A Living Wage

So, yesterday, while cruising Instapundit in the five minutes between penguins  (I use a penguin timer instead of a tomato for the Pomodoro Technique.  Deal.) I came across a thing where fast food workers were threatening to strike.

So I sashayed over to the link.  (Part of the reason I need the discipline of Pomodoro is that I’m really, really (REALLY) bad at not getting distracted by news articles.)

Someone here – I think it was Rick – had asked me to write about the controversy over a living wage.  I’ve avoided it because every time I state economic facts (remember, there’s a reason they call economics the dismal science) some lefty blogger links me saying I want poor people to die or some similar excreta.  For instance, the post called “If you don’t work you die” – which applies to society as a whole, i.e. a society that doesn’t produce enough to support itself will die out – got some left chickie (might have been male, I didn’t check.  Was still a chickie.) ranting how I should have been a Nazi prison guard.

But this article finally got me to tackling the whole “living wage” controversy, because the article itself and the interviews with the people are so full of unmitigated fail that… well…

Let’s start by stating my goal: I would like everyone to make a living wage working at whatever they want to or are best at.  I’d like it to start with me, frankly, because thought I’m doing all right, if you parse out my hours weekends and evenings and all I’m making far less than that.  But of course, I have a hope of escape, or at least a hope of supporting myself from all this hard work in my old age, when work slows down.  (I have no illusions I’ll ever be able to retire.)  And I do realize fast-food and low level retail workers can’t.  And I wish they could from the bottom of my heart.  But—

But economics is a science, which means it’s something that studies nature to discover its laws. This means our laws cannot change nature.   You can’t legislate economics, any more than you can legislate the weather.  For instance, I would love it for it to rain only at night because then when we go anywhere during the day it would always be sunny.  Also, could we get snow to melt after a few hours of looking scenic?  I hate walking in subzero weather.  And so many elderly die from extremes in weather.  We should make the temperature 62 degrees year around.  Think how much we’d save on fuel, too.  Why wouldn’t you do that?  What do you have against the elderly and the poor.

Because it doesn’t work.  Because the government in DC can pass all the laws it wants, but the weather still will do exactly what it will do.

Now imagine that the government could affect the weather in a limited way.  Say, shave off the hardest cold and the worst heat.  Wouldn’t that be great?

No. Pray they never do.  Why?  Because while it might produce the “desired” result in a limited way, in a limited area, over time it will cause much more damage in other places.  Because the weather system is interconnected, dependent on myriad factors some of which we don’t know yet, and if you push one way to make it the way you want, you’re going to cause disaster elsewhere.  And if you’re callous enough not to care what happens elsewhere, yet the disaster will eventually come around to you, too.

And that’s sort of what the living wage is like.  The article plays fast and lose with statististics, when it says most of these people are neither teenagers nor part timers.  To quote what a friend told me “I love the abuse of statistics. “The EPI says that roughly eight out of 10 workers in the country earning minimum wage are 20 or older and that half of them work 40 hours a week” followed by “It is clear that the bulk of minimum-wage workers are mid- or full-time adult employees, not teenagers or part-timers”.  Well if 8/10 are 20 or older and half do NOT work 40 hours, AT LEAST 4/10 or 40% are, in fact, “part-timers”. Since the other 2/10 are under 20, that means that 60% are teenagers or part-timers. Um, that IS the “bulk”.  (These calculations are not mine, but from a friend, but they seem accurate to me.

But let’s leave that aside – there are reasons teenagers might be paid a living wage – reasons teenagers might need a living wage.  My mom got married at eighteen and was technically a teenager.  Only a crazy society considers “teen pregnancy” a problem, when it’s been the norm throughout history.  And if teens can be parents, they “should” have a living wage, right?  Besides, a lot of the part timers probably want to be full timers.

The problem here, the problem with this article, the problem with the whole controversy over a living wage is that it mixes ethics and science.  The two never mix.  You can’t question the morality of the formula H2O.  You can’t ask if it would be a more balanced world if it were H2O2.  You can’t really say “Should humans have tails?”  (Well, you could, but then you’d be my older child.)  Or “Is it fair that humans have opposable thumbs when most species don’t?” – it is what it is.

Economics is what it is.  We can discuss the ethics of it, of course.  Older son, in his bio major, studied ethics.  But he studied them as a separate discipline, NOT AS BIOLOGY.

Meanwhile, younger son, whose engineering major requires a hefty dose of Business classes had to take an economics course where the professor seemed to think he was teaching Sunday school.  It was all about what is more moral, and what is better for the community.  Oh, please!  Do have Ethics of Business Practices (not getting in bed with government to create a virtual monopoly would be something to teach the kids – because it’s bad for the economy and the community.  Curiously, this was not something ever discussed in this very confused class.  Go figure.)  BUT don’t call them “basic economics.”  Basic economics are matters of investment and profit, of marketing and selling.

This is because people get confused.  You find some of the confusion in the article.  They interview a Ms. Dukes who makes 8.65 and rarely is given forty hours a week, and she says she’s striking for a living wage and full time, because there are no other jobs, and she can’t live from this.

Sigh.

I’m fully willing to believe she can’t live from that.  It takes one heck of a juggling act.  (I know.  We’ve gone through periods of doing just that.) However, if she is supporting children on that, she qualifies for several government subsidies, ranging from earned income credit, to children support subsidies.  (We didn’t because our situation was temporary.)  So, her income will be more than that.

But let’s say she’d prefer to get off the dole and support herself, a noble and worthy goal.  I sympathize with her.  I understand her issues.  But striking will not achieve her goal.  Not only if it’s massive and widespread.

It’s more likely to get her replaced with a robot.

This is not because as her colleague Mr. Wise puts it upward on the article, “Executives make millions of dollars,” and aren’t sharing – or something – his point is confused beyond being upset at the idea that people – other people – make a great deal of money and he’s barely surviving.

It’s easy to go on about the obscene profits of executives.  In fact, I think they perhaps should show some common decorum and not flaunt it – but the top of any profession pays like that, and the top of entertainment and sports often pays better.

I resent obscenely paid executives, who make enough to buy a Paraguay or two (ah!) only when they do so by getting in bed with the government and making life harder for the rest of us, including preventing competitors from rising up.  BUT even I confess that sometimes getting in bed with the government is necessary to allow your business to survive.

If people insist on electing economic fascists, then you have to work with economic fascists.

And as for ostentatiousness, a) we’re Americans.  Our top of the heap is SUPPOSED to be loud, ostentatious and vulgar.  At least according to Europeans.  And that’s just our GOOD side.  B) There are people who crave that sort of thing.  The wisdom of capitalism (if such thing can be spoken of, since it’s not in any way a planned system, at least not when it works right) is to allow them to satisfy it cleanly in business and not by force in politics.  And, in a system that’s working well, their thirst for much more than they can consume redounds to the benefit of others by growing businesses and industries.

Which bring us to Ms. Dukes and Mr. Wise and their horrible situation.  I’m the first to admit their situation is horrible.  I’ve been stuck making far less than minimum wage but unable to quit for over ten years, and let me tell you, it does eat your soul.  Even if what you’re working at – as I am – is something you love to begin with.  Now I feel better because Indie provides hope of reward commensurate to my effort.  (Only hope for now.)  BUT to be stuck working less than minimum wage at a job you dislike but can’t quit?  Year after year after year?  Sweet Lord, it would eat you from the inside out.

And I do realize neither of them is probably a graduate of economics.  Mind, I’m not putting them down.  They’re right when they say people can’t find other jobs.  It’s that bad out there.  We know someone who used to work in IT who was last seen as a fry cook at Dennys.  Assuming that everyone stuck at a low-level job is a dummy or uneducated is one of the things I hate about liberals.  A lot of Mensans work minimum wage jobs.  It’s the lack of social skills.

But even if either of them took economics in college, it was likely to have been the chimera of ethoeconomics and not science.

What they could figure out, with pencil and paper, and even if they’re as digit dyslexic as I am, is that let’s say the top executives of MacDonalds make ten million a piece and there are three of them.

I don’t know how many MacDonalds there throughout the land – but I’m going to estimate a million for ease of handling.  Our little town has at least ten, and the little mountain village I used to live in boasted one, so I suspect if anything I’m underestimating.

Let’s say that all of the MacDonald’s top execs DONATED their entire wages.  They’re all probably rich toffs, right, and don’t need to get any more money, right?  So they donated all thirty million.  Which, distributed through all the franchises would give each… $30  That allows them to give three and a half extra hours to ONE of their workers at the current pay.

But let’s raise that hypothetical executive pay to 300 million (not unusual these days) and let’s say they donated it whole.  Each MacDonald’s gets… $300.  So one of the half time employees can now become full time… for a week.  Even if MacDonald’s has 100 executives at that obscene pay level… one might be able to become full time for a year — ONE employee per franchise.

But let’s go further.  I’m sure MacDonald’s has a ton of investors, and let’s say that these investors profits are all donated back, instead of being disbursed.  They MIGHT – might, although there’s other considerations such as health care being mandated after 40 hours – be able to take their entire force full time.  Maybe.  Or give them each a $2 raise per hour.  (But probably not both.)

However, then the investors with withhold investment and run away. The company would go into bankruptcy and, like Twinkies, go out of business.  After a glorious month or so, there would be fewer jobs and Mr. Wise and Ms Dukes would be out on the street.

But wait, there’s more – because the above still confuses economics and ethics.  WHY should the executives/investors give all their profits to the employees?

Because, of course, the employees need it.  They have families to support.

Yes, but…

Why are the employees HIRED in the first place?  What is the work they do called?  No, not wage slavery.  It’s called “a job.”  They’re hired because there’s a job to do.

Let’s say that tomorrow there was enough money from investments or donations or government support to take all of them full time.  WHAT WOULD THEY BE DOING?

These are NOT salaried workers.  I know tons of people who are doing two or three jobs in addition to their own and not paid for them because they’re salaried.  (Pretty much everyone who still has a job is doing this these days.) BUT these are hourly workers.

If a store took half of its part-timers full time, it would run out of stuff for them to do.  It would have to lay off some of the other part-timers or full timers.  Who then would have no job at all.  That’s just what it is.

And as for paying better per hour – yes, the executives make obscene salaries and bonuses – but that’s because there are economies of scale.  When you add up millions of franchises, you end up with a lot at the top.  It’s kind of like the whole “if you took a penny from everyone’s bank account you’d be rich beyond the dreams of avarice, but the theft wouldn’t be noticed.”  Economies of scale.  The same applies to investors who, btw, in America are not normally mustache twirling, top-hat wearing villains, but pension funds.  If you take the profit off investment, a lot of grandmas will end up destitute.

But most fast foods are franchises and, from what I understand from people I’ve known who’ve owned these, they work on a razor thin margin.  The only way to raise wages is to raise the price of food.  And if you raise the price of food any number of people now using you in this pinched economy will not be able to.  You’ll close or find a cheaper solution.

The same btw applies to most retail.  I know of someone who runs a used bookstore as sort of a side thing to various SUCCESSFUL businesses, because he likes books (Or perhaps is running a numbers game out of the store.  Who knows?)

Most people I know are either working insanely (which is good for fast food but bad for books) and/or underemployed/paid and sinking into more and more debt every month.  What this means is that a lot of the things people buy in good times are being cut out: new clothes; luxury food; high class entertainment – anything non essential.

I’ve noticed in the last six to seven years that the restaurants closing are those in the middle price range.  Why?  Because people will flock to fast food for the “dollar menu” because it’s a quicky you can get when you just worked a sixteen hour day.

And the high price, high class restaurants go on because their people are those few at the top who are still making enough (or people like us who forego mid-restaurants and even fast food for convenience reasons and SAVE in order to go out somewhere NICE four times a year.)

In between is a vast desert.  Raising the prices of fast food would put them in-between and take them out.

But then, of course, there’s robots.  The robots that CAN operate most fast food chains exist.  They’re not being bought because – like when I spent a summer in Germany ironing sheets, despite their having an ironing machine – humans are cheaper.  Or at least they don’t require upfront investment.

Make it so humans are more expensive than machines and the machines will be bought.  And there will be more people out of work.

Confusing ethics with economics leads to HIGHLY unethical economics and ruin.

Can the strikes force fast food establishments to pay more/give more hours.  Probably.  But as the auto-industry shows, there’s a vast difference between what is good for workers and what is good for the company. (Except when the company is forced to fold, it’s ALSO bad for workers.)

And the same goes for the nation.  Let alone that the idea of a national minimum wage is obscene when you consider the lifestyle cost in NYC is not even close to that in Hays, Kansas.  9.95 in NYC might get you a comfier sewer grating.  In Hays, Kansas, it’s more than a living wage.

BUT beyond that, the idea is obscene because it will cause the closing of innumerable establishments and throw any number of people out of employment, which means many people will never get their first work experience, many children will grow up never seeing their parents work, etc.

But Sarah, you say, places like Australia have lavish minimum wage and their economy hasn’t collapsed.  (A few years ago you’d have quoted Europe too!)

Well, no.

First of all there’s that scale thing – Australia – and most other countries, even those that are our area – are much smaller and less diverse in population.  Second, lavish minimum wage sacrifices business startups and indie businesses.  Why?  Well, our distinguished commenter from Finland has explained this: Because it’s impossible to make the jump between being a sole/proprietor/employee and the kind of money that can pay for employees.  So, businesses don’t start, which makes the economy top heavy with corporations and government boondoogles projects.  This works for a while, but not forever.

Second, Australia might avoid the collapse that comes at the end of that longer than most because it has wilderness, a tradition of self-sufficiency AND is not stupid enough to give lavish benefits to the unemployed – their unemployment benefits are JUST enough to barely keep body and soul together.  So, people go and get a job.  Europe didn’t take that precaution.  We all know where Europe is headed, or at least what it’s circling.

Well – who is going to cut benefits to those who can’t find jobs (at all) in the US.  The aggregate of welfare benefits will keep someone in decent comfort, if not in luxury.  Getting all the benefits you can is a full time job (which makes it a trap) and the more people we throw at that particular boondoogle government program, the fewer will EVER be able to work.

Then there’s third – we maintain a level of defense higher than ANY OTHER FREE COUNTRY, except perhaps Israel.   I don’t think this is unnecessary.  We’re large, we’re loud, and sometimes we elect incredible dumb*sses who practically hang signs on our forehead begging other people to attack us.  We need the defense.  We also defend most of our allies (though these days some people up top seem to have reversed the ally/enemy sign.  I understand.  That type of mistake is why I couldn’t go into engineering.  But at least I never set fire to Egypt and armed the enemy.  Never mind.  Let it go.)  This is money the government takes in taxes from individuals and from establishments throughout the land.  (Something to consider about obscene compensation.  When we were rich beyond the dreams of average (sic) – the three years Dan worked a stressful traveling job {think the special forces of programming.  If no one else could fix it, you called them.  They were ridiculously high paid, plus you paid hotel and travel.  Even if someone worked half the year, the company that contracted them out still made an obscene profit}—we made twice as much as we’d been making for a year (after that they cut salaries.  The economy, you know.)  What was amazing was that after taxes and expenses we cleared about 10k more over when Dan was making half as much.  Yes, there were other expenses which included things I had to pay for because he wasn’t home to do it.  Like garden work.  BUT still.  Our tax bill was massive and ridiculous. I shudder to think what it is once you hit that dreaded 250k, which we didn’t come close to.  And remember that in some parts of the country t250k JUST gets you by.)

What I mean is everything government does – and common defense is one of the legitimate functions – comes out of the economy.  The government doesn’t CREATE wealth.  This means that by being the world police, we can afford less of the goodies our allies take for granted.  It also means that we have more innovation and more small businesses, but that’s just a side benefit.

Right now, of course, we’re trapped in a place where the government is doing its best to kill innovation and small business by regulation, while people fail to find work/struggle to survive on low pay.

I sympathize.  I sympathize with the Mr. Wises and the Ms. Dukes of the world.  They are trapped in a horrible place.  I’ve had friends there.  One of them went on to get her doctorate because “I had to have an escape plan” – but not everyone can be a doctor.  And not everyone has some artistic talent to pursue which AT LEAST gives hope of escape.  And not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur and start cleaning houses for a living, or something.

BUT demanding more money and more hours is confusing the economy for a machine that is supposed to give you what you want, or supposed to “morally” provide this or that.

It won’t.

It might be ethical to pour sugar into your gas tank, but all that will happen is that the engine will seize and stop.  Same with the economy.

And then we can all be equally poor.  And maybe, for some people, that is enough.

334 responses to “A Living Wage

  1. I second that.

  2. And then we can all be equally poor. And maybe, for some people, that is enough.

    Thank you, Margaret Thatcher. Thank you.

    • There was a woman who went to the Soviet Union and came back enthusing about how everyone was equally shabby.

      • I know. I remember reading an article circa 91 in the Charlotte observer about how the Soviet union was great because people knew how to bathe in a cup’s worth of water. (Yeah, I know how to do that too. It’s called a sponge bath and it doesn’t leave ANYONE clean. BUT why is it a virtue?)

        • Rob Crawford

          Because it was being done in the Soviet Union and it was a “journalist” expressing their judgement.

          • She hadn’t spend too much time in any crowded public transportation with them, methinks. Can get interesting when nobody is well washed (youthful experiences with InterRail – if you were under 26 you could buy a cheap train ticket and travel all over Europe for a month. Used to be something everybody did at least once, I went twice. I think the program still exists, although in a somewhat different form).

          • Ability to overlook the obvious was pronounced. In The God That Failed, one writer recounts how they had managed to convince to overlook that the maid in his hotel room had fainted from hunger with claims she was new from the country, without her new ration book. And that’s one of the ones that got away.

        • Pfagh – when they have all learned how to bathe in a teaspoon’s worth of water I will be impressed. What that reporter failed to notice was that none of those bathers had what we in the West would call soap. I would bet the article’s writer spends more on personal washing supplies (soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers, exfoliants etc.) in a year than the average Soviet citizen subject spent on total discretionary purchases in five years.

  3. There was a stretch when I was working three four part-time jobs, all about minimum wage or slightly above. (In addition to the pension, which is eaten up by the mortgage payment and utilities.) Delivering a weekly newspaper to a neighborhood one day a week, racking up some times as a saleslady at Talbots’, data entry for a small mail order business’s on-line catalogue, and a once-weekly shift at the local classical music station. And now and again I picked up some voice-work, too. One day I went into the bank with five different paychecks, and the clerk looked at me and said, “Lady, is there a place in this town that you DON’T work for?”
    Yes, it was interesting, and actually kind of stimulating, as I was never at any of them long enough or often enough to get bored.

    • Which is kind of what I do with writing. None of my jobs comes close to a “living wage” but the aggregate works. And I think this is the future. You can’t have someone “take care” of you — be it government or an employer, because THEY can’t do that.

      • Probably true. I’d advise anyone dependent on infrastructure for a living to find a way off though. Unstable economies can’t really sustain complex infrastructure like the Internet for very long. Heck many of them won’t be able to sustain public safety or sewer.

        • Unlike the sewer system, the internet was designed to survive a nuclear war… the underlying protocols are pretty robust, and as long as the satellites and their ground stations remain operational, there’s gonna be a way to point a dish at the sky.

          That said, I suspect we should pay attention to how the internet looks in Africa and other non-grid areas. If the grid goes sketchy, there’s gonna be demand for people who know how to aim dishes.

          Mew

  4. Yep, all that about the economy. Why do people not get this? I know, I know, our busted up education system teaches them to not think.
    I have a quibble: chickies ain’t leftist. (14 in a box in the basement, 25 outside.) They lay good eggs or produce meat for investment of grain and protection from predators, (and provide their own bugs,) they are clearly capitalists. Also, most leftists would not survive the pecking order. Chickens are brutal.
    I think your older son and my second son may be sharing some brain space. We’ve had a couple long talks about ethics of bioengineering, and he’s only nine.

    • A month or so back one of the major papers (WSJ, IIRC, but maybe not) had a feature article on the problems caused by urban/suburban sustainable living twits who had tried their hand at raising chickies only to find it was not nearly so easy as imagined. City animal shelters were having to deal with abandoned chickens (and roosters) and were not particularly happy about it.

      • Oh come on, it’s easy enough to get rid of them if you get tired of keeping them. Just eat them, damnit. They are food.

        Some people… 😀

        • There was a Portlandia episode, (No. 1?) where they ordered the chicken and the waitress brought out the dossier, “His name is Cyril, and he was raised free range on a farm on Sauvie Island…”

          • Yeah, that episode was hilarious. It was funny because there are people like that out there.

            • My grandfather wasn’t into enviro-anything: he was a vet. For a while after he retired he had a small farm with a dozen or so cows. Visiting was an adventure: his freezer usually held a bunch of plastic bags, each neatly labeled with the cut of meat, and the cow’s name.

              • Dorothy Grant

                Philip Mignon tastes delicious.

                And he proved the old saying right – laid-back bulls who don’t cause problems get to be old bulls. Big, frisky troublemakers get to be meat. That’s one young stud who won’t be breaking a fence or threatening to charge a pickup again.

                • When I worked on a dairy farm as a teenager we always had one or two cows called Big Mac, the most obnoxious one or two in the herd. They usually lived up to their name in fairly short order if they didn’t shape up.

                  • Wayne Blackburn

                    My coworker with a farm had three turkeys, named Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Tom.

                  • In high school I raised two steers to pay for a new computer. They were “Apple” and “IIe”.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            A woman who rides my bus would be like, “Yeah, I met him and petted him three weeks ago. You got him in the deep fryer yet?”

          • Would you care to meet the meat?

  5. “And then we can all be equally poor. And maybe, for some people, that is enough.”
    Not just enough, for some it appears to be a requirement.
    Except of course for those hard working few, those intelligentsia who labor so long to keep us on course, to point out how horribly wrong we are to expect a better life for ourselves though our own efforts. They deserve the special privileges they always seem to allocate themselves. Anyone still keeping track of the number of golf games der leader has played as his just due for his oh so effective and successful administration?

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I believe I recently saw a posting that it was over 200.

    • A certain measure of low grade quality was the norm during humanities early evolution. In a band of hunter gatherers its actually pretty hard for anyone to accumulate a lot more stuff than anyone else,. If somehow he does f his neighbors decide he is a problem. might not come back from a hunt,

      This idea of basic “fairness”is I think hardwired into humanity.

      Its also a pretty good idea in that societies with both markets and a broad distribution of wealth end to do very well.

      The US had this at the founding and during he westward expansion but as it grows more urban and socially fragmented I am not so sure it will be able to have it and that bodes ill for the future.

      The problem is that the State doesn’t seem to be able to ease the difference very effectively. So Social Democracy can’t be made to work, distrbutism probably won’t and social credit is ineffective in a dynamic model and too expensive.

      Basically the end game will probably have to be a deflationary collapse or hyperinflation since the social structure keeps wide scale introduction of Fordism from being a solution.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        In a band of hunter gatherers its actually pretty hard for anyone to accumulate a lot more stuff than anyone else,

        Why? Do the things he makes and gathers somehow evaporate? Some people are more ambitious and/or driven than others, and will make more effort to do the things that give them more stuff.

        If somehow he does f his neighbors decide he is a problem. might not come back from a hunt,

        This idea of basic “fairness”is I think hardwired into humanity.

        You’ve confused the notion of fairness with envy and covetousness.

        Its also a pretty good idea in that societies with both markets and a broad distribution of wealth end to do very well.

        The US had this at the founding and during he westward expansion but as it grows more urban and socially fragmented I am not so sure it will be able to have it and that bodes ill for the future.

        I think you need to read actual history, rather than someone’s revisionist version. I’m not a great historian, but there are several here who are, and even I know that there was a range from those who lived nearly like Kings all the way down to beggars in the streets.

        The problem is that the State doesn’t seem to be able to ease the difference very effectively. So Social Democracy can’t be made to work, distrbutism probably won’t and social credit is ineffective in a dynamic model and too expensive.

        The only way the State has to “ease the difference” is by THEFT. AT THE POINT OF A GUN.

        And “distributism” has never worked, and CAN never work, because humans are, well… human. And because of the point above. People tend to resist theft when it becomes obvious.

        … the social structure keeps wide scale introduction of Fordism from being a solution.

        After looking up Fordism – It’s based on a structure of people actually working hard and producing the things they are hired to produce. NOT supporting lazy jackholes who slack off all day and don’t do anything productive (it also isn’t based on having a large Welfare State).

        The problem is not Capitalism, as you have intimated here before. The problem is large swaths of people who have learned that they can get by without structured labor, by playing the Welfare State game (all it’s forms, not just the program labeled Welfare), plus a combination of fomenting envy against those who have done their job to create wealth in this country, and telling whole demographics that they are mistreated simply because of the way they look, and that this should entitle them to treat those who are unjustly accused of oppressing them as The Enemy.

        • 1st off, this is my opinion here not a proven fact vis a vis the psychology

          Most everything hunter gatherers had was disposable and hand made. Certainly there was some specialization of labor but odds are you weren’t going to have much more than you could carry or use. Most people save the disabled could pretty easily accumulate that much thus the gap between the rich and the poor was well a bit of body fat. This condition was default for the vast majority of human existence and as such our evolutionary brains still expect the illusion of it .

          2nd The biggest leeches in the country aren’t the poor and the so called welfare bums but the corporations. I’ll leave you to decide the value of the numbers and I’ll note these do not include medical or social security but here they are
          http://thinkbynumbers.org/corporate-welfare-statistics-vs-social-welfare-statistics/

          Now certainly we could do away with corporate subsidies ,probably should but doing so requires us to have closed borders as other nations will use subsidy if we don’t and the competitive advantage the reap will destroy American industry. Most nations especially China might embrace markets but many, most are in fact our enemies

          3rd, the situation we have with so many on the dole isn’t easy welfare, most save the most dysfunctional would like to work for around 30 hours and make a nice living doing it, They may not be especially productive but most everything everyone does at work in offices is is a waste of time anyway. We could get by with one worker , 30 hours and have been able to do that for a nearly a century(Some trade exempted of course)

          what hitting everyone in the purse its the nature of the technology, There isn’t enough reenumerate work that can provide a decent standard of living, Between outsourcing, automation and the dramatic improvement in efficiency, its simply not possible for many in the lower half of the population to benefit much from work and its spreading fast to the middle and lower upper classes.. As for tax cuts, they only go into the bottom line of the corporation. No matter what incentives you offer only the rich get richer.

          If you want a society that works, we’ll need jobs and there is no reason whatever to assume people will ever hire if they have an option.

          The future is going to be moving form

          #1 Workers get paid

          #2 Workers spend money

          #3 Profit!

          to what people will think is

          #1 Robots do most jobs

          #2 ?

          #3 Profit

          fact is automated factory loads robots trucks (made by other robots of course) to stores with kiosks and robots and pretty soon you have a whole lot of idol robots and then you have a few choices, you can have growing dysfunction and poverty with a possible revolution (and a police state like we are getting) or you can have the European approach where native populations die back and are and the civilization they built is eliminated by attrition (can’t be maintained without people of that nation) or you could if very lucky get the Japan approach where people stop breeding and population declines by 200,000 a year (a proportional amount for the US would be 600,000)

          I’ll recommend Rivkin’s The End of Work written nearly 20 years ago

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_Work

          What you won’t get is the magic faerie bringing you a future worth living in.

          So by all means shrink the state I am in favor of it but be sure you have something functional to replace it (and hint it will not be multi national corporations or capitalism)or you’ll end up in a worse way and that freedom we all crave is a faint memory

          • I really find amazing how many of your assumptions are false. We know from archeological evidence that even hunter-gatherer societies traded among themselves. Indeed, sometimes we’ve found trade items that have been traded thousands of miles. Baltic amber in Eurasia. Seashells across North America. Flint and obsidian etc. Something they could not do without creating “surplus” ie., wealth. Likewise nomadic herding societies had large discrepancies in wealth.

            The marxian fantasy life is very damaging.

            • What in the world makes you think that suggesting that there was a smaller gap between the rich and poor means someone is a Marxist?

              I am a lot closer to a protectionist actually and in favor of markets and a strong economy that benefits everyone.
              Contrary to the Libertarian wing (or is the the Ayn Rand wing) its not a binary thing and economic regulation =/= totalitarianism

              That I don’t want is a wealth gap so great as the one we have now threatens social stability and a future society. Its not a coincidence that the greater the wealth gap, the more of a police state we have. Its happen before and will happen again.

              Now onto history, I am well aware of late neolithic trade routes and of course there was trade and margins of efficiency and all that, what I said was “there was a smaller gap than there was now”

              Having a few beads or some amber from the Baltic or better flints traded through many hands =/= equal the gap between say Bill Gates and a part time minimum wage worker as a percentage of the total neolithic economy. Most people didn’t perceive that level of inequality and when it comes to the economy perception is everything

              Also prior to (at most 10,000 years we have no evidence of huge accumulations of wealth in the hands of 1% of the population. Modern humans have been around 100,000 years or so and evolved considerably for as much as 200,000. This means if you run the numbers for 90-95%% of human history there was not a large wealth gap and until cities, nothing like we have now. we as a species evolved in different conditions

              • “Contrary to the Libertarian wing (or is the the Ayn Rand wing) its not a binary thing and economic regulation =/= totalitarianism ”

                The snark about Ayn Rand is a good clue that you are a troll. And yes, increasing economic regulation –> increasing totalitarianism. That’s a historical fact. The whining about “wealth gap” – when in fact our “poor” have historically record breaking living standards only reinforces that you are a troll. “Wealth gap” is about envy, not living standards.

                And your archeological ignorance is only reinforced by your lame attempt at dodging my points.

              • What in the world makes you think that suggesting that there was a smaller gap between the rich and poor means someone is a Marxist?

                Experience. There are only two ways to shrink the gap between the rich and the poor. One is to lower the income of the rich, the other is to raise the income of the poor. And lots and lots of experience in economics has clearly demonstrated that when the poor get richer, the rich *also* get richer — and tend to get richer faster. But when the rich get poorer, the poor also get poorer (though slower than the rich get poorer).

                A simplistic example to illustrate: if the economy does well enough that everyone, rich or poor, increases their income by 1%… the guy who was making $10,000 a year is now making $100 more per year. The guy who was making $1 million per year is now making $10,000 more per year. Now, that extra $100 per year helps the poor guy more, in relative terms, than the extra $10,000 per year helps the rich guy. But if you just look at the “income gap”, you’ll think it just widened by $9,900/year.

                Same example, reversed: say the economy takes a dip and everyone feels the pinch to the level of 1% of their income. The poor guy just lost $100 per year, and the rich guy lost $10,000 per year. And that $100 per year hurts him a lot more than the lost $10,000 hurts the rich guy. The rich guy may have to pass on a favorite vacation, but the poor guy might have to choose between paying the electric bill and paying the water bill in December, because he’s a hundred bucks short of being to pay both. But hey, the income gap shrank by $9,900 per year! Progress, right?

                If you answer “But surely we can raise taxes on the rich and use that money to raise the income of the poor,” then I refer you to my earlier statement that it Never. Ever. Works. That. Way. It sometimes appears to for short periods of time due to the constant fluctuations in the market, etc., but it never works that way long-term. It’s only the N% richest people in the population (where N varies but is usually less than 10) who have enough money to be able to hire other people to work for them. Not all the rich create jobs that way, but if you aren’t rich, you can’t afford to hire others to work for you — so only the rich create jobs. Reduce the wealth available for job creation, and you reduce the opportunities for the poor to get jobs and work their way into higher income brackets — and so, inevitably, the poor get poorer again.

                And if you complain that my examples are overly simplistic and you want to see some real data, I will first commend you for doing the homework so many are unwilling to do, and then refer you to http://www.americanexperiment.org/publications/reports/the-truth-about-income-inequality where they break down some real numbers. You’ll see the same effect there as in my simplistic example: when the economy gets better or worse, the top and bottom ends of the income gap always move in the same direction.

                So as we’ve seen, if the poor get richer, the rich get richer also, but the income gap widens. And if the rich get poorer, the poor get poorer, but the income gap shrinks. I now refer you to the Margaret Thatcher video I posted at the top of this thread. (Scroll up; it’s the second comment.)

                So my question to you is: would you rather have the poor get richer, or the poor get poorer? If you really want the poor to get richer, then STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE D***ED INCOME GAP!!!

                • income gap is short hand for “sanctify my envy!”

                • Well said, Robin!

                  If we destroy the incentive for people to work harder, it should come as no surprise that most folk stop doing that. Why should the “rich” create jobs when they derive very little or no benefit at all? It’s a sure thing government cannot “create” jobs without stealing that money first from the free market.

                  A.B. Prosper, you want a smaller income gap, yes? Then you want the economy to grow. A growing economy means more jobs are created, and more people can get back to work. For those jobs to be created, we need someone to hire them. For someone to hire them, they need 1) the money to do so and 2) a reason to do so. Profit is, by and large, the *most* common and important reason here.

                  So in order to create more jobs and thereby reduce the income gap, how can we make it profitable for the employers to hire? Reduce taxes and regulations would work. It has in the past. The employees have to be hired, trained, and do the job before the employer actually gets any benefit out of it.

                  To put it simply, when you punish ambition (higher taxes on higher earners) don’t be surprised when the economy stagnates, and the income gap increases. It’s easier to save money when you actually *have* money, let alone a job that produces said money. The economy is not a zero-sum game. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.

          • As you acknowledge it is opinion without facts, there is no need to rebut, merely smile and murmur “I don’t share that opinion. Not by a long shot.”

          • Wayne Blackburn

            I went to the link. It’s bunk. Given the very first paragraph begins with,

            About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.

            it’s almost pointless to go further. The first number is so far wrong that I think what someone did was to look up the actual number and divide by ten. If you look at the chart on this page, you can see my theory gives just about the same number if you count the tab labeled, “Welfare Programs and Other Entitlements”

            I went on, however, and looked at the link for the Corporate Subsidies. They mentioned a couple of subsidies that I would like to see gone, but what really got my attention was this quote:
            Despite the subsidies, U.S. automakers have not yet delivered a hybrid car to consumers, while unsubsidized Honda and Toyota have introduced the Insight and Prius hybrid models, respectively.

            That is just so false that I can’t wrap my head around how they expected to have anyone believe it. The Prius has been so heavily subsidized by the Japanese Government, that it’s ridiculous.

            A lot of the rest of your comment is nearly incoherent. “We could get by with one worker , 30 hours and have been able to do that for a nearly a century(Some trade exempted of course)” What does this even mean? Many companies now have fewer people than ever before, doing just as much work as the prior number, but it’s going to blow up soon, because most people cannot handle the stress level. As for working 30 hours a week and making a nice living? Can’t be expected for anyone not in a highly skilled job with low competition for jobs.

            As for tax cuts, they only go into the bottom line of the corporation. No matter what incentives you offer only the rich get richer.

            While there are a few examples of corporate execs who would pocket whatever money they could from such improvements in their bottom line, most realize what I pointed out above, and would hire more people to take the load off the ones who are overworked. I have read a couple of times in the past year or two that Regulations cost over $2 Trillion in compliance and lost productivity in this country. If they cut that by half, the explosion in GDP would rival a nuke.

            • Not only can people only handle so much stress, but 30h on paper is often 50 or so in reality. Geesh. I wrote about that. BTW AB Prosper uses an ever varying IP (his original one is still banned.) He/she/it is either using IP changing software or is a conglomerate. I don’t know what the purpose of posting is, but it’s burning me off that I can’t just block him/her. I might start trashing every comment as soon as I notice it because a) rotating IP. b) incoherent and annoying.

              • I was commenting about AB to Beloved Spouse, noting that he isn’t so much a troll as a monomaniacal bore, the kind of person you dread get stuck talklistening to at cocktail parties because, whatever the problem he invariably seems to come down to one prime cause.

                One-trick pony doesn’t quite get the concept; one-trick horse’s patoot?

              • I apologize for being a bore and seeming like a jerk. I love to argue almost more than anything and sometimes I don’t know when to quit.

                On account of having way worn out my welcome I’ll just keep my yap shut around here and just keep reading. Best of luck to all.

                • Someone named Paul Graham has a fun essay, “Mind the Gap”, that compliments some of these points made by you and by those refuting you. He points out that all of us, rich or poor, have been growing steadily richer over time.

                  What I find most striking about this essay is where he describes how technology (and capitalism, for that matter) have done what Marxism has always strived to achieve, but never come close to reaching: Equality between Rich and Poor. When we use quartz to keep track of time, the cheapest watches will be more accurate, and more convenient, than the expensive gear-and-winding ones; and the only reason why we can tell the difference between rich and poor cars is because of extensive advertising.

                  • These days being wealthy typically means getting the cool toys a little sooner and being able to store more of them.

                    Look at the number of things — home computers, cell phones, DVD players, big screen TV — which used to be incredibly expensive but are commonplace now.

                    I’d wager the typical middle-class car — say, Honda’s Civic or Toyota’s Corolla — is better by any practical standard you can apply than the luxury cars of forty years ago.

                    It might be an interesting project to create a web site devoted to the dispersal to the “working classes” of what were once high-end luxury goods.

                  • Envy can always persuade people that they are Miserably Deprived at not having what the rich have — even if it’s a place the rich have maintained — even while people are starving about them.

              • BTW AB Prosper uses an ever varying IP (his original one is still banned.)

                Whoops, if I had known that before I spent time writing my screed above about the income gap, I might not have bothered. Oh well, it’s still a useful thing to have written; I’ll recycle it the next time someone trots out the nonsense about how the income gap is widening and that’s a bad thing. (It’s a sign of good things — it means the poor are getting richer overall — but too many can’t see the actual causal relationships involved.)

            • Wayne, the other thing to look at is their definition of “corporate subsidy”; they’re probably using the same logic that defines normal depreciation deductions as “tax breaks and subsidies” for the oil companies.

              That sort of thinking highlights why I think there Will Be War: These people are unpersuadeable by fact and reason, too dishonest to trust around friends and kin, and as long as they have a shred of access to political power will never stop trying to enslave us all.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                I thought about mentioning that, but my comment was already getting long, so I left it off.

      • He needs his neighbors’ help carrying it about. Much more effective to have only as many knives, say, as the band might need any one point, and then you can carry other stuff.

      • A.B. Prosper, I highly recommend T.H. Breen’s book “The Marketplace of Revolution.” He talks about the economics of consumption in the northern colonies (MA, NY in detail) and points out that the ability to protest by non-consumption allowed the poor and dependent (women, apprentices, day-laborers) to participate in political life.

        Wealth was highly unequally distributed in the colonial and early national period. For every George Washington and Gouvenor Morris, you had the Regulators in the Carolinas, the tenants in the Hudson Valley (who opposed the revolution only because their patroon landlords supported it), and people like George Robert Twelves Hughes (see Young, “The Shoemaker and the Tea Party”), along with all the landless younger sons who turned to the trades or moved west, if they could.

        • Thanks for the book recommendation! Of course in the Colonial Era everyone was needed and the only way that labor costs could be kept down to a degree was slavery. .Now we have machines and a global labor glut with the same effect mitigated by welfare states which have their own downsides

          ,I am aware of the wealth issue . The Founding Fathers were wise men in many ways, the Constitution was a hell of a thing but they were at heart wannabe aristocrats.

          Whats lacking though is the ability to move West and forge anew, Some of this is the role of the State, i.e too much of it but most it is technology, population and economy of scale that makes it far less possible to DIY

          People are now crowded and urban and while lower growth rates and subreplacement fertility could reduce that, i doesn’t lead to a better or healthier society. Kept up to long and you have no society though I know of no historical evidence of such, decline yes (Justinian Rome) ultra longterm? No.

          • Um. You really need to be more careful with these blanket generalizations. Talking about a “global labor glut” is so much tripe without definitions. It’s a bit like talking about global famines and neglecting to mention that all of them in the last half-century or so have been caused by political mismanagement.

            “they were at heart wannabe aristocrats”? Now that, sir, is an outright lie. George Washington as asked to become King of the new USA and refused. He chose to retire from public life after two terms as President – a precedent followed voluntarily by many of his successors. Hardly the action of a wannabe aristo. For that you have to look to the White House now.

            There is no current wild frontier, but that lies much more to the discredit of various Presidents than any tosh about technology, population and economies of scale. DIY is alive and well – but only where the legal environment isn’t busy making DIY illegal (DMCA, anyone?) and penalizing innovation with laws that make it next to impossible for anyone to start anything.

            People have always flocked to wherever they believe they can find a better life. Right now the cities offer that. When the political and social environment is less hostile to innovation, innovation will thrive. When colonization stops being a dirty word, there might actually be a new frontier or two to work with. Antarctica. The Moon. Mars.

            Of course, your severe case of cranio-rectal inversion could be causing you to fail to see these things.

          • Of course in the Colonial Era everyone was needed and the only way that labor costs could be kept down to a degree was slavery.

            Umm, no. False premise. Several in fact. Among them, why do you assume slavery was cheap? Much cheaper to hire fresh off the boat micks and fire them when they wore out, I should think. That is what Yankee factory owners did. Best to avoid the upfront capital investment, especially for a non-disposable asset.

    • Playing golf is probably the safest thing for this country for him to do.

  6. I worked in a bookstore for a couple of years in the ’80s. Part time, a bit over minimum wage – I enjoyed it, had all the books I could eat – but finally I realized that as a long-term life it sucked mightily, and the economics of it made me realize that I simply had to find a real job.

    I never expected the bookstore chain to impoverish itself to provide ‘full time living wage’ work – that was MY job.

    I believe I’ve managed to teach my son that – the world doesn’t owe him a living, and he’s going to need skills that’ll provide for the lifestyle he wants to lead. (This switched his career aspirations from long-haul trucker to an interest in Pharmacy school. He’s just a sophomore – we’ll see what happens…)

    BTW, Sarah, I sent you a thank-you email to your Goldport address? Your mentioning the KDP system inspired me to get off my ass and try writing again. Thank you!

  7. I shudder to think what you’d do to the distributists if you ever ran into a bunch large enough to register.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I’m sad to say, sir, that your avatar makes me double-take. In the little thumbnail you look like one of my former co-workers, who is one of the ones who post stuff like the comparisons to Australia’s minimum wage, or comparisons between Costco and Wal-Mart wages, etc.

      • Sorry, that’s a picture from happier days and a bit of sentimental reminder. It stays.

        I’m one of a kind, very likely the only romanian byzantine catholic libertarian blogger and political reformer you’re likely to ever encounter.

  8. Expect to see automation in fast-food places accelerate if they get their demands. Also, consider that there is an oversupply of labor, so they don’t even have leverage.

    • There is an even greater oversupply of UNSKILLED labor.

      • Indeed.

      • Imho school is a training ground for low-wage jobs of today. 1- penalized when come in late, 2- penalized of you miss a day, 3- penalized if you are creative with your workload– and many more. 😉

      • Yep. Unskilled, LAZY labor, a bunch of it. Because there have been jobs, here, locally, that will pay you $10/hr starting out, and top out at $18/hr… Damn good for the backwoods of Southern Appalachia. But they are not easy work. Building trades, some farm work, things like that. I worked for a guy once who said he literally could not hire high school or college students. They’d show up, work one day at most, and not come back, because they just couldn’t hack it. Last I heard, he’d hired a crew of Mexicans- those guys he hired? They work like demons, roof a house in no time flat. Wish I’d stayed with him, it would have been nice to work with a crew that knows their jobs and does business at the run…

        As for the raising minimum wage, say they *do* raise it. Not to $15/hr, no, but maybe just $10/hr or so. When the price of labor goes up, the price of pretty much everything goes up. Like you said, companies *have* to make up that loss, and they pass it on to the consumer. That’s the only way to stay solvent, because you’re right, those minimum wage companies work on a damned thin margin. Back during part of the first Iraq war, I ended up basically working one week in four for free, just to keep a paycheck ($300/week before taxes). There were no other jobs to be had in the area, and I was lucky to keep the one I had (small business, simple mechanic and custom work).

        When the minimum wage goes up, the folks hurt worst by it are going to be the very ones who hope to benefit from it. Like those small businesses, they have razor thin margins, too. And when the price of everything goes up, even if they still *have* a job, some very hard decisions will have to be made.

        • I’ve seen that same claim in Jameson Parker’s blog (80’s actor, quit it and is now a writer – a gun nut): he has a small farm and wrote he tried to hire Americans to help on those times when he needs extra pair of hands there, but most of the kids he got either quit after a day or weren’t particularly good workers. So he also ended up hiring Mexicans after a while.

        • “They’d show up, work one day at most, and not come back, because they just couldn’t hack it.”

          I discovered last summer that there are jobs that I am simply not capable of doing. I worked less than half a day as a formsetter, breaking down concrete forms from a new basement & foundation and loading them on the truck. I was so exhausted after three hours that I was literally falling over and about ready to puke my guts up. I had never, ever been so fatigued in my life, and the Good Lord willing I never will be again. I knew it was hard work, and I’m not afraid of or “too good” for grunt labor, but I had no idea just how brutally hard it would be. It was a great lesson in humility to me, for all that it was terribly depressing to have a rare job opportunity fall through again. It makes me appreciate the opportunity I have now to make a small living working with my brain.

          • You are very right about that- and believe me, I know my limits, too. No way I could have hacked it at that job either. But you’d be surprised what a body can do, if you really have to.

            One job I took, oh, years ago, was washing cars. You’d think, no big issue, wash cars, get paid? But it was a whole lot of creeping down low to get wheels and the kickpanels, standing back up, twisting reaching and very Miyagi-like motions, constantly, fast. You’ve got to get as much done before the soap starts to dry as possible, and you can’t miss a spot. You have to wet the car down every four minutes or less in around 100F heat in the summer, or below freezing in the winter. No breaks so once you start, you *must* see it through. Man, was I humiliated when I came dragging home after the first day, absolutely wrung out, feeling about as tough as wet spaghetti. And hurting like nobody’s business the next morning. Fortunately, it wasn’t *too* far beyond my capabilities, because I wet back the next day. And the day after, and so on for a few years and worked up into other things.

            Some things you can work up to. I’d have to spend a lot of time lifting to be moving concrete forms for any time at all- really, a lot, and I’m not for certain I’d ever get there. Building the muscle mass and endurance necessary would be a major undertaking for me. But I believe most guys could, if they had to, especially guys who just have a naturally large frame anyway. I can’t hardly gain weight to save my life (shaddup. I know, I’m hated).

            • Concrete sucks. While I have never done it as a regular job I have wheeled more of it in wheelbarrows at different times than I ever want to think about. The worst had to be when I went and helped a friend one day though. We mixed two pallets (about 2 ton) of redimix by hand, and then had to pack it all underneath of a restaurant in five gallon buckets. We were replacing a hundred year old footing that had fallen apart and had to pack it halfway across the building in a 4 1/2 foot tall crawl space (I’m 6 feet tall) to where we were pouring it.

          • In my early twenties, I found out that I am not strong enough to push a wheelbarrow that is full. After two days, I went to the boss and explained that I would have to quit. I didn’t have the upper body strength for the job. He understood.

            • I had to quit one job after a day, after I found out I was no longer fit enough to do it. Picking strawberries. I used to do it as a kid, but at that last attempt I was in my mid-forties, and my knees could no longer take all that kneeling. Well, a few years later I was told I have osteoarthritis. Still in its early stages, but yes, prolonged kneeling can be a problem, as well as going down stairs. I can still do it for myself, but I can’t do it fast enough to get paid for doing it.

              Was humiliating. Ah, aging. Can hardly wait for more of it. Especially since I do know I’m still pretty damn well off right now.

            • I found out yesterday I’m radically deconditioned when it comes to upper body. My legs are fine, I walk a lot, but yesterday I mowed — okay 16 inch high weeds, but still –our neglected yard and did six hours of ironing, and then I couldn’t sleep,my arms hurt so badly. Had to take ibuprofin.

              • Dorothy Grant

                When I was finally got clear enough weather to get the airplane to my new home (pre-WWII airplane, summer of bad weather, 4000 mile trip. I blew a month just waiting for the passes to clear before I could even start out) – one of the first things I did was hit a gym and start aerobics and weight lifting, in order to get in shape for any potential job. When I got a job, I still lost 8 pounds in the first two weeks, and spent most every night I came home from work eating dinner & going straight to bed.

                I’d say I’m not 18 any more, except I get 18 year olds for subordinates who can’t take the work load and pace, either.

                • “I’d say I’m not 18 any more, except I get 18 year olds for subordinates who can’t take the work load and pace, either.”

                  Yes, I know I’m not nearly as tough or in as good a shape as I was at that age, and it really disgusts me when I get an 18-20 year old that I can work into the ground while barely breaking a sweat. I really don’t appreciate them whining and moaning about how hard the job is.

                  • Oh good GOD yes. I’m not sure I could do it now. But a few years ago, two of my sons went up to the church camp with me to help with some construction work. We only put in maybe 6 hours total and they were dragging while I was really just getting warmed up and ready to REALLY start working. They were 17 and 18 at the time, and looked at me like I was insane.

          • The question is whether you could have built up the muscle to do it — and whether he could have afforded to keep you on, during the transition period, since it takes a while.

            • Very true, and the latter answer would almost certainly be “probably not.” Which is why when things start to look dicey wherever I work, I tend to start excercising more. Helps with the stress, and I never know where I might have to go next. And I’m not eighteen anymore, so it takes longer.

          • I couldn’t make it as a painters helper though I did fine on endurance alone (so says my boss) at laying tar so I am with you there,

        • They made it illegal to do most of the things that one use to be able to do so folks could afford to travel and do those kind of jobs– ever look at what’s required to do a bunk house and one meal a day?!?!

      • The funny thing is that labor is only in shortage because we’ve illegalized so many businesses that would sop up that supply and bid the prices up, which is the sustainable long-term solution to any sort of oversupply issue.

    • Say hello to your new robo-chef:

      This Burger-Making Robot Could Revolutionize The Fast Food Industry
      ALAINA MCCONNELL
      NOV. 28, 2012, 3:28 PM 9,418 20
      The San Francisco-based robotics startup, Momentum Machines, is trying to revolutionize the fast food industry with an automated burger-making machine.

      The company plans to launch the first ever “smart restaurant” where all of the cooking is done by robots.

      “Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant,” Momentum Machines’ website explains. “It does everything employees can do except better.”

      And at a fraction of the cost.
      Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/burger-robot-could-revolutionize-fast-food-industry-2012-11#ixzz2cjXSqHiw

    • There’s a reason the pay is lower there – almost anyone can do it. Those who don’t care for it should, and I’m just spiffballing here, maybe find ways to make themselves more valuable to other companies/

  9. The owner of a local Chik-Fil-A franchise donated one night’s receipts to a local charity last year. Incredibly, he started getting flak for not donating a week’s receipts. He tried to point out to the critics that he didn’t pocket his profits — he had overhead to pay. He told me that he doubts any of the critics believed him. OF COURSE he’s rolling in dough; he owns a Chik-Fil-A franchise.

    When I was a kid, we still had John Southerland and Encyclopedia Britannica films that explained how things like businesses and economics worked. I meet lots of history teachers who’d love to bring those back, but no one where I work has the nerve to even bring up the subject. The inmates running the asylum would have their heads.

  10. A tangent, if you gentlebeings will forgive a rare digression*. The seminal work on the alimentary processing of the economically advantaged is, of course, this classic text from the pharmaceutically-inclined Dr. Burge: Feed Your Family on $10 Billion a Day.

    For the hoi polloi who must have their information in video form – or for you shameless Huns and Hoydens who prefer to ogle intelligent, erudite men of mature years – the esteemed Mr. B Whittle has graciously provided the information in a fine oral presentation.

    We now return you to your regularly-scheduled doom, gloom, and adorable kittens.

    * Why yes, I could use some help getting my tongue out of my cheek. I think I may have sprained something.

  11. Alas, the most recent fuss-and-feathers have muddied the search engine waters, but back in February or March, IIRC, activists raised a hue and cry over proposals by McDonalds franchisees to raise some prices off the dollar menu. This was declared to be unfair to the working poor and would hurt people who depend on McD’s for their food. (I want to say it was in LA and San Fran, but my {searchengine}-fu is weak today.) In short, no matter what McDs does, it is a tool of the antiChrist and clearly in league with Haliburton and Snivley Whiplash.

    Heck, I’d love to make more than $10/hr for what I do, but that’s what the market here will bear.

    • Imagine what they’ll have to raise prices to if they get the minimum wage upped on them. Then, folks will need a larger wage to keep up. Then prices will grow to pay for it. Then wages will have to grow to afford it again…

  12. I spent most of my adult life working as a Recruiter and eventually opened my own recruiting firm in San Francisco. However, I didn’t start there, I started in retail, working long hours for little money. Ashton Kutcher was right when he said opportunity is work. Most of us don’t start at the top of any organization, but you can get there from that low paying retail or fast food job, you just have to work at it. Working in a department store has an easy way to move up. First, start working in any department so you get some experience and learn how to work with customers. Then apply for a transfer to a commission based department, usually shoes and make up depts pay commission. I put myself through 3 yrs of college selling shoes, not very glamorous, but more lucrative than you’d think. Another good move is to get into the Administration dept, I eventually worked in the HR dept and learned much about HR laws and confidentiality. By the time I was offered a job as a receptionist at a national temp agency I knew what my career path would be, I could see it, which meant my goal was only time and work away.

    Eventually I made a very nice 6 figure income, but it all started from that first part time job selling blouses after school and on the weekends. Retail, fast food jobs are not meant to be your final career goal, these are meant to be your first jobs.

  13. Here’s a dirty little secret that’s perfectly obvious once you think about it:

    The government doesn’t want those CEO salaries distributed to workers because the workers pay little or no income tax whereas the CEOs pay a lot.

    It’s the CEOs, so to speak, who could shut down the economy by going on strike and I suspect they threaten to do so. So what does the government give them to keep them in the game? Crony capitalist favors.

    Welcome to corporatist America. Corporatism is what RINO Republicans really mean when they talk about entrepreneurship; if the establishment had its way, Jobs and Wozniak would never have made it out of their garage.

    In corporatist America, every business will be run like a regulated, unionized utility, with cushy sinecures and board seats for retired politicians and regulators.

    Forward!

    • People who get squeezed between Big Government and Big Business (and Big Labor) are a potential source of conservative votes. Reagan tapped it because he spoke their language.

  14. Did you know “that Sweden has passed the United States in hours worked per working age adults.” [ http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/08/this-is-just-embarrassing.php ]

    Apparently their socialist welfare state has figured out how to create incentives for people to work rather than go on the dole (see recent CATO analysis that a person who is gaming the system can legitimately have the lifestyle of a person working a $60K a year job — without the inconvenience of having to show up on time, dress for work or put up with a boss. See also recent reports about people filing for unemployment bennies under multiple identities. You could look it up.)

    There is a secret to working a menial, mind-destroying, soul-sucking job without having it wear you down. It is called self-respect. Keep in mind that while your job may be menial that doesn’t make you menial. Learn those tricks of the mind that enable you to ignore the sucky parts and focus on the important parts of working: you are working. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and find useful activities for your life. I’ve checked the fine print on the birth certificate very closely and cannot find where it says the world owes you a living.

    Oh yes — what you wanna bet those employees demanding a “living wage” are the first employees that would get fired if the business starts to falter? The lazy @!#&s who spend their time complaining about hard work and low wages are usually the ones doing least to earn those wages.

    • Excellent point. Self respect is priceless. The flip side of that, the stick to self respect’s carrot, is making being out of work bad. If you can live about the same, without having to spend gas to go to work and strive, why work at all? If being out of work means you have to scrimp and save, eat noodles without salt and shut off the electricity just so you can keep the water on, that’s incentive to get off yer butt and improve your lot. Being slothful should come with immediate penalties.

      If you are disabled, very sick, or the like, yes, we ought to take care of you as we can. I’m quite content with my tax dollars supporting grandma, who wouldn’t be able to work now in her eighties, or uncle Chuck, who lost his legs at the farm, and so on. But if poverty is really, truly *real* “po’ can’t afford to drive to the grocery store gotta ride the bus” kind of poor, having a job even if it is shoveling horsesh*t is a step up. And having that *attainable* step there can give a body the confidence to keep going, and see that he really can do better if he keeps working at it.

      Removing many of the consequences of sloth is also denying folks that first step up the ladder and the consequent self respect that can come with knowing you’ve *earned* your pay.

      • I’ve always seen being out of work as something shameful. I’ve used food stamps exactly once – and that was at the urging of a girlfriend who went “Well, they’re FREE – why don’t you use them?”.. and they were hers.

        Um, because they’re an admission I’m a failure? Might as well mark an “L” on my forehead and put a little sign around my neck – “This person is helpless and incompetent.”

        She didn’t have any problems gaming the system. I had problems with her, and thankfully the relationship didn’t last.

        • I never used foodstamps, though once — with a small baby and I was still nursing — we stood outside a soup kitchen. In the end we decided we’d get $20 of canned food from big lots and hold on till next paycheck, because we weren’t THAT needy. (We were recovering from six months out of work and paying on two houses because new job required going to another city and renting there.) We came up SHORT $200 a month every month for two years and would have died if we hadn’t had some space on the visa (which we paid with mastercard.) Then a raise came, the house sold, and we got to merely “tight” as in if I bought a paperback book, we ate bulk frozen veggies and rice for a week. (All meat for two years went to Robert. It was about enough for a toddler.)
          BUT we never took food stamps. (We probably qualified, but no.)

    • Re self-respect:

      Some years ago I quit my job with the intention of independently developing a product. I figured either my former employer would become profitable despite the poor management in which case my equity would give me a comfortable income, or my development efforts would succeed, The former still hasn’t happened despite the glowing annual reports; wrt the latter, I just had a friend critique my pitch.

      To my surprise, it appears that I may be eligible for food stamps in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

      It strikes me as unethical to pursue this option unless, heaven forbid shiver, I become truly indigent.

  15. I’m tired of the depression. I know that reality will bite, but as long as we have kids like this, all is not lost:

  16. Liberals are evil. The only question is whether or not they realize it. The fact that so many of them constantly and loudly proclaim their opponents to be camp guards indicates that at some level they’re aware that they’re the ones enthusiastically seig-heil-ing Hitler into power.

    • William O. B'Livion

      No, Progressives are evil. That you call them “liberals” is part of why they’re evil.

  17. When you start ranting about corporations’ obscene profits paid to investors, try to keep in mind that for the most part those investors are pensions funds, insurance companies, college endowments and the like, all of whom are (generally) investing present capital in order to meet future obligations.

    To put it another way: when you complain about high corporate profits you are complaining about dividends being paid to widows and orphans, so the question you need to ask yourself is — why do you hate widows and orphans?

    • There’s also the fact that there’s a difference between financial profit and economic profit. Investors have to make at least enough money to cover their opportunity costs.

      • Ayup – that is one of the elements comprising interest rates, as I learned in my Bus 30? course (ahem)-ty years ago. The simplest thing for a person to do is simply hold the cash, or to put it in a bank or into T-Bills. That essentially constitutes the “Risk Free Rate” that represents the minimum anybody should be willing to accept for their money. Any use of that money entails an opportunity cost, an additional risk, one of several:

        Interest Rate = Risk Free Rate (RFR) + Inflation Risk (IP) + Default Risk Premium (DRP) + Liquidity Rate Premium (LRP) + Maturity Rate Premium (MRP)

        The risk free rate (RFR) is the US treasury note/bond interest rates. The US Government has never default on note/bond and it most likely never will. If they do, our economy will have much bigger problems then the mortgage market crisis. That’s why so many investors around the world buy US Treasury notes and bonds, because they are safe.

        Inflation Premium (IP) is the amount of expected inflation to occur over time. Every one that has been to a gas station, grocery store, or mall has noticed goods and services are costing more. Just the other day, I was at McDonald’s and noticed the price of pancakes increased from $1.50 to $1.69 or 12.67%. Milk and Bread have increase much more then 12% over the past 6 months.

        Default Risk Premium (DRP) is the risk associated to the mortgage, loan, note or bond that they will note get paid back all of its original investment. This is a big problem with mortgages right now. The increase in foreclosures and declining property values cause investors to worry about getting all their money back.

        Liquidity Risk Premium (LRP) is how easy an investor can sell his loan, mortgage, note/bond to get its money back. This means what is the supply and demand for the particular product.

        Maturity Risk Premium (MRP) is the longer the term generally the higher the interest rate. However, the more liquid the market the less this is a factor impacts the rate.
        http://activerain.com/blogsview/431515/elements-of-interest-rates

        If I invest a dollar in your business, that is a dollar I don’t have available for other uses, such as dental work. During the time you are using my dollar it is losing value (thanks, Ben!) because of inflation, so that when you pay it back to me it won’t be worth as much as when I lent it to you. There is also the risk you won’t pay me back, either because your business failed or because you and your secretary emptied the cash accounts and ran off to Buenos Aries. And finally, there is the problem of converting my investment into cash in case the cat needs a kidney transplant. And all of that is before I get any kind of actual profit.

  18. In conversation with the Daughtorial Unit last night we discussed the primary advantage of corporations being “people”: it means you can make contracts with them. If corporations weren’t legally “people” you couldn’t hold them to warranties on your computer, cell phone or automobile. You couldn’t sue them for breach of contract nor for failure to meet implied warranties. You couldn’t “hire” Verizon or AT&T of Sprint for cell phone service, you couldn’t sell them your book or record or film concept for them to produce and promote and distribute.

    You also couldn’t assemble the capital for R&D of new drug and medical therapies if there were no corporations, because even if you could find somebody with the money to invest who would take the risk?

    Oopsie.

    • I remember seeing a bumper sticker “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas starts executing them!” I tried searching online for examples of corporations being “executed”; I was unable to find any particular example, but this notion that the State doesn’t kill (aka dissolve) corporations is rather silly–in fact, I would expect that Texas does it all the time, but the corporations that “die” are so small, almost no one ever notices.

      L. Neil Smith, in his justification for boycotting Smith and Wesson, said that corporations are creations of the State, so there’s nothing wrong with boycotting them. (I think that was his justification; it’s been a while since I’ve read it.) He may be right to an extent, but as far as I can see, a corporation is merely an extension of contract law, and so they can exist without the State just as easily as with the State: all we need to do is gather a group of people, create a contract stating the terms of association with regards to collecting profits, obtaining property, and so forth, and then create new contracts between potential business partners as the need arises. All this would easily happen because of this thing called “freedom of association”!

      And such a thing would have the right to own property, free speech, and so forth, because the people who make up the corporation individually have those rights, and so it is only natural to extend those rights to such an organization.

      • … such a thing would have the right to own property, free speech, and so forth, because the people who make up the corporation individually have those rights, and so it is only natural to extend those rights to such an organization.

        The primary difference between a government and a corporation is corporations don’t force you to pay fealty. Nor do they put on airs as governments are wont to.

        When a corporation is executed the proper term for the trial, conviction and carrying out of sentence is “bankruptcy.”

        • My mother used that Texas line on me and I immediately replied “They do, it’s called chapter 7 liquidation.” Her response was “That’s not the same.”

          She gave me life, so I will refrain from using the cluebat on her. But it’s a near-run thing.

          • Don’t. Honoring thy father and mother includes paying them the compliment of being intelligent enough to learn. To do anything else is akin to the liberal forms of racism that maintain minorities can’t be expected to show civil behavior.

  19. An interesting extended in-depth discussion of this topic is available at http://saleminteractivemedia.com/ListenLive/Player/HEWIIR until 1800 EDT Friday, August 23.

    Guest host Arthur Brooks —

    Brooks is the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles on topics including the role of government, fairness, economic opportunity, happiness, and the morality of free enterprise. His latest book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (2012) was a New York Times bestseller. Among his earlier books are “Gross National Happiness” (2008), “Social Entrepreneurship” (2008), and “Who Really Cares” (2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a classical musician in the United States and Spain. … Brooks has a Ph.D. and an M.Phil. in policy analysis from RAND Graduate School. He also holds an M.A. in economics from Florida Atlantic University and a B.A. in economics from Thomas Edison State College.

    — of the American Enterprise Institute uses the Hugh Hewitt talk radio platform for a three-hour exploration of economics and the economy, repeating the performance at 2100, Midnight, 0300 etc,

    Guests include economists Jim Pethokoukis and Michael Strain. Topics include minimum wages and income mobility.

  20. Teacher in Tejas

    Ms. Hoyt: I have a friend who works a scientific researcher and he looks at things with keen analysis. He once explained the rationale behind such articles as the one you analyze here as simply: “Opportunity Cost is a totally foreign concept to most liberals.” That is so true. The basic concept of the whole shootin’ match, (“If we do this we give up that” might as well be Sanskrit for the average Obama/Democratic voter.

    • Not to start an argument with your friend, but as far as Opportunity Cost being a foreign concept to liberals I can only say: if-only!

      If only it was a foreign concept we might have a hope of introducing it to them. Instead, it is anathema. Introducing the concept of “Opportunity Cost” to Liberalism is like introducing kryptonite to Superman. It collapses the foundation of their entire worldview. Because it entails the principle of “Trade-Offs” — the allocation of scarce resources between competing goals — the idea of Opportunity Cost causes Liberal Heads to implode, as their internal vacuum collapses their crania.

      Sadly, most liberals are born ignorant and proceed to lose ground from there. As has been said, the problem isn’t what they don’t know, it is that so much of what they do know is just wrong.

  21. Dang, Mrs. Hoyt! It’s a shame you are not a native-born citizen and can’t be President. Maybe you should do as Mike Williamson does and run for Dictatrix. Mike has hinted that he might hire me as a throttleman on one of his chippers if he gets in, and it’s time to chip the Flarduh voters and Flarduh LEOs. You could do it. You did vote the Monarchist ticket once, remember?

    I wouldn’t mind you as benevolent despot, as long as you don’t make the office hereditary. From what you’ve written about those kids of yours…

  22. For instance, the post called “If you don’t work you die” – which applies to society as a whole, i.e. a society that doesn’t produce enough to support itself will die out – got some left chickie (might have been male, I didn’t check. Was still a chickie.) ranting how I should have been a Nazi prison guard.

    Pretty sure you could get that from “water is wet” with some folks….

    • Not hard. Water is wet -> waterboarding -> GITMO -> Auschwitz -> NAZI!!!!

      • Don’t forget the petitions to ban DHMO that were being signed at environmentalist conventions.

        • On a somewhat related note, I have answered the question “What are they spraying?”

          It’s a mixture of DHMO, anhydrous carbonic acid, nitrogenated oxygen, and partially oxidized metamorphic lipo-proteins.

          • I can’t translate– what? (Hey, I’m not so good when the names aren’t mangled!)

            *keeps poking…*

            K…. so the second one would be carbonic acid minus water… so carbon dioxide, water…oh, yuck, did you basically just say “Say it, don’t spray it”?

            • It’s water, CO2, nitrogen oxides, and unburned hydrocarbons. Jet exhaust.

              “What are they spraying?” is the catchphrase for those who believe in chemtrails. They see the contrails from jet aircraft forming geometric patterns (because the FAA has commercial aircraft fly in designated routes) and assume the government is spraying mind-control chemicals on the population. Careful, this level of stupid makes Biden look like a Mensa candidate.

              • Oh, I remember the Chemtrails thing! (I love Coast to Coast AM)

                Thank you for the translation.

              • I thought it was Roundup®

              • I love how evidence of chem trails is the fact that these are “sprayed” over populated areas (where all the airports happen to be, coincidentally enough)…yet, when I am at a family reunion in the middle of Southern Utah (at a ranch near Bryce and Zion’s Nat’l Parks), I see these sprays too.

                The Powers that Be are so concerned with us, that they are even spraying those places that no one lives at! Either that, or maybe the chemical containers have sprung leaks.

                (Now that I think of it, a favorite XKCD cartoon pits World Trade Center conspiracies against Chemtrail ones: sure, jet fuel couldn’t melt steel, but what about the chemtrail chemicals–how hot do *they* burn?)

  23. Great stuff, Sarah! I’ve linked to this article on my blog, and quoted an excerpt from your article, then told all my readers to come over here and read the rest for themselves. See:

    http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2013/08/sarah-hoyt-hits-another-one-out-of-park.html

    I couldn’t agree more on the stupidity of the ‘living wage’ concept. When I was a youngster, my dad would encourage me to semi-earn ‘special things’ I wanted (e.g. a bicycle) by saving up half of the cost – he’d then contribute the other half. My pocket-money was 5c for every year of my age. Back then, one could actually do something with that amount, before inflation got worse and worse, but it didn’t leave much room for savings; so I had to work odd jobs and look for holiday employment to make up the difference. I got paid for extra housework (mowing the lawn, washing the dog, etc.) – not much, but enough to teach me that one had to earn money, not expect to be given it.

    As for holiday work, as soon as I hit my teens, I was allowed – encouraged! – to look for any work I could find. I worked Saturday mornings in a pet shop, cleaning bird cages and fish tanks (the combination of fish slime and bird poop on one’s hands has to be experienced to be believed!). As I grew more mature, I worked in an upmarket retail store as a holiday assistant (and you bet we had to be well dressed, cleaned and groomed, or else!). That’s how I got my bicycle (and its replacement), and a few other nice things like a tape player and some books.

    None of those jobs were at minimum wage. The assumption was that kids like me didn’t need it – that we had families who would keep our bodies and souls together. We were making money for the extras, the luxuries – so we could be exploited to work hard for much less than it would cost the stores to hire an adult, who would want to be paid more for his or her time. The stores were right. There was a never-ending supply of labor willing to be exploited like that. And you know what? We all learned, very early, that if we didn’t show up on time, work hard, and do what we were hired to do, we’d be replaced by someone else who would.

    Useful lessons, those. I wonder how many of the fast food workers cited in that Washington Post article understood that?

    • Yep. And thanks for the link.

    • When I got hired on to the yard there was one day during indoc where the unions could come in and talk about the benefits membership provides. I was considering joining, just for the opportunity to undermine the system from within, until one of the reps (who happened to be the guy for the union I would join) started bitching about a law Maine recently passed allowing teenagers to be paid $1/hr below minimum wage.

      “If you can pay a teenager less, why would you hire anyone else?”

      If you can’t offer something worth more than $1/hr over a teenager you deserve to be unemployed.

      • And I hear complaints about the kids’ generation. Because, you know, they don’t have work habits, etc. Yeah, and why not? Because no one trained them into them. Like Peter, I learned to work by working, from selling out excess tangerines at the door stoop (“If you pick them, weigh them and do the accounting, you can keep 3/4 of the money.”) at six, to tutoring by the time I was fourteen, to teaching when I was in college. NONE of that at minimum wage, btw. (And all of it under the table — hey, this was Portugal.) My kids have had various jobs, from renting out to friends doing yard work and needing strong helpers, to the current incursions into writing, to formal internships. And by the time they got to those, they were good workers, period.

        • Between minimun wage and excessive regulation, employers can’t afford to hire young teens any longer. Its almost impossible for kids under 18 to find work. When I was 17, I got a job through family working parttime in a light manufacturing plant assembling electronics. That job would illegal today for a 17 yr old.

          • Different states have differing rules on child labor, and what the USDOL calls hazardous employment for minors. (CFR 29 §570 – yes I had to look it up). Some states, Oregon included, just use the USDOL definition and don’t enlarge on it. For 16-18 year-olds it is dealing with explosives, radioactives, deep excavation, heights and operating powered equipment like vehicles, and operating grinders, mixers and compactors. These rules are explicit, but outside of the rules, at least Oregon employers are only required to get a certificate to employ minors where the employer has to describe the industry and the job to assure that it is not hazardous.
            In Agriculture, they used to use a lot of child labor, to the point that back before I was born they would postpone the school season so the kids could pick in the fields. I asked a berry farmer a couple of years ago why they didn’t do that still, and he got a smile on and reminisced about it, and said the real reason they didn’t was because of the SS and workers’ comp issues that were too hard to comply with for the minors.
            I suspect that the $8.80 minimum wage in Oregon has killed the strawberry crops for everything but fresh-to-market, and will push the remaining berry farmers into automation. Only very small growers, and pickers who can be shown to be “non-professional” pickers can be exempted from minimum wage requirements in Ag, nowadays, and since the USDOL has shown that they can not only have their own interpretation, but also choose their own facts to interpret, the risk of a fine for not paying minimum wage and attendant penalties and seizure of harvested crops may prove to be too great to risk trying for an exemption, and in fact may be to risky to even employ workers at all.

            • First chore I did. I must have been four. Woken up bright and early and set to weed the onions. “These are weeds. These aren’t. Now pull.”

              • I remember at age five or so walking behind the tobacco planter with a bucket of water and a few tobacco plants, filling in the gaps missed by my sisters and/or the planter.

                • Thanks for the reminder. For generations, for many small holders their tobacco crop was their cash crop. Most of what they farmed they consumed, but the tobacco was easily sold for a good return. Another case of collateral damage in the War on Cigarettes.

        • And that’s why I’m so worried about what’s going to happen when the money tap runs dry. A significant portion of the people addicted to government money are 2-3 generations removed from actually working. They have no idea how to get money out of labor.

          • Rob Crawford

            Sure they do. They watch someone else work, see the other person get paid, then they rob them.

          • Dorothy Grant

            Actually, they do. It’s very hard to live in the USA and never meet anyone who doesn’t have a job, and miss all references to it in popular media and culture. This doesn’t mean the information is always immediate and practical, but it’s not like they’re trying to translate sanskrit.

            I have several subordinates right now who are the first person in their household to ever punch a time clock. They need a little different mentoring than the 18 year old kids fresh off the farm. (The ghetto kids need more mentoring on showing up for work on time every single day, proper dress code, and saving their sick leave for when they’re sick. The farm kids need a warning about no horseplay with 5-ton machines, no practical jokes, and remembering to save their sick leave for the first day of deer season.)

            I usually lose one or two per group who can’t take the pace of work and the demanding structure; the rest adapt, improvise, ask questions, and thrive. This isn’t an afterschool special where they all become star performers, but they usually put in a good eighteen months before finding another, better opportunity and moving elsewhere – and some are going on several years, and starting to trade clubbing and partying with all the extra money for night school and grumbling about grades. See, once they’ve gotten a taste of getting extra money all their own that they don’t have to constantly fight an uncaring bureaucracy for, just have to show up and work, they often want more.

            • I know that people, even the ones generally considered dumb, have an amazing degree of adaptability, but it’s those one or two per group, multiplied by how many thousands of groups, augmented by those who never even bothered getting into those groups in the first place, that worry me. That’s not an inconsiderable force, and if someone *cough*Obama*cough* thinks that force can be used to seize power they would pose a formidable threat to liberty.

    • A friend of mine has done her best to do that with her two sons, but one of her problems is that the paternal grandparents keep sabotaging her. She has tried talking to them, but that doesn’t seem to work, she says they agree on principle but the next birthday or Christmas the boys will still probably get what they wanted. The older is now sixteen and tends to spend most of his time either playing computer games or with his friends, school work seems to be mostly neglected.

      Well, sometimes they do get start to get it once older. At least the boy’s father seems to have managed to get his act sorta kinda together after their divorce, at least as far as making his living is concerned. During their marriage – well, I pretty much lost my respect for the guy the time she was in very late pregnancy with the older son and we went to an SCA camp together, shared big tent, I woke up around sunrise and realized that the tent was starting to list badly to one side because the stakes used were too short and were starting to pull out, woke them up – and he stayed in bed. End result: the very pregnant wife and I were the ones who went to make larger tent stakes with an ax, and then to pull the tent back up and hammer those stakes into the ground while he slept inside. Jeez. I was badly tempted to try to drag her somewhere, maybe take the car and see if we could find an open cafe, and let the tent fall, except she was rather worried about her garb (mine were still packed, would have probably survived just fine :))…

  24. Carl Henderson

    The living wage people are dancing around the edge of a real and hugely difficult structural economic problem.

    As our technology continues to advance, more and more jobs can be mechanized, while simultaneously more and more jobs require higher levels of skill, education, and intelligence. This leaves more and more people unable to support themselves. They don’t have the skills they need, and are not capable of acquiring them. There is a real problem here, and no one, especially not any of the US’s major political parties, really knows how to address it.

    Retraining and education are not the answer. People are not fungible. No amount of training will make engineers out of most coal miners, nor coal miners out of most engineers. You can work on the margins a bit, but that only nibbles away at the problem.

    A welfare-state based solution (such as a guaranteed national income) has clear problems that have been explored in depth here and other places.

    Top-down government/corporatist solutions (mandatory living wages, increased unionization, tax breaks for businesses engaged in “good” behavior, restricting “disruptive” technologies, “protection” for politically favored industries) lead to their own host of problems.

    Ignoring the problem leads to a mass of angry, desperate people who are disconnected from the broader society. Regardless of the human cost, history has shown this is a Very Bad Thing.

    I don’t know how to fix this. My own political beliefs (libertarianism) don’t really offer an answer either–though unlike the major parties in the US, a more libertarian state would at least not be making the situation worse as fast as the Democratic and Republican parties are.

    • Sorry, Carl. While there IS something in that, I’m not sure it’s everything. I remember in the seventies they were also talking about how the opportunities had outgrown people’s intelligence, blah, blah, blah. Then came Reagan. There will always be a market for human servers, etc — but the regulations only make them harder to employ (not easier.)

      • Carl Henderson

        It’s not everything, but it is a Fairly Big Thing. And it is a Thing that is going to only get worse over time (barring some sort of improbable total technological collapse). I’m not disagreeing with you about regulations. As I said in my initial post, “top-down government/corporatist solutions” are not the answer. I don’t have an answer. But I don’t think any of the existing fashionable 19th and 20th century economic and political theories even begin to address the problem.

        • Dorothy Grant

          Not really. Old jobs are automated, new jobs appear, and as the standard of living goes up, more items/services are available for retail. We no longer need fleets of grooms and horse-apple removers for the taxi cabs, as they’re no longer pulled by horses. But in the south, a lot of folks sure find themselves needing window tinting and lube & brake jobs on their cars, air conditioning servicing and installation and termite inspection / pest control on their houses, transmission repair and body work on their cars… jobs that didn’t exist when horses pulled all cabs, but are pretty common now.

          • Carl Henderson

            The examples you gave are good examples of what I’m talking about. The skills and intelligence needed to saddle and brush a horse, or to collect horse manure are less than those needed to repair a transmission or service and HVAC system. What happens when the transmission repair and HVAC service jobs are replaced by even more complicated jobs? And those successor jobs by their successor jobs, in turn? I may be worrying about 22nd century problems, but we as a species are not getting smarter.

            • I don’t believe that it is a question of getting smarter, most tasks are not rocket science, and jobs like caring and saddling horses are actually more complicated, and require greater training, than ripping out ductwork to repair an A/C unit (that requires a ladder, gloves and an angle-grinder and tolerance to moldy fiberglass)
              The fancy stuff on an HV/AC unit is nowadays mostly modular or in the wiring. The hard part is not replacing it, besides needing an arm with an extra joint, it is in diagnosing the fault., And that was the precise issue with caring for a horse.

            • And as for complicated… Well, we’re tool users. When’s the last time you saw anybody using a slide rule because there wasn’t anything else? Heck, the guy who escaped the Nork’s prison camps is using a cell phone and getting on with technology pretty well, and that’s a huge jump in relative tech (culturally it might be even larger).

              As a species, we’ve not even come close to our limits. There’s so much more that’s possible, heck, the science fiction we dream of today might be “old school” by the time out kids are our age.

              Now, we may not have cheap lift to LEO like I’d want by then and asteroid farming, but hey, I’m just greedy like that. *grin*

            • Obviously you haven’t spent much time around horses if you believe what you are saying.

        • I think people will find their own solution if they stop waiting to be spoon fed. of course, they trained to be spoon fed, so…

          • Carl Henderson

            Most people in the US are still educated in government-run schools still based off of educational theories intended to produce well-socialized, interchangeable workers for manufacturing as it existed a century ago. Combine this with an overlay of pop Marxism and “you are a victim”, and you are lucky to get people who can handle being spoon fed.

            I think I’m overly pessimistic tonight. Or turning into the “kids these days” guy.

    • Humbug. Your argument (and this isn’t the first time I’ve run into it) is basically the same as saying serfs need to be tied to the land because those simple farm workers lack the intelligence to do anything else. It was bollocks then and its bollocks now. Along comes the Industrial Revolution and those same farmers figure out pretty quickly how to make products at a rate and quality that skilled artisans of previous generations could only dream of. Allow the system to progress and we’ll find uses for all of those “low-intelligence” people. And they’ll figure out some place to be productive. Or someone bright will figure out a way to use them to be productive, which is a distinction without a difference. Do I know what those job are? If I did I would be setting up a business and making billions, not looking forward to 20 hours of overtime this weekend.

      Can we do much for the current generation? No, they’re pretty much screwed. But if we keep the system in stasis for the benefit of this generation we simply trap the next generation and deprive everyone of the benefits of innovation.

      • I observe that in actuality the end of serfdom predated the Industrial Revolution by a couple of centuries at least.

        • Yes, because of the agricultural revolution which fueled the industrial revolution. (Actually true. Check it out. Or ask Suburban.)

          • There were a lot of agricultural revolutions, but they’re almost never mentioned in school. Crop rotation and horsecollars are all you usually get. Oh, and water mills and windmills. There’s some stuff the Romans didn’t have and would’ve loved. Who knows what geniuses came up with them. Oh, and the New World crops helped a lot; so did all the breeding of better and better strains of fruit and vegetables and grains.

            But there was plenty of draining marshes, fertilizing and pulling out rocks, and generally turning bad pieces of land into good pieces of land, all throughout the Middle Ages. There were also less benign things, like making farms more efficient by getting rid of all the small tenants, and then going over to nothing but sheep in areas that used to support people. Tiny little increases in productivity, so that even as climate got colder, Europe managed to do okayish and then more than okay.

            Maybe somebody should do a farm history epic? Showing farmers as smart instead of helpless serfs?

            • If you get those, you are lucky beyond belief. The cliche of the static Middle Ages is too popular.

            • I am of the firm belief that the industrial revolution in the US was by and large created by New England farm kids tired of pulling up rocks.

        • Depends on where you’re talking about. In Western Europe the big cause for the end of serfdom was the Black Death. It’s kind of hard to keep someone tied to the land when they can just walk out one night, hack something out of the forest, and set themselves up as a freeholder.

          But the argument has been repeated over and over whenever there’s been a fundamental shift in the economy. Those in power say they have to keep the system static because those at the bottom are unable to learn a new way of earning a living. Every single time that assertion has been shown false.

          • The degree of ingratitude you display for the kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice of Those In Power is sad, so very sad. Those In Power are forced to bear the burden of maintaining the status quo, ensuring that those unable to appreciate it are prevented from getting their grubby hands on the controls, and they get darn little thanks.

            When I think of the era in which I was raised
            And I see how the world’s gone to waste,
            I confess that I’m constantly shocked and amazed
            At man’s singular lack of good taste.

            For taste is like justice – we live by her laws.
            It’s so easy to tell right from wrong.
            Most people don’t bother;
            Most people are whores.
            And a few bores who do, don’t for long.

            There are so many things I remember
            From the deeply revered days of old
            When living was gentle and gracious
            And working folk did as they’re told.

            They were wonderful days, I remember,
            When a feller could live like a king;
            And children were working in coal mines
            And life was a beautiful thing.

            But the fortunes of mankind are changing;
            Things aren’t what they were anymore;
            And although I’m in no way complaining,
            By Harris and Tweed, I preferred it before.

            Ah, but why think of May in November
            When December is all that you’ll get?
            Man lives with a lingering ember
            And while there are beautiful things to remember
            The ugly things one should forget!

            • Yep, I’m an arrogant bastard who thinks for himself, realizes his capabilities and weaknesses, stubbornly holds on to beliefs until presented with contrary evidence, readily adapts to changing conditions, and holds in contempt all those who think they’re better than me. In other words, an American.

      • Carl Henderson

        No. My argument recognizes that all people are not equal, nor are they fungible. Different people have different maximum levels of intelligence, physical ability, etc.

        We are already at a point where a significant percentage of the population can’t find a job. (And–this probably goes without saying–but pay no attention to the official government unemployment figures; true unemployment is way higher.) Thus the people that are working end up working to support the people who are not working (some of which choose not to work, some of which can’t find work). Such a situation is bad for both the workers and the non-workers.

        The best near-term solution I can think of is increased economic growth, so that the marginally employable can more easily find work. But for that to happen, the government needs to get the hell out of the way. I don’t see that happening anytime soon. The major differences between the Democrats and the Republicans seems to be what they want to spend money we don’t have on, which of our rights would they like to take away first, and who’s cronies get first position at the federal trough.

        I think you have seriously misread me if you think I want to keep the system in stasis. My major hope for improvement is human ingenuity. I believe that improvements in (or the occasional loss of) science and technology are the major drivers of history. Perhaps the problem I’ve described is one that can be solved by technology. Maybe in the future everyone will wear Augmented Reality contacts constantly streaming the information needed in certain situations to them. Maybe we will genetically engineer ourselves to be smarter. Who knows? It will probably be something that no one has even imagined yet.

        • We are already at a point where a significant percentage of the population can’t find a job.

          After reading http://profoundlydisconnected.com/your-headline-my-face/ (and especially the part near the end about 3.7 million jobs that can’t be filled, 600k of which are in manufacturing) I am starting to seriously question whether the truth is “can’t find a job”, or whether the truth is “aren’t willing to put in the work required to do a hard job, even if training is offered”. Because while there will always be some people unable to do any given job due to physical disabilities, not having the mental capacity to learn the necessary skills, or whatever (depending on the job’s requirements)… if nobody is showing up to fill those jobs, the problem is not the level of the job’s physical/mental requirements.

          I’m afraid the problem is a cultural one, where large segments of the population have been taught that they “deserve” a fulfilling job, and they aren’t willing to take the hard, dirty jobs that may not be what they “want to do for a career”, but would pay better than unemployment. (And when unemployment plus all the other welfare benefits pay more than those hard jobs, as was reported recently somewhere — Instapundit linked to it, I think — that’s a separate structural problem of its own.)

          But considering how many jobs can be learned in just a couple weeks to a couple months of training — not the theory behind how the machine works, necessarily, but “here’s what you need to do to operate the machine” can usually be taught quickly — I’m not inclined to be nearly as pessimistic as you regarding people’s ability to learn new jobs. What I’m pessimistic about is people’s willingness to work hard. Mike Rowe is doing stellar work in trying to get hard work and dirty jobs to be recognized as good things, but one man alone can’t change the culture. It’s vital to be training any teenagers we have influence over (whether our own kids or the kids of our friends) to think of hard work as “something to be respected in all forms”, as Mike put it. The more people working on changing the culture, the more it will actually change.

          • Carl Henderson

            According to the article you linked to the “3.7 million jobs” number comes from Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Their most recent numbers (at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.nr0.htm ) cite an even higher number of “3.9 million job openings on the last business day of June.”

            This would be impressive evidence of a robust economic recovery underway if the Bureau of Labor and Statistics were not lying its ass off. How do I know they are lying? They are the government. It’s what they do.

          • If those job openings are being reported to the gov’t, then some of them are “can’t get anyone to fill the position… in northern Cali… by advertising in San Diego.” (This one is largely because of guest-worker rules.)

            Others are “can’t get anyone to fill at the price we’re offering.”

            Still others are “our requirements are too high.”

            And way down later is “people with the skills we want aren’t answering our ads” and “there just aren’t folks who have the skills we need.”

        • The reason that ~35% of the population can’t find a job is because government regulation has killed their jobs, not because they’re too stupid to work.

          There isn’t a single task that cannot be broken down into steps capable of being performed by a non-disabled person. It’s just that it’s usually easier and cheaper to hire one person to do it. Hell, I could teach anyone on this board how to operate a nuclear reactor 90% of the time in about 40 hours. The reason nuclear operator training lasts years is for the other 10%.

    • It does look that way– in part because we don’t “see” the jobs that are built in– much less the ones that would be popular, if it were allowed.

      I’ll bet folks didn’t even think about how many people did horseapple removal until it was pretty late in the game– they probably never figured on a need for a “lawn service,” either! Rich folks had gardeners, but someone going around and mowing a lawn once a week?

      There are some jobs I’d love to hire folks to do– say, a less-than-double minimum wage job to go dump gravel in potholes. Possibly dumping hot tar in first.
      If you catch them early enough, you save a mint on repairing the gaping maw…but at a three man crew on union wages taking all day on one pot hole, it’s not practical.

      Computer recycling is barely touched on– but it doesn’t take a third of the training of grooming a horse acceptably to be able to disassemble old computers and sort the parts.

      Basic caretaking goes on a lot in the shadow economy– and has a lot of predators because of it, which is darkly amusing because it’s the very expense of being a basic hour-a-day caretaker that makes them so expensive.

  25. The problem with minimum wage is that it’s always minimum wage. Raise minimum wage and over the next 2-3 years wages for higher paid people go up, prices inflate and we’re back where we started. When I was making minimum wage back in the early 1970s – less than $2 an hour – I did better in terms of purchasing power than someone making minimum wage today – over $7 an hour.

    Plus, look at how unemployment increased after the last minimum wage increase. Is it just a correlation or is there a causal relationship? Not sure, but it seems reasonable that there may be at least a partial causal relationship.

    • I think several union agreements specify that their workers will be paid some multiple of minimum wage. That’s what I think is behind this recent push. It has nothing to do with “living wage,” it’s all about politically rewarding Big Labor for helping Shortbus get re-elected.

      One of the benefits of inflation is that it gradually erodes idiotic price floors like the minimum wage to their rightful value: 0.

  26. William O. B'Livion

    First of all there’s that scale thing – Australia – and most other countries, even those that are our area – are much smaller and less diverse in population.

    The smaller part is true, the “less diverse” is rapidly changing. In the town I lived in a *significant* percentage of the entry level jobs were from non-Aussies (and non-Americans. Because of the base there was a significant number of US spouses who had work visas. Maybe even some of hte older kids). This was also true in a lot of the tourist areas (Sidney/Bondi beach, Cairns, Brisbane/Gold Coast area).

    Noteably this wasn’t true in NZ. Gawd what a beautiful country. If their gun laws weren’t so obnoxious and I wasn’t too old I’d consider emigrating.

    Second, Australia might avoid the collapse that comes at the end of that longer than most because it has wilderness,

    It’s not the wilderness, it’s all the really, really useful stuff IN that wilderness. Thing is that stuff is only useful if (a) someone is willing to pay for it, and (b) someone is willing to go get it. If your local residents are willing to go get it you wind up importing labor. If you import labor you increase cultural diversity which *tends* to increase friction and reduce faith in civil institutions.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2013/06/24/australia-mines-china-education-boom/

    a tradition of self-sufficiency

    Also going by the wayside. Even the nominal conservatives out there are looking to the government for everything. It was rather disgusting and disheartening.

    AND is not stupid enough to give lavish benefits to the unemployed – their unemployment benefits are JUST enough to barely keep body and soul together.

    The more trouble labour gets into the more it buys votes with the public coffers.

  27. William O. B'Livion

    Sorry, buggered the slash-blockquote there.

  28. “But then, of course, there’s robots. The robots that CAN operate most fast food chains exist. They’re not being bought because – like when I spent a summer in Germany ironing sheets, despite their having an ironing machine – humans are cheaper. Or at least they don’t require upfront investment.

    “Make it so humans are more expensive than machines and the machines will be bought. And there will be more people out of work.”

    Not just the burger-flipper machine mentioned upthread — due to their declining birthrate, the Japanese are working on robots to replace *all* Menial Laborers (since the alternative is Admitting Gaijin…)

    I figure by the time I reach the end of my life, the only “human touch” jobs left will be as living sex-toys for the Programmers — everyone else will be Arena-Fodder.

    (Who says Dystopias have to derive from Disasters…? >:) )

    As to the drones walking out on their Jahhhhhhhhhhhhhbz:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYqF_BtIwAU . >;)

  29. Sarah, I quickly scanned the comments, and didn’t see anyone making this comment, buy apologies if I missed it. You overstated the number of McDonald’s by a factor of 100 (actually a bit less). There are about 33,000 worldwide and 14,000 in the U.S. I’m just waiting for someone to hop in and debunk your entire case based on that.

    But here is the really fun part, say we do adjust your numbers. And lets say 10,000 US restaurants for ease of math. That $30 per restaurant becomes $3,000. A full-time employee works 2000 hours a year. That means only one employee can can get a $1.50/hr. raise per restaurant. It still doesn’t do my (hopefully) hypothetical debunker any good.

    BTW, I got my numbers from about.com, which referenced both Wikipedia and the Associated Press to back up these numbers of restaurants, so I’d say that is enough attribution for most.

    • Ah — I never remember I can look that stuff up! But still 10,000 seems low considering how ubiquitous the establishments are.

      • Well, if those numbers are accurate it would mean 1 McDonald’s for every ~22,000 Americans. Which, assuming they’re evenly distributed through the population, would mean Colorado Springs should have around 20. Google says there are 24.

      • Their website says it’s 14, and I’d wager a guess that those ones tucked into corners of malls and stuff don’t count as “franchises” but as “outlets” or something.

      • True, its actually 14 thousand in US, but low-balling that number makes your math even more glaring, like Wayne Blackburn says in his comment.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I thought of that, but was too lazy to look it up.

      I wanted to go a bit further, though, except that I’m still going to have to pull numbers from my nether regions to avoid working for it: Assuming that the average McD’s has approximately 20 employees, if they were to distribute that $3,000 per restaurant, it would only come up to $150 per employee. Per year.

      Even if it were the higher number, which would then become $30,000 per restaurant, that would be $1,500 per employee, equaling $0.75 per hour. And if you figure it for the 33,000 stores instead of the arbitrary 10,000, it becomes less than $0.25 per hour.

      I’ve done this same kind of analysis for those who complain about Congress making so much money while saying they have to cut Social Security or Welfare or Medicaid. I think I worked it out once to show that even if they gave up all their money, it would only come up to about $30 per year per recipient.

      • My frustration with that is a matter of principle. You don’t tell the citizenry to suck it up, and then vote yourselves another raise. And bonuses. And an exemption from the healthcare nightmare you passed into law because cowardice. Ad nauseum.

        Which I know you weren’t touching with the proverbial 39.5 foot pole, but I just had to go there. *grin*

        • Exactly. You don’t say that sometimes you’ve made enough money, then give million dollar parties and have your dog flown by special plane.

          • That’s not a special plane. It’s a bleeding miracle. That bastard chimera shouldn’t work, and didn’t for a couple of decades, IIRC.

            As to “you’ve made enough money,” tell it to Soros, you coward. How much has your nest egg grown while you’ve been in office? You, too, oh caesar, art human, and it’s going to bite you one of these days. Hard.

            • William O. B'Livion

              I was 20 years old when they first flew the prototype into New River Air Station in 1988 or 1989.

              I next saw a flying one over Baghdad International Airport in 2009.

              • I see them weekly, still don’t really believe them. Great moment was a few summers ago when I was at the U of NM in Albuquerque, eating dinner outside and trying to absorb some heat (super-duper AC in the archives, let me tell you) and four of the beggars flew over on final approach to the Sunport/ air force base. Loud, low, and slow, made all the hippies cry. It was great. 🙂

        • I’m considering starting up The Daily Prophet, with loaded semantic quotients. (Those who have read Revolt in 2100 will GET it.)

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Great Grinch reference. 🙂

          Yeah, the other stuff skeeves me off, too. It’s just that people who won’t take the time to figure things out ranting about “take the money from them!!!” make me want to simultaneously gouge out my eyes and ears. It’s bad enough that my bus goes past an “Eat the Rich” art display in the mornings.

          • All of that is pretty amusing to those of us old enough to recall the Reagan years when his tax cut proposals were dismissed by Democrats as being only enough to buy a family of four a pizza once a week.

  30. “And I do realize neither of them is probably a graduate of economics.”

    But they can probably balance their checkbook every month. That is all you need to understand economics, it is like knowing your multiplication tables, if you know them you can work through any multiplication or division problem, no matter how big the numbers, simply by breaking them down.

    I have to leave and don’t have time to read the comments, but I can’t believe there are only a little over a hundred of them, the morons who can’t or won’t (mostly it is won’t, they have the mental capacity and tools, just refuse to use them) understand basic economics makes me froth at the mouth.

    • There’s an idea floating about the webs that suggests eliminating the extraneous zeros (“from Congress?” he asks with much eagerness. Nein, it is not to be, dammit. “three useless men form a Congress!”) from the nat’l budget numbers and treat it as a household budget.

      So, 3 trillion becomes something like 30,000, and our minds can actually grasp it. Anybody can tell that when you’re bringing in 20k a year and spending 30k, you’re not doing it right. But the statist economists argue that it’s not that simple. It’s complicated, and you need big complicated degrees to understand it. Sure. Right.

    • These days it is no longer necessary for them to balance their checkbook every month — they just go through their bank’s portal and check their balance in real time. Since virtually all of their transactions are by debit card the checks outstanding are few enough as to be irrelevant.

      Most never learn multiplication tables. That is part of the dreaded “Drill & Kill” that the schools have long since abandoned. One of the side effects of learning the multiplication tables is that, just as push-ups (themselves a useless ability) build upper body strength, learning the multiplication tables builds memory capacity, enabling the beneficiary to hold complex ideas and work through their implications. Who needs that ability?

      • My kids. I made them learn them. And it was hard, because I STILL say my multiplication tables in Portuguese. That and praying never translated.

        • Dorothy Grant

          Just about everybody in the blue-collar end of logistics, and absolutely everybody in the white-collar end in logistics.

          If you can’t look at one incident and scale for effect up and down the chain, you can’t figure out how immediate and drastic the response needs to be.

      • “Since virtually all of their transactions are by debit card the checks outstanding are few enough as to be irrelevant.”

        Or direct online payment, or auto bill pay, or….

        I may be an extreme example because I’m a road warrior, but I’m down to writing and mailing maybe 5 checks in a year. Period. I know exactly why the Post Awful is going belly up.

        • I’m still on the one book of starter checks that came with my account that I’ve had for ~10 years.

        • I use mine for church, and the bank mails checks for things like our rent, garbage service, all three health insurance flavors and those doctor’s offices that don’t take cards.

          It’s not so much the lack of folks mailing checks as being designed for the comfort of its workers….

  31. I worked for a Papa Johns at one time (not a good job. Being shot at is a good story, but not fun.) I remember seeing the managers all standing around acting all congratulatory. This was a new store, and they’d been open like four months, and so I asked ‘what was up’. It turned out, my slightly embarrassed respondent said that ‘everything in the store save the pizza oven’ had been paid for by the first four months. Pretty sweet ROI.

    Found out that you could buy a pizza dough for a quarter. That you could deliver pizzas to a college and stand about hoping to sell them for four bucks and still make a profit.

    Now this was a good while ago, but….

    Razor thin margins?

    How about some folk enjoy kicking other folk in the teeth, and they do this by deliberately underpaying them. People LIKE Slavery. They LIKE mistreating their fellow man. It feeds that sense of “I’m such a special/brilliant/hard-working Snowflake”.

    Now I should not yell too much because you at least have sympathy for those on minimum wage, whereas many on the Right don’t.

    The best solution to this….Christian ethics and limited gov’t.. But be wary….the Cotton Planters had a tight labor market, supposedly Christian values in Colonial America. Given a choice between paying high wages for a wretched job (picking cotton) which was very valuable, or importing slaves to maximize their profits, and keep that Sense of I’m Better Than My Fellow Man….they introduced Black Slavery. And that worked out real swell.

    I’m done ranting.

    • “How about some folk enjoy kicking other folk in the teeth, and they do this by deliberately underpaying them.”

      No doubt.

      What’s that have to do with the price of AK’s in Peshawar?

      • What’s that have to do with the price of AK’s in Peshawar?

        I’m still waiting for the run on 12-ton hydraulic presses. Need to get one before the hoarders claim ’em all.

    • Oh, please! No seriously. Oh, please. Razor thin margins. Your “it was a long time ago” is the key. Taxes. Benefits. Crazy environmental stuff. Razor. Thin. Margins.
      Also, for the record, it’s not slavery if you can walk away and find another job — and if the government gets its dirty mittens out business, the economy will do well enough that they can.
      NO, most people don’t like slavery. On either end. Yes, there are some — but why would you accuse the entire race of the sins of a few.
      Oh, and btw, even if they paid for it in four months, it HAD to be bought up front. Who will do that, if they can’t make ANY profit?
      Also, while at it, Christian Ethics? How are you going to enforce those in a nation with freedom of religion? Or does you totalitarian instinct call for abolishing that too?

      • William O. B'Livion

        http://www.franchisehelp.com/industry-reports/fast-food-industry-report

        In such a fiercely competitive space it is impossible to force a price increase on customers, so profit margins are often south of 10%.

        http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_Average_McDonalds_Franchise_net_profit

        The average sales volume per McDonalds Franchise in 2008 was $2.3 million per year, per the 2009 McDonalds FDD Franchise Disclosure Document. The highest performer in 2008 was 9.5 million. The lowest had sales of $491,000. Average profit margin per Franchise runs about 10% of sales per Mr. Franchise of Franchise Foundations, a Professional Corp.

        BestBuy’s margin is usually 2-5% percent IF they are running a profit (http://ycharts.com/companies/BBY/profit_margin, http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Best_Buy_%28BBY%29) so I wouldn’t use the term “razor thin” for 10% profit margins, but it’s not a generous pad.

        However most people don’t even get “franchise”, much less the greater economic theory.

      • Good grief. Where to begin. How about at the top.

        Twenty years ago. Its still pretty much the same world. We had pretty much most of the same evils then as now.

        Reading Comprehension….slavery…Lowland Planters…..Colonial America….when I make my point about slavery, I’m mentioning Actual Slavery.

        And of course it had to be bought up front. There is no manufactory fairy. But, being able to pay for most everything in 4 mos. means that your ROI is absolutely enormous.

        And who said anything about denying any profit? Who said anything about denying profit (because that implies forcing them to do so, which I’m against).

        Christian ethics has, to mostly, be a matter of personal choice and shame.

        Sarah, you’re usually far better than this.

        • … being able to pay for most everything in 4 mos. means that your ROI is absolutely enormous.
          [Emphasis Added]

          As we have already pointed out, Eric, they had not, repeat N-effing-aught paid for “almost” everything, since the Pizza oven was excluded from your claim and represents, in all likelihood, the single most important initial investment. There would also be the matter of leasehold improvements, licensing fees, incorporation expenses, advertising and numerous other investments of which you seem blithely unaware.

          There are other elements, as well, many of which have been discussed and none of which you demonstrate any comprehension of, so I will not address them again. What strikes me as most likely is that the 4-month paid-off party is a franchiser-dictated celebration, intended to hit that point of the start-up cycle at which many new franchisees start to sag, having spent their initial energy and enthusiasm. It would also, presuming the typical life-rhythms of a college community, be timed to help get them over the between semester break during which their business sags and they spend hours standing around in the kitchen awaiting the phone to ring.

          But thank you for returning to attempt to bolster your argument and please do keep trying.

        • Kitteh-Dragon

          Oh, good! He has dragged his pet equine, deceased, back into the discussion to apply concussive therapy in hopes of seeing it draw breath once more. You are so enamored of this little story, you must have been regaling your acquaintances with it ad nauseum for the last two decades. And God in His infinite mercy only knows how many permutations it’s taken in the meantime.

          “Actual Slavery” – so, Spartacus wasn’t what *you’d* call an ‘actual slave’, then? I see. What Humpty Dumpty did to word definitions, the entity styling itself Eric Ashley does to history. >yawn<

          Is that your one trick? Wave some twenty year old anecdote around and expect everyone to rise up and call you blessed? Please. It didn't work the first time. Dragging it back and jumping up and down on it, whining, isn't going to make it work this time – and bits do tend to drop off and smell bad if you do that too often.

          Be. Gone. And take this putrefying dead horse with you.

        • Eric, really.

          To start with, owners of businesses that started 20 some years ago have said that they could not start today because the start up costs and extra regulations would eat them alive. So it’s not the same world in that sense.

          By Actual Slavery I presume you mean the American race-based chattel slavery and not the many other forms of slavery known through history. Even so, none of them had the freedom you had of saying “Fuck you, I quit.” The slavery crack is invalid for that reason alone, without getting into the number of small business owners who agonize over whether or not they’re doing the right thing by their employees and who pay themselves less than their employees get by the time you count the time they’ve put into it and the extra things they do to keep it going through the early years while they’re getting established and building up a reserve against bad times.

          Your “most everything” actually translates to about 1/3 of the total startup cost, based on my quick research – and that’s only if the store only had a single oven. Fitout for everything else costs about the same as the franchise fee and one commercial grade pizza oven. It doesn’t include building rental (and if the store was purpose built, that’s another cost that has to be paid off), site rental, or any of the other fees that go with operating a business. Doesn’t sound nearly as impressive when you put it that way, does it?

          Typically – and I’ve talked about this with people who actually own small businesses – the owner shorts himself to get the start up costs cleared as quickly as possible. After that, they can start paying themselves something a little closer to minimum wage until the business is established. Maybe.

          Nice of you to concede that Christian ethics has to be a personal choice. You sure didn’t sound that way in your first post. Of course, I still wonder exactly which version of Christian ethics you mean. The one that considers usury a sin, perhaps? You know, the reason so many Christian countries kept Jews around as bankers until the King owed them an embarrassing amount and kicked them out. Or maybe the one that says slavery is just fine as long as you treat the slaves well. After all, Jesus had more to say against divorce than he did against slavery.

          No, it must be your personal flavor of Christian ethics, which really translates to the same dictatorial impulse that you’re ranting against: I believe my beliefs are good and just, therefore everyone who believes differently is evil and unjust and must be suppressed. You might even think you don’t do this, but it’s there lurking under the surface of your words.

      • Mea culpa, I did mention People LIKING Slavery.

        Rob, its explanatory for reality.

        kilteDave, since you made an assumption that I’m a Lefty, I think, that is, you’ve left me with the problem that I have little idea what you’re talking about. But try again.

        Sarah doubts this evil in human nature as a general rule. But as RAH opined, women did not want scientifically designed houses, but maids to boss around. People LIKE slavery, oh, most not to the extend of the end of 1984, but the desire to have people to kick around is part of the Average Human ^&**(())).

        …..There is none righteous, no not one.

        Also…It’s silly to go on pretending that under the skin we are all brothers. The truth is more likely that under the skin we are all cannibals, assassins, traitors, liars, hypocrites, poltroons.
        Henry Miller

        To review, as to Christian Ethics, freedom of religion grows from Christians. So separating Christian values from America is impossible, unless it becomes NotAmerica.

        As to accusing me of totalitarian instincts, you might as well accuse me of being Jupiterian. Both are nonsensical. In doing so, you reveal more of yourself than of me.

        Oblivion, from what I’ve heard BestBuy is on the way out. Also, lies, bad lies, and statistics. But still, you’ve made the first good point. Congrats. It does not invalidate my anecdote however.

        RES, you were appointed language police? Because my usage is perfectly valid. Most can refer to number, mass, price, etc., etc..

        I’m fairly sure the oven was the biggest investment. Its kinda obvious that it should be.

        Making assumptions….it was just an informal stand around for a few minutes of gloating from the happy managers. And then you add another assumption.

        Kitteh-Dragon, um, why yes, I do drag my kids together in a circle every Saturday to regale them…..put down the acid, girl. Pink elephants quoting Das Kapital==> BAD.

        But if you want a new horse, you can take my knowledge of a silver merchant who regularly marked up his products a 1000%. But hey, don’t let Reality interfere with your Theory.

        Kate, my goodness, thank you. Someone polite. Here I thought Hoyt’s Huns was trying to prove my theory of people liking slavery.

        #1. This statement gets repeated every few years by presumably a new crop of businessmen who failed to listen to the last crop that said it.

        #2. I made a mistake in saying I was only referring to AS. I was referring to Actual Slavery as in American chattel slavery and the strong tendency to mistreat people which runs toward Actual Slavery.

        Incorrect. I learned a few weeks ago that Biblical slavery in the Ancient Jewish Kingdom let slaves go free, in effect. You weren’t supposed to chase after them.

        And just because people LIKE slavery doesn’t mean they yield to their worst impulses. Men like sleeping around, but most are honorable when married.

        #3. You’re actually helping me here. 1/3 of the cost, if I’m getting this right means after 1/3rd of the year they had paid 1/3rd of the cost. IOWs a profit of 100% was what they were heading for if they kept the pace.

        The average business loses money for the first two years, let alone repays all investment.

        Yes, my example is unusual which is why the managers were having their party.

        The fact that I didn’t sound like I was allowing freedom in Christian ethics has more to do with the prejudgices of the listeners than me.

        Talking about usury….an interesting question, but rather far afield. Slavery also. Feel free to post about them at your site and I’ll talk to you there.

        Sarah, I just quoted a fact. Make of that fact what you will.

        Being skeptical of the wonders of big government, as I am, does not preclude being skeptical of the wonderment of some of the rich. And so I suggested ‘limited gov’t’ as a partial solution to these problems and somehow Limited Gov’t got turned into Marxist-Leninist by people blind.

        RES again assumes that I said ‘Yay Let’s raise Minimum Wage!’. I know what the problem here is….People think there are Two Choices. Hard Left Moron or True Blue Lovers of All Things Capitalistic. They don’t see, lacking imagination evidently, that there could be a third or fourth or hundreth. In so doing, they make themselves a stereotype.

        Oblivion has some useful things to say in his next post along with a bit of incorrectness that hardly matters against the gross inaccuracies on display in this post.

        Sarah, as to your point about the fixiings, I already said $4 for a hope of a sale was profitable.

        Walker, thanks for the burst of humor in the midst of this insanity.

        Amanda, it was rented spot in a strip mall. Ay-yi-yi-yi..

        Hey, feel free to assume it doesn’t pay for ought else. Feel free to assume the manager didn’t know what he was doing.

        Paul Howard, I am Religious Right. And you’ve just been given a clue.

        Kitteh-Dragon, the country was founded on the Bible. Now you don’t have to like that….because Christians gave you that freedom, but facts is facts.

        Now, if we lived in Israel, you’d have an actual point.

        • Eric, it is customary to respond to individual comments — a courtesy that facilitates folks identifying just what it was that was said and to what you’re responding. Posting a response in general as you have done here strongly suggests you aren’t actually interested in an exchange of views.

          As to your points addressed to me:

          RES, you were appointed language police? Because my usage is perfectly valid. Most can refer to number, mass, price, etc., etc..

          I’m fairly sure the oven was the biggest investment. Its kinda obvious that it should be.

          Language police? You are the one mutatting definitions; I acknowledge your right to do so but demur to take such a person as intellectually serious. As Kate Paulk observed, “Your ‘most everything’ actually translates to about 1/3 of the total startup cost” and 1/3 rarely constitutes “most” even by the standards you cite. As you were discussing ROI any definition of “most” that doesn’t involve price renders your argument incoherent.

          When you accuse me of imputing your endorsement of minimum wage

          RES again assumes that I said ‘Yay Let’s raise Minimum Wage!’.

          you once again demonstrate in impressive lack of reading skills. Nothing I said

          Few on the Right lack sympathy for those on minimum wage, just as few on the Right think the solution to their problem is raising that wage.

          purports to represent your view on the topic. Had you deigned to reply directly to the comment in question, rather than broadcast screed, this would be patently obvious.

          That you then proceed to falsely place assumptions I hadn’t made while ignoring the point I did make indicates a great deal about your integrity.

          As for your assertion of other posts containing “gross inaccuracies” I suspect all will take your lack of specificity or rebuttal to indicate you can’t support your arguments with actual fact.

          But golly, Eric, we’ve been short of trolls around here of late and I think I can speak for all the regulars here in thanking you for attempting to fill the void. Do please try to be more coherent in future efforts.

          • RES, read the first two posts again. Then facepalm yourself.

            Despite your repeated pleas for my attention, and your attempted trolling of me, little Leftist, I don’t have time for your nonsense.

            • And yet, you left us this gem.

              • Didn’t even kick sand over it, did he, Gaius?

                As for his “repeated pleas for my attention” crack, I am minded of Mae West’s response when asked by a judge if she was trying to show contempt for his court: “I was doin’ my best to hide it.”

            • Incoherent as ever, eh Eric? You can’t put up and won’t shut up, so you muddy waters and project your own sins onto others. Bereft of facts, absent of evidence, incapable of logical argument you flail about displaying your feebleness and declaiming it as strength.

              Since you apparently lack one, I will offer you a clue: your saying the sun rose in the West does not make it so, nor does your declaring something “a fact” render it one.

    • And I’m glad you’re done ranting. Next time engage mind before running fingers.
      Razor thin. I can prove it. Most of the establishments that go under in a downturn? Restaurants. And no, it’s not because the owners retired to private islands. In fact, I don’t know any restaurant owner (of a single restaurant) who is wealthy at that level.
      You’re letting your envy of your earstwhile bosses cloud your judgement AND you’re dressing it up as morality. How is that for Christian ethics? Your G-d requires of YOU your moral behavior, not your calling for the despoiling of those you envy. Marx and Lenin are not in the Bible anywhere. I know, I read it. More than once.
      Also, if your bosses wanted to enslave people, they were the merest pikers to run a Papa Johns with that hope. You want to enslave people? Become a bureaucrat. A person at the DMV has more chance to ruin someone’s life than your bosses ever did. Just cross some records. enter the wrong thing. And they have the force of government to back them up. When you say “you and whose army” any government can answer that, even when the army is a police force.

      • I’ve been living on the wrong street ever since my last drivers license renewal. fortunately that typo street doesn’t exist, but still.

      • William O. B'Livion

        Most of the establishments that go under in a downturn? Restaurants. And no, it’s not because the owners retired to private islands. In fact,

        A family friend and former restauranteur in the mid-west is now (and has been for the last ~30 years) a rather high end cabinet maker. He used to do a lot of business in the restaurant world.

        First off you will *never* find a successful small businessman who doesn’t cry poverty. The only ones who seem successful are down at the bar bragging about their abilites as a businessman as the sheriff is locking up their store. Through no fault of their own.

        Many of these restaurant fail because the owners are piss poor businessmen and finally run out of money.

        Many fail because, well, cash businesses offer a lot of room for failure without ensuing poverty.

        I don’t know any restaurant owner (of a single restaurant) who is wealthy at that level.

        When I was a highschool student I worked for one. I’ve known a few others. It’s like any other business, hard work, attention to detail and bribing the relevant officials will get you a LONG way to where you need to be.

    • … you at least have sympathy for those on minimum wage, whereas many on the Right don’t

      Few on the Right lack sympathy for those on minimum wage, just as few on the Right think the solution to their problem is raising that wage. Did ye nae ken a word of the post our hostess wrote? You “should not yell too much” because you only reveal your lack of comprehension when you do.

      There isn’t time to go into your utter, simplistic miscomprehension of the history of slavery in America, but you might at least consider that slavery long predated the discovery of America and that, as American slavery had its roots in indentured servitude, the labor market was perhaps not so tight as you imagine.

      BTW – there is a big difference between paying for the store fixings and paying its operating expenses. You might also consider that the pizza oven was probably the store’s biggest expense, both to purchase and to run.

      • Also, that as cheap as the pizza dough is, the fixings aren’t. I know because, due to carb issues I make my own pizza. Movie and pizza night with kids is a tradition in summer, and we try to keep to it. (Flax seed crust.) The money expense is in the sauce, the cheese and the toppings. And that with flax meal five times the price of flour.

        • ok i’m kind of struck by this….the pizza thing that is. how dose the flax seed crust work? can you use it as a strait substitute?

    • How about artificially inflated wages across the board have been so inflationary as to make a “living wage” somewhere north of $30k a year?

      As for Christian ethics, you do recall Jesus’ admonition to render unto Caesar yes? How about Paul’s instruction that “slaves should serve their masters well and joyfully?”

      Working for fast food is not ever going to be high paying, nor should it be. It’s an entry level job for people with little to no experience in the work force i.e. teenagers.

      Adults who find themselves working full time as a cashier at McDonalds are either taking the only job available, which means they know the wages are going to be low, or they’re idiots who screwed up their lives and are not fit for anything but “would you like fries with that.”

      In neither case do the owners owe them “a living wage” unless you LIKE the idea of paying $50 for a Big Mac. You seem to have forgotten, like so many liberals, that businesses do not exist to provide jobs. They exist to turn as large a profit as feasible for their owners.

      Jobs are only an ancillary benefit for those who have them.

      • There was a sob-story clip on the evening newts a few weeks ago about a guy who’s supposedly been working at a McD in Chicago for 20 years and only makes $10/hour. My first thought, “That’s odd. Why’s he still just a fry-maker?” Second thought, “I wonder if he’s mildly retarded and that’s why he can’t get/ hasn’t been promoted. Which means he may be getting additional social benefits, like the people I knew in Flat State.” Third thought, “Oh [redacted], I smell supper scorching!”

    • Oh my, where to begin? Oh, let’s start with “everything in the store paid for except the pizza oven.” In other words, the minor investments. I’d be celebrating too. But what you aren’t taking into account is that they still had to pay for the oven, for their overhead — which includes, but isn’t limited to, rent, utilities, taxes, salaries, and it goes on. Then there are those pesky franchise fees and advertising. Oh, and what about the loan they probably had to take out to not only get the franchise license but to also build out, if not completely build, the store?

      As for selling the pizzas for $4 and make a profit, possible. It depends on when it was and where. It also depends upon if you are including only the cost of the pizza or the full production cost — which includes overhead, salaries, taxes, etc. If you add all that in, I have a feeling your huge margin of profit has just been cut dramatically.

      And I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who likes slavery and certainly not SLAVERY. (I’m sure it’s so much worse when you put it in caps like that.) Sure, there are companies that will pay less than most folks would like. But it isn’t always because they want to engage in a modern form of slavery. It has a lot to do with economics as well, something I’m not sure you fully understand. There is also this little corollary folks tend to forget: the more you pay your workers, the more your overhead and the more you have to charge for your goods. The more you charge for your goods, the higher the possibility that one of two things will happen: you will go out of business because people can no longer afford your goods or you will be yet another cog in the wheel of forcing people to need to make more in order to pay for the higher priced goods. Sort of a vicious circle if you think about it.

      With regard to your “best solution”, oh my. What Christian values are you speaking about? Who is to determine which ones will apply and what denomination’s interpretation of them? And what makes Christian values so much better than, say, Jewish values? Sorry, but that dog don’t hunt. As Sarah noted in her response, how do you enforce this in a country where freedom of religion is a cornerstone? Or are you suggesting that we do away with one of the fundamental values of our country in order to impose your religion on everyone else?

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        It’s “funny” to hear the same Liberals who “scream” about the Religious Right talk about “Christian Values”

        IMO their talk about “Christian Values” has nothing to do with religion.

        It’s just another “card to play” to force people to do things “their way”.

      • Well, crap. I was going to say some of that, but y’all beat me to it! And said it better than I could, too. *grin*

        Just a bit to add to that, Eric, but running a business is really a *lot* more complicated than most people think. That $7 or so pizza has to support all those things these fine folks have already mentioned, but the quicker they are sold the more efficient the business runs. That can reduce the percentage of shrinkage/spoilage as well as producing more profit per hour per unit supply. So locating the business on or near a college campus, as it appears, was a smart decision.

        That guy who owns and probably runs the franchise, if he runs true to what I’ve seen, probably works more like a slave than any of his employees do (save that it is self imposed- an important point). A lot of small business owners are never “off the clock,” and only pay themselves a fixed salary. One place I worked, the owner would have made something less than $4/hr, if he paid himself that way. Competition counts too- if the place down the street is selling pizza for $2 cheaper, you’re going to have to do something to justify that extra $2 to your customers. Or reduce your operating costs… which might mean letting someone go.

        Economics isn’t rocket science, but it is pretty brutal in that the consequences hit hard, especially if you’ve not done your homework. The small business owner takes on the risk- along with his investors, in some cases- which can *ruin* him financially if the economy hits a snag, or there turns out to be less of a market in the area for his product, or the gov’t changes regulations which increase his operating costs, or… Yeah. So if a small business owner hits it out of the park and manages to pay off his debts quickly, I call that a good thing all around.

        • heck. I’m a small business owner, and right now my plan is to plow most of it back into the business in ebook designers, book designers, editors, and readers for ebooks. Will it pay? Who knows? it’s the risk I’m taking. And vacations and weekends? Don’t make me laugh.

          • Vay… Vac… Vacuum cleaner? What was this word you said? I don’t think I know what it means…

            • Dorothy Grant

              Ooh! Ooh! I know that word! That’s when you go somewhere other than your home or work, and try to do your conference calls on skype and sort things out by email instead of in-person meetings, and wake up to your work email notifcation going “ping”… “ping”… “ping”… “pingpingpingpingpingpingpingpingpingPINGPINGPING” and think “Oh, no, I don’t even want to know what just broke.”

        • Dorothy Grant

          Not to mention he’s in a college town. This means he needs to get a reserve built up in the first 8 months of operation, assuming he opened with the school year, in order to ride out the summer semester, when all his customers are gone for months.

    • Chances are that the owner went without anything beyond a basic salary so his kids could eat so he could pay off the fittings in the store — which he still would have had to pay real property taxes on, by the way, even if he did still owe money on them. If Papa Johns did any sort of profit sharing, the chances are that the managers went without any until that was paid off too. Chances were, the owner made less an hour than you did, and the managers were effectively working for less an hour than you got since they were on salary, put in more hours and were not paid OT. But I can’t tell that from your story since you didn’t add that in.
      Equating a minimum wage job with slavery shows that you are better at using hot-button terms than you are at understanding them.

      I have never understood why anyone in an education system that plays up slavery so much can fail to understand what it actually was. It must be like role-playing the 30 years’ war without death, dismemberment, gangrene, lice, plague, dysentary, and roving mobs beating strangers to death in the streets.

    • Kitteh-Dragon

      Where to start? You have as much idea of business as an aboriginal Indian from the Amazon interior has about how the American doctor treating him got to be so smart. You don’t know the back story. You don’t know what it costs to keep running the place. Do you rent? (You must, because you have no clue what monthly *utilities* would cost to run a pizza place, let alone all the other overhead, insurance, etc.)

      Try this. You’ve paid off your car because you’ve been using it as a courier, with yourself your only employee. Hot damn, that means everything from here on out is gravy, right? Oh, gasoline, oil, oil changes, new tires, replaced brakes, blown transmission, dead alternator, *insurance*, license tabs — those will just magically pay for themselves, because *you own the car*! Yeah, that’s the level of ignorance you’re showing.

      Now, about that dig that “many on the right” don’t “have sympathy for those on minimum wage”. Based on what, exactly? I’ve worked three and four part-time (far below minimum wage!) jobs to pay my rent. I know that minimum wage just means the employer is forced to reduce her workers in order to spread the same amount of money to fewer people to reach a government-mandated ‘minimum’.

      You have six apples, and five people that you give an apple each to, to help you harvest more apples. The government comes in and says that if you don’t give each person *two* apples, you will be shut down. So instead of six people picking apples, you either have four (you don’t get an apple, yourself) or you eat your apples to keep body and soul together, and you have *two* workers who each get two apples. Can three (or four, with one not being able to eat – because she’s the owner so she gets paid last) pick the same number of apples as six people? If you said ‘yes’ – you’re insane. So the owner has to pay more, for less work done because there are less workers.

      Knowing this does *not* mean a lack of “sympathy for those on minimum wage” – it means incandescent *rage* at people who sit in comfort in the halls of government passing insane laws that *look* spiffy neato keano and are death to the businesses that employ actual workers.

      But you’re bought the Marxist “all employers are evil” lie, and nothing anybody can say in a blog or in comments will probably make a dent, because you “*feel* that you know the truth”. And feelings trump facts, for most people who buy the Marxist stuff.

    • Kitteh-Dragon

      Now we come to the “Christian” part of your thing. Are you? Are you a practicing Christian? Or are you just using that as a bludgeon? It’s fascinating that the people who are tools of the Enemy still use the same stupid tricks the Enemy used two thousand years ago (and in the Garden before that).

      Government passing laws has nothing to do with Christianity. Neither did slavery really (have you looked into who it was who *ended* the slave trade in the West?). Islam, now – which was the supplier of slaves to the West, and *still* has slavery as an important part of Shari’a Law – Islam has bloody hands when it comes to slaves. Why not take Muslims to task?

    • That leave so much out that I’m not sure where to begin. First of all that pizza oven probably cost 20k or so which is probably more than all the rest combined. Second that probably didn’t include all those nasty little details like the quarterly taxes and the rent. As for the people who want to make people property, it isn’t the people who create jobs, but those who want something for nothing:
      http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/08/06/The-Pro-Slavery-Roots-of-the-Modern-Left
      They were buying you then and they are buying you now. Anything worthwhile is worth working for.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        You know, another thing that happens often with new businesses is that rents are held low for the first 6-12 months, so the business can build up a clientele without their bills crushing them. It’s good business for the building owner because they don’t want to have to have the space sitting empty after a new business crashes and burns because they couldn’t pay their rent.

    • I also worked for lots of restaurants (I have an extensive name tag and hairnet collection), including Papa John’s and Domino’s. Apparently something you had missed in the experience is that dough is well known to be so cheap as to not bother with measuring the cost. The actual price of a pizza is determined by the cheese on it, followed by the meat (which is why portion control is so important).

      I have no idea what they had done to be able to get in the black that fast, but *wow* -I’m impressed. The best I had ever done was take a failing restaurant and turn it around to profitable.

      In general, routine food cost is about 30% of your gross revenue, labor is another 30%, and fixed cost (rent, depreciation, franchise fees) is about another 30% or so. That 10% of gross goes pretty quickly when faced with the non-routine things like sales, breakage of equipment, etc. It really is a thin-margin business.

      • You ever watch Food Channel’s Restaurant Impossible?

        For those who have the applicability of the question ought be apparent. For those who haven’t, it features a failing restaurant and a 24-hour turnaround effort. The issues of restaurant success are far more complex than hinted at in young Eric’s comment.

    • Congratulations to them for picking the right time of year and managing to have some chance of success in the first quarter. Unless they were incredibly stupid, they opened when they expected initial response to be strong– probably about the same time the college opened, so everyone has money but doesn’t want to take the time to cook.

      How many of those raw pizza doughs sold for four bucks, anyways?

      I know when I make pizza at home, the dough is pretty cheap– it’s the sauce, cheese, meat, fresh veggies, cooking and oh yeah that little matter of paying your wages that costs. And paying for the place to do all that. Plus regulations.

    • Okay, to start with yes pizza parlors do have a higher profit percentage than most restaurants (a friend of mine from high school managed a couple, one of which went under). They are also higher risk, higher competition, and have more volatile ingredient costs. They are more seasonal than most restaurants also, this without factoring in that you were in a college town. In a college town you can basically say that that pizza a place was a seasonal business, they very likely LOST money during the summer months and possibly even on Christmas and Spring Break. They however had to stay open and eat the losses during the unprofitable times of year, because if they closed then not only would they lose to many customers to competitors that stayed open, so that when the profitable time came back around they would STILL not be making a profit, because those customers would be patronizing another place that served them during the off season, lowering their overall customer numbers too much. But the cost of opening back up and finding new employees to replace those that went to another job that was more reliable would be even more expensive than shutting down.

      Let me tell you something about seasonal businesses, if you look at their daily income in the good times, they are making a fortune, but they have to to cover the times they DON’T MAKE ANYTHING! I have one, there have been days when I grossed over 3 grand, once you take out expenses I don’t think I have ever netted over half that a day, and those were exceptional days and usually sixteen to eighteen hour ones as well. Still sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Until you figure in a couple of other factors, those daily net figures don’t include such things as wear and tear on vehicles, periodic repair and replacement costs (400 to a 800 miles a day wear out vehicles fast, check and see how much a 4×4 diesel costs to buy and to maintain). The other thing? I can only work at 4-8 weeks a year on a good year, there have been years when I didn’t do ANY work because the weather didn’t cooperate. My profits look great, but I can’t make a living at it, what I can do is make enough to be able to get by working odd jobs and part time the rest of the year, most likely with a lower annual income than you have, and unlike working for an employer and getting a paycheck every couple weeks, IT ISN’T GARUANTEED! When I do it I am working like a dog a Manuel Labor that most are physically incapable of doing, and it is a gamble I take every year, on the occasional year when the weather doesn’t cooperate things can get really tight, because those other part time and odd jobs I do don’t make enough to live on either, that means I have to be prepared to scrape by for two years on those earnings, or taking another full time job, in which case I would be unable to do that job the next time it became available. High risk=high pay, that doesn’t just apply to danger pay, it applies to financial risk also. If it didn’t nobody would be willing to do those jobs.

    • Eric, a belated correction to part of your first rant. The cotton planters did not introduce slavery to the North American colonies. Assuming you mean African and not Indian enslavement, the Dutch did in the 1620s. Although reluctant at first because of the sunk costs, tobacco farmers in the Tidewater and Carolina colony purchased more slaves, first from the Caribbean sugar plantations and then from Africa, because Indians died rather than work (see the Yamasse Wars, and the Puritans attempts at enslaving Indians). Indentured servants required less of an investment, but when that labor market dried up in Britain, then chattel slavery appeared in the colonies. Indentured servants also blended into the free population too easily, making escape simpler for them. Every colony (and later state) had slaves into the 19th century. King cotton came later. (Debt peonage and slavery remained de jure in New Mexico Territory until 1865, and de facto into the 20th century).

      • Please, do not obfuscate this discussion with facts. They merely get in the way of ill-informed opinions.
        😉

      • Thank you, TXRed. Despite your later giving in to the mob, your first instinct was to be factual and helpful. I appreciate that against the background of Brilliant, Insightful Logic that I’ve been treated to this evening.

        • Eric, I have seen as yet no evidence that you would recognize “Brilliant, Insightful Logic” if you stepped in it. Certes, there’s no evidence you are capable of it.

          Yes, that is an ad hominem argument; it is difficult to reply to a substanceless, meretricious, ad hominem argument without resorting to same.

  32. Just to weigh in on the robots to replace labor:
    There are quite a few dairy farms in Europe that use robots to milk cows instead of humans, due to the robots being cheaper and easier to deal with than humans, wages, and laws. Especially the latter two.
    Million-dollar-plus milking parlors (and this was over a decade ago that I read the articles in farming magazines) were cheaper and easier to deal with than European (Mainly, I assume, Denmark, Sweden, Germany) labor laws. Any who’ve dealt with automated equipment also understands how much of a pain it is when things go wrong to deal with it… and that is apparently much easier.

    My brother, who’s taking over my folks’ dairy farm, commented the other day that he considers milking cows to be skilled labor: ensuring the cows are kept healthy by keeping them clean, proper application of medication, making absolutely-d*mned-certain milk from a medicated cow never, ever, EVER gets into the bulk tank (which is sampled for such before the milk hauler pumps it into his truck), treats the cows gently, makes sure the facility is clean. All important enough to justify a better than minimum wage.

    Speaking of, off to earn my munificent pay.

  33. I looked up the profit margins of MCD, GOOG, and WMT. Too bad it’s impossible to post them despite multiple efforts.

    I am not a happy camper subscriber.

    • GOOG? WMT?
      Sorry — I have no idea why — websites are progressing, slowly, interrupted by College bureaucracy TM

    • Rob Crawford

      GOOG: 22.89%
      MCD: 19.71%
      AAPL: 19.53%
      PG: 9.08%
      PZZA: 4.91%
      WMT: 3.48%
      KR: 1.6%

      I see their complaint. McDonald’s appears to be challenging the progressive champions for profitability.

      • Yes, but I think that’s the corporation, not the individual franchises. I don’t know how large the corporate fees are.

      • 1. With the caveats that my arithmetic is terrible and WordPress did not accept my hyperlinks today:

        MCD earned a gross profit of almost $11B last year; they have almost 1.5M employees worldwide. In contrast to KR and WMT, their profit margin cannot be called razor-thin. If their profits were distributed uniformly among their employees, that would come to $7K/employee/year.

        No way around it: by US minimum-wage, and developing-nation, standards, that’s substantial. (But I repeat my caveat about the inability to provide hyperlinks so people can check my atrocious arithmetic.)

        2. I like data-based assertions. I like being able to check data. All else being equal, I have more confidence in posts that facilitate readers’ checking of their claims.

        Hopefully the new site will allow established commenters to sign in and include multiple hyperlinks in their posts.

        3. Speaking of my atrocious arithmetic, I should stop grousing here and get back to it.

        • Two words: crony capitalism.

          • GS yes, there’s been a bunch of that under “exemptions from OC” — however, again, that’s not McDonald’s individual franchises, that’s corporate. And again, the dividends MOSTLY go to pension funds. They’re also the reason the company exists.

            • Because it cannot be repeated enough times:
              Anybody who calls for cutting of corporate dividends wants widows and orphans to starve!!!

              This also goes for those who ask for higher taxes on dividend income. WHY do they want widows and orphans to starve?????

            • 1. Sarah, yes, the company exists to increase the wealth of its owners.

              2. RES, if I were a widow working at McDonald’s, I’d rather see that money going directly to my paycheck than getting passed through a series of altruistic middlemen 🙄 in the financial services industry…

              3. MCD workers want more money than the company wants to pay them. Shocka! Let ’em sort it out between them, say I.

              4. What upsets me is lobbying from the Dow 30 et al for things like open borders and from the Left for things like a higher minimum wage. Actually, the lobbying doesn’t upset me nearly as much as the fact that the government invites—in effect, demands—such lobbying.

        • According to the MCD website, Net is actually 1.3 Billion for FY 2012,( profit is only net income). It looks like total revenue was up 2% from the previous year, and expenses were up 3%
          http://news.mcdonalds.com/Corporate/Press-Releases/Financial-Release?xmlreleaseid=122879

          McD is a multinational. That amount is for all operations everywhere but the moon. Remember that even if you are willing to shaft the employees and investors that are in other countries, bringing all that money back to the US to share with the store employees here will incur huge taxes above the taxes paid in the countries that the money was earned.
          I believe that MCD is also a dividend producing stock. That is, the ownership of the stock is rewarded by paying part of the profit to the holders. Dividends are paid from profit. Take away the profit and you take away the dividend and the dividend doesn’t go to the people who invested: Pension funds, Insurance funds, Universities, Hospitals….And surely you don’t want to take away the income to the most vulnerable among us, do you?

          May I address the issue of managers and corporate officers being paid “far too much”?
          An executive is not paid good money based on the physical work he does. He is paid good money for the decisions he is hired to make, decisions that require knowledge, experience and wisdom that is greater than the normal run of employee. He is required to make decisions that can loose vast sums of money and get the company liable for millions in penalties and civil judgments. The wrong CEO can kill a company, just ask Apple. A good one can make it explode. Ask Papa Johns.
          You may not approve, but honestly the decision is not yours if, a) you are not a board member or, b) you do not hold voting stock. If you disapprove, don’t buy the product.

          • It pays a dividend. Not much (I think my sibling got $12 last year) but it does pay something.

          • no, that isn’t *all*
            that’s the corporation, and the corporate stores.
            90% of McDonalds stores are franchises, not corporate.
            Franchisees pay 8.5-12% of their sales in fees for the store.

        • If it’s the gross profit, that means it’s before expenses, which means “distributing” it would be eating the seed corn and stiffing the debtors.

          • Not to be nit-picky, but I am a corporate accountant and thus have some professional responsibility and standing to correct:

            Definition of ‘Gross Profit’
            A company’s revenue minus its cost of goods sold. Gross profit is a company’s residual profit after selling a product or service and deducting the cost associated with its production and sale.

            To calculate gross profit: examine the income statement, take the revenue and subtract the cost of goods sold. Also called “gross margin” and “gross income”.
            http://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/grossprofit.asp

            Because, why type when I can copy/paste? Astute readers will notice that the labor inputs to produce the good or service are addressed sorta nebulously there. It varies somewhat according to industry practices, but typically the cost of, for example, the guy turning the wrench on the assembly line is allocated to COGS while the foreman who makes sure Mr. Goodwrench is awake would be charged to overhead.

            • My picaresque professional perambulations have resulted in a tiny bit of equity in a hedge fund. Even tiny equity in a moderately successful hedge fund leaves a reasonable person more than comfortable for life.

              Alas, the key word is ‘successful’. 😦

            • So, before the expenses that aren’t already paid, sometimes. >.<

              Isn't it Hollywood that rolls in the cost of the entire building and such stuff to sub-corps so that blockbuster movies never make much profit?

              • You don’t want to know about Hollywood. To provide a simple example:
                Movie Company Able wants Actor Baker to star in a movie, so Able creates a production company, Charlie, to contract with Baker’s production company, Dog, to form a joint venture, Easy, to produce the film Foxtrot.

                Dog agrees to provide its employee, Baker, to Easy, for a period of time sufficient to make Foxtrot, collecting (perhaps) $10,000,000 for his services. Dog pays Baker a small salary, perhaps $50,000 a year, plus allows him use of their properties (a manor in Beverly Hills, condos in Honolulu, NY City, London, Paris and Hong Kong) to live in as their employee. They also provide a per diem, an expense account, a wardrobe and car(s) and driver. He pays taxes on an annual income of $50,000 and (small) dividends from his investment in Dog — per diem and other benefits are not taxable as income. All costs to Dog of owning, furnishing and maintaining the properties are deductible business expense, as are property taxes and employee labor costs.

                Multiply by the number of principle actors in Foxtrot.

                And that is a simple Hollywood corporate structure. Baker may also be director of the movie (is assuredly an executive producer, maybe even a contributing screenwriter) through other companies (George, How & Item) which bill for his time and pay him small salaries. Perhaps Baker owns those companies through a holding company, Jig, which bills each of the subsidiaries for management services.

                The whole purpose of the structure is to capture as a business expense every possible cost of Baker being alive and working while sheltering as much income as possible in corporate equity (undistributed, therefore largely untaxed, profits.)

                That is all speculation, of course, as I have no direct experience with Hollywood’s accounting practices beyond reading a few brief descriptions and imputing arrangements.

                • It’s actually worse than that, RES. I no longer remember the details and haven’t the time tonight to look them up, but what I have seen of Hollywood accounting is scary. They do not appear to follow GAAP – and I don’t know how they get away with that – and the way they shuffle expenses around between projects and apply profits and losses therein is rampantly unethical, if not illegal.

                • the easiest way to understand Hollywood accounting is that a movie gets *half* what you hear on the news. That’s right, the distributor/theaters get half. Then advertising costs are subtracted, beyond any that were in the original budget (and there’s almost never enough advertising in the original budget).

                  Then, if the movie is being shot outside the ‘thirty-mile ring’ (30 mi radius from a certain intersection in Hollywood that is the nearest major intersection to the old SAG HQ) you have to pay overnight costs for your cast members. Technically, all of them except extras. Ever wonder why Vasquez Rocks gets used to much? because while *it* is outside the thirty mile ring, many of the convenient stating areas (i.e. good parking lots) for it *are*. Also why the Santa Clarita Valley is the generic stand-in for the middle east- you’d think with the Mojave desert so close they could find lots of other places, but those are outside the 30-mile ring. (There is a similar 30-mile ring for NYC, and similar rules for AFTRA as SAG) (BTW the old MASH compound and the town from Little House, which were relatively speaking just over the hill from each other, are also within the 30 mi ring)

                  And yeah, you can imagine what they have to pay to overnight someone like Ben Affleck… he is *not* going to stay at the Motel Six aroundthe corner (which is where your production crew is going to be staying, if you don’t or can’t hire a local crew…)

                  Re: David Prowse- he may not have gotten residuals, as in if he was getting a % of profits, but he got his royalties. Those are automatic and taken care of by SAG.

                  Yes, they do occasionally play funny with the money. But these days the easiest way to ’round number’ it is that if it didn’t bring in 2 1/2 times its budget (more than that if they ‘push’ it) then it didn’t make money.

                  • One minor quibble — the split between studio and exhibitor is not quite 50/50, at least not initially. For opening week of a “hot” film the studio may demand 90$ (or more) of the box office. That split becomes more equitable the longer the film plays, so that a movie in theatres for 8 – 10 weeks may be retaining 90% of the admissions for the exhibitor (one reason Star Wars was so popular with exhibitors.

                    During opening week and those immediately following the theatre is making most of their money from popcorn, soda and gummi bears.

                    Another factor is that the costs of a single 35mm (or 70mm) print can run thousands of dollars, running $10 million for a film opening on 2,000+ screens*. This is part of the push** for digital projection in theatres.

                    *Yes, a single theatre can project the same film on multiple screens simultaneously, using a single print feeding separate projectors ti stagger the screenings.

                    **It also reduces wear and tear on the print, something increasingly annoying to modern theatre audiences which can drive up costs by increasing the number of prints needed. It also reduces the number of projectionists necessary (which is also a factor driving multiplexes — one projectionist can screw up 16 screenings simultaneously.

                    • That and a projectionist is usually union…

                    • Speaking of 70mm prints…

                      one of the theaters back east had a 70mm projector and used to do a 70mm film festival every year. It was nice to be able to count on seeing the original theatrical release of Blade runner in 70mm…

                      (and 65mm IMAX prints are even MORE expensive)

              • yeahhhh… lemme tell you about so-called studio accounting… most of the critics of it, don’t know how the industry works.

                • Care to enlighten us, then? Because from where I’m sitting, studio accounting looks a lot like a way to rip off the people doing the actual work (writers, actors, etc.) — case in point, David Prowse (the guy who played Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back) said in a 2009 interview that he had never received residuals (the actor equivalent of royalties) for his role as Vader.

                • I get most of my information from Rob Long on Ricochet– he’s AKA the guy who did Cheers….

                  Not so much a critic as ruefully points out that, hey, people figure out ways around any rule you want to make— ESPECIALLY if its targeting folks with lots of money.

            • Oh, gad, this is stuck in my head…..

              You have a field. We’ll take it as granted for now, for simplicity.

              You get a bag of corn. You plant the corn. You harvest the corn. You get back three bags of corn. You give one to the guy who gave you the bag in the first place. You may or may not keep one bag for yourself to eat, depending on which accounting practice they’re using. What’s left is your gross….and this guy wants to divie up that….

            • It is not that I hate being wrong, but the necesity of admitting it.

  34. Hoyt’s Huns/ Were Fun/ He had them on the Run/With a Question One/ Which left them Stun….

    Just how does ‘limited gov’t’ become ‘Marxist-Leninist’?

    • Eric, you really ought learn how to use the “reply” function so that others can suss what in the wide wide world of sports you are blathering about. Your feeble doggerel is unclear.

  35. Sarah,
    Found this link over on Mad Mike’s cubby at Baen’s Bar.
    “http://profoundlydisconnected.com/your-headline-my-face/”
    Takes you to Mike Rowe’s blog where he rips a writer a new one over an article decrying all the unpleasant low paying jobs people are being forced to take in this economy. Mr. Rowe has for some time now been quietly doing his part to prick the education bubble that still insists that the only way to succeed is with a college degree despite massive statistical evidence to the contrary.