# Soft-Handed Academic Dudes and Minimum Wage Fast Food: What Could Go Wrong?

I see tweets like this one in my timeline and I brace myself for the inevitable dogpile bashing workers:

Unemployed minimum wage workers have collected too much from state unemployment and federal aid, the old white dudes opine from their cushy home offices somewhere in McMansionburbia, nudge-nudge-winking about prescient forecasts of inflationary pressures.

Sod off, you slack-bottomed, soft-handed gits.

Unemployed minimum wage workers were most likely to be laid off early in the pandemic, and may already have been laid off not once but twice or perhaps even more, depending on location and on whether they were or are juggling one or more minimum wage jobs to make ends meet.

These are the same workers whose jobs OSHA has categorized as High Exposure Risk:

Those who have frequent indoor or poorly ventilated contact with the general public, including workers in retail stores, grocery stores or supermarkets, pharmacies, transit and transportation operations, law enforcement and emergency response operations, restaurants, and bars.

They’re in the same risk class as mortuary workers who prep the bodies of those who died of COVID.

This group of workers are among the risk class most likely to experience an outbreak of COVID; just look at the workplaces where Michigan had outbreaks as of April 9:

Not as bad as schools but how many of the K-12 and university students overlap in some way with fast food workers — either as consumers or employees?

Recall my chicken scratching from my last post about the unaffordability of the American Dream in which I calculate annual earnings for a full-time minimum wage worker:

Do the math:

Minimum federal wage \$7.25  x  40 hour week  x  52 weeks  =  \$15,080 a year.

That’s nowhere near enough to make a payment on the median home priced at \$301,000. It’s not enough for a tiny dump of a house at one-third of median price.

The equation above already contains numerous generous assumptions: the employee makes 1) minimum federal wage, 2) at a full-time job, 3) for the entire year. For most minimum wage workers, at least one of these three points doesn’t apply. Most employers who hire minimum wage workers avoid paying unemployment taxes by employing workers less than full time, which means a minimum wage worker must work two jobs (or more) to make \$15,080.

The average one-bedroom or studio apartment costs roughly \$1000 a month right now. What’s left over for food, health care, transportation? Even if a worker can manage a roommate or two, what’s left over for basic needs?

Gods help them if they need childcare or eldercare on top of shelter, food, health care, and transportation.

And with most employers refusing to hire minimum wage workers for more than 27-32 hours a week in order to avoid paying either unemployment insurance tax or contribute to health care, these workers are likely not to have any benefits like sick or paid time off, or any savings to offset time needed for illness.

Why would any food service or retail employer think for a moment that minimum wage workers should be beating down the doors to come back to more of the same if their health and their lives had been and could be again at risk, for an absurdly low wage? Why can’t the usual pudgy white neoliberal male academic types grasp this?

The snotty, dismissive attitude by business toward minimum wage workers reflected in the tweet above — though labor appears to be an essential component to the business — also reveals both carelessness and cluelessness of these businesses. If a piece of equipment needed repair for the business to remain open, they’d fix it. But apparently remedying the problems their workers face is a step too far or opaque to the business operator.

Minimum wage workers also need the right to organize. Amazon may pay more than the federal minimum wage, but there are businesses across the U.S. which also operate like Amazon but without the notoriety forcing Amazon to pay better wages. Those businesses must be forced to rejigger their business models. Amazon is no model employer, either; overall conditions are bad when Amazon looks good by comparison.

But demanding businesses rework their operations to protect workers’ right to organize is too much to ask, one might say. Is it?

When businesses shut down sites to avoid unionization, they are rejiggering their business model, and they are doing it at a cost to the community as well as the workers. They are eating the cost of the closures to make an ugly point.

Kroger’s Seattle locations aren’t the only two sites the grocer is closing for this reason. At least three more closed in California to avoid paying higher wages to their workers who are disproportionately at risk of COVID — wages mandated by local government to ameliorate the risks these workers take.

Workers need Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019 (PRO Act) for this reason, as do their communities. Many older and disabled Americans rely on their local grocers; losing one is incredibly disruptive and expensive, especially when it creates a food desert. No business is obligated to do business in any location, but a business willing to pull up and leave a neighborhood and damage customer relations solely because it can’t (read: won’t) figure out how to pay a living wage needs to do its own reorganization internally, restructuring its business model to operate ethically. A workforce which has the right to unionize may be the only way to force business to reset its thinking and operations.

In other words, if a business’s profits rely on paying wages which can’t support a worker, the business model isn’t legitimate. Unions may be the only means to make this clear to businesses.

Something needs to give soon, because this kind of scenario will continue — a clueless business thinking it must hire anybody at less than living wages, to work in conditions which may not be safe for either employees or customers.

The Youngsville mother of two was taken aback at the offer since she was only trying to go inside to get the food that was left out of her order after going through the drive-thru a first time. The lobby was closed, so she went back to the drive-thru window to get the order straightened out.

Then she learned why the lobby was closed.

“The manager told me, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t open the lobby because no one wants to work,’” Picou said. “And then she asked if I wanted a job. She said they’d hire anyone at this point.”

Imagine thinking a fully-staffed indoor fast food lobby is necessary in the middle of a pandemic, instead of creating a safer alternative.

Waiting for those slack-bottomed academic types to nod their heads vigorously in affirmation as they wipe the fast food mung off their faces.

You’ll notice that young mother in that article didn’t jump at the offer.

87 replies
1. Rayne says:

I didn’t even address the possibility the labor shortages in the minimum wage group may be related to deaths and disability.

How many of these most vulnerable workers are trying to cope with Long COVID?

~sigh~

• Raven Eye says:

That’s a point that gets me grinding my teeth. Surviving COVID only means that you are still alive. And to be accurate, Long COVID is based on barely a year’s worth of data. REALLY Long COVID is essentially an unknown and over the decades will have the greatest effects on those who will have the least resources to deal with it.

The Libertarians and billionaire anarchists remain unwilling to support an affordable health care system that reaches at least 95% of the population. Addressing neither living wages nor affordable health care ensures that both of those factors will continue to present near-term and long-term risk vectors for this country

• Rayne says:

I am betting on a massive wave of permanently disabled and a population crash. We’ve already seen enough evidence in studies showing permanent lung damage in asymptomatic persons. We’ve seen at least three studies documenting damage to testicular tissue, suggesting wider organ damage than just the lungs. And of course we’ve seen young people suddenly dropping dead from heart damage.

We must address the possibility that 10% of the population will be disabled and unable to do whatever work they’ve been doing. We need to discuss Universal Basic Income for those folks as well as the borderline disabled who need supplemental income.

And businesses like that POS Sonic need to adapt or die.

• Raven Eye says:

Too soon to tell, but countries with more effective safety nets may be in a better global economic position in 10-20-30 years. Those MAGA ass-hats seem to lack any vision that extends much past their least effective appendages. Running the numbers now and in the future should be a high priority at the federal level.

One of my concerns had been that the EU countries *seemed* to be doing a better job early on, and might have been on a better footing when the infection rate dropped low enough. But their citizens have turned out to share some of the same “values” as ours, so morbidity and mortality may end up close to ours. But jump ahead a little bit and they’ll still have better safety nets.

The wild card is China. Generally we don’t know the full economic or public health outcomes there (though I’m sure that intelligence is being collected and analyzed by the U.S. at very high security level).

• Rayne says:

Germany specifically did better, in no small part because it treats health care like critical infrastructure; it has +2.5X more hospital beds per 1K people than the US or Italy have, for comparison.

But then its right-wing ramped up its propaganda in the same way ours did; they mishandled the problem with AstraZeneca increasing vaccine hesitancy. NATO nations are still not dealing with this coordinated hybrid warfare using disinformation, and it’s literally costing lives.

The safety net countries will fare better. They’ve already done better through other downturns. And again in Germany’s case, assuming it doesn’t drift rightward, the influx of immigrants it welcomed will help make up for the falling birth rates we’ll see here and elsewhere.

I can’t compare China because it really isn’t using the same tools. The massive shutdown of the country is something the US and EU couldn’t do.

• Philip S. Webster says:

Yes…and now, what about India….30% of the population dying and 10% of what remains with long covid? Staggering…

My local Micky D manger is complaining to me through the window of how Biden is wrecking the economy…he can’t get help. “how much are you paying them” “10 an hour” “Pay them more,” I said…but he didn’t seem to like it.

• Rayne says:

The stupid, it burns. It’s not Biden wrecking the economy, this is what happened because Trump did to the U.S. what Modi is now doing to India, and Bolsonaro has done to Brazil.

• Lady4Real says:

I have long COVID. I really didn’t have typical COVID symptoms and I suspect it was due to my getting pneumonia and flu vax last year; however, my hair fell out in a huge patch and many other inflammatory-type symptoms along with insomnia and then sleeping until late in the day for months on end only seem to be getting better (at least the sleep problems) after I received my second vaccination.

Longer term, I’m unsure what to expect. I do know that I have had COVID twice, the first time with just exhaustion where I slept for 2 days after coming from home early from work one day. That got better relatively fast, but was not typical for COVID so I didn’t get tested. The second time saw my legs from hips to toes swelled to 3 times normal size and a fever. That went away after a week, then the other symptoms gradually descended. The hair loss is horrible. I’m hoping this is the worst of it.

• Lady4Real says:

Thank you for that information. Although I’m well-read on long COVID, I had no idea there was a thyroid link as that wasn’t in any of the literature I’ve read to date.

I definitely have a thyroid condition that predates COVID, although my numbers are always subclinical (which basically means normal), although I have not seen a specialist yet.

I believe I have been very fortunate not to suffer severe consequences in terms of what can happen with COVID, but the disease is soo dang strange that everybody gets a different version of it and can get it more than once.

I suspect my uncle, who suffered with dementia, passed away 2 weeks ago from COVID. Hopefully, his wife will see to releasing the body so we can have a dignified funeral going into 3 weeks is a long time of waiting to begin to grieve.

• Rayne says:

I’m sorry for your loss. Grieving truly has been a challenge during this pandemic; we lost my aunt in January (not to COVID, just another excess death) and we won’t be able to have family together until July. Hope your family will be together much sooner.

2. Matthew Harris says:

There is one thing I give people the “benefit of the doubt” to in discussions of wages, in a way. I think a large part of the problem comes from the fact that people have an instinctive idea of the value of money that wins out over logical assessment. And that instinctive idea usually comes up from their ideas at the time they grew up.

If someone is 50-60 years old now, their ideas about what money is worth was probably set in the early 1980s. In 1980, the median rent for an apartment was apparently 300 dollars. I think that for people who grew up at that time, no matter how much they look at the figures, part of their mind reverts to “someone making 8 dollars an hour should still be able to cover their rent easily”. (I was born in 1979, and part of me is still surprised when my grocery bill comes to over 10 dollars!)

This also shows up in understanding of comparative prices: if anyone grew up before the 1990s, consumer goods and electronics were more expensive than rent. In 1980, median rent was 300 dollars a month, and a portable television set cost 600 dollars— two months rent. In 2018, the median rent for an apartment is 1500 dollars— and a portable television set costs around 50 dollars, or one day’s rent. (I have sources for this, I can post them if needed, I didn’t want to clutter with links. Even if the exact figures aren’t correct, I think people can agree with the gist of it). So I think that when older people…in this case, people born before 1970 or so, complain about how poor people have the gall to have phones, they really don’t understand on an emotional level, even when they see the numbers. My current phone literally cost about 4 days rent, but if you grew up when a color television was a luxury item, its hard to understand that.

I think that politically this is exacerbated by the age of the senior political leaders in the US. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House were born in 1940. The President was born in 1942. Five of the eight leaders of the “Gang of Eight” were born from 1939 to 1945. The youngest of the other three was born in 1965. The Vice-President, born in 1964, is also comparatively youthful.

I think a gigantic part of the problem is that lots of people just don’t instinctively realize the financial situation of young people, even when they can see it on paper. And I don’t think that will change until their is a generational shift in political and academic views.

• rip says:

Those are excellent points. We all have our own perception of reality, mostly based on our early life experiences. My first car cost \$800 and first house (1800 sqft Victorian) 16,000.

The other part of the mismatch between “our” representatives and reality is that most of them are millionaires – not through earning wages and struggling to make rent payments, put food on the table. Most of them are entitled through birth, and sometimes by chance. Rarely through pure intelligence and empathy for their employers – the voters.

• Matthew Harris says:

Also, I should say that I don’t think this attitude is confined to the rich, politicians, or people who are politically conservative. I know that this is mostly anecdotes, but when I talk to people from generations before me, they just have a different understanding. I’ve heard a lot of stories about “I just got out of college, got in my car, travelled across the country, stopped in a town, called someone on a payphone about an apartment, gave them \$20 and said I would have a job by the end of the week and then I went out and got a job with a firm handshake”.

And so the mismatch is that even when someone who might be sympathetic politically or socially, it is not part of their own lived experience. It is hard to explain to someone who got a middle class job with a college or high school degree what it is like to be expected to do unpaid internships for experience before moving on to a job that might afford a one-bedroom apartment.

I guess my overall point is that the political issues are the tip of the iceberg, and the underpinnings of them are based on tacit beliefs and experiences. Sometimes its more worth it to explore those tacit beliefs.

• Rayne says:

People who need the “benefit of the doubt” can have it for a minute, but it’s a privilege. Minimum wage workers don’t have that privilege; there are more than 80 million of them, or roughly 25% of America’s population who must live this grinding reality every day, scraping by while the people who expect the privilege of mulling over their existence order a burger from them.

It’s one thing to joke all these years later about Sen. Ted Steven’s “The internet is a series of tubes”-level lack of awareness, but this isn’t a Bridge to Nowhere a few hundred Americans may use. It’s a sizable chunk of youth and even elderly workers supplementing their retirement who are threatened by the inability to grasp the reality in which they live.

Time’s up. Members of Congress may be older and out of touch but their staff members aren’t and they’d better fully communicate conditions to their MOC or 2022 won’t be pretty and 2024 will be a shit show.

• ceebee says:

Rayne’s BLS wage source doc says 542K workers made minimum wage in 2017- and 1.3M made sub-Federal minimum wage. Probably an undercount for the latter. I agree we’d be much better off with a significantly higher wage figure though.

• Rayne says:

Let me paste that link to BLS to make it more obvious and accessible.

Interesting how there hasn’t been an update since the year Trump took office.

• Spencer says:

And, assuming that https://www.bls.gov/bls/senior_staff/beach.htm is up to date, the current BLS commissioner is a Trump holdover (“William W. Beach became the 15th Commissioner of Labor Statistics on March 28, 2019”). And, of course, worked at the Heritage Foundation until he became “Chief Economist for the Senate Budget Committee, Republican Staff, from 2013 through early 2016”.

The lack of updates might be cleaned up soon, but maybe not under This Guy?

• Rayne says:

Thanks for digging into BLS. Yeah, we really need a list of people who should be replaced and regulations which should be reverted. So much damage was done inside four years.

p.s. Beach is another perfect example of a pudgy, soft-handed, slack-bottomed white dude who’s marginalized hourly workers.

• P J Evans says:

When my father retired at the end of 1979, he was making 27K per year. I still have no clue how he was making ends meet, but part of it was that he’d paid 35K for the house, in 1966, and by 1979 he wasn’t supporting three kids. (In 1978, I’d had a job that paid \$4.40/hour, and could just make it with an apt that cost \$135 a month, with a market within walking distance and taking a bus to work, about \$40/month.)

3. TooLoose LeTruck says:

As far as I can tell, we’re headed for a crack up in this society…

I’ve run similar sets of numbers thru my head over and over again (minimum wage x 40/hrs = blah blah blah) an I am APPALLED at what I see…

If you track the minimum wage against CEO compensation, wouldn’t the minimum wage be like… shit… can’t even figure that out… the numbers I found said CEO compensation had gone up 1,000% since 1978, and the ‘typical worker’s’ pay, 11%…

What’s that, 100 to 1? Hell, if the minimum wage had tripled since 1978, to \$21/hr (300%?), you’d STILL have a hard time living in the Bay Area…

I spent 10 years working for two different non-profits in the east bay that dealt w/ housing… we had a whole string of young Americorp volunteers pass thru both offices over the years and they were uniformly shocked at what a loaf of bread or quart of milk cost here.

I drive across Berkeley and all I see are 5 & 6 story apartment building going up, like mushrooms in a cow pasture after a summer rainstorm, and on almost every street corner there are now multiple tents pitched…

That’s truly obscene…

I’d love to have the opportunity to ask a billionaire how much happier they were when they made that 2nd billion, and how much did their standard of living improve?

• Lawnboy says:

FWIW, I brought my clan with me for a 4 week course at a major hardware provider (Fortran!! LOL) in Cupertino. It was January 1990 just after that big quake during the World Series which made for an interesting trip. I was off every Friday so off we went to see the Bay Area, all 4 of us. It was great to see all the plant material, especially Jumbo Agave.

One of the smaller stucco homes near by was up for \$675k! We had paid \$82,000 for a larger bung in a cold northern steel town. Shocking. One of my classmates was hired by the firm, they trained with normal customers, and when I asked her , “how can you live here?”, she replied that she was a fresh minted grad from Ohio and her plan was to transfer to Portland or SanDiego as soon as she got a chance. She lived an hour south and did the drive.

The point is, this is not new. I had never seen a homeless person before, but there they were. Vets pushing carts down in the “Sirloin”, unreal to me. People living in the parks. East PaloAlto shootings were across the 101 from our West PA a block away. Such contrast in the most beautiful place we had ever visited. Those images haunt me.

• Rayne says:

No, the level of homelessness in greater Bay Area is unprecedented. This isn’t the homelessness you saw a couple decades ago.

Homelessness isn’t new but an 8.4% increase in population from 2010 to 2018 alone is. Apple’s HQ and the impending Googleplex is new. It’s been written about frequently and NIMBY seems to be the reason it isn’t resolved. For example:

https://computerhistory.org/blog/homelessness-the-problem-that-even-silicon-valley-cant-seem-to-solve/

https://extras.mercurynews.com/whoowns/googleapple.html

Blowing it off as nothing new enables Big Tech’s refusal to deal constructively with a problem they’re creating.

• Lawn says:

Agreed, 100%. I have followed the mobile home issue as well. “Not new”….thinking more of the frog in the water metaphor. Im so busy raising 3 great kids, (2 masters degrees and a carpenter all debt free), making it all work, and the time goes. Looking back, perhaps the seeds were sewn then.

Pls forgive the poor choice of words.
Great work…love it when it Raynes.

• TooLoose LeTruck says:

You are 100%, absolutely correct about the current level of homelessness in the greater Bay Area…

Yes, there have always been homeless people on the streets of Berkeley… years ago, I knew some of them on a first name basis and would drink coffee w/ them in the morning on a street corner… not exactly sure when the uptick started, but we’ve gone from dozens to hundreds to thousands pretty quickly… the homeless camps in some quarters go on for blocks… it is shocking to see…

I’ll take some pictures for you, Rayne… any good way to get them to you? The conditions people are being forced to live in around here are shocking to see.

This is most definitely NOT the ‘homelessness’ someone visiting would have seen 20 years ago.

Yes, even small houses down Cupertino way were going for that kind of money 30 years ago… in Oakland – OAKLAND – in what until not too long ago what were considered bad neighborhoods, even crappy houses are ticking up to the high aughts (\$700K and up ^!)

This is indeed unprecedented…

• Rayne says:

Nah, don’t worry about sending pictures, thanks much anyhow. There are plenty of photos all over the internet, and lots of anecdotal evidence about the situation (like this SJSU prof who was sleeping in her car in spite of teaching full time). I want to get my hands on a big essay I read a while, written about living in a rented chicken coop — some guy literally pissing in a jar at night because there was no bathroom, and paying a ridiculous sum for the space. Just to be able to work in SV.

It’s not just SV, though, it’s the entire west coast. I have a writer friend who’s lived for several years now in an RV in Seattle, can’t really afford a more permanent place there on what he makes.

And then there’s the entire embrace of rootlessness by late Millennials/early Gen Z because they don’t believe the system known as the American Dream will ever work for them. This is partially elective and partially not, but they’re still homeless. The old Okies of the 1930s have a new iteration, one not stuck between Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl and California’s agricultural mecca — which is a good thing considering wildfires and other contemporary climate emergency threats. The entire Tiny Home movement, too, reflects the inability of working Americans to obtain what was readily available 20 years ago, and a fear of an economic replay of the foreclosure crisis.

Right there is a sign this is different — I just named two movements which redefine homelessness to make it more palatable.

• TooLoose LeTruck says:

Again, I am appalled at what I see going on here… apart from what we see in the homeless camps, how many more are finding some way to hide the circumstances they’re living in?

Several years ago, I called AAA when my battery failed and while talking to the person who came to jumpstart me, he dropped that he sleeps in his car at night… he drives up, into, and over the east bay hills (big green belt out that way) and finds a quiet, secluded spot to park, then sleeps there.

How man other people are living like that, that don’t want the world around them to see them as homeless and don’t get counted in any surveys?

Oakland has a population of a little over 400,000 and an estimated homeless population of 4,000, which means approximately 1 in every 100 people in Oakland are homeless…

4. Peterr says:

Here in KC, restaurants of every stripe are having a tough time hiring, from fast food to fine dining, from cooks and kitchen staff to front-of-house staff to managers. Especially on the low end of the staffing tree, I sense that folks felt like they were on a yo-yo this past year, even if they wanted to continue working, and looking for a different line of work that was more stable looks pretty damn attractive.

The owners quoted in this article are well-regarded in KC, and are not in the “squeeze the staff for every nickel” mold. If they are having trouble hiring, those places with less enlightened owners are in deep trouble indeed.

5. Rapier says:

Ultimately it’s deeper than the money. These “unskilled” jobs get no respect and so people themselves doing them don’t respect themselves for having such jobs. The workers themselves not respecting their jobs thus do not strive to do their job well. An endless vicious circle ensues.

Certainly money is a part of the equation. Too big a part really. Or it’s just so damn complicated since money is the thing that gains universal respect and lack of it gains universal scorn.

In America there is almost zero respect for any manual job, unless it’s done for a wealthy person by a real or supposed craftsman.

Money and status are almost inseparable in America. So it’s little wonder the devil has the upper hand.

• Wajim says:

You certainly have a point well taken there. My supervisor complains to me constantly about how our college’s custodial staff is “demeaned and degraded” by the pointy-headed academics and so-called professional staff (i.e., secretaries, office clerks, etc.). I can’t speak to your suggestion that “The workers themselves not respecting their jobs thus do not strive to do their job well.” Perhaps some indeed do. As for me, I take some pride in a spotless restroom or office I am alone responsible for, but maybe I’m “old-school,” or perhaps my sense of self-worth is not predicated upon my current job. Funky thing, I know

• Rayne says:

Horse. Shit. You have no clue what you’re talking about. Imagine the precariousness of your daily survival hanging on whether some Karen gets pissed off and has a maskless screaming tantrum about the packet of hot sauce you didn’t put in her order of Taco Bell.

But thanks for making the point about a lack of respect for workers. And it’s definitely all about the money.

6. Wajim says:

Why, I am a “pudgy white neoliberal male academic type” (only 2 degrees, he admits shamefully, along with a hundred thousand dollar still remaining debt to achieve them) after several decades of teaching liberal arts higher ed), and yet I agree with most if not all you’ve said here with regard to low-wage employment/social justice. I taught for years at a 4 year college in northern Idaho (the “low-bid state,” as I suggest its license plate motto should be), and several years at the University of Montana (a much more enlightened institution, but, hey, it is Montana, Gianforte, Daines, et al). That said, stereotyping is not a good look for anyone. Not all of us “pudgy white . . . types” are anti-progressive. Due to our current national (and my personal) Covid risk circumstances, I mop floors now, at 60, for the same institution I graduated from as the “Outstanding Student in the College of Arts and Sciences” some 30 years ago. \$11 per hour, ID state benefits, most of which I declined as they are so costly. Yes, it sucks, like the pay. So, yeah, don’t appreciate such lazy (dare I say, “reactionary”?) thinking. I’m on your side, until you slur me and folks like me with ad hominem attacks. Not a good look

• ducktree says:

FWIW ~ When I worked as an administrative staff member at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB ~ The Beach!) back in the 80’s, their School of Liberal Arts did not include any curricula on “neoliberalism”.

You may have taken the wrong fork on Rayne’s path to Larry Summers’ gated community.

Just a thought.

• gmoke says:

A friend worked as the super in the apartment building on Mass Ave where Larry Summers lived once upon a time. He told me that Summers would never speak to him or even look at him when they were both in the elevator.

My friend has a couple of advanced degrees and is a constant student. While he worked in that building Czeslaw Milosz also lived there and they would get together to drink wine and talk poetry.

PS: The son of another friend had Summers as an advisor when he went to Harvard. My friend was happy that his son got such special attention but abhorred Summers as if he were a venomous toad and, I suspect, advised his son very carefully about what to accept and what to reject from Summers.

• Rayne says:

You just did the Not-All-White-Men schtick. Stop it. When you attack me with your defensiveness you’re forgetting the problem.

The problem is those pudgy bastards like Larry Summers and his sycophants who are so worried about inflation they forget there are humans attached to the dollar bills they are trying to suppress. They’re rarely people of color, rarely women, rarely people who’ve had to break a fucking sweat to get through the month. They use words like fungible to describe humans who make sure they have food to eat and clean water to drink and a tidy place to work.

If anything you should be piping up for the academics like poor adjuncts who can’t make a living wage as a university employee and need a second or third job to pay the rent, much less their student loans — which you’ll note I wrote about in my last post.

And if you’re an economist talking about people as mere inputs, you deserve the soft-handed, slack-bottomed label.

Get over your hurt white feelings. Imagine being a person of color and what they have to put up with in this country on top of what ever grievances you have on a daily basis. I can’t worry about your privileged white ass when I have to worry about my Asian-Pacific Island father making safely home.

• ducktree says:

((Rayne))!! We can call it even on the beverage tab (mine’s gin based). Larry Summers and his opinion about women’s analytical capacity chaps my hide!

Wajim didn’t deserve the pixels.

• Rayne says:

Ooh, gin! I usually reserve that for warmer months and look, it’s warmer! I’ll have a G&T, extra lime please and thanks! I’ll buy the next round.

And Larry Summers’ grave is one I hope to piss on one day, leaving behind a sticker I will likewise slap on Mitch McConnell’s inevitable tombstone: Nevertheless, she persisted.

• ducktree says:

Grrrl~ I’m saving the red sequined floor length off-the-shoulder chemise for Mitch’s lying in state in the Rotunda!!

Gonna do the shimmy Mae West style!

• Rayne says:

Best occasion for that, really don’t want to get urine on it when pissing on his grave. LOL

• ducktree says:

Even if they were still on fire, I wouldn’t wet my wick over his ashes.

Cheers~!

• earlofhuntingdon says:

I need to buy more popcorn.

• Rayne says:

Definitely go big. Drought and heat this year is likely to cause a smaller popcorn harvest.

Better stock up on butter, too, because USDA forecasts fats and vegetable oil prices rising by 13-16%.

• Rayne says:

Plymouth when I’m drinking gin for gin’s sake, and Tanqueray when I’m mixing. Yuck — never Gilbey’s, and Beefeaters is my FIL’s drink, I don’t touch it. Whatever bottle I have in the house is always on standby for the old man and his three-olive martinis.

Of late I’ve been drinking what my youngest has been brewing. Mommy’s little biochemist has become very proficient at dry hard ciders. Yum. Call it my ROI on their degree program, a retirement filled with samplers of the latest batch.

• Raven Eye says:

Mmmmm. Cider. Americans are finally waking up to that. And so much variety.

One night I gave some colleagues a whirlwind tour of London on our last night in the UK. I had a sore throat and knew that a cider would feel really, really good. I had to convince the wait person that this particular Yank knew exactly what he was ordering. And it was good.

• earlofhuntingdon says:

I prefer the Dutch Jenevers, Bols when I can get it, or Sapphire.. If limited to a single bottle of anything, I would be content with any Macallan. English hard cider is a treat, but it’s like a sweet mixed drink: you have no idea what will hit you if you drink it as if it were apple juice. If raiding the freezer, a good aquavit will do nicely.

• Rayne says:

LOL the hard cider in this house tastes more like a sauvignon blanc. I had to twist my kid’s arm to add a bit more sugar this last batch as it boosted the apple flavor a bit. Next batch I’m going to try brewing myself, but I’ve got grade B maple syrup I’m going to try using as back sweetener.

• earlofhuntingdon says:

Surprising, given how sweet most apples are. With talent like that in the house, when the apocalypse hits, you’ll be in good shape.

• Geoguy says:

Ahh, cider! We made ours with apples from trees found near house sites of farms reverting to forest, used charred whiskey barrels, and frozen concentrated grape juice for priming sugar. Those old timey apples were quite tart. Not everyone’s taste but it was fun.

• P J Evans says:

Makes sense: drought affects corn and soybeans, and corn is also used in animal feed.

• earlofhuntingdon says:

A big percentage of it also finds its way into your gas tank. Heavily subsidized. In the US, commercially-raised corn is cloned from a single variety. Not much resilience there.

• Rayne says:

It’s mostly Nebraska I’m worried about, which I think is the number one producer of popcorn. Drought forecast through July shows states east of Mississippi faring better, but if Nebraska is damaged, Indiana as number two producer won’t make up the difference.

Didn’t even think about soybeans, guess I’d better look at them with an eye on soymilk futures. LOL

• pasha says:

thousands of acres of indiana are owned by con agra and devoted to popcorn. most grow the original hybrid developed by indiana-native orville redenbacher

7. bidrec says:

I have no insight into restaurant hiring but back when America was great and there was negative unemployment among illiterates I worked in a foundry. It paid 3.23 an hour plus incentive. My rent was \$90 a month for a two bedroom apartment. I walked to work. The employer had about 30 outmates from the county jail bused in every day because it was so hard to get people to do this sort of work. The job was unionized. I think the secret to low rent was the fact that the landlords (brothers) were local.

8. rosalind says:

going a bit OT, but it does relate to the hypocrisy of our age. the newish owner of a large classic boat that once belonged to a h’wood legend just took the ship on its (his) maiden voyage. the guy steered her into shallow water on his way into a harbor and hit a rock and sunk the boat. i had already been shaking my head at the media’s parroting of his pasive account, and then i took a look at his webpage: hours after the grounding he revamped it into a gofundme plea for \$1.5 million dollars.

then i noticed his brand new twitter account follows only right wing and far right nutjobs. it is a veritible maga heaven. he is now sending out tweets to his rightie heroes begging them for help. he’s a big fan of those who expect others to work for a pittance and never ever receive financial benefit from our government, but the moment he screws the pooch he is front in line with his hand out.

dame shame about the boat, though. navigational charts – they’re your friend!

9. Rugger9 says:

These stories highlight what happens when the SLJs (as we called them in the service) don’t get done. Businesses need customers, and an oh-bleep takes out ten successes and when it’s due to penny pinching (like low staffing) it seems to have still more effect. People will not go to places that don’t care about them.

Many of the modern CEOs of larger organizations have their prerequisite Harvard MBA and firmly believe in the ability to manage by spreadsheet. They view their status by the compensation they get, which will never be enough if someone else is higher on the Forbes list, and are therefore detached from the business they run.

That also includes the ones like Romney’s Bain who parachute in, suck out the cash and then bankrupt the rest, wiping out jobs. If Sears wasn’t safe from this manipulation, no one is.

• P J Evans says:

MBAs from any big university, but especially the private ones. USC, same attitude: just those three letters make them Better Than Us Peasants.

• ducktree says:

Locally known as “University of Spoiled Children” and following that Singer admissions scandal, the sheep’s skin has lost its sheen.

Sorry for the metaphor melange… it’s almost dinner time!

• Raven Eye says:

Stuck on a completely full (remember the good old days) regional jet for two hours. Who would you rather have in the next seat: An MBA or an MFA?

• P J Evans says:

I know some MBAs who worked before getting that degree – one of those, okay. But otherwise, I’d take the MFA.

• Rugger9 says:

Which is why everybody in the Pac-12 hates SC.

10. earlofhuntingdon says:

Elizabeth City, a small town near NC’s northeastern coast – where everybody knows everybody else – declares “state of emergency” before releasing body camera footage of police killing Andrew Brown Jr. It must be ugly.

Similar audio and video from other killings over the past month routinely show police firing long bursts, half a clip per gun. In Brown’s case, he was apparently hit by 10 rounds, which means police fired 20 rounds or more. (On the street, police hit the target about half the time.) That reflects a determined shoot-to-kill practice, with virtually no time allowed to assess a situation or use any other tactic to control it. That’s bringing imperial “policing” tactics of an occupying army home to the metropole.

https://twitter.com/WAVY_News/status/1386662314292690946

• earlofhuntingdon says:

Coroner rules Andrew Brown Jr’s death a “homicide.” COD a “penetrating gunshot wound to the head.” He died at the scene. CNN’s summary of the coroner’s report does not indicate the point of entry, which would be crucial in evaluating the police version of events, as would the number and points of entry of other rounds that hit Brown and his vehicle. At least one other round fired by police passed through several rooms of the home of Brown’s neighbor.

I note for Mr. Santorum’s benefit that Elizabeth City is in a NC county whose name has those pleasing Anglo-Saxon rhythms with which he is most familiar: Pasquotank. I won’t burden him with the equally pleasing rhythms of the town and county names that ring Seattle and Tacoma, WA. Puyallup on out of here, Rick.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/04/26/us/andrew-brown-elizabeth-city-shooting/index.html

• earlofhuntingdon says:

A shit storm is brewing in Elizabeth City, NC. Andrew Brown Jr’s family has seen 20 seconds of the body camera footage of his killing by police, calling it an execution. According to his family, Brown was in his truck, with both hands on the wheel throughout. It was blocked in his driveway by police vehicles. Officers were firing as they approached, killing Brown.

Of those involved, ten deputies — ten — have been placed on leave, pending results of an investigation. Two have resigned, one retired. Knowing what was on the body cam footage, the town declared a state of emergency before letting the family see a redacted portion of it.

https://twitter.com/TheTNHoller/status/1386769014190493698 – with footage from USA Today.

• Rugger9 says:

Sunshine is a great disinfectant, and suitable questions are being asked about the coming redactions to “protect ongoing investigations”. Let’s just say I’m not surprised that the police lied even though they had cameras on.

The arrogance and indiscipline just doesn’t stop with the police unions.

11. Fran of the North says:

What I find the most offensive of this whole topic is the oft-parroted “But the job creators…” line of reasoning. Somehow, those ‘entrepreneurs’ who are providing these jobs at minimum or sub-minimum wages are hailed as heroes – the backbone that makes America strong.

The hard truth is that those employers are living off the teat of government welfare, far more so than the ‘lazy no-goodniks’ that they decry.

When a minimum wage worker with no health benefits gets sick, you and I pay the bill through inflated insurance premiums and higher hospital and physician fees. When they can’t afford decent child care, those failures accrue to society in multiple ways.

If you can’t afford to pay your staff a ‘living wage’ – say \$ 30-40,000 per year plus benefits and retirement at minimum, then you don’t have a business. Period. And no, the world doesn’t need another \$8 / meal fast food joint, no matter how much the franchisor tells us that we do.

Those ‘brave entrepreneurs’ are lining their pockets with taxpayer funds as much as the grifters who are thankfully now the former occupants.

• Rayne says:

Exhibit A: Walmart, Exhibit B: McDonald’s — both of which are indirectly subsidized by the U.S. government.

Walmart and McDonald’s are among the top employers of beneficiaries of federal aid programs like Medicaid and food stamps, according to a study by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office released Wednesday.

12. earlofhuntingdon says:

Now that I’ve restocked my popcorn stash, I’ll post this comment from Rick Santorum. He’s a prancing putz, but he’s a useful idiot for those who benefit from his nonsense. Santorum repeats a myth common among white triumphalists:

“We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

The ignorance burns. Who’s the “we?” “Birthed” is sexist and an inadequate verb to describe violent dispossession. “There was nothing here,” is a standard imperialist trope. It means there was nothing here “owned” by those whom we were obligated by force and law to respect, and none of its bounty was extracted in the manner European capital demanded it be. That “nothing” was, therefore, ripe for violent taking – in the name of humane efficiency.

That American culture excludes the culture of Native Americans is false, and not just because Santorum thinks the plethora of names like Potomac, Allegheny, and Monongahela are as European as Columbus and Philadelphia. As with the claim that there was “nothing” here when Europeans discovered it, it erases Native Americans’ lives and cultures, and the genocide meant to erase them.

https://twitter.com/JasonSCampbell/status/1386685340522536961

• Rayne says:

I want to point out Santorum made these remarks at a Young America’s Foundation event. YAF are notorious racists who’ve groomed GOP’s future leaders. Santorum merely delivered their usual red meat, likely bucking for future campaign donations in 2024.

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Young_America's_Foundation

ADDER: The Native American community is NOT happy, either. Here’s some pushback.

I’m certain the reason Santorum is so open about his colonialism is Biden’s appointment of Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary and how much more representation Native Americans now have because she’s in that role. He’s fronting for both white supremacy and extractive industries.

• elcajon64 says:

“…birthed a nation…”

Know your audience.

• earlofhuntingdon says:

Or, to use D.W. Griffith’s original title, The Clansman. Coincidentally, he made his film during the presidency of southern racist, Woodrow Wilson.

• earlofhuntingdon says:

Thanks. I posted the comment because Santorum seems to be a disposable troll, whose job is to sell the propaganda the hard right wants out there. His red meat for the base, which believes his crap, makes only slightly less malicious crap seem reasonable. The GOP is grabbing its gun and going full-on crazy.

13. ptayb says:

Most work that could done by a worker in the past will be gone in the future as jobs in the warehouse, logging, mining, manufacturing, shipping, cab driving, and retail industries (to name a few) are taken over by robots. I saw an article about a lazer-armed weed killing robot programmed to roam the fields day or night in western WA. Machines can pick strawberrys now! What will all the unemployed do? How will they define themselves? Won’t a society with a wide swath of permanently unemployed cause a consumer based economy to dry up? The power differential between workers and their over-lords is bad enough today. Now imagine the differential between the working elite and non-workers. (Maybe it’s not that hard. I can just walk past the growing homeless encampments in here in Seattle and scale it up.)

• Rayne says:

You’re assuming two things: that machines will replace people (they haven’t, people move to new roles) and homeless people are universally unemployed (not at all true in places like Silicon Valley).

In a world where everything is manufactured by 3D printers, there’s a demand for printer repairpersons. When your pizza is made by a robot, robot repair is critical to making deliveries in 30 minutes or less. But when the software development for printers and pizza robots all concentrates in a space tightly bound by physical geography, housing is going to be tight and the lowest paid in the software supply chain will be squeezed out of shelter.

• ptayb says:

Employers are moving to robots/automation to reduce the number of employees needed to produce the same amount of goods. If every leap in productivity created by automation required the same number of jobs to service the automation there would be no push for the automation in the first place.

I know the homeless are not universially unemployed. Their labor is certainly are not valued highly enough to allow for a decent standard of living. I hope that the callous way they are treated today is not a harbinger of how society will treat what is bound to be a large segment our population who’s labor is no longer required to keep the wheels of productivity turning.

I think that saying that people will move to new roles is a little facile. Have you not read about towns where the main industries have left (automotive, steel) or where labor requirements have been sharply reduced by automation (coal mines, logging, and farming communities)? Some of the new roles people have moved to include low wage jobs, the unemployment line, and opiate dependance.

About the lowest paid software worker that has been squeezed out of shelter…too bad for him? We need to be thinking about how to accomodate the dislocated.

• earlofhuntingdon says:

You’re preaching to the choir. Rayne knows a great deal about the questions you raise. A longtime resident of SE Michigan, as was Marcy Wheeler, she knows all about what happens to towns, large and small, when their main industries leave for cheaper and dirtier pastures.

• Rayne says:

Multiple members of my family have worked in automation for decades here in Michigan, Mexico, and China. The loss of jobs here wasn’t due to machines — it was moving the plants overseas. The same number of people working before automation in the US worked during automation, just not on identical jobs, and then again once the machines shipped overseas. Blame George W. Bush for much of job loss; he did nothing to replace the offshored industries. But humans remained employed even with the introduction of automation. They simply weren’t Americans.

The loss of coal jobs is directly offset by the rise in alternative energy jobs. The problem is that there has been insufficient effort to ensure jobs lost in coal were replaced in the very same region by green jobs. Coal, unfortunately, exists where alternative energy has been more costly to produce up until now when solar energy cost per kilowatt hour has dropped below all other energy sources. Now the bottleneck is adequate grid and cheap batteries; once that’s addressed you can stop grieving for your coal miner and his daughter.

You also need to read up on farming. It hasn’t been little communities of small family-farmed plots of land for a long time — it’s a part of mythic American Exceptionalism(tm) — and the forces which have changed that are varied. Yes, we have a farmer in the family — they grow hay. That’s one of the few types of farms which haven’t changed much, but there’s not a lot of commodification of hay, unlike other crops; it also hasn’t been the only source of income for the family since they have day jobs which help provide health care. Perhaps if this country had socialized health care for all, we could see more small farms again, but that would take legislation discouraging land acquisition by foreign investors…which I have recently touched on in a previous post.

Oh, and this? “About the lowest paid software worker that has been squeezed out of shelter…too bad for him? We need to be thinking about how to accomodate the dislocated.

You mean the developer working remotely from anywhere with a good internet connection? Pish.

• ptayb says:

Do think that Amazon’s “fulfillment” centers with their automated picking machines employ as many people as an un-mechanized warehouse?

I grew up in Renesselear Indiana a small farming community of 4000. I visited my friends there a few summers ago. A farm that once employed 5 people is now run by one. My friend enters the GPS data into his machines and twiddles his thumbs as his land is plowed and seeded. Same with the harvest.

I’m not nostalgic about coal mining. I didn’t last year at Blacksville #2 in W VA. Blacksville #1 blew up shortly after I left in 1972. However, the coal mines are an example where a lot more coal can be produced by new machines and a smaller work force than was previously needed. (This is all independent of issues around global warming.)

When I was young I travelled all over the country and was able to find good paying jobs. I worked at the Loveland tunnel in CO. That tunnel would be built by a boring machine today with fraction of the workforce and no need for young laborer.

I feel for the young people today. I don’t think that progress should stop so that we all can keep working our same jobs and then hand them off to our kids. The trend is obvious though. Less workers can produce more products with automation. This trend is accelerating in all sectors. There will be consequences and there will be people left behind. Much of our identity is wrapped up in our work. What does that mean if there is no work? When asked “What do you do?” the answer may not be a job description.

• Rayne says:

Do think that Amazon’s “fulfillment” centers with their automated picking machines employ as many people as an un-mechanized warehouse?

Amazon’s warehouses were designed for the number of people they have or less. I was referring to automobile manufacturing lines two decades ago in which conveyors were replaced with carriers — same people, less back-breaking work with fewer errors.

When I was young I travelled all over the country and was able to find good paying jobs.

Again, the jobs were shipped abroad. Those automobile workers making parts on automation in a factory in the US are now in another country where they pay less.

I don’t think that progress should stop so that we all can keep working our same jobs and then hand them off to our kids.

My kids are both in biomedtech, in jobs that didn’t exist when I was their age. When I was their age, the kinds of ready jobs waiting people were body grinding, soul crushing; they’re working in much safer environments. Quit sucking on your nostalgia bong.

• ptayb says:

I’m glad your children are doing so well. I guess I am a little nostalgic for a time when you could find a living wage job without completing 16 to 20 years of education. Now not so much. I don’t think access to educational opportunities are easily obtained in our society or equitably distributed. But bravo to you.

• Rayne says:

It’s not merely the kind of jobs — we have plenty of them which don’t require higher education. The problem is business models, our tax structure, our domestic policy. In Sweden, for example, a fast food worker earns enough to pay rent, have a family, and buy a car. Why isn’t that the case here?

Article from 2015 about this disparity which hasn’t changed much in that time: https://www.fastcompany.com/3052798/can-fast-food-work-ever-be-a-decent-job-these-swedish-mcdonalds-workers-say-yes

I met a young Swedish woman about 10 years ago who worked in fast food; she found it mind boggling then that US workers couldn’t support themselves working for a burger chain. In a decade, no change to these jobs which are plentiful while profits have been good.

Go find something else to do.

• P J Evans says:

I was in a job that shouldn’t have required a bachelor’s degree, although a lot of those doing it had one. (IMO, if there was an educational requirement missing, it would have been something like engineering drawing; we had to read a lot of those, and people with geography backgrounds need to be trained.)

• P J Evans says:

My first (and second) jobs were electronics assembly. That’s not only been automated, it’s gone overseas.
Jobs that don’t get automated are ones that require human brains. The ones I had longest (and that I enjoyed) were ones where I was summarizing data to go into the computer, doing QC on it, reading maps (and aerial photos) to see where things were: none of it could be automated.

14. klynn says:

Rayne,
Thank you for your last two posts.

Necessary discussions and a need for change.

• Rayne says:

No prob, klynn, nice to see you as always. :-)