You Want Fries With That?

Today, thousands of fast food employees will be going on strike as part of the ongoing battle to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers around the country.  Employees of Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, and even some from Macy’s, Sears, and Dollar Tree are currently or about to walk off their jobs in protest of their low wages.  The minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour ($7.35 in some areas), with most fast food workers making somewhere between $8 and $9 an hour for their service.  When working at those wages, especially with part-time employment, it is quite a challenge to pay bills and care for a family.  They would like their wages to be raised to $15 an hour to properly compensate them for their work and to allow them to live comfortably.

The National Restaurant Association isn’t exactly showing support for these workers.  They say that only 5% of restaurant employees are making minimum wage, half of that 5% is comprised of teenagers, 7 our of 10 of the 5% are under 25, and most of the 5% works part-time.  These people seem to be working after school jobs or working to supplement the income they are earning elsewhere or that their spouse, partner, or parent earns.  Outside of that 5%, you have people like Shaniqua Davis of New York who has worked at McDonald’s (and is currently unemployed) and unable to care for her child and pay the bills with the part-time, low paying wages she received.  A friend of mine also showed me an article highlighting a young single woman with three kids who cannot make ends meet with her low wage.  Call me cold-hearted, but it’s difficult to sympathize with people who aren’t even trying, like unemployed Davis, or who make bad decisions and end up with three kids to support by the age of 24.  This is not proper justification to raise wages.


Ronald Ehrenberg, a professor of industrial and labor relations and economics at Cornell University, says that “because of the difficulty of getting jobs in general…for people with relatively modest education levels, you have a lot of people working in these companies who are trying to support a family based upon their earnings alone.  That’s very, very difficult to do.”  He and others want it to be known that these jobs are not just help by high school students trying to save up for a car, but by people with families to support and real bills to pay.  These fast food and retail workers are tired of earning less than what they feel they are worth.  The strike today will be the largest so far and they hope that it will bring real change.  The few live interviews I’ve heard were from employees in management and lead positions in various fast food companies that feel they are being short-changed by multi-million/billion dollar corporations.  And I do have to agree; management positions in retail and fast food are stressful, busy, and don’t provide proper compensation for the work that is done.

My first job was at Chick Fil-A making $5.15 an hour with an eventual raise to $5.35.  I worked that job during my junior year of high school, switching to retail for $6 an hour during my senior year and during breaks at college.  Eventually I moved to Shoe Carnival, making $7.25 an hour and moving to $8.50 while supporting myself, paying for my apartment and car, and taking care of all my bills.  It was a challenge to make so little and still take care of myself, but I did it and always tried to do better.  In all my jobs, low paying or otherwise, I took great care to be the best that I could be.  It is what allowed me to upgrade every time I switched jobs and what allowed me to advance in companies while still there.  At no point did I ever think that a minimum wage fast food or retail job was the best I could do.  At no point did I feel that they owed me anything more than what they were giving me.  Also, at no point did I take an offer for management because the wages were too low and I knew I could do better.  Knowingly going into management when you know the wages are too low isn’t the fault of the company, it’s a decision you make on your own.


I understand and sympathize with the workers who aren’t making enough and who are struggling to pay their bills and survive.  I’ve been there myself, making so little that I had to resort to doing things that were definitely beneath me to make due.  I know how hard it can be and I’ve made it a point to never be in that position again.  I’m just not so sure I support the idea of starting fry cooks and cashiers at $15 an hour.  I come across people on almost a daily basis who do not do their job well enough to justify that amount of money.  Yes, I do think that they should be compensated better, but I don’t agree that the minimum should be set so high.  Now, if a system is proposed that allows employees to work up to that rate in a timely matter by advancing, doing more work, and taking on more responsibilities, I’ll be behind it 100%.  Start at $8 per hour and step up your pay by learning more, doing more, and educating yourself.  Ensure your employer knows your value so you’ll have a fantastic reference for a new job that you probably should start applying for.

Another friend of mine sent me an article that said President Obama’s plan to increase minimum wage to $9 an hour was still a far cry from what workers really deserve according to a study done in 2012 by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.  It says that “the minimum wage should have reached $21.72 an hour in 2012 if it kept up with increases in worker productivity.  While advancements in technology have increased the amount of goods and services that can be produced in a set amount of time, wages have remained relatively flat.  Even if the minimum wage kept up with inflation since it peaked in real value in the late 1960s, low-wage workers should be earning a minimum of $10.52 an hour.”


It should be obvious to everyone that our current minimum wage is embarrassingly low.  A bump to $9, as the President has proposed, would be a great start in helping these low paid employees and hopefully also reducing the amount of people receiving government assistance in order to get by.  As far as the strike goes, I highly doubt that any employees of any company will get the results they are hoping for.  They are expecting a miracle.  By walking out of their jobs, they likely assume that the companies will see their value and up their compensation.  But these companies will probably replace unhappy employees with eager new hires faster than they will bump the current employee wages up to $15 an hour.  That amount is absurd and shouldn’t be considered, especially not for entry-level unskilled workers who drop frozen food in a deep fryer for a few hours a day.

The girl at Hardees who spoke in a fake British accent while taking my order doesn’t deserve $15 an hour.  Neither does the cranky cashier at Wal-Mart who shot me a dirty look when I said hello, or the guy at Burger King who screwed up my order, or the woman at Long John Silvers who shorted me $7 worth of food.  If you half ass your job, you deserve half of $15.  Unskilled labor done poorly does not deserve a higher wage.  As far as the rest of the employees go, the ones who take pride in their job and work to the best of their ability day in and day out, the ones who move up in the company and are working to give themselves a better future, they do deserve more and they should get it.  I hope that these people are able to find some success in raising their wages since they have the work ethic to back up a justification for higher pay.  That said, I’m not going to hold my breath for any kind of drastic change in our future.


About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on August 29, 2013, in Food, Kids, Life, Money, News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Seems like everyone forgot the Economic Bill of Rights challenge FDR posed to Congress in 1944.

  2. You’re absolutely right JB. Technically, there should never be a minimum wage. Minimum wage at any amount destroys jobs, but that is whole ‘nother post.

    Let’s start with the Declaration…

    The Declaration states that you have the right to pursue happiness. Pursue it, not have it, not get it, not take happiness from someone else for yourself. You have the right, the freedom, to work hard to pursue, to seek out happiness, but nobody owes it to you, nobody has to give you any of theirs, and it’s not Government’s responsibility that you ARE happy, only that you have the freedom to PURSUE happiness…whether you find it or not, is nobody else’s problem. If the Founders meant something else, they would have written, “the right to BE happy” instead. The Declaration was not written on a napkin without any thought. EVERY word is important and means something specifically.

    Let’s touch on slavery…

    Freedom is our most basic right but the most basic element of freedom is that one person can not force another person to do something they don’t want to do, which we traditionally call slavery. Using the violence of Government to force a private company to pay someone more money than the free market would is slavery. To make me pay more for a hamburger, the increase in price of which is really a wealth transfer from what I earned in the pursuit of my happiness and transferring it to someone else for doing nothing more than what they did yesterday, is slavery.

    My body is mine, I own it. I can take my own life. I can cut off my arm. It’s not illegal. If I choose to produce something instead, then what I produce is mine. A chair. A desk. A crop of corn. It’s mine, because without my effort, from my body, it would not exist. And I choose to produce because that is how I survive. If I stop producing, I die. Freedom to work to survive, to pursue happiness, is our most basic right. If I choose to trade a chair I made for a desk someone else made, that is barter. If I choose to exchange my chair for money, and use that money to buy a desk, that is an economy. If I choose to use my labor to provide a service for someone else and in return, they pay me money, that money is mine as much as the labor that I exerted to earn it is mine as much as my body that exerted the labor is mine. If someone else, a Government or otherwise has the “right” to take my money, then my money is not really mine. If my money is not mine, then the labor that produced it is not mine, then my body that produced the labor is not mine. So who owns my body if this is true?

    The Government owns my body. They own your body too. We work our bodies to produce for our own survival, which is our right, and part of our production is taken from us, by force, to be given to others who want it, whether we want them to have it or not. What is the word for when someone can make someone else work hard, and take that which they worked on under threat of violence if they refuse to surrender it? Slavery is that word. There is no difference except that Government makes it legal. Legal theft does not make it moral. There is no such thing as moral theft.

    Now back to our McDonald idiots…

    Flipping burgers is not a career. You don’t feed a family with a bunch of kids from dropping french fries in hot oil. You certainly should be smarter than breeding yourself into poverty at minimum wage. But the reality is, and we just need to accept it, that there are morons everywhere. Absolutely stupid people. There are blondes, brunettes, tall and short, green eye and blue eye, and like all human biological traits, there are intelligent, and thoughtful humans and then there are absolute, complete f’n idiots. It’s just the way it is. The Founders wanted the workers, the intelligent, the thoughtful to be protected from the f’n idiots, because in the end, there are more of them than there are of us, and they always show up to vote, and for that reason politicians will always give them what they want…i.e., YOUR money. Alas, the protections we had are being destroyed, and the idiots are getting everything they wanted.

    Now, these are basic jobs that require only the most basic skills and therefore deserve only the most basic pay. Doctors and Engineers get paid $80,000, $200,000 a year or more because of their experience, their education, and the burden of responsibility that goes with building something safe and secure or saving a human life. They had to sacrifice first, including money for school, their time out of the work force not earning money to study, study, study, and to learn, and they had to start somewhere at the bottom of the totem pole and work their way up. Someone can gain the experience and education to work at McDonalds in a week. The burden of burning the fries or overcooking the hamburger is insignificant. You can start work immediately without sacrifice. That is why the free market pays McD employees so little, but Engineers and Doctors so much.

    Like you, I started at minimum wage. I drove 2,842 miles at 19 years old to work for $4.25 an hour stocking shelves at what is now known as Big Lots (think 99 Cent Store), but back then was called Pic N’ Save. My awesome parents were proud blue collar workers, and I was too proud to take any help from them anyway so I was pretty much on my own. After three months at Pic N Save I got a $0.25 raise. Several months later I was promoted to a stocker, then a night receiving supervisor and the supervisor of home furnishings. My boss left to work for another company and brought me with him to work customer service at a video duplication house, and I got another pay raise. I’ve worked at a chiropractor’s office entering mailing list information into an Excel database. I worked at a call center reading scripts to people when they agreed to switch their phone service, and eventually became the supervisor. When I would drive back to CT for the summer to see my friends and family, I would work odd jobs so I could send money back to CA to pay the rent and the bills. One of them was for a screen printer shop. I would sit out back with turpentine and a soaked rag and clean the screens all day in CT summer heat and humidity. How much cancer did I get from THAT job? lol. But it paid the bills. I worked as a courier, using my own truck, delivering car parts to gas station repair shops and medicine to old folks homes and worked my way up to picking up security-sealed containers from military bases to go to labs for testing god knows what. Eventually I worked as an A/R clerk at the Big 5, a job I got through a Temp Agency. That led to an accounting clerk for a company where I got my first big break when I was asked to begin documenting process improvements for every department in the company. And why? Because I was good at writing, PowerPoint and analyzing how things work and asking how we could make them work better. Within four years, by my 32nd birthday, I was making over $100K a year in Accounting, with nothing but a High School diploma and three classes from a Community College for an, “Accounting Certificate.” I worked for two more companies doing the same thing and I’ve only expanded my resume since. I just completed my Bachelor’s in Accounting in 2010, in my late 30’s, and right now, I’m considering starting my own company.

    It CAN be done. It CAN be done. It CAN be done. If you WORK HARD. If you EDUCATE yourself. If you have a WORK ETHIC. If you take PRIDE in what you do. Like adding eggs and oil and milk and mix makes a cake; hard work, education, ethics and pride make a career.

    These people that are picketing are looking for the easy way out. They are lazy. That’s it. They don’t want to work hard. They don’t want to learn a skill. They just want money handed to them without working for it. They feel entitled. None of the jobs I did before I worked in A/R was ever going to be a career, and I never thought they would. I knew they would never pay enough for a house, or a nice car, or to have a family. Even when I was working these jobs, it would never occur to me, in a million years, to DEMAND more money. That would have seemed ridiculous to me. All my friends knew, everyone knew, that these kinds of jobs were just jobs. I quit them and got new ones on a whim because of just that…they were just jobs, easily replaced because it took no skills, no education, nothing to do them. When I would leave for CT for summer, I almost always had to quit my job, get a new one in CT, and get a new one when I came back to CA. It was understood…you can’t live off of these, you can only get by, barely. If you want something need to mix the ingredients that make a career.

    When I first came to CA I cooked a bucket of pancakes on Sunday and ate them all week, reheated. I mixed cooked rice with milk and that was breakfast. I bought Top Ramen with my 10% discount from Pic N Save for dinner. I rented a tiny room in a tiny house with two other people. I almost missed my rent once and had to sell my 5 disc CD changer my parents gave me for Christmas to pay it. A good weekend was if my buddy and I had enough for gas money so we could go hiking somewhere, which was the only sport I could afford to do. Most of my furniture came out of a dumpster or stuff people left outside that said FREE and was all torn up and stained. Until I got the Big 5 job, I could not afford to live on my own, and my bed had always been a mattress on the floor. Nothing says, “winner” to the ladies like a mattress on the floor. lol. I put in my time. I paid my dues. I worked hard and I studied.

    I built this, I earned everything I have. They built nothing, but demand everything they want. And they want ME to give it to them. No. I will not.

    All that said, I want them to continue to strike. If they keep it up long enough, then the inevitable will happen, which make me nothing but happy.

    I remember in France we stopped at a McDonalds while we were on the road and there were no cashiers, only kiosks. They were awesome. They used pictures and you just tapped what you wanted, and you could even customize your order. You paid at the kiosk with cash or credit, and then it spit out your order with a big number at the top. Then ONE employee would bring the bag to the counter and call out the number in french and english. That was it. Those kiosks must have gotten rid of dozens of McDonald employees. I am sure they picketed too, and the kiosks were the result. Nice job idiots.

    Just down the street from me, the employees of a grocery store chain went on strike demanding hire wages. To give you an idea how stupid they were, the chain was hiring scabs starting at $17/hr, so what the employees were making, one can only imagine. They striked for weeks. This was before I was educated on the stupidity of unions, so I respectfully did not shop there to support them. As I learned more and more about their demands, I was over it. What they wanted was ridiculous, for bagging bananas and stocking shelves with soup. I crossed the line and went shopping and didn’t care anymore about them. After a couple months, most of them were replaced with people happy to make $17 an hour bagging groceries and within six months, two of the lanes were torn out, and four automated scanner machines were installed. Then I saw the same machines at Home Depot and other places. It was beautiful. The ones that were not replaced by scabs were replaced by robots. Genius.

    When Labor gets stupid, and makes themselves too expensive, there is a price point where technology costs as much or less than the human labor, and that is when companies switch to the technology. God bless ’em. So let these McDonald employees strike…and watch McDonald’s do what France did when those idiots demanded too much pay and benefits…watch those robot kiosks fill every fast food chain from here to Myrtle Beach.

    So they need to ask themselves, if a robot can do what they do, then clearly what they do is something anyone can do, and they need to think about that when they demand more money, or they will price themselves right out of a job. I can only hope.

    • Meanwhile, a recent study shows that people living at poverty levels can’t just strap up and not be poor, nor can they ask themselves any questions beyond “how can I get more money, in order to survive?”.

      If the full text of that study is too much, here is a nice write-up about it by the Washington Post:

      Or, if you don’t really care to read, here is a nifty RSAnimate on the subject that pretty much discredits everything in your post that says poor people deserve to be poor.

      • HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. OMG! Well there you have it folks, the ultimate in the victim mentality. Blame it on a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g else you can but yourself. I am poor because I’m stupid, and I’m stupid because I’m poor. Well, there’s nothing more to be said! LOL!

        • A person can do very well for them self and still acknowledge that there are systemic problems that cause huge groups of other people to be poor, you know. Why else do you think groups like the Patriotic Millionaires exist (you know, the SuperPAC that is campaigning for higher taxes on the 1%)?

          If life was a game in the US, White Male would be the lowest difficulty setting.

        • I’m more amazed at the number of people that responded to this story (here and in other places) with what amounts to “Fuck them, I got mine” or “Fuck them, my job sucks too” or “Fuck poor people, they don’t deserve to live”.

          Keep in mind that I’m *not* one of those fast food workers. I make nearly $20 an hour at my current salary and have actual health insurance and retirement benefits (without a college degree of any kind, mind you). But I work for a company that isn’t run by *complete* assholes that believes if someone is working for you full time, they should make enough money to do a little better than bare survival.

          Did you bother to watch the video I linked? The part that’s actually relevant to this discussion kicks in about halfway through after all the background to it is explained.

          • I have the “fuck them” attitude when we’re talking about people who don’t make an effort, don’t try, and think that half assing a job and never striving for more means that they are entitled to something. I would love to see a probationary period where the employee earns minimum wage while showing their employer that they are up to doing their job at 100%. Give them 30 days of that before deciding whether or not they are entitled to more. If you can stick it out for 30 days and you are willing to do the work, you deserve more money. If you just want to dick around and think that’s enough to get a paycheck, you deserve minumum wage.
            I can’t fault everyone for saying “fuck them” after reading so many interviews with minimum wage earners where the employee either quits their job to get on welfare or just acts like they should be allowed to kick back and have everyone else fix their finances for them. Those people can piss off. The people that are doing the work to the best of their ability, even when that work is deep frying chicken nuggets and french fries, deserve a decent bump in pay.

            • What bugs me is the assumption that everyone giving an interview is a fuckup. Or the assumption that having to end up on welfare is somehow a thing that anyone seriously does voluntarily instead of it being a “fuck it, I give up” response after years of literally everyone that person knows telling them they are worthless.

              You have to keep in mind that we’re talking about a population that is the product of a culture that believes the public education system should be raising the children instead of their parents, while simultaneously refusing to allow said education system to actually do that (see crippling sex ed programs with Abstinence-only curriculum and the stripping of what used to be known as Home Economics/Finance classes to the role of an elective rather than a requirement for graduation; this last one being far more relevant to the discussion here).

              I mean, how can you expect people to know how to manage their finances or take care of themselves if nobody is teaching them? The reaction should be one of pity, not “fuck them”.

            • Also, anybody that *says* they’re intentionally going on welfare is like the person that claims they dumped the other person first, or who goes “You can’t fire me, I quit!”. It’s desperation trying to put a spin on what actually happened.

    • As always, I am fascinated by your feedback and knowledge 🙂

  3. The striking fast food workers have been calling for better working conditions, starting with higher hourly wages and paid sick time. They, and advocates like ROC United, and academics such as MIT business school professor Zeynep Ton, all say that paying more will not just improve job performance, employee morale and customer service, but it will save money in the long run that’s lost when new workers have to be hired and trained.

  4. @ Danny Stewart
    I would listen to a business, actually operating in the real world, in the free market, over an academic. Zeynep made a career in academia, not in business. Since employee moral, customer service and long-run savings are all intimately important to any buisiness, then business would already have increased pay if it actually yielded those results. Academics think for some reason, that businesses are not focused on what’s important, and yet that focus is all that business does every single day. Business has it dialed in. Academics are armchair quarterbacks.

    If you consider Costco or In-N-Out, where the demographics, incomes and local markets require those things, they do pay higher. Customers demand it, they want better customer service, they want happy employees and the local incomes are willing to pay it. Everywhere else, where price is the most important factor, i.e., LOW price (in most parts of the country where the demographic would buy a Big Mac, they would not spend MORE money on what they would see as the “same” burger, just a burger at In-N-Out). In those areas, they are not going to pay more, because price matters more than customerr service, etc…

    Lastly, lets not forget, these are low skill jobs. If we can agree that a burger flipper should not be paid the same as an electrical engineer, then why can’t we agree that they should not be paid the same as a college graduate starting out in accounting, or an entry-level tech in a hospital or even a certified mechanic who went to tech school and spent his own money to gett certified? Can we really say flipping burgers should pay the same as someone else who weent to trade school or college or spent ten years as a journeyman learning complicated skills in masonry or electronics or carpentry? Isn’t that concept really just income equality, wherre no matter how much or little you study, or work, you get paid the same? That there is no correleation bettween effort and reward?

    Is digging a hole with a shovel worth the same as digging one with a back how or should the backhow operator be paid the same as tthe shovel digger? What happened to all the shovel diggeres that got unemployed with the advent of the backhoe? Low skill jobs must be low pay jobs unless business decides otherwise for business reasons. Otherwise, there is a disconnecction between work and reward, disincentivizing people to take on any effort to improve their situation. None of these jobs were meant to provide a lifestyle, they are just jobs. Careers build lives. Let business decide what to do, in a free market, not an armchair academic and recognize these jobs for what they are…JOBS.

  5. lol. Thanks JB. That was a FAST reply.
    Damn typos…haha. This iPad bluetooth keypad always dddddoubles up my letters.

  6. @daniel
    EXACTLY!!!! Isn’t that ridiculous, and that just drives the point home about this entire economy, The Fed, Bernanke and Obama!

    #1. When you keep interest rates low, like The Fed does, and Obama supports, borrowing money is cheap. When borrowing money is cheap, buying something is cheaper than when money is expensive. When things to buy are made cheap by cheap money, more people buy more of them. When more people buy more of them, the supply of whaat they are buying goes down, which pushes the price up to meet the increase in demand. We saw this in housing. We see this now in school tuitions. Cheap money from tthe Government creates bubbles, and the current outrageous price of college tuition is directly the fault of The Fed and Obama. Schools raised tuitions and then spent it on two things, administrative salaries (not professor salaries) and amenities. Schools now have, sports centers, valet parking, live music in the cafeterria, starbucks gift cards on their birthddays, free laptops, Boston University just spent $200M on a fitness center with rock walls, an indoor track and a lazy river. UofM spent $175M on dorms with an award winning internationally themed dining hall that serves salmon fillet, tortellini with walnut pesto sauce, lamb and shark..YUMMY! Univ of Cinn has a 40 foot climbing wall, 200 fitness machines, olympic pool, a current channel for swimming, a suspended indoor track, a six court gym, and a convenience store and dining hall with seven taste stations. Bon Appetit! I am sure somewhere in there, a textbook might be accidentally found.

    #2 In traveling for work, I often meet young kids who work for us that have been given some significant responsibilites. Some of them are in charge of hundreds of thousands in cash. When I come across a smart one, I engage them in conversation and one of the questions I ask, is if they went to college. Not because I think that is the only way to make a career, but because I want to know what they majored in. I have met only one, out of a dozen kids, that took a major related to what they were doing for us. And these kids get paid just over minimum wage. Most of the degrees I have encounterred include math majors, psychology majors, child development majors, teaching majors, history majors and ethnic or women studies majors. So yes, when kids are encouraged, or at least not DIScouraged from spending ridiculous amounts of money on ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS DEGREES in the REAL WORLD, they will end up working for minimum wage. That is not my fault. That is the fault of a society that preaches that getting a college degree, ANY DEGREE, somehow leads to fame and fortune. That is why it took me almost ten years to really decide what degree to pursue. I saw friends graduating with degrees that they could then not translate into a job that paid anything, so they worked as something entirely different and worked up the ladder that way, evventually making good money but not because of their degree. From first hand experience, most young people are being told to just get a degree. ANY degree will do, and that is destroying our working class base. That is not the fault of business or the free market, it is the fault of keeping interest rates too low, and the Government and Media peddling this stupid idea tthat what you learn doesn’t matter. Just showing up for four years somehow entitles you to riches. As a personal representative, I was making damn good money, twice tthe national average with no degree at all. Effort = reward. Wasting your effort on a degree that doesn’t exist as a job is justt stupid.

    #3 This economic recession we are in, created by the Presidents beffore Obama, perpetuated by Obama and The Fed has destroyed our economy. We are transitioning from a nation with full time jobs and a high standard of living, to a part-time nation with a lower standard of living, and inevitably, an economic collapse. UPS, IBM, Kroger are dropping spouse coverage in their health plans to reduce costs from Obamacare. So many more companies are switching their labor force over to part tim to avoid obamacare. More and more full time jobs will be destroyed and replaced with parrt time jobs as the free market responds to Government interference and distortion. So yes, the jobs available are shitty because the Government made them that way. Not the fault of business. Not the fault of the free market. Governments fault. The Feds fault.

  7. Can we agree that everyone should make enough money to live where they work?

    I can’t really agree to that. That would be a living wage, and living wages, like minimum wages, destroy jobs. You can have a living wage if you want one, as long as you are okay with extremely high unemployment. That is the trade off.

    Consider an extreme example of that. Manhattan. Quick Googling says average rent in Manhattan is $3,822 a month. I know someone, a friend of my wife, who rents in Manhatttan and her apartment is somewhere around 600 square feet and she pays about that much. It’s so tight that she has a bunk bed in addition to her twin, and she uses her bunk bed for storage and you have to turn sideways to walk between her bed and the bunk.

    Assuming the historical norm that your gross salary should be at least 3X your housing costs, you would have to earn $137,592 to live in Manhatttan which means a McDonald’s employee in Manhattan would need to be paid $66.15 an hour.

    So for McDonalds to pay their employees that much, one of three things would have to happen.

    1. The owner would have to surrender all or most of his profits. Wealth redistribbution, really, from the evil capitalist owner to his low-skilled labor. Is that fair, for one thiing? Even if you thought it was, he would obviously shut down his business and move it somewhere else, firing his employees, hence the unemployment rate increase.

    2. He would have to raise his prices. A hamburger would be $18. A soda would be $9, Clearly nobody would pay those prices. Again, wealth redistribution from the customers to the employees, and nobody would pay for that anyway. Business closes. Unemployment for all.

    3. He fires some employees to use their salaries to cover the higher salaries of the employees he keeps. So yes, plausible, as long as its okay a certain % of the population will perrpetually be unemployed. More likely, he will replace all employees with robots (kiosks) to elliminate his labor costs entirely, again, more unemployment.

    Now you can say this is an extreme example, and it is, but that is what a living wage is all about. Paying enough for the labor to live nearby. The point is, there is no “right” amount of salary. Some magical number of precision that will make sure everyone gets paid what they neeed to live in any particular area. What is PRECISE, is that no business will open that cannot find labor, and no labor will take a job that they don’t want. If a store does not pay enouggh for labor, then nobody will work there and the business will not exist. If labor is not getting paid enough for where they live, then they need to, and most often do, move to where living is cheaper.

    That is why we have “standard of living” adjustments when we move from one part of the country to another. Florida is damn cheap compared to California, and there is no job in Florida for what I do, that pays what I get paid, and that is simply because costs are lower there, so incomes can be too. Businesses in Orange County will make what it takes to find labor. If that means they pay more than what the same business in Florida would pay, they will do it. If that means the same, or less, they will do it. What determines the salary of an employee at McDonalds is not the business, but what an employee is willing to take as pay for that level of work. If enough employees decide McD is not paying enough, they will look for work elsewhere. If McD loses all their employees this way, they will raise their hourly rate. Thiis is the free market. If you force the wage to be higher than the market says it should be, you create the distortions that lead to businesses closing, firing, not hiring, not paying moore, or turning to technology.

    And that is assuming that you are “okay” with someone living in a 600 square foot apartment, and though you might be now, I am sure down the road liberals would start demanding something like “minimum housing norms” and people living in 600 s.f. apartments would be considered impoverished in some way because they don’t get to live in the same size spaces as evcveryone else, the whole “equality of everything” concept, it’s just convenient to start with wages first and move onn to everything else like equal healthcare…oh wait…we did that one…lol. I guess minimum living spaces is next…haha.

  8. You missed one very key qualifier in all that ranting: I’m talking about full time jobs.

    If the job isn’t complicated or demanding enough to be worth paying a living wage to someone doing it full time–something I’m not going to agree with–then it should be broken up into several part time shifts.

    Keep in mind I’m not even talking about existing part time work, this is all about full time positions with employers that expect full performance and loyalty from the employee.

  9. What you call ranting, I call education, for an information-emaciated public being tyrannized by a liberalized media and a socialist Government for the past 80 years.

    By the way, your intelligence would be better served…if you could control your attitude. People would take you more seriously.

    I think we can assume that most full-time jobs are exempt and most part-time jobs are non-exempt. The article you cited is pointing out that kids are spending four years in college, graduating, and then only finding part-time, or non-exempt jobs. I think there are several reasons why they are only finding non-exempt jobs.

    First, as I said before, too many kids are graduating with useless degrees. I know, I have talked to them. If they had simply entered the work force at a part-time job four years ago, they would actually have been better off now versus spending $100K on a degree that only exists in Middle-Earth, and THEN start a part-time job in the workforce. All they did was get $100K in debt in exchange for losing four years of experience.

    Second, there are two kinds of part-time jobs right now. The jobs that have always been part-time, and the 40 hour week part-time or full-time jobs that are being split into two or more steady 20 hour a week part-time jobs or are being replaced by one or more “on-demand” (not steady) part-time jobs to replace one or more 40 hour-week part-time or full-time jobs that were extinguished (to avoid Obamacare). Since the number of part-time jobs is growing versus full-time jobs (which are being extinguished), it would follow that college graduates have a greater chance of finding part-time employment versus full-time employment which is in line with the article you cited.

    Third, in general, exempt full-time jobs are reserved for positions that require some level of experience or education. These jobs are being replaced with part-time jobs. So even if a graduate would have gotten hired for that full-time position in a normal economy, they are being brought on in a part-time role. This is because it is often full-time jobs that are axed when a company goes into, “recession mode” because the salaries and benefits that come with those jobs are quite expensive. For example, I was hired to replace two full-time exempt employees, one that had recently moved on, and another that was still here and cross-trained me before he was let go. As far as my employer is concerned, they just had a 50% off sale when they brought me on board. So that was one full-time position evaporated into the ether overnight. In many other cases, one or more full time positions are replaced by one or more part time positions. In fact, half of our audit staff, a quarter of our AP staff and a quarter of our General Accounting staff are all contract workers (1099’s) or temp hires that we let go and re-hire on a whim as needed. They ALL replaced full-time, exempt employees. Those used to be positions college graduates could have been hired for, as a full-time employee, before The Fed and Government destroyed the economy. Companies can do this just through attrition. As people leave or quit or retire, they simply don’t replace them. If they do need help, they turn to a temp agency for that short term need. This is happening everywhere.

    Fourth, the economy as a whole is still in recession, so the number of jobs overall is going to be flat or declining. Off the bat, anyone at all, including graduates, are going to have a harder time finding a full-time positions, or any position, in this economy regardless.

    Fifth, more and more companies today, compared with ten years ago, are using temp agencies to fill vacancies, for two reasons. First, it shifts all the crushing regulatory compliance issues and costs from our tyrannical Government onto the temp agency, not the employer. This also helps them avoid being sued by an employee, a popular and growing American pastime like baseball. Temp agencies often fill part-time, seasonal, or “as-needed” positions for various companies. I relied almost exclusively on temp agencies for jobs in my teens and early twenties when I came to California. It was a temp agency that got a Big 5 accounting firm on my resume (started as a one-day only assignment that went on for four years), and another temp agency that got my foot in the door to a company that developed me into what would later become my career (a three week assignment to cover an older women that was having hip surgery that went on to five years). So I have nothing bad to say about temp agencies, but still, they often only provide part-time jobs or short-term assignments. It is up to the individual to work hard and translate that into getting hired by one of these companies they are temporarily working for. For that reason, I think temp agencies are an excellent starting point. Second, a company can let a temp go with just a phone call, which is very important in this economy. Government is so unpredictable, especially with Obama driving, and will change rules and regulations on a dime, that the current business environment is severely unstable. Because of this instability, companies need to be able to hire, or shed, dozens or hundreds of employees overnight to respond quickly to the changing hurricane winds of Government. They also won’t hire until it is absolutely necessary because getting rid of a bad full-time employee is VERY dangerous in this litigious world we live in, and more dangerous if that person is a woman, black, handicapped or a veteran. For three of those, you can almost guarantee a wrongful termination lawsuit, so, companies simply don’t hire them, avoids the whole problem, easy peasy. With all of this instability, it only makes sense that a newly minted college grad is going to have more luck using a temp agency to find part-time work, and try to get their foot in the door.

    Sixth, as Mish has pointed out several times on his blog at, “Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis,” grandparents are now competing with their grandchildren for jobs. The largest demographic taking jobs is now those 55+. Because the Government has kept interest rates sub-1% for so long, retirees that had saved a certain amount of money that would yield them enough in interest returns to live off of without touching their principal, at say normal interest rates of 4% or 5%, have had to go back to work because Greenspan, Bernanke and Obama have destroyed yields, on purpose. A company choosing between a new graduate without any experience and a retiree with a lifetime of experience willing to work for gas money to plug the hole in his retirement plan is a no brainer, especially when the retiree will be on Medicare, so the employer does not have to provide health insurance, making the retiree significantly cheaper than the college graduate. Another unfortunate, but predictable, free-market distortion from our dear, dear, sweet Government that only wants to help us.

    Seventh, about 24% of the population has no job, but could work. That’s almost 1 in 4. Every time someone graduates, they have to compete against almost 25% of the population for every job that’s made available. Full-time jobs are more likely to go to those with experience who have mortgages and kids, followed by those without mortgages and kids but with experience followed by those who came out of retirement on Medicare, and only lastly, a kid graduate with a college degree. And honestly, even a kid without a degree is probably more likely to get hired, because one with a degree has to start paying his student loan off once he starts working, which means he needs more in income than a high school grad living at home that doesn’t have a student loan, which makes kids graduating with a degree only slightly more desirable than those on the bottom of the hiring list which are all the protected classes employers avoid hiring to avoid lawsuits.

    In the end, we will move from a “full-time” economy, whether that was from a 40 hour non-exempt job or a 40 hour exempt job, to a part-time economy for both exempt and non-exempt which will of course reduce incomes, which will of course give Liberals an excuse to demand minimum wage hikes or living wages now that everyone is only working 25 to 30 hours a week, exempt or non-exempt. Once these minimum or living wages are established, even more jobs will be destroyed, more business growth curtailed, more business market instability and more unemployment.

    We will start to look a lot like France, where a chunk of the country gets lots of paid vacation time, great benefits, lots of holidays, a shorter work week, retirement benefits, is impossible to fire and has high minimum wages…all paid for by the sacrificing of another chunk of the country that is consistently unemployed, impoverished, or living off of the government, funded by unsustainable debt (France’s debt is 90% of their GDP now).

    What we are doing here has all been done before. It’s not like we are being innovative. We have only to look across the pond to France, Spain, Italy, Greece. We are on the exact same rails going in the exact same direction. Wealth redistribution, social programs, demanding businesses pay more in salaries and benefits…*yawn*…nothing new under the sun. Been there, done that.

    So as long as all the Liberals and Socialists look at France and Spain and are happy with that as our future, then I guess they will celebrate when we get there.

  10. Just released this month: Here is a breakdown of the cost to taxpayers by allowing major employers to continue offering low wages for work done.

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