You are right, so perhaps I should clarify. When I said government assistance, I was specifically referring to money being given out to individuals in the form of welfare, food stamps, rent assistance, and the like.
Is there a way to bring the cost of living down so that a minimum wage worker could support himself or herself.
For example: according to http://www.paycheckcity.com, the take home pay for a worker making $7.50 per hour, for 40 hours, here in Maine (Maine’s minimum wage is currently $7.50) is about 266.57, with two exemptions (If I remember right, from the last time I filled out a W-4, a single person who is the sole breadwinner can claim two withholding exemptions). Good luck finding a place to live for less than $500 per month here, so you can kiss your first two paychecks goodbye just to pay the rent. Add in utilities, if they aren’t already included, and that doesn’t leave much left over to buy food, clothes, or to save for emergencies, or just transportation costs to get to work (Maine has almost nonexistent public transportation). Yes, you can eat ramen every day of the week, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
I guess the other question is this: in a society with as much abundance as ours, how much of a person’s life should have to be devoted to work in order to provide such basic necessities as food, shelter, clothing, and heat? Should a person really have to work 60 or 80 hours a week just to scrape by?