatism." Unlike most who post around here, I've seen the seamy side of life, so to speak, by virtue of working human service caseloads. Lots of people genuinely need help. Then there are those who demand help to rescue them from poor life choices. Then there are others who openly defraud the system designed to help those in need and whine loudly when they're caught. I've always thought that one could not have the career I had; some 25 years worth, but most of the later years in management positions; and come out in the end as a liberal. One just sees too much.

              • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

                Blessings to you for the efforts you made to assist our fellow man.

              • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

                CHB – I'd argue that both of the economic spectrum can be characterized by your statement

                Then there are those who demand help to rescue them from poor life choices.

                One has to look no further than our apparent choice for POTUS this round to see a man who gamed the tax system, ($1 billion write-off using someone else's money), the financial system (multiple bankruptcies), stiffing labor and his own way of abusing women – yet uses these very attributes to sell his prowess to Americans.  Locally I could point to farmers who have gamed the farm subsidy and crop insurance programs.  The common thread with all of them is they have enough tax attorneys and lawyers so they can sell themselves as legitimate, hard-working Americans – while holding utter disdain for those who need or seek public assistance.  

                There's little daylight between these individuals in principle. For you, your saw the bottom of the economic barrel, not those who sit on gold toilets and jet from mansion to mansion.  

    • kwtreemamajama55 says:

      When you began posting on here, it was as a Trump apologist.  Surely you never thought that you would change minds on Pols…. but you came to cause trouble, and you have. You should be happy with the results.

      Your latest diary, with its barely concealed version of "The poor will always be with us, – they are poor because they made poor choices, so they deserve nothing" was bound to get pushback. Are you truly surprised? I think not. I think you love the attention – like most trolls.

      I called you an "arrogant ass" first, in the persona of Melissa, because, as you have figured out if you're not completely dense, I've been "Melissa". I've been a single mom, or with an unsupportive male partner.

      I've made dubious choices, and paid the penalties for them. I've been on food stamps and welfare and worked minimum wage jobs and had long periods of un- or under-employment. I did finally get my teaching degree and teaching job using loans I'll be paying back until I die. And I don't appreciate your fucking condescending attitude, that even a ~$1 hour raise (up to $12.50 by 2020) is worthless and a waste of time and money on the undeserving lower classes.

      Me a hater? No. I live and work amongst people who believe as you do, and I have to be diplomatic,  and pick my battles. On here,  I can be intense, angry, and intolerant of bullshit…so I am. Most of the time, that gets called "hysterical".

      If your candidate has his way, we'll all be back to pre-Depression norms for the working poor. Tent city, anyone?

      Don't expect approval for your rationale of policies which will push millions even deeper into poverty.

      • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:

        GOOD FOR YOU! You are to be admired and celebrated. ProgressNow should have featured your success story rather than Melissa's. You could serve a great purpose as a positive roll model but that is not what ProgressNow need to fit their purpose. ProgressNow is a human abuser in the way they framed Melissa's story. ProgressNow does not give a shit about Melissa or those who may be in similar circumstances.

        Most who responded to the post we're politically inclined to read it as an attack on Melissa. CHB recognized it had a different purpose. It is so easy for politicians and media to manipulate good honest people, produce a video show a picture. Government by its very nature can not be fair. That's why it is good to have as little as possible.

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          See how that works, Pear?  Nobody on here would be dropping F-bombs on you if you bothered to do your homework before you attack.  As a reminder where this all started…

          Your anger is deep and your hatred is strong for those who could afford the uniform fees, for those who obeyed the parking regulations, for those who care about credit. What benefit have you received from this hate? Are you teaching this same hate to your students?

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          Prune: I was sort of with you until your last two sentences about government. Those have no place in this discussion as you are generalizing far too much.

          As an example, if it's good to have as little government as possible, as you say, I could argue that it's time for Congress to listen to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and have the G.A.O. do an audit of the Pentagon. According to various, actual conservative, sources I follow (Center for Defense Information, Taxpayers for Common Sense, among others), there is plenty of bloat and waste in the Defense Dept.

          Time to go hiking. 

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