# Dickens, Cratchit and the Minimum Wage

There’s a meme posted on the book of f~~e~~aces about converting what Bob Cratchit in Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” earns to current US dollars and comparing it with a worker on minimum wage today. **That meme (image below) is in fact completely wrong**. but I suspect the vast majority of the approximately 10,000 people who shared it in the 12 hours after it was first posted made no attempt what so ever to verify it.

If you do the sums properly you discover that Bob Cratchit actually makes under $6,000/year instead of over $27,000. Let me show you that calculation.

15bob = 15 shillings = 0.75 pounds. Assuming no vacation that’s 52*0.75 = £39 in a year. So what is 39 quid when Dickens wrote the book worth today?

A Christmas Carol was written in 1843 so we should look at the value of £39 in 1842 and 1843 to get an idea. Interestingly there was some deflation going on then so £39 in 1843 is worth more today that in 1842.

£39 in the year 1843 is equivalent to £4,660.80 in 2017 where as £39 in the year 1842 is equivalent to £4,148.12 in 2017 if we split the difference then that £39 is worth £4404.5 and converting that in to dollars gets us $5,901.68 which **thus well under half the federal minimum wage (~40%) for a 40 hour week ($15,080) as quoted in the meme**.

I wondered if there was a mistake made by prematurely converting to dollars. I.e taking £39 and multiplying it by 5 (in the 1840s 1 US$ was approximately £0.2) and then seeing what that ($195) is worth today, however that gives a very similar answer – $5,615.35 from 1842 and $6,163.19 from 1843 giving an average of $5889.27- so it looks like the original writer just has problems with sums.

That seems pretty typical of lefty types, they frequently seem to have problems with sums, which no doubt partly explains why they fail to comprehend why socialism impoverishes. Sadly in the real world numbers and facts trump FEELZ

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RJ Miller December 30, 2017 , 12:49 pm Vote

0Shocked that she got the inflation wrong, but then again maybe I shouldn’t be.

I never got on Facebook precisely because I knew I would be arguing nonstop with people on issues like this. Great post!