MINIMALLY INVESTED

On Monday we looked at a Thought Leader-ish attempt to explain how working full time on minimum wage in the U.S. ($7.25/hr, no benefits) could allow a person to meet expenses and – and! – even "build wealth." Let's talk a little more about that $7.25.

I keep no secrets about what I am. I am a soft, middle-aging, middle-income professional with an advanced degree and a mediocre salary that allows me to live comfortably because I have no dependents. I'm not the hardscrabble poor, nor am I Wealthy unless one compares my financial situation to that of a homeless person. Recently I was recreating with a similar person – 40s, professional, Doing Fine financially, urban – and we got to talking about minimum wage. Accounting for various forms of withholding, a $7.25 hourly rate translates (and we were/are spitballing here) maybe $6/hr in net income. It's probably slightly less, and yes, a person earning this would qualify for things like the EITC at tax time, returning some of the withholding. But set that aside for now. Let's say that depending on where one lives, an hour of work at minimum wage nets six dollars.

My friend said – and maybe this is the kind of thing that only soft, non-poor middle age types can say after years of being spoiled by middle income living – "If someone told me that if I sat in a soft, comfortable chair doing nothing for one hour they would give me six dollars, I wouldn't do it." And I never thought about this previously, but almost immediately I realized I felt exactly the same. If a stranger grabbed my arm and said "If you (insert literally anything here) for one hour I will give you $6" I would laugh and keep walking.

Perhaps a person in deep poverty would feel differently, but the point that hit me was how truly little $6 is. And I'd like to think it's not just very little money to us because we're middle income urban hipsters. It's just not much, period. It's two gallons of gas, or one McDonald's Value Meal in some low cost of living areas, or 1 thrift store t-shirt, or 3 hours of City of Chicago metered parking, or…you get the idea. Six dollars, to all but the totally destitute, would very quickly be judged in economic terms, "Not worth an hour of my time." It strikes me as at or below the amount of money one could make panhandling or collecting returnable aluminum cans for an hour or two.

Obviously nobody works for one hour in reality. But just as obvious is that minimum wage employees are not working full time (40 hours) in all but the rarest cases. Figure 30 hours per week using our $6 net figure and you are taking home…$180 per week. For those of you who are also fortunate enough to make something more than that, sit back and think about that for a second. I socialize with people who think nothing about spending $180 on dinner. If you think about minimum wage employment in terms of actual dollars, it's not at all difficult to come to the conclusion that regardless of whether one is comfortable financially or at the poverty line it would be hard to look at the prospect of working to bring home $180 per week and thinking, "What's the point?"

The minimum wage is adjusted in nominal terms maybe once per decade, and as soon as that happens time and inflation eat into it in real terms. The reality is that in 2017 it would net a quasi-full time employee an amount of money so small that no amount of barebones living could compensate for its lack of buying power. If the only thing you took away from the example above is "Ed is a bourgeois asshole," congratulations, you're not terribly bright. Being lucky enough not to have to rely on the minimum wage at this point in my life makes it more, not less, obvious how unacceptably low it is. The next time you are in a bar serving $12 cocktails and $8 pints, remember this and maybe you will learn something about how little six dollars means to you, too.

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98 Responses to “MINIMALLY INVESTED”

  1. Joe Jonas Says:

    I basically do get paid money for sitting in a comfortable chair and doing nothing. I promise everyone reading that those minimum wage fast food workers work a LOT harder than I do, for substantially less money.

  2. Nunya Says:

    Thank you for this analogy. I can't count the number of people I've argued with about the absolute necessity of raising the minimum wage. Perhaps the next time I'm out with someone who just ordered a $25 single malt, I can put this into perspective for them.

    That drink; that one drink, is four hours of working the register at McDonalds.

    Now figure out how a life on minimum wage is demonstrably better than life in prison. Forced sodomy aside, what kind of existence and fear of just one more thing going wrong and eventually forcing you to sleep under a bridge makes this kind of existence for a working person acceptable?

  3. ChickenLady Says:

    Wow. We spend more than $180/week on bourbon.

    I don't understand the mindset that thinks it is perfectly acceptable for someone to get up each day and go to work and NOT earn enough to live on. The whole "it will motivate them to advance and get ahead" is such bullshit. Some people cannot advance and will never get ahead. Some people aren't in the best shape, physically, but aren't bad enough to qualify for disability (which you still can't live on). Some people have less than average intelligence. Does this mean they should be relegated to barely subsisting, with the threat of any little mistake or problem hanging over them, just waiting to screw them entirely? At the very least, if you go to work, you should be able to make a living.

  4. Ruth Says:

    Thank you for realizing that it is almost impossible for a minimum wage earner to get full time hours. A minimum wage job will start you out with about sixteen hours a week (but a different sixteen hours each week). If you're good at the job, you will start being called in for extra shifts, but you'd better be available. This makes it almost impossible to juggle a second minimum wage job. If you're lucky, you might work up to thirty hours a week, but expect to be sent home any time business is slow. You can't even count on your expected $180 a week if you get sent home two hours into an scheduled eight hour shift.

  5. Scotius Says:

    "The whole "it will motivate them to advance and get ahead" is such bullshit."

    It's funny how it's always people who were born poor who seem to need this motivation. Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, having been born to wealth, are apparently already super motivated and don't need the fear of becoming homeless to help them achieve their full potential. Maybe if everybody in the US could inherit a fortune, then we would all be motivated.

  6. democommie Says:

    I worked for Verizon for almost eight years. During that period I went from a starting wage of $7.57/hr to something like $25.00/hr. I worked hard as both a directory assistance operator (something like 350 to 400K calls over that period) and as a file clerk/copierguy and disseminating large fucking wads of mostly unread filings to a number of states and interested parties. I didn't sit on my ass and do nothing all that much, but I also rarely did anything overly strenuous or dangerous. I wore casual clothes; shorts, jeans, chinos, whatever shirt I liked shoes, with or without socks or sandals. The environment was iffy for AC (mostly because of two copiers pumping out up to 100K copies in a single shift–very rare–and an average of 10-15K/shift). I worked for mostly assholes; permanent 1st level managers who were pissed that they worked for free after their 40 hours while I got paid for any OT. They were also pissed that I didn't love me some VerJEEZUn, like they did–ignorant fucks.

    I commuted from between 30 and 50 miles each way (I moved to NH at one point) and had to drive to a bus or train, then ride in to North or South Station and walk to my office. The commute took up to 4 hours a day, depending on weather and traffic. It cost about $300–400/month depending on the period and the distance–cheaper to more expensive going forward. The total cost was around $5K/annum.

    I fucking hated that job. I fantasized about grabbing my last supervisor by an arm and a leg and doing a "hammer throw" out the window. We were on the 11th story, it would have been ugly. I was never happier to leave a job–which I did because I got a chance to take about $25K out of the company's pocket as an incentive.

    If I had been living above the office and getting paid double the minimum wage for doing the same work, I would have told them to go fuck themselves. So, yeah, I think $7.75/hr is a cruel fucking joke.

    NY, btw, is moving to $15.00/hr over the next several years. All of the liberpublicans and other "fiscal KKKlownservaturds" are gnashing their teeth and complaining about how that will crater the economy. They would be happy if we returned to an era of 11 year olds getting skull fractures from shuttles flying off of the high speed looms that they were tending.

    I photograph a lot of musicians (I've made about $300 in the last 32+ years doing that) and if money comes up I always tell them the same thing, "I wouldn't leave my house for what they pay you.". Most who know me don't wonder why I do what I do, for those who say, "? But you don't get paid anything!". I tell them that they're correct. Otoh, I don't have to stop doing what I'm doing because the guy who's paying them not very much gets a hard-on about something or just tells them that they're too loud, too "fast" or too, too something.

  7. Carl Says:

    To look at it yet another way, a minimum wage job is basically $15K/year. For a upper-middle class person, that should sound utterly absurd, a job that no one would bother with. Yet that's the math for minimum wage earners.

  8. democommie Says:

    I am very likely beating a dead horse of a different color while preaching to a "Junkman's choir*" but…

    When people tell me that they can't understand why other folks can't do what they've done (and some of them have achieved much, against bad odds) I tell them that should be glad to be gifted, advantaged or exceptional (if they're obviously from upper middle class backgrounds I will throw in "PRIVILEGED") and that they need to realize that most people aren't. If most people had what they've got going for them–including an incredible work ethic, no drug, behavioral or criminal problems holding them back–well, they just wouldn't BE exceptional–they'd be average. And everyone knows, "average" is the new "FAIL".

    * Thank you, Tom Waits

  9. Scotius Says:

    Chickenlady makes the very good point that many people will just never be able to get ahead. For some reason or another, a minimum wage job is the only one they will be able to get. Right now, people like that can plan on spending their entire lives just one step away from living under a bridge.

  10. democommie Says:

    @ Carl:

    I get $1,088/month from the withered teat* of a KKKompassionate gummint. I manage on about what a $15K income would bring home. I get a little extry from local/county coffers.

    I've lived on the cheap most of my life. I find ways to enjoy myself without spending several hundred to way more per month dining out, going to concert, watching movies and the like. I really don't have a lot of idle time (although many people think I'm doing nothing because they can't see the 300KRPM disc that spins inside my brain!) and I'm doing okay. I don't feel like I'm on the take, a LOOOOOOOOZER or a leech. I feel like I got where I am by working, the fed and the military made various promises and contractural commitments and that's just the way it is. I DO feel like I got really lucky to be able to make those deals (without even knowing about some of them) when I was young and old enough to get more back than I paid in, already.

    * "withered" 'cuz ILLLEGALZ and the other THEMS are gittin' what's rightly MINE

  11. Safety Man! Says:

    I'm in a similar position as Ed (and we are bourgeois assholes).

    I would like to also point out that besides not having the same physical or mental demands, I also don't have anyone riding my ass 24/7. If I decide to duck a half hour early today to pick up my dog from the vet, nobody will say boo. If I pulled anywhere near the same shit at a minimum wage job I'd be fired in a heartbeat.

  12. Safety Man! Says:

    Also, for Aurora S and Katydid and any other D.C. Area lurkers, if anyone knows a good way to set up a Meetup or something I'm all ears. Bedsides the require tacos and gin we could do a park clean-up or something like that I anyone's interested.

  13. geoff Says:

    "The real value of the MW [minimum wage] peaked in 1968." 1968!! IT'S GONE DOWN STEADILY FOR FIFTY FUCKING YEARS!!

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/04/war-poverty-now.html

    (From my favorite PropOrNot website.)

    And yes, it's very important to note that most MW workers are unable to get 40 hours a week, much less overtime. And without consistent scheduling (hard enough with one job, next to impossible with two), working more than one job is not really an option.

  14. Isaac Says:

    My wife has been at Walmart about six months, started doing night stocking 28 hours a week and now has moved into a full time position. She's making $12-something an hour now, because we live in Washington. 20 minutes away in Idaho the MW is $7.25.

    She works with people who've been there 5, 10, 15 years. Many work multiple shitty jobs. When you do get a full time position, the company-offered benefits are pretty shitty, the medical plan seems kind of cheap before you look at the deductibles or add dependents. Sadly, most of her co-workers voted for Trump. She's learning that she has to change her vocabulary at work because co-workers (and customers) can't understand her "big" words.

  15. Maaya Says:

    Here is my question – I'm not being a smart alec, I'm just massively ignorant about economics – If the minimum wage is raised to $15 per hour, will not those workers who currently make, say, $20, exclaim, "I'm only making $5 more than a fast food worker, and my job requires a college degree?" thus eventually raising everyone's salary and returning the minimum wage to a relative pittance?

    asking for a friend.

  16. Skepticalist Says:

    Someone after my own heart….a socialist

  17. arjun jobil Says:

    It's interesting to see how many ways there are to get by comfortably, if not luxuriously. Living solely on MW is obviously not one of them.

    I tell people that my SS is equivalent to MW salary, but that's stretching the truth. I don't know how i would maintain my middle-class lifestyle without a part-time job (I sit in a comfy chair at home and translate shitty scripts for Chinese TV) and money from my rental properties. Even at that, i live in a small town in the Midwest where the cost of living is low, rarely go out to eat and NEVER drink $25 cocktails unless someone else is buying.

    And Maaya is right. If the MW is raised to $15, other wages will tend to go up, which is why smart people support a raise in the MW.

  18. OtherAndrew Says:

    There might be some upward pressure on the $20/hr wages, but it rapidly, rapidly disappears as wages go higher and higher, and it has little to no effect on salaried positions.

    This is largely because going from $7.25 to $15 doesn't actually increase the wage-earner's buying power because they're still spending everything they have on essentials – they just aren't falling farther and farther behind as they do it.

  19. c u n d gulag Says:

    Conservative POV:
    Giving raises, bonuses, and tax breaks to CEO's gives them incentives to work harder!

    Raising minimum wage and also giving the working poor bonuses, tax breaks, and/or food stamps, deincentivises them to work harder – as does paying unemployment, disability, and/or welfare!

    Funny, how things work out sometimes, eh? *

    * Not funny at all, unless you're a wealthy conservative…

  20. Condi Says:

    Two words: Basic Income.

  21. ChickenLady Says:

    Condi –

    One word: Agreed.

  22. democommie Says:

    I remember when the term, "Disposable income" became a thing.

    Somebody was talking to me about disposable income one day and I said, "For me, disposable income is that money that I can spend on food or heating oil.".

  23. Katydid Says:

    $6/hr after taxes….dayum. Remember that pathetic story I told about crying in a supermarket because I won a crappy 79-cent bottle of supermarket brand soda and being grateful to get 1/6 of a donut every Friday afternoon? That was in the late 1980s and I was averaging $5/hr in all my crappy jobs. And I was sharing an apartment with 5 other people who were all working, not trying to support myself *and* a bunch of dependents.

    Here's another trick I saw over and over again in the crappy McJobs I had: somehow, magically, EVERY paycheck, I was shorted on my hours–sometimes a half-hour, sometimes an hour, but always there was "a computer glitch", and always magically in the company's favor. My comeback: "My degree's in computer science–I'll be glad to debug your code for you." I managed to strike a deal with the manager of the fast-food place: I worked the closing shift (being over the age of 16 so it was legal), and he would sometimes let me take home food at closing time that by company policy he had to throw away, in lieu of actually paying me for my work. Not to sound cliche, but "we were GLAD TO HAVE IT"–it was like Christmas the time I brought home a 10-hour-old, 8-piece box of chicken pieces and 6 adults wolfed them down.

    Eric Schlosser of the McDonald's-for-30-days fame briefly had a series called "30 Days" in the early 2000s, where he tried to do various things for 30 days. One of his experiments was trying to live on minimum wage. Spoiler; he couldn't do it and both he and his girlfriend both ended up hurt and in the emergency room because they couldn't see a doctor without insurance.

    And to echo something said above; it was a nice day today and I left an hour early "to take my new dog for a long walk"…and nobody cared (I'll make it up tomorrow when it's raining). Couldn't pull that stunt during my days at Waldenbooks.

  24. errg Says:

    I think another issue is that lots of relatively well off people don't really understand that many people need to (try to) live on the minimum wage. They think that it's just kids, and maybe remember some low income job they had in high school or something.

    For example, I was a life guard for a few summers in high school and college, earning, if I remember correctly, a quarter over the minimum wage. Those were some good times! But… I was living at my parents, had no real expenses, no dependents, no medical emergencies…

    It's not at all the same thing for someone trying to scrape together a living…

  25. Katydid Says:

    Another fast-food anecdote; the place I worked had a "senior special" deal–a cup of coffee and a biscuit for 49 cents (remember, this was the 1980s). I worked in a crappy part of town and some of our regulars were struggling to come up with that. One man used to bring in his 2 grandchildren and split the biscuit between the two of them and drink the coffee himself, and that would be their lunch. Moral of this depressing tale–"you think you have it bad? Someone else's got it worse". (if the manager was in the back, sometimes I'd be able to slip an extra biscuit on the tray)

    You can't convince me that someone who's feeding 3 people on 49 cents' worth of food is going to be able to save money elsewhere.

  26. Monkey Business Says:

    The argument against raising the minimum wage is pretty straightforward: if you pay the people at the bottom of the totem pole $15 an hour, then there's a ripple effect all the way up, because suddenly the guy in middle management making $20 an hour is wondering why his college degree and shitty MBA is only netting him $5 an hour more than the high school kid making fries. Then his boss is asking why he's only making $5 an hour more than the dumbshits he has to manage, and it just cascades up from there until you hit the Executive class, who have pressure from Wall Street and their shareholders to keep profits up and profit margins high while simultaneously having to pay a large amount of new money to their employees, so they'll be forced to raise prices to compensate making everyone relatively poor again and eventually forcing the country into an inflationary spiral resulting in the American dollar being somewhere along the same value as the Zimbabwean dollar.

    This, of course, is based on the notion that Executives and CEOs deserve to be compensated at a level hundreds of times more that of their average worker salary. That the Walton family SHOULD pocket billions while keeping their actual workers in abject poverty and driving small businesses out of business.

    If conservative economic theory has demonstrated anything from the last thirty years of attempts, it's that if you give rich people more money, they will put it in the stock market and banks and all sorts of financial instruments to ensure that they and the next ten generations of their families will never run out of money. It will endlessly circulate and do absolutely nothing. There is a finite limit to how many ultra-luxury homes and bespoke cars the wealthy can buy.

    Give a wealthy man a million dollars and he'll put it in the bank. Give a thousand people a thousand dollars, and they'll pay off debt or save it or buy something, all of which are infinitely more useful to society than just sticking it in a bank.

    Remember that income tax rates stop at roughly half a million dollars. If doesn't matter if you earn $500k or $500m, it's still taxed at 39.6%.

    Imagine a world where we taxed income of $5m – $25m at 45% and anything more than $25m at 50%. Hardly confiscatory, but it would represent billions in additional funding that can be used toward pulling millions of people out of poverty.

  27. April Says:

    What I don't understand is that don't the people at the top realize that when the bottom 50% (or 60 or 75 or whateverthefuck percent would make them happy) have no money to spend, the stuff their companies produce will be bought by almost no one? I mean I understand (I don't of course) not having the morality to not starve the bottom whatever, but this would hit them in their pocket books.

    Right? Right? (Never took Econ so I might be wrong..willing to be enlightened.)

  28. Major Kong Says:

    If you search "minimum wage in constant dollars" you'll see that it's worth a lot less today than it was in 1968.

  29. geoff Says:

    @April, I can tell you as the proud possessor of a (now worthless) BA in Economics, that individual companies all have an incentive to continually cut costs in order to "compete", and devil take the yadda yadda. Collectively however they run into a "tragedy of the commons" situation, in which by each following their own narrow economic agenda, TOGETHER they destroy the very consumer (and his/ her purchasing power) which sustains them. Think of it as being slapped upside the head by the Invisible Hand.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

    (It's my personal and fairly uninformed opinion that this is roughly what's been happening since 2008. Since the housing bubble popped, most people are falling further and further behind.)

  30. mm Says:

    The reaction that I get from people when I suggest doubling the minimum wage is that their jobs will have to double the prices on the products that they sell. I can't say that these people are making a helluva lot of money.

    When I was in business my supplies, rent, utilities, insurance and health insurance etc. were my major expenses. Employee salaries were a sliver (and I paid my people pretty well). I could give a 3 or 4% raise to my guys each year.

    My health insurance premiums went up a lot more than that every year.

    You can control your employees' compensation. The only power they really have is that they can quit. My other expenses were just there.

  31. Benny Lava Says:

    I'm not trying to troll here but another conservative argument against the minimum wage is that it will increase unemployment especially for those at the bottom. Double wages and McDonalds will raise prices which will cause sales to drop meaning store closing and cutting hours. It will also give them the incentive to replace cashiers with kiosks.

    My little modest proposal for this: eliminate the minimum wage and replace it with federal unemployment. Hear me out.

    There is a big difference between 7/hr in Manhattan New York and Manhattan Kansas. Why should wages be set at the federal level? Why not leave it to states and cities? On the other hand people who are laid off in a region in decline, like the Midwest, are stuck in their respective state and often can't afford to up and move to a growing region without the unemployment safety net. Let people move to a new state and keep their unemployment insurance.

    Flame away, but think about it a little.

  32. democommie Says:

    "Imagine a world where we taxed income of $5m – $25m at 45% and anything more than $25m at 50%. Hardly confiscatory, but it would represent billions in additional funding that can be used toward pulling millions of people out of poverty."

    And those same greedy, rich fucks scream bloody murder and spend millions to keep from being taxed billions. Even their lobbyists only get a fucking taste of the enormous wealth.

  33. democommie Says:

    @ Benny Lava:

    In a reasonably liberal, clinically sane Congress of the 1960's, getting the minimum wage passed into law was enormously difficult. Considering that the current Congress has pegged the BatshitKKKrazzee meter and the primary purpose of the GOP seems to be hurting those who aren't them (and their obscenely wealthy sponsors) the minimum wage could be repealed on a fucking voice vote and gleefully signed into law by Trumpligula.

    Basic Income/Federal unemployment? Not gonna happen, in my lifetime.

  34. doug Says:

    Why not leave it to states and cities?

    Like we did with education back in the day?
    No thanks…

  35. Steve in the ATL Says:

    "Some people have less than average intelligence. Does this mean they should be relegated to barely subsisting, with the threat of any little mistake or problem hanging over them, just waiting to screw them entirely?"

    Of course not–many of them make a great living as republican congressmen or conservative pundits

  36. c u n d gulag Says:

    Steve in the ATL,
    '"Some people have less than average intelligence. Does this mean they should be relegated to barely subsisting, with the threat of any little mistake or problem hanging over them, just waiting to screw them entirely?"

    Of course not–many of them make a great living as republican congressmen or conservative pundits.'

    No, of course not.
    Because many of those people you described might be kind, loving, and empathetic.

    Strip-away kindness, the ablility to love, and the ability to be empathetic, and YOU DO have the perfect make-up to be a Republican Congressperson or a pundit!

  37. Tim H. Says:

    A minimum wage that doesn't keep up with cost of living is a subsidy for employers, and a reminder of how far we've fallen.

  38. Major Kong Says:

    Take a look at the bills coming out of Republican controlled state legislators to specifically prevent cities from setting their own minimum wage.

  39. Jestbill Says:

    Finding work at the bottom:
    People you meet will Always say something like "If I were you…"
    Well, I am not you. You don't know much of anything about me. The world is not a huge machine with gears. If you do "x" then "y" will happen is a cruel dream. For some of us, the fact that there might be thousands of jobs available means that there are available jobs for YOU. Not necessarily for Me.

    Mathematics is really hard for Conservatives. If labor is 10% of the price of your widget, then doubling labor's wage will raise your price by 10%.

    Psychology is also difficult for them. If you make $5 and I make $10, doubling your wage to $10 will make me demand a raise. Will I demand $20? Why? Do I really rate my fellow men on a logarithmic scale? Is my wage set in negotiations or by some algorithm?

    The reason we have a Federal minimum wage is Mississippi. Or India. If your state were civilized, the Federal number would be irrelevant. It's similar in reason to why it's illegal to store explosives in your basement. Not to stop you, but to have a reason to throw the book at you when they are discovered.

  40. E* Says:

    Whenever I buy anything, I tend to go through a rather unpleasant thought process about the cheap labor that put it in front of me. It comes down to this: my cheap coffee/tshirt/capybara repellent/flatware/etc. was directly subsidized by another human. Probably several humans, including the person standing behind the cash register. This is why I don't buy much.

    However, last time I was in Sweden I did have a pleasant meal at McDonald's. It's amazing how good even mediocre food tastes when it's not served with a side of Human Suffering.

  41. democommie Says:

    "Strip-away kindness, the ablility to love, and the ability to be empathetic, and YOU DO have the perfect make-up to be a Republican Congressperson or a pundit!".

    That recipe is woefully short of ingredients. You have to make sure that they're well leavened with righteous indignation about the sins of everyone who isn't them. They also have to be injected with hatred (unless of course they've been getting it from FuckTheNew'sCorpse all week and the pulpit on Sundays). Then you have to make the vast majority of them white fundamentalist KKKristians or former prosecutors from target rich environments.

  42. democommie Says:

    @E*:

    Are the Swedish sMackDonalds the ones that sell the ever popular Filet-O-Ludefisk or is that in Norway?

  43. l8learner Says:

    @Maaya

    [I hate the fact that it's impossible to reply]

    "If the minimum wage is raised to $15 per hour, will not those workers who currently make, say, $20, exclaim, "I'm only making $5 more than a fast food worker, and my job requires a college degree?"

    Gin gives you an answer. That's how it should be

    The problem is-you (your friend) thinks they deserve to make more money then a fast-food worker. Ask yourself a few questions:
    -Is your job inherently more important than fast food?
    -Is YOUR life more valuable than a fast-food worker's simply because your job is more important?

  44. maurinsky Says:

    "And yes, it's very important to note that most MW workers are unable to get 40 hours a week, much less overtime. And without consistent scheduling (hard enough with one job, next to impossible with two), working more than one job is not really an option."

    Not to mention how difficult it makes it to get a higher education. I went back to college as an adult and started at the community college. I went part time, and I had a full year's worth of credits from when I went right out of high school and it took me 3 years to graduate. I have friends from my time there who are on their 5th or 6th year of community college because they continually have their education interrupted by job changes that mean they have to drop out for a semester or two, not to mention that they've used all the free aid they can get and have to work to raise more money to pay for school.

    Some of them are also taking on more debt as they work their way through, so that's awesome and will be helpful when the finally do graduate.

    If a person with a full-time minimum wage cannot support at least themselves, that is a massive failure of capitalism.

  45. maurinsky Says:

    Probably by design

  46. mothra Says:

    E*:
    Where you buyin' that capybara repellent? Asking for a friend.

  47. Katydid Says:

    I'm also asking for a friend about that capybara repellant.

  48. Katydid Says:

    Paying employees more doesn't mean a company will have to go bankrupt. Look at Costco, for example–they start their people out at about $12/hour *and* offer health benefits that the overwhelming majority of the employees take. Ever shop at a Costco? I've been a member for about 15 years, and whenever I go, I see a lot of the same faces of employees who have been there for years. Additionally, the employees never look like they're being held there at gunpoint. Most of the time they have enough cashiers and the store is clean.

    The nearest Costco to me literally shares a parking lot with a Super WalMart. I've ducked in there from time to time and it's always a nightmare.

  49. democommie Says:

    @Maurinsky: "Probably by design" = one superfluous word.

    For the Capybara threatened readers. If they are causing problems simply ask your liberal Congressman to have them declared endangered–they'll be gone before Trumpligula vetoes the bill.

  50. democommie Says:

    @ Katydid:

    Not only do Costco employees seem happy, the stores' offerings seem to be better in a lot of areas and the prices are at least competitive if not better on a number of items. One thing that they seem to do a pretty good job on is wine and spirits. They co-locate with a liquor store in states that allow it and the selections/price points are generally very competitive in the four states I've seen them in.

  51. Katydid Says:

    I joined Costco because a friend was a member. She said to me, "You spend about the same money you'd spend elsewhere, but you live better." That's pretty much true. Like anything else, you need to evaluate the products on offer and decide for yourself if it's a good deal for you. 6-pack of sports socks? Yeah, sure. Whole Australian lamb? Probably not, unless you're feeding 20 people. Does the overall savings equal the membership fee? Depends.

    For me, knowing the people working there are getting paid more than minimum wage sweetens the shopping.

  52. arjun jobil Says:

    I understand perfectly the problem of living on MW, but the real problem in the US is the dying middle class. The stores that primarily serve the middle class and hire lower-wage workers are all withering away. This is not good for either group of workers. The only stores left in my neighborhood are the thrift store, Dollar General and CVS.

    One solution is raising the MW, which will benefit everyone, even the bosses at those stores that primarily serve middle class customers, like Sears and Walmart. When all that's left in the country is the uber rich and the uber poor, the US will become just another third world country.

  53. jcdenton Says:

    The minimum wage is a slave wage.

    @April
    "What I don't understand is that don't the people at the top realize that when the bottom 50% (or 60 or 75 or whateverthefuck percent would make them happy) have no money to spend, the stuff their companies produce will be bought by almost no one?"

    Two words: "short term". Most companies in this era have an average lifespan of about 15 years, down from 67 fifty years ago (http://www.bbc.com/news/business-16611040). Most companies can make enough to make sure their CEOs and shareholders make bank and then bail in a very short period of time. There is no need to pay anyone more than slave wages or to train the workforce when you're in for a relatively quick buck. Get in, make your garbage at the lowest rates possible, find some suckers to buy it, and get out. Late-stage Capitalism at its finest.

  54. ChickenLady Says:

    Repellent FOR capybaras, or repellent BY capybaras?

    http://capy-bara.blogspot.com/2011_06_01_archive.html

  55. jeneria Says:

    Another bougie academic here.

    We were in Venice, Italy at the end of February and I had the chance to overhear a college-aged American girl Amerisplaining to some Italians that a Living Wage (since Italy doesn't have a MW because everything is managed through unions) was a bad idea because it took away the incentive to "ever try and be more." She said the American MW at 8.15$ (so she was from OH or MI, I guess) was perfect because it inspired people to work harder and get better jobs. My husband and I laughed into our beers (a delicious blonde Belgian of some sort) and tried not to be obvious.

    One of the Italian guy she was talking to was looking at her like she'd grown a set of horns out of her head. He and his buddies couldn't understand how that was a good deal for anyone if you couldn't support yourself, let alone a family. (At the time we were there the Euro/US Dollar were almost even).

  56. Aurora S Says:

    It sounds simplistic, but the conservative argument for "why increasing the minimum wage overnight wouldn't actually do anything if you think about it"–as in, all wages would also increase at the same rate, maintaining the current level on income inequality–is disingenuous bullshit designed specifically to keep us from questioning the status quo.

    The rich are getting richer at the poor and middle class's expense; a thing your average asshole has heard a thousand times but hasn't really internalized or thought about HOW. The cost of living wouldn't increase overnight, and people would be able to pay their bills, maybe even having a little bit of change leftover to, yannow, BUY stuff. A bummer for the shifty and/or high finance vampires that make a shitload of money by preying on the poor, right? (Or, in conservative-speak, "anti-business".)

    "But how would we be able to prevent the cost of living from going up in kind?" you ask. The answer, of course, is government regulation. We've done it before and things haven't exploded. "BUT…BUT…REGULATION BAAAAD!!!!" you may say, if you're an idiot. Why do you think it's bad, Joe Republican? Think about it for just a minute. How does deregulation benefit YOU, at all, personally? I would venture that it doesn't, yet you cry and scream for it because…why again?

  57. Aurora S Says:

    OH OH OH…don't even get me started on the absurdity of the wage structure for the hospitality industry. If you want to take advantage of your employees and treat them like they're a dime a dozen, open a restaurant.

  58. Barkus Annointo Says:

    If the republicans ever have a war on poverty,
    the poor will know they've been in a fight.

    –some internet commenter
    a-a-a-and I think that's exactly where we are right now.

  59. democommie Says:

    @ Aurora S:

    Regulations/Standards that ensures that the bosses get all the stuff they need to build shit to sell–like ASME, UL, them things–THAT'S good regulation. Regulation that keeps them from fobbing off sub-standard shit on their customers or fucking the help, like ASME, UL, OSHA,NLRB, them things–THAT'S SATAN!!!!! That some of the angels are in fact demons escapes them.

  60. Maaya Says:

    It was actually Morgan Spurlock who did that 30 Days television series.

    it had its good and bad episodes, but the first one, where they attempt to live on minimum wage, was the best. I lived like that for the first few years of my adult life, and it's physically and mentally depleting. I'm thankful every single day that I have a better life now.

  61. Monte Davis Says:

    Aurora S: "We've done it before and things haven't exploded."

    Obviously you're ignorant of the Great Explosion of 75 years ago. From 1941 to 1945 10 million men went into federal makework jobs, while private-sector prices and wages were ruthlessly controlled. The result, as everyone knows, was a generation of economic collapse, with millions driven into dreary totalitarian suburbs and colleges.

  62. Maaya Says:

    @l8learner,

    I think you misinterpret my question. Neither I nor my fictitious friend believe that people shouldn't be paid a living wage. My question is, will a raise in minimum wage cause employers to have to raise all their employees wages, thus start charging more for their product so that they can maintain the same level of profit, thereby returning the MW back to a pittance, so that nothing in fact is gained?

    This is a QUESTION, not a statement intending to represent some sort of political belief.

    I understand it's a naive question, which is why I pointed out how ignorant I am about economic theory. G&T struck me as a very good place to get an answer from knowledgeable people.

  63. TakomaMark Says:

    As another member of the bourgeois I have to say that the take home pay adjustment from $7.25 to $6 isn't really necessary to make your point…$210 a week is still an absolute pittance. Also anything I wouldn't do for $6 I also wouldn't do for $1.25 more.

  64. JustRuss Says:

    @Maaya: Short answer: no. I don't have time to go into all the reasons why, hopefully someone here will. One factor: much as they'd like to, employers don't control their level of profit. So higher MW could mean reduced profits, rather than higher prices.

  65. MS Says:

    Maaya: no. We have many studies done across the US of times when the minimum wage was raised. They do not cause inflation or job losses.

    Basically, only a tiny fraction of the cost of something you buy is due to the wages of workers. A grocery store selling oranges pays money for oranges, money for rent, money for electricity, all sorts of things, and only a small slice of the fee for those oranges goes to worker salaries. You could double the wages of every worker and the price of oranges would have to go up by a few cents only.

  66. Major Kong Says:

    @Monte Davis

    Well played sir. Well played.

  67. Berkeley '74 Says:

    Summer of '69, fresh out of high school graduate, working as a farm laborer earning $1.65/hr x 60 hours per week == $99/week ~= $400/month CPI calculator says that is equivalent to $2655/month in 2017 $$. Cost of living, minimal as still living at home for 'free'. Summer job '70 Collins Radio Corp. Newport Beach CA at $3.15/hr computer programmer intern, with extra overtime pay, take home about $1000/month for three months CPI calculator says that is $6,270/month in 2017 dollars, cost of living minimal, sleeping on floor of sister's apartment in baby niece's room. That 3 month summer intern job income paid entirely the full cost of living and U.C. Berkeley fees for the ENTIRE YEAR. Social Security survivors income and on-campus part time tech jobs finished out the college years with $3,000 in the bank upon graduation in 1974.

    CURRENT 2017 take home pay at 'high' paid computational biologist job (U.C.) with 14 years experience in current position: $5,654/month, cost of living nearly $9,000 per month with mortgage, two kids, one car, one dog, 7 chickens, garage full of books, etc… The burn rate has been made up for well over a decade by burning through 401(K) and IRA accounts from previous 'high' paid computer programmer jobs related to Silicon Valley, mine are all gone since 2 years ago, have been working through the wife's IRA, next month Social Security payments start that will hopefully bring me up to even. The goal here of course is to die broke, the kids will be on their own I guess. There is a U.C. pension in the wings, and if I die at the keyboard while working, the pension will transfer %100 to my spouse. If I retired and started the pension, it would only transfer %50 to my spouse upon my passing, so I need to die at work. Previous mentioned goal and this one correspond, so I'm good.

    Clearly this demonstrates that the value of work vs. cost of living has deteriorated rather dramatically during my working lifetime. I was more wealthy as a teenager working summer intern jobs than I am now with over 45 years experience in high tech employment. If I was currently working in Silicon Valley in computer tech jobs, I would have about double the income, but employment for older geeks there is nearly impossible, plus I would be in the car 2+ hours/day and thereby missing out on getting my kids to their gymnastics class, etc … My current position is just about the most interesting job that anyone could ever have. I'm going to die at the keyboard.

  68. Katydid Says:

    @Berkeley; my game plan is also to die at my desk because my company pays out $100,000 for that, and after taxes, that's enough to get my kids out of college/grad school and buy them each a working car, and maybe do some much-needed repairs to the starter hovel I inhabit. My own self-paid life insurance should pay off the remainder of the mortgage on the starter-hovel, which would give the kids a place to live while they look for work/finish school.

    Isn't it sad that we have to do that kind of thinking? I don't know about having more money as a teenager–I worked a lot of crappy, low-paid jobs in high school and college in order to pay for college, and then got stuck in St. Ronnie's recession immediately upon graduation. I've never caught up financially with the Boomers. And pension? Pshaw, I say! In my career, I've worked at several jobs where I was told upon orientation, "Of course we USED TO BE famous for our pension, but we did away with that for anyone hired after 1992".

    Also, of course it was Morgan Spurlock and not Eric Schlosser who did the whole "30 Days" series–my fault. Schlosser wrote several must-read books, including two about the dangers of a crappy diet (one of which was also made into a documentary)–Fast Food Nation and Chew on This!

  69. Katydid Says:

    Thought for the morning; saw a story on the morning news about a good Samaritan who came to the aid of a woman who gave birth at home in her bathtub (emergency situation), and the overwhelming response I had was, "Well, that just saved the mother about $30k in hospital costs, having the baby at home".

    Just switched companies because the only good thing about my last one was the health benefits–picked up some routine prescriptions this week and just about fainted at the cost (the new company's insurance is crap but I didn't realize just how bad it was until I tried to use it), which brings me back to the point of Ed's post: the ridiculous cost of medicine and healthcare in general in this country. Not only do virtually no minimum-wage jobs offer health insurance, but the cost of healthcare and basic prescriptions is well out of the price range of people making minimum wage. Have an entirely-treatable chronic condition? You're screwed if you're making minimum wage. Hell, you're screwed if you're making average wage.

  70. Mark Says:

    The long and the short of it is that minimum wage jobs are not designed to be a living wage. If one is over twenty one years old and working a minimum wage job it is probably by choice, not circumstances. There are millions of job openings in this country that pay double the current minimum wage, it just takes initiative to go find one.

    The major issue with a federally mandated minimum wage is employers forced by law to pay one. The government should not determine what a business owner pays his employees, it should be left to the business owner to determine how valuable an employee is to his business.

  71. democommie Says:

    "If one is over twenty one years old and working a minimum wage job it is probably by choice, not circumstances."

    Fuck you, you lying sack of shit.

    That is one of the more egregious, falacious and fatuous things that you've typed in a while–and considering what an obnoxiuos fucking dickwad you are, that's saying something.

    If the choice is:

    "Work a shit job for shit wages, taking shit from a shithead at said shitty job, live in a shithole, eat shitty food have jack-shit healthcare and die young OR starve to death, now"

  72. democommie Says:

    I fucking hate the keyboard on this motherfucking Chromebook!

    Resuming measured response to moronic fuckwads trolling comment:

    "If the choice is:

    "Work a shit job for shit wages, taking shit from a shithead at said shitty job, live in a shithole, eat shitty food have jack-shit healthcare and die young OR starve to death, now"

    It's similar to the choice made by a fertilized egg when it thinks to itself:

    "Should I be born now, in the image of my CREATOR*, into some fucking hellhole like Aleppo, Syria or should I just detach from the wombwall and get flushed?".

    "There are millions of job openings in this country that pay double the current minimum wage, it just takes initiative to go find one."

    Really? That's it? Initiative, wtf, is "Initiative"? Is it getting up in the morning and going online to see what's "trending" in job markets while you have your Frogurt and chia omelet while watching FuckTheNew'sCorpse crow about they're getting away with misinforming/disinforming and lying to idiots like yourself? is that "initiative"?

    Try waking up in an inner city with ONLY yourself to worry about and taking public transportation to the fast food court or neighborhood sMackDonald's where you work, "mom's hours*" before going to your OTHER or OTHERER job cleaning offices or something else that you can do while the people who work in them are working their OTHER job, or if they're "successful" throwing money they don't have away to educate their children for careers that are vaporizing.

    Get back to me if you grow a conscience, douchenozzle, or just STFU.

    * Only the busiest parts of the day, so's they don't gotta pay you for not going flat-out all eight hours of the shift–if they even offer any of those shifts.

    * Statement of unsubstantiated fact

  73. jcdenton Says:

    Can't tell if Mark is a troll or believes his own Libertarian/ancap nonsense.

    I'll assume (briefly) that he's making this argument in good faith.

    Here is the thing, Mark. This is an argument that could have been made in the 1970s. Minimum wage was for students and teenagers (although due to the absence of inflation a minimum wage earner in the 1970's would have earned significantly more than a minimum wage earner today). On-the-job training and investment in worker skills was something corporations invested in. Unions in manufacturing (which employed more than a quarter of the workforce) managed to claw back decent wages and the transition from low-skilled labor to middle-skilled labor was basically gated by whether you had completed high school.

    Today, the number of middle-skill jobs is in steep decline (you know, the ones that people are supposed to transition to from your slave wage job). The number of high-skill and low-skill jobs (paying near slave wage) have increased, but since 1990 the number of middle-skill positions is in strict decline, due to automation, exporting jobs overseas, loss of worker training and I would argue shorter corporate lifetimes (if you're only going to be around for a short while, you're not going to invest in worker training or promote from within). Manufacturing, the main creator of middle-skill jobs, has declined to less than a tenth of all sources of employment and is falling. Unions have also declined in power, meaning that even those jobs that remain are less stable or upwardly mobile. There are considerably fewer avenues by which a wage slave can move up to any kind of middle-skill employment than in the 1970s.

    Your other point about paying market rates is actually the crux of this problem. Corporation would pay you nothing if they could. Your wage outside of the slave wage is determined by your market value. However, as I've already pointed out, larger and large segments of the population are falling into the low-skill (and therefore the low-market value) category. As middle-skill jobs vanish, you'll either be a well-trained high-skill worker (whose wages are also falling, but that's a story for another time), or one of the vast sea of people with zero market value. In that case, you're basically stuck in the slave wage world forever, with little hope of ever getting out.

  74. jcdenton Says:

    I should make the additional point that the next step is this: lower-skill jobs are also already in decline due to the cheapness of automation and the creation of vast online-only business models.

    So the final state of the picture in a some near-future is some percentage of the population will have high-skill jobs, some percentage of the population will have artisanal jobs and the rest will be unemployed. And if you believe that there are enough high-skill jobs, job training and just raw skill to somehow absorb the difference, you would be dead wrong.

    The next big middle-skill job to make an exit (also the largest middle-skill employer in the US): truck driving. 10 million+ jobs will disappear, as will all the infrastructure supporting the humans that currently operate trucks.

  75. Mark Says:

    Democommie, you lose the argument when you restort to name calling and bullying tactics. I am right and you know I am right, but your liberal ideology just won't let you admit it.

  76. ChickenLady Says:

    The minimum wage was originally established so that no employer could pay anyone less than a living wage. That's still a good idea, we're just doing it wrong. It says a lot about our approach to business that we have to make laws forcing CEO's to share the company's earnings with the people who actually make all those profits happen.

    Despite many people going on to make better-than-minimum wages, someone will still be working the inadequately remunerative jobs they just left; and no one should work all day and not be able to make a living doing it.

  77. democommie Says:

    "Democommie, you lose the argument when you restort to name calling and bullying tactics."

    I'm bullying you, you pathetic fuck?

    You aren't making an argument, dipshit. You made two ASSERTIONS; neither of them shows you to be anything but a parrot who's done with vomiting back the talking points that he gets from his KKKonservaturd handlers.

    It's hard to believe that there is someone even MORE vacuuous than that vile p.o.s. sitting in the Oval Office, but then you show up and prove that there is no bottom.

    You're an asshole and an idiot.

  78. jcdenton Says:

    @democommie

    I think he's just a troll. Leave him be.

  79. Katydid Says:

    There's a tv series on the SyFy network called Incorporated that deals with an America in the not-too-distant future. What makes it watchable for me is that it's completely plausible; as a result of climate change, much of the world is unliveable. In the show, there's the city behind the walls where the executives live and work, and the hellscape outside the walls, where the minimum-wage folks live. Some sell themselves into slavery for the hope of a better life inside the walls. The main character in this show is a very-bright young man from outside the walls who uses his skills to create a new identity for himself and get inside the wall with fake credentials as an executive trying to claw his way up from a tiny apartment to an executive home, and how he lives in fear of being found out.

  80. democommie Says:

    That sounds like something from "Crake&Oryx"–a bit of a dystopian vision from Margaret Atwood ("The Handmaids Tale"–a "feel good*" novel made into a movie). The sort of read that makes you want to become a luddite.

    * From the standpoint of the theocratic fundamentalist hierarchy portrayed in the novel.

  81. Katydid Says:

    @Demo; Atwood certainly seems prescient, doesn't she?

  82. Major Kong Says:

    Mark better hope he never finds himself working in the wrong industry at age 45+

    Ask the middle-aged guy stocking shelves at Best Buy or driving for Uber what he did before. Good chance he'll say something like:

    "I was in management at XYZ Corp before the merger, downsizing, bankruptcy (pick one or more)"

  83. April Says:

    Katy – Thanks for the show rec. Downloading it now. Always looking for new stuff to watch. Am currently rewatching "Oz" for "light" relief from current events.

    @Mark – I know you're a troll, but the whole reason the minimum wage was established in the first place was because companies could – and therefore did – get away with paying their employees next to nothing. "Just go find another job" you say? Why would any company pay anyone good money if they didn't have to? Sure there might be that rarified bird who is capable of doing stuff no one else can do, but for the rest of us? Pshaw. In the great scheme of things most of us are a dime a dozen.

  84. April Says:

    In addition, I would like to point out that there isn't any high-level occupation that doesn't have multitudes of qualified people for every available opening. I might also point out that many (most? all?) companies are filling as many of these high-level positions with H1B visa people as they can in order to pay them less.

  85. Major Kong Says:

    @April

    I certainly saw that back when I worked in the IT sector. The H1B visa program has been badly abused far beyond what it was originally intended to do.

  86. April Says:

    @MK I also saw that at a biomedical research firm I worked at. Next time you hear someone saying America doesn't have enough scientists, tell them they are full of shit! The company turned down 100 people with PhD's in biomedical science to jury-rig the job description so that only this specific Chinese guy would be "qualified". And I know this because I was the chief assistant to the laboratory director, and I saw the resumes.

  87. April Says:

    Another example – I worked for a private college. They advertised for a tenure-track faculty position in the science department. They got so many CV's that they LITERALLY filled an office-sized room! They put them in cardboard boxes and stacked them on top of each other. When it came time to make a selection they picked one of the boxes at random (which had maybe 100 CV's in it) and chose from that.

    "Just go find another job." Yeah. Go do that.

  88. April Says:

    OT – I'm halfway through the first season of "Corporation". This is truly libertarian/repugs dream for the future. I'm sure those assholes Paul, McConnell et al jack off to this show.

    Won't be my future but I have daughters.

    Humans. What a blight we are.

    Hey- you all have a good day.

  89. Katydid Says:

    Hey, Major Kong, read your very-good assessment in DKos–thanks for writing that!

    Think of all the good things the millions ($93 million?) that were spent on that stupid penis-waving would have done if spent in our own country.

    Saw an interesting news story on PBS this weekend about a charity program that's operating in Nigeria. The donors' money is given directly to the people in need, to be used how they see fit. The feature program gives the poorest of the poor $1000 (the equivalent of 10 years' salary) and follows up with them to see what they did with it. So, what are they doing? Paying school fees for their kids, building themselves small homes (instead of mud huts), buying livestock and farming equipment, and in one case, opening a little store in the community. Nobody bought alcohol or drugs with it. There was a little blurb from a psychologist talking about the basic human desire for security and how the typical human will make good decisions if given the chance.

    I thought about what would happen if we did that here, and in one case, Utah (of all places) took a big step by giving homeless people an apartment–and finding out it was cheaper to give them someplace stable to live than to keep bouncing them from shelters. Turns out people do better when they can eat and sleep and bathe regularly–who knew?

  90. Katydid Says:

    Re: middle class and STEM jobs; the book Nickel and Dimed deals with the struggle of working entry-level, minimum-wage jobs…and the problem has grown to middle-class jobs now. One of the problems for people working minimum-wage jobs is that the average person can be trained to do them in a day or less, so employers can fire at will because there's no big downside to hiring someone else. I'm seeing that attitude now in middle-class and STEM jobs.

    A few years back I worked for a start-up that started out great. It wasn't like the utopias on earth in Silicon Valley with massage tables and ping-pong and catered meals, but the pay was good and we got occasional benefits like quarterly team lunches at good restaurants and an account at a better outdoors catalog company to get corporate-branded stuff (my dog doesn't care if I walk him while wearing a company-logo'd raincoat, but I appreciate the quality and hey, I didn't have to buy it). The owner proclaimed his strong Christian faith constantly, but when you're chowing down on a $50 steak and washing it down with an expensive merlot, you can ignore it.

    Then the owner stopped doing customer work and everything changed. Suddenly he was *convinced* everyone was stealing from him. One of the people I supervised was one of those super-workers everyone wishes they had–top of her field, hard worker, customer loved her, got along with everyone, etc. etc. Her widowed mother in Boston had a heart attack and she wanted to fly up to help, but she only had a week's vacation time and wanted two weeks. I said no problem–I'd talk to the owner to let her "go into the hole" (that is, borrow against future leave, which is done frequently in my industry) or at the very least, she could take the second week without pay.

    When I talked to the owner, he flipped his lid and started screaming about "takers"–mind you, this was the employee everyone wishes they had, who was asking for a one-off. That was a wakeup to me of just how the "owner class" thinks. I'm positive if the owner could have replaced her in a day, he would have fired her (and me) for daring to interrupt his money flow. We're both in new jobs now.

  91. Katydid Says:

    So, here's a thing that looks unrelated but actually is: the GEB wants to cut money from Amtrak in the flyover states. In the comments section, the know-nothing response is "who cares?" but having lived in countries with actual, functional public transportation (trains, buses, trolleys, etc.), and living near a city with a functional(-ish) public transit system, I say that affordable public transportation is vital to everyone, including low-income people. Owning a car isn't always in the best interest of everyone (insurance, maintenance, gas all add up, plus you need a place to put the car when you're not driving it).

    Back in the days of the Former Soviet Union, public transportation was cheap and reliable. People could and did move all over the massive country on trains. I still remember one of my first Russian 101 lessons, where we memorized the phrase "The metro costs 5 kopeks" (at the time, a bit less than a cent).

  92. m.j. Says:

    There's always the lottery.
    Have you ever wondered about the nerve it takes for states to push gambling on the poor, dangling hope and fortune in front of their faces, while simultaneously using that money they promised for education (just not probability theory) to provide tax cuts for already wealthy corporations.
    Sweet!

  93. democommie Says:

    "The metro costs 5 kopeks"

    And there were, undoubtedly, babushkas and war veterans who complained that in Stalin's day, the Metro was free or that they actually got paid to ride it!

    I was out last night doing some beerversation about one thing and another and some kid decided to bait me by saying that Bill Buckner was responsible for the RedSox losing the 1986 World Series*. When I pointed out that John McNamara was responsible, for not taking Buckner out of the game after his last at bat, he doubled down. After about the fifth or sixth back and forth, I said, "I know you're just jerking my chain, but you have no fucking idea what you're talking about (he is, of course, a NY Yankees fan–home of the most egregiously dishonest p.o.s. in modern baseball, A-hole Rodriguez–and sez, "Oh, I NEVER liked him!". I left the area because I needed to be elsewhere AND I was losing my temper.

    I got home an hour or so later, walked the dog, armed all of the booby traps, set loose the "Dog of Warmth" Buddy and was finishing my day when it came to me that the guy was just trolling. Being an asshole, just to be an asshole–just to fuck with somebody so he could have a laugh. I'm sure that he went inside and told the other people who were there that he baited me and I bit. He's right, he schnookered me. The other three guys all know me and may have told him that he was a dick, or not. What he doesn't know is that he's invisible to me from here forward. If he was standing in front of me I wouldn't waste my breath asking him to move, I'd just brush by him and if he was upset, tough shit.

    I am really unforgiving of that level of offense. It's unnecessary and it's something I do ONLY when I've decided that person is not worth having a conversation with.

    I'm pretty much at that point with folks that defend what the asshole Trumpbaggists that they've been sending to Congress or the Trumpbag-in-Chief is doing to dismantle what little compassionate legislation is still left. Fuck those people, they're just like Mark and that idiot kid (who, btw, was born around 1995, if I had to guess his age); people who want to fuck with or just fuck people because they enjoy seeing them hurt.

    * A source of MANY arguments.

  94. Katydid Says:

    "Dog of warmth"? What does that entail? Sounds cozy as well as intriguing.

    My weekend triumph; getting my point across that "no teeth!" means if the rescue dog mouths my hands, he goes into his crate for a time-out. I'm still working on "the world will not stop turning if the dog stays in the living room while I go load the dishwasher".

    Weekend disappointment; went to a home-and-garden show for an hour with a friend. I'm toying with the idea of getting help with a landscaping project I can't do on my own. It was utterly depressing walking the aisles and getting assaulted by the utterly desperate salespeople. The economy is not as great as we keep hearing it is.

  95. democommie Says:

    "Dog of Warmth" is what Buddy the Wonderdog* became when he found out that he didn't have to be the badass anymore. Now he works on being cute and pretending to be deaf when he's hearing anything excvcept have a biscuit!

    As for landscaping, I can't give advise, my yard looks far worse than it did before I started working on the house

    * Yeah, it's in his "performance contract"; full billing–always, Evian or, if we're overseas, Perrier in his bowl, no brown M&M's. He can be a TOTAL diva.

  96. democommie Says:

    "Dog of Warmth" is what Buddy the Wonderdog* became when he found out that he didn't have to be the badass anymore. Now he works on being cute and pretending to be deaf when he's hearing anything excvcept have a biscuit!

    As for landscaping, I can't give advise, my yard looks far worse than it did before I started working on the house

    * Yeah, it's in his "performance contract"; full billing–always, Evian or, if we're overseas, Perrier in his bowl, no brown M&M's. He can be a TOTAL diva.

  97. X-RWU Says:

    Wow, it looks like this conversation has been going on for days… hopefully not too late to throw in my own two cents?

    I wonder if it ever occurred to those so opposed to minimum wage and the raising thereof that maybe if the common people earned a living wage, then they wouldn't need to seek out welfare checks for income.

  98. democommie Says:

    "I wonder if it ever occurred to those so opposed to minimum wage and the raising thereof that maybe if the common people earned a living wage, then they wouldn't need to seek out welfare checks for income."

    I think that they WANT those folks to seek out a welfare check and then be smug and self righteous when telling them that they won't be getting any free rides, 'cuz they don't deserve help.

    Assholes, whether they are warmongers, granny starverz, racists, misogynist or any of the other vile scum that seems to have floated to the top of the cesspit that is modern KKKonservatism are nothing if not consistent in their assholery.

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