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House maid ironing a lace doily with GE electric iron circa 1908.
Are fast food workers the outsourced servants of today? David Cay Johnston argues that they are—and that they're worse off than the servants of 100 years ago. Take the fast food worker of 2013 and the family cook of 1913. On paper, today's full-time fast food worker earns a little more than the standard 1913 wage. But:
  • The 1910 cook earned tax-free pay, while 2013 cook pays 7.65 percent of his income in Social Security taxes as well as income taxes on more than a third of his pay, assuming full-time work every week of the year. For a single person, that’s about $29 of that $55 raise deducted for taxes.
  • Unless he can walk to work, today’s outsourced family cook must cover commuting costs. A monthly transit pass costs $75 in Los Angeles, $95 in Atlanta and $122 in New York City, so bus fare alone runs $17 to $25 a week, eating up a third to almost half of the seeming increase in pay, making the apparent raise pretty much vanish.
  • The 1910 cook got room and board, while the 2013 cook must provide his own living space and food.
Not to mention, fast food restaurants are filled with part-time workers. Of course, there's a lot to be said for not living with your boss, cheap though it may be, and other aspects of low-wage workers' lives have likely improved as well (I'm looking at you, Jim Crow laws). But the fact that low wage, effectively domestic workers are making barely more than they were when their pay didn't have to cover rent or commuting—barely more than servants made in what we now think of as the bad old days of no labor protections—is a striking sign of how fully McDonald's and Walmart and other low-wage employers have succeeded in driving down wages and taking America back in time.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 07:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Hellraisers Journal and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The 2013 Cook Can Expect -- Since We Haven't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, worldlotus

    yet given away our Grand Bargain -- a secure though uncomfortable old age. The 1910 cook could not.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 07:50:54 AM PST

  •  Workers at McDonald's and Walmart are viewed... (6+ / 0-)

    ...by "management" as disposable.  In the old days servants were second class citizens but were not considered so disposable.  Certainly there are exceptions but in general that was and is the situation.  But in any case, why are we even considering this?  You would think that 100 years later we would have progressed enough not to even consider this comparison.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 07:50:58 AM PST

  •  Pros and cons (6+ / 0-)

    House servitude was pretty abusive.  You were expected to be up before dawn and not go to bed until after your employer did.  You were on call 24/7, maybe with one afternoon off a week.  

    You were fed, but usually minimally.  Cooks and housekeepers were expected to keep immaculate financial records and were not expected to splurge on food for the help.

    The very lowest rung on the domestic service food chain was the scullery maid.  Had to be up before all the other servants, wait on all the other servants, and shut up and do as told.

    Servants were in a very precarious position.  The slightest error and you could be dismissed without a "character" or reference.  In that case, you'd be unlikely to find another job in service and many turned to prostitution.  Sexual abuse of female servants was common, and if a maid got pregnant by her employer she'd be dismissed without a character and again join the ranks of prostitutes.  

    Servants were paid quarterly.  So it wasn't uncommon for servants to completely lack any money at all between paychecks.  Often the entire paycheck went to support parents and/or siblings.

    If the family went away to the country house or on a prolonged tour, servants left at home were expected to work a full schedule (in-depth cleaning, repair to the residence, and other messy chores) but were put on "light" pay because the family weren't there to be waited upon.

    Servants didn't even have the right to their own name - employers could call you something they deemed more appropriate if they didn't like your name.  For example "the footman is always named James" so if you took the footman position, you'd be called James even if your name was Matthew.

    So yeah, in a way house servant had fewer expenses than current fast-food workers.  But they had even less recourse to legal protections.

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 07:57:59 AM PST

    •  A big difference is that for many people, domestic (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gooderservice, worldlotus, Creosote

      service was a survival job.  It helped you survive.  If you didn't have that option, you'd  be on the street, or doing something worse like prostitution.  

      Yes, it was precarious with regard to potential arbitrary dismissals and to sexual harrassment of female servants.  But you got room, board, and (depending on the house), clothing or a uniform.  It was better than starving or selling oneself, and those were distinct and ever-present threats.  

      It also presented certain social opportunities, depending on the employer and the place where you lived.  Your kids might get handmedown clothes from the family.  You might get a little extra food for them.  If your employer liked you and were kindly, you might get small bonuses on holidays.  You even might get help with your kids' tuition.

      Today we have the issue of people who work several jobs, with fast food being one of them.  Fast food isn't even survival work.  And you have to pay your rent, and buy your clothes, and find a way to get to your job or from one job to another on time, and still take care of your kids and everything else that modern life demands that you do.  And all you get from your fast food employers is minimum wage.  Not food, not clothing, not help with your kids, not the possibility of a bonus.  

      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

      by concernedamerican on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 08:18:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And, as an aside, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother, worldlotus

      a few writers I know (who do their best to be as accurate as the story allows) have told me that the whole "The butler did it" meme was once a standard idea, because butlers (like other servants) were so badly paid, and often so badly treated, that for a servant to kill the master was the expected cause of death.

      Mind sets have changed for the middle classes quite a lot in the past century.  For the rich, though ... I have my doubts.

      I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

      by trumpeter on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 08:39:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  doesn't sound all that different from today (0+ / 0-)

      Up before dawn?  You will be if you don't own a car.

      You were fed, but usually minimally?  What's the point that the "Food Stamp Challenge" has been trying to make?

      Easy to lose your job and very hard to get a new one?  Same as it ever was.

      It wasn't uncommon for servants to completely lack any money at all between paychecks?  Wal-Mart is consistently seeing its late-month sales drop as people run out of money and/or food stamps.

      When the feudal system was breaking down - the various degrees of bound labor were being replaced with "free" wage labor and payment in kind (in both directions) was being replaced with cash - a lot of people were genuinely skeptical about it.  They worried that even the limited legal/moral responsibility that a lord had to his dependents would be eliminated, while economic reality would continue to bind the peasantry to the service and whims of the landowner.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 11:08:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not sure about the comparison (4+ / 0-)

    with live in domestic workers circa 1913.  Of course there was no McDonalds or Wendy's or Domino's in 1913, but there were plenty of cheap restaurants where you could buy a sandwich and a cup of coffee.  According to Wikipedia, here, cafeterias began in 1885 and by 1920 there were hundreds of Childs Restaurants, which was the first fast food chain, and there was a "cafeteria craze" in the 19 teens.  Cafeterias were the precursors of the present fast food chains, and share the fact that its workers did not get tips, and of course, both have to commute to work with no room and board.  So I would compare today's fast food employees of cafeteria employees of 1913.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 07:59:05 AM PST

  •  Consider labor standards (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus

    No doubt, the fast food worker of today faces a difficult employment environment, but consider what history says about the limits of employer actions 100 years ago.  John D. Rockefeller had his employees and their families murdered when they demanded better working conditions.  

  •   Comparison makes no sense. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, Mikey, nextstep, Pi Li

    First, factually, the tax numbers are wrong.  For low income workers, SS and Medicare taxes are more than offset by the EITC.  See page 9 of the CBO report.

    Second, of course, there are labor laws today that offer worker protection that were not in existence 100 years ago.

    Third, women 100 years ago often were shut out of the vast majority of better paying positions, so for many women working as servants, there were no other options in life.  Most workers today have options of schooling or training in skills that will move them out of minimum wage jobs.

    Fourth, a servant position was a lifetime position -- you would be doing that as long as you could physically work.  Fast food workers can be students or others who work part time while getting an education.  In other words, for some, fast food employment is not a lifetime career goal, but a "for now" employment until they can finish school or technical training and move on into other, better paying jobs.

    Fifth, there was no "advancement" in a servant position. Today, people who start in entry level fast food positions AND intend to remain in fast food over the long term can be promoted into management level jobs at higher pay.

    Sixth, servants were almost universally unmarried women with no second income, and were expected to remain that way.  Today, minimum wage workers can be young people still living at home, or people living in a household with another wage earner, so total household income can be higher.  A household of 4 with two minimum wage workers (a married couple with two children) is above the poverty level for a family of four.   And how many two-income households have both workers in minimum wage jobs?  

    Let me be clear:  I THINK THERE NEEDS TO BE AN INCREASE IN THE MINIMUM WAGE.

    But comparisons like this are ludicrous and hurt the credibility of people advocating for a minimum wage increase.  

    •  Should also note that today's low income workers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib

      receive Medicaid, while 100 years ago they did not have health care paid for them. Finally, the healthcare available to the wealthyest 100 years ago is far inferior to what Medicare provides today.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 09:43:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Trust me... (0+ / 0-)
      Let me be clear:  I THINK THERE NEEDS TO BE AN INCREASE IN THE MINIMUM WAGE.
      ...you didn't put it in big enough font.

      Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

      by Pi Li on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 10:55:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, the minute (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pi Li

      I started reading your 1st paragraph without even scrolling down to see the poster's name, I was thinking, "I'll bet this is coffeetalk."  And I was right....

      The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 11:18:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed (0+ / 0-)
        I started reading your 1st paragraph without even scrolling down to see the poster's name, I was thinking, "I'll bet this is coffeetalk."  And I was right....
        ....and so was she.

        Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

        by Pi Li on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 02:51:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  coffeetalk is wrong (0+ / 0-)

      Author of the Aljazeera column that Ms. Clawson cites responding...

      Coffeetalk is wrong.

      A single worker making $290 a week -- $15,080 for a year -- is NOT eligible for the earned income tax credit. The credit ends before income reaches $13,350.

      What I wrote is correct -- this worker would pay 7.65% of their wages in payroll taxes and would be in the 10% tax bracket for about a third of pay, bringing the total tax burden to about $29 per week.

      That coffeetalk relied on a CBO report about statistics whether than what the tax code says is curious since coffee talk claims to be a lawyer --one who hides behind a nom d'Internet.I sure hope clients get more careful representation than coffee talk demonstrated here.

      •  Not exactly right. (0+ / 0-)

        That number is for a single person with no children.  And that's a 2010 number.  The number for single, no dependents, for 2014 will be $14,590.  So, in 2014, a single person with no children making minimum wage who works, say, 1800 hours in 2014 will qualify for the EITC.

        If the minimum wage worker has one child, in 2014 he/she  gets the EITC.  If you have one child, the maximum you can make for the EITC in 2014 will be $38,511.  

        If the minimum wage worker is married filing jointly with 1 child, the maximum is $43,941 for 2014.  So, a married couple, both at minimum wage, with one child will get the EITC.  With 3 or more qualifying children, the maximum household income for the EITC in 2014 will be $52,427.  So, a minimum wage worker working, say, 1800 hours, married to someone working 1800 hours at $20 an hour, with 3 children, qualifies for the EITC.

        In other words, a single person, working about 2000 or more at minimum wage with no children won't get the EITC.  Many other minimum wage workers will.  

        The WHOLE POINT of the EITC is to use the income tax system (which is suppose to be, and is, progressive) to offset Social Security taxes, which are not supposed to be progressive - but are supposed to be a "you get what you paid for" system -- and Medicare taxes.

        And of course, the EITC was only one of several ways I pointed out where the comparison was illegitimate.  

        •  wrong again (0+ / 0-)

          You are not using the figures I had in my piece, which are correct.

          My example in my Al Jazeera column was  a single minimum wage worker at 40 hours per week which is $15,900. No ambiguity there -- crystal clear facts.

          Instead of acknowledging you got it wrong you gin up a set of new numbers -- but then you get it wrong yet again.

          Such a worker is not eligible for the EITC now and will not be in 2014. And the EITC phaseout I cited that you try to discredit by citing 2010 was for 2012, as you can determine with some research.

          Nothing you have written supports your false and indefensible claim that "factually, the tax numbers are wrong."

          When I err I correct, forthrightly, candidly and promptly.

          Instead of ginning up numbers, why not do the honest thing and acknowledge that you were wrong?

      •  Coffeetalk... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ahianne

        Is almost always wrong.  I don't understand her bag.  She comes here and sugarcoats right wing memes with a deft lawyer's touch.  I believe that is her profession.

        “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck

        by RichM on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:47:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My grandmother-in-law was in service (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus

    before her marriage in the Thirties in England.  I don't know what the conditions were like and Nanna may not be in any shape to be asked, but I do know this: she did not have any student loans to pay off.  My daughter does and even though she makes more than minimum wage as a front-desk clerk. paying off those loans may be a stretch.

  •  What are they making in real purchasing power (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi, AoT

    Hard to think fast food workers have less real purchasing power than servants 100 years ago.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 05:27:47 PM PST

    •  From the online purchasing power calculators (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, Ahianne

      I can find it looks like the wage now is below the purchasing power.

      $10 would be about $235 now, which is about $50 less than the weekly wage now. And included room and board.

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:02:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Look on the bright side, at least now... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, grollen, Elizaveta, Ahianne

    rich folks can't literally get away with the murder of poor folks just because they're rich.

    ...ooops...

    /snark

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 05:28:27 PM PST

  •  The Social Security factoid is misleading (6+ / 0-)

    Yes, Social Security does reduce your take-home pay today, but it funds the payout when you retire, a benefit that workers 100 years ago didn't have.

    Portraying Social Security as only a costly burden is dishonest.

  •  Domestic workers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duhban, grollen, Ahianne

    get $40/hr in my No. Cal.  community.  Can't speak for the full-time ones, but those who clean homes on a weekly basis get $40/hr.

    It's hard work and they earn it, mind you.

    But it's not bad pay considering the level of training and responsibility required.

    The days of "Upstairs, Downstairs" are long past, Dieu merci.

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 05:36:49 PM PST

  •  $29 of $55 pay? That's 52.7%... (0+ / 0-)

    I think your math is off.

    7.65% for Social Security and Medicare and 25% federal taxes (Assuming he's single and earns less than $87,850), for a total of 32.65%.  Even if you throw in a 5% state income tax on top of that, and 8% state sales tax, you still only get about 42.6%

  •  Personally (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radical simplicity

    I think that anyone whose boss can tell her how many children she can have isn't anything but a slave.

  •  A cook != modern day fast food service. (0+ / 0-)

    A modern day cook, would most likely be equivalent to a modern day cook....

    Or a modern day butler
    "
    A butler usually earn a salary between $50.000 and $100.000 annually,"

    From a quick google.

    Or at least someone who serves food to a member of the top echelons of society.

    Are you seriously suggesting that a modern day Rockefeller would get their food from a fast food service?

    OR even

    "In 1930, near the start of the Great Depression, 1 in 45 urban American families had live-in servants, economist George Stigler, who later won the Nobel Prize in economics, reported in his 1946 study of servants."

    Or a member of the top 1/45? ~2%?

    This is clearly an apples to palm tree comparison.  And not a very valuable comparison.

  •  Answer to title question - NO! (0+ / 0-)

    This is not a good comparison.

    There's more than "a lot to be said about not living with your boss" in terms of the controls on the servant classes regarding their leisure time (what little there was), their associations, the living conditions, etc.  

    And that first point about Social Security and income taxes is simply a fine argument for the RW objection to taxation - and the Social Security program.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 05:56:41 PM PST

    •  There's still some control (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, MaryKane, Ahianne

      exerted over your leisure time, though.

      When I get off of work, I'm "not allowed" to go get food from somewhere other than Wendy's while still in my uniform.

      Granted, there's realistically no way for them to enforce this rule, but the fact that it's even a rule is an attempt to exert control over what employees do while off the clock.

      •  And drug testing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr Robert

        Although I'm not sure to what extent that is a thing in fast food.

        If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

        by AoT on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:35:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, right. "Some" control (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WillR

        A servant in those days had almost no time "off work". Maybe a few hours every two weeks or so. And on your Tuesday afternoon every two weeks you were "allowed" to go only certain places to be with certain people; and if you deviated from that.....there's the door, and no references. There is no comparison betwenn then and now. None.

        “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

        by Catte Nappe on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 08:00:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  capitalism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, NoMoreLies

    The ill side effects of capitalism left unchecked can be seen everywhere in America but still Americans treat capitalism as if it is of divine origin never to be questioned.

    Imagine America without trillions of borrowed and printed money.

    America is an interesting society; they love their wars and super power military status, but they don't want to pay for them and will hire mercenaries to fight in them. OK the south provides many of the soldiers.

  •  Working at McDonald's isn't made to be permanent (1+ / 2-)
    Recommended by:
    Superpole
    Hidden by:
    Jasmine Van Pelt, cville townie

    Entry-level jobs at McDonald's are designed for teenagers, college students and young adults, not for people raising multiple children on them. Therefore, they will not pay you $100,000 or whatever today's "living wage" is.

    •  Of course, the problem is (9+ / 0-)

      that the median age for fast food workers these days is 29.  So while the jobs may or may not be meant for teenagers, college students, and young adults, those aren't the only people who are working those jobs now.

    •  And yet many people have to raise (7+ / 0-)

      children on just those wages.

      What jobs are out there that you can raise children on? A lot of people have to take fast food jobs to raise kids, and as such they need to make enough money to raise kids on. Jobs aren't just going to magically create themselves and wages aren't just going to magically rise. We need to make both of those things happen and a living wage will help with that.

      And 100k is far more than a living wage.

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:28:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you may* have to depend (2+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoreLies, Sparhawk
        Hidden by:
        cville townie

        on a fast food job, YOU SHOULD NOT BE HAVING KIDS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

        That is actually a serious method to get people out of poverty.

        You can not, nor could you ever afford to raise a child on what a McDonald's can every hope to pay for the generic McJobs.

        Proper family planning is a critical path out of poverty, as a method we can use to get immediate progress from.

        •  may? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MaryKane, cville townie, sngmama, AoT

          This is right-wing nonsense. In today's job market, only the rich can tell themselves that they for sure will not have to depend on a fast food job. If you now have enough money to last you for the rest of your life, then go ahead and have kids, says "0112358" (nice nickname!). Otherwise you could be laid off, not be able to get a job at anywhere near your present salary, and be dependent on a fast food job if you could even get one. This is the reality for millions of Americans today. How horrifying to be told that you must not reproduce unless you're wealthy enough to retire right now. How long are we going to put up with being treated this way?

        •  may??? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cville townie, AoT

          This is right-wing nonsense. If you're so rich that you have enough money to retire right now, 0112358 is ok with you having kids-- otherwise, forget it, you don't deserve to reproduce. In today's job market, everyone is one layoff away from having to depend on a fast food job. There simply aren't enough good jobs to go around. Most of the new jobs being created are like fast food jobs-- crappy service jobs that don't pay a living wage. This kind of work is no longer just for single, childless teens. It's the new normal for a huge segment of the American population, for their entire working lives. To suggest that the people who do this work for YOU don't deserve to reproduce, shows that you can't imagine yourself in their position at all. Please study empathy.

          •  So you think having (0+ / 0-)

            a child you cant possible care for or raise in a safe and healthy environment is a reasonable decision?

            •  your focus is on the individual (0+ / 0-)

              I wonder if you agree with Margaret Thatcher that there is no such thing as society? The people who own the means of production are a small minority of the population. Most people have no ability to create a job for themselves that would be any better than standing on the corner begging for money. They are dependent on the people who are supposedly leading us to create opportunities to work. Since the "job creators" are eliminating jobs that pay a middle-class salary and creating jobs that pay a poverty wage, more and more people are doomed to a life of financial struggle. Your reaction to this is to observe that it wouldn't be prudent for them to have children. How about caring whether our society provides for the common welfare, or is structured to divert more and more of the nation's income and wealth into the hands of a tiny rich minority, leaving the rest of us struggling? How about advising people that it would be prudent not to let rich people get away with this kind of bullshit, instead of advising them that it would be prudent to give up on the idea of having children?

              •  I dont agree with Margaret Thatcher as she is dead (0+ / 0-)

                and has no opinions.

                When you know (or should know) that your child has next to no chance of leading a productive healthy life, because you are incapable of providing a healthy childhood. It is a clear and poor, and child abusive choice to have a child.

                The vast majority of American's are not in this position,  and thats a good thing. For any who are, the responsible adult decision is to wait to until you somehow get out of abject poverty. If you fail to that, you essentially have
                a)damned yourself to stay in poverty,
                b) damned your child to repeat the cycle.

                •  As if everyone gets a choice (0+ / 0-)

                  Maybe you've missed the fight over abortion in this country?

                  Or even the fight over access to family planning and birth control.

                  You live in a magical world where everyone is a rational actor and makes every decision based on a full knowledge that people simply don't have in reality.

                  If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                  by AoT on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 10:08:16 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Big fan of Abortion rights (0+ / 0-)

                    and to be honest family planning is not that hard, Nor does it require a large amount of education

                    "a magical world where everyone is a rational actor" I wish i did, but I dont, and those people who are not rational actors should not be having kids.

                    There is plenty of information even available to the least educated.  

                    Choosing to have a kid in abject poverty is not a problem of lack of information, its a problem of poor decision making.

                    The people who make these decisions are the ones at fault. The problem is the children are not to blame and should be given every benefit available.  At the same time we should not support such terrible decisions. The problem becomes balancing supporting children, and properly condemning terrible decision making of the parents.  Its a hard balance to achieve.

                    There are some problems which are societies fault. There are some problems which are the individuals fault.  

                    •  So you know that people generally don't (0+ / 0-)

                      have access to birth control and abortion but you think they have access to family planning anyway. Right.

                      The problem is the children are not to blame and should be given every benefit available.  At the same time we should not support such terrible decisions.So somehow we should support children but not their parents. Please tell me how that would work.

                      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                      by AoT on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 09:39:36 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  22% of children in the US live in poverty (0+ / 0-)

                      Their parents' income is below the poverty line. According to you, those parents should not be allowed to reproduce. That would be ok if it were their fault that their income is below the poverty line. But when that large a percentage of the population is living in poverty, it becomes absurd to blame it on the individuals. It's a structural problem with the way the society chooses to distribute income and work. The fact that my society chooses to force one fifth of its children to live in poverty because it likes paying people low wages is absolutely no justification for someone to tell me "you're too poor, don't have children." Seriously, that's an outrageous way to treat someone. Is that what the democratic party of your dreams stands for, 0112358? Sounds more like China to me.

      •  How many children... (0+ / 0-)

        ...would you expect a single minimum wage job to allow one to support. One? Five? Ten? A dozen?

        Also, to what level of support? Private Tutoring when Little Johnny can't figure out that 1 ÷ 4 is less than 1 when he's in fourth grade?

    •  Also, (6+ / 0-)

      no one is out there claiming fast food workers should be paid 100,000 dollars.  I'm tired of this argument of "Well, why not just raise it to 1000 dollars an hour, then?", in an attempt to show that the idea that we need a living wage, or at least a minimum wage increase, is supposedly ridiculous.

      I'm 26 years old with a college degree.  I'm working a fast food job because there are no places in my area hiring for someone with a degree like mine.  I make just under 8 dollars an hour, working about 35 hours a week, give or take.

      I have rent, bills, etc., to pay.  Often, after paying those off, and buying groceries, I barely have enough for gas for the next two weeks between paychecks.  There have been times I've had to ask my parents to spot me some money for rent.

      Thankfully, I don't have a family to support, because I don't know how I'd be able to do that with what I'm being paid.

      Yes, I'm able to scrape by, barely, on what I'm paid.  But there are people in the same position as me making less money.  

      It wouldn't be that hard to figure out the average costs someone has to pay to afford housing, food, etc., and figure out about how much an hour that would be.  That's a living wage.  And it'd be less than 100,000.  The fact that this idea is considered outlandish says something sad about this country.

      •  Presumably... (0+ / 0-)

        ...most people in your position would be pursuing training, as you may be doing, outside your previously chosen field of study since that seems not to offer good job opportunities. And, I'd guess you don't plan on working in fast-food forever or expect to raise children on a fast-food salary.

        For example, there's quite a demand for welders in many parts of the country and it pays fairly well. It also has the advantage that the average age of existing welders is 55 so there should be plenty of jobs available for some time as many welders retire.

        Trade school perhaps?

        "A college degree" promises nothing (and, I think that's well known to most high school students - it certainly was to me many decades ago). "A college degree in a field with good high paying employment opportunities" is a much better bet.

        It seems to me that a living wage should assume no children as it's not a wage one should expect to earn once they have experience and training. And, that it should assume every adult in the household is working. And, that the "entertainment" budget is about $0. And, that one shares a residence with others. Current Federal minimum wage is certainly below that in some high cost areas (although, some of these areas also have higher minimum wages).

        •  And with what funds (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sngmama, Ahianne, AoT

          would you expect this person to pursue further training?  Remember also that fast food schedules are extremely flexible and that makes it difficult to plan anything else, whether it's a second job or further training, or even just your own life.

          A good friend of mine works the door at a major theater chain and she never knows from one week to the next what days she'll be working and what hours on those days.  At best, she finds out on Tuesday what hours she'll be working on Friday and Saturday.  Some weeks she gets a lot of hours, but others she is lucky to get two short days.  BTW, she's 61 and still makes less than $8 an hour.

          •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)

            Training usually costs money.

            I just don't understand how, on a supposedly progressive website, there are people here essentially arguing that it's ok that workers in certain industries get paid less than needed to get by paycheck to paycheck.

      •  That's not the way it's supposed to be. (0+ / 0-)

        If you've paid a lot of $ for college, graduated after 4 years, then you're not supposed to have a minimum wage job. What did you major in? Is the area where you live particularly affected by recession/other problems?

        •  I majored in political science. (0+ / 0-)

          Even interned on a political campaign.

          And I'm in the Metro-Detroit area, so I'm sure you can imagine what the job market's like around here.

          Of course, looking for work out of state is even more difficult.

          And to your first point, I agree.  Especially since people my age were told from a young age that we had to do well in school, so we could go to college, so we wouldn't be flipping burgers later on in life.  For many of us, that last part isn't happening.

      •  McDonald's will replace workers with touch screens (0+ / 0-)

        If labor costs increase, McDonald's will just replace workers with touch screens, as it is doing in a number of countries. And yes, the "why not $1000" question is legitimate. When Obama first proposed raising the minimum wage, it was $9. Then it got changed to $10.10, with some people now suggesting a totally outlandish $15. So it is a legitimate question as to where does it stop.

      •  If you have a college degree... (0+ / 0-)

        you should apply for management.

  •  Great Comparison (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, NoMoreLies, Ahianne

    I do see the equivalence.

    I've been a fan of the PBS specials that highlight the history of Selfridges which was better than most of their competition in terms of how they treated their workers.

    These days the major software companies are hiring folks with H1b visas who are employed by today's Masters and who end up sleeping under their desks in some cases because of the low wages and fees that drain them of their income.

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:06:09 PM PST

  •  It's the exploitation, Stupid. (4+ / 0-)

    If a person works full time and cannot support him or her self, much less him or her self and a family, then that person is a wage slave, and is being exploited by his or her employer.  And if that person's work schedule changes every week or month, then that person cannot even take on a second job or seek vocational training.
    Anyone who does business with a company that exploits its workers supports wage slavery.  And there's no excuse for it because in this country we always have choices as to whom we do business with.

    "One of the boss' hangers-on sometimes comes to call, at times you least expect. Tryin' to bully you, strongarm you, inspire you with fear--it has the opposite effect."--Bob Dylan, "Floater"

    by oldmaestro on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:11:58 PM PST

  •  Overheard at a McDonald's tonight. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, Cassandra Waites, MaryKane, Ahianne

    Manager to crew, "Don't talk about how much you make, that's an order."  I remember seeing a sign in this particular McDonald's that says starting crew members get $8.00/hour.

  •  Sorry WRONG Premise... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, NoMoreLies, tlsmith

    My first job as a kid where I was actually on a payroll was as a busboy at a local hotel restaurant. I was 16; and I was paid $1.00 per hour plus tips.. which meant 10-15% cut of the tips the waitress you were bussing tables for.

    this particular restaurant was well known for it's chef and prime rib. Friday and Saturday nites were hot... a good waitress pulled in $150-$200 bucks in tips.. so if you worked your ass off making sure the customers had their water glasses and coffee cups full, and if you quickly cleared a table and reset it for the next customers.. you could get $20 for 6 hours work... typically I worked for two waitresses.. so there's $40 in tips. great money then for a kid saving for a car/college.

    when I hit age 18, my stoner friends who also worked at the same restaurant.. we'd pile in somebody's car after our shift ended and drive over the Indiana state line to Michigan, where at the time they were dumb enough to have legal drinking for 18 year olds. we partied at the bars, had a great freaking time.

    My point is $1.00 an hour plus tips meant perfect sense since we were kids (NOT adults supporting families) and since the work was mindless, low skilled labor, demanding $2.00 per hour would have gotten you laughed out of the job interview. kids then working for McD's probably got $2.00 an hour.

    the situation today is more or less the same-- making and serving food at  Burger Worlds (homage to _Beavis and Butthead) is still mostly mindless, low skilled labor.

    people working these jobs of course need higher pay to survive, but they are NOT going to get it at Burger World.

    these folks have to got to figure out a way out of the QSR business if they are serious about increasing their income.

    I didn't get to the income level I am at today by keeping my job bussing tables at a restaurant in Fishbite Falls, IN.

    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:22:01 PM PST

    •  They're doing work (5+ / 0-)

      And it's mostly rather hard.

      And food prep servants are food prep servants. It used to be a life time endeavor. It briefly changed to something that was thought of as "for teenagers" but hasn't changed significantly in terms of how hard they generally work.

      And no one is saying they are going to ever make a lot of money, just that jobs that people have to work to survive should actual let them survive.

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:39:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (0+ / 0-)
        And no one is saying they are going to ever make a lot of money, just that jobs that people have to work to survive should actual let them survive.
        Are they dying or something?

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:42:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nobody is Denying it's "Hard Work" (0+ / 0-)

        but it is STILL low skill labor.

        You cannot demand high pay for low skill work. sure, you can try all day long-- but I guarantee you more than a few democrats in congress are NOT on board with this.

        where's Durbin? does he have legislation? has he even co sponsored anything??

        "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 03:50:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure you can (0+ / 0-)

          People have been doing it for years. You go on strike and pass legislation to get a higher wage.

          It's been done before and it will be done again.

          As for the democrats in congress, yes, workers have a lot of enemies who have power, I'm not sure how that changes anything.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 09:46:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  PLEASE name TWO democrats in congress (0+ / 0-)

            who are in FAVOR of min wage of $15.00 per hour.

            "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

            by Superpole on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 06:24:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  As I said, workers have a lot of enemies (0+ / 0-)

              There are ways to get them to vote for it. Really, it should be the fight for fifteen, plus a buck and minus and hour for every year we don't get it. So next year we ask for 16/hr and 39 hrs a week, and so on. Workers have stopped playing hardball. We need to start again.

              If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

              by AoT on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 07:50:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Agreed, But It's a Bit Late in the Game (0+ / 0-)

                for a brief period, I was a member of the UAW.. my dad was a member for his entire career. just an FYI so I don't get any bull about being "anti union" or anti worker.

                there are not "ways to get them to vote for it".. not without massive, anti Vietnam war sustained type protests.
                this mess took years to develop, it will take years and millions of dollars on our part to fix it.

                "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

                by Superpole on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 03:18:46 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, your premise (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MaryKane, Ahianne

      is the one that's flawed.  See my above post about median fast food worker age.

      Also, you're not taking into account that the increase in unemployed that came about because of what happened in 2008 has also made job hunting more competitive.  Even "entry level" jobs want you to have a year or two of experience, which fast food doesn't count as.

      So often you get stuck in a catch-22.  You can't get experience unless you can find a job in that field, which you can't do unless you have experience.

      So with all due respect, while you're right about finding a way out of those kinds of jobs, these days, that's easier said than done.

      •  My Premise is Based on FACT (0+ / 0-)

        Really? are you implying people making French fries are high skilled labor? with a college degree? ten years of experience?

        My other posts on this subject very much take into account the fact lots of adults have been forced into QSR work due to our crappy economy, i.e. the crash in 2007-2008.

        not long after the crash, I stated here that millions of people were never going to get back into the work force in a meaningful (decent pay) way-- because they are older, age 55 and above, low skilled labor. that statement turned out to be true.

        I've also asked of the "progressives" here what the democrats in congress are doing about it. what is their plan to improve our economy?

        No answer.

        I get it; I understand people want to work and the economy is crappy-- BUT, that does not alter 100 years of precedent, it doesn't alter the fact that low skill labor gets low pay and few benefits.

        Rant and discuss all you want-- Congress is not going to raise the min wage to $15.00 per hour. I guarantee this.

        "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 04:00:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm Stunned by the Level of Dumbness (0+ / 0-)

        on this issue-- and that includes Ed Schultz who earlier this week on his radio show stated; "Mc'ds makes Billions of dollars, they can afford to pay the workers more".

        Uhhh, no.

        I think Ed is smart enough to know about franchises.

        Numerous Mc'ds and other QSR restaurants are owned and operated by franchisees, NOT the main corporation.

        The franchisee decides what to pay his/her workers, not the corporation.

        demanding the franchise owner pay MORE money because of our crappy economy indicates a profound lack of knowledge of our economy works...  of how supply/demand works.

        the fact is the franchise owners have a large pool of workers because of the crappy economy. if one worker doesn't like the pay and quits. there's 5-10 people ready to take that job-- at the same pay the first guy was getting.

        Understand?

        "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 04:39:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem is (0+ / 0-)

          that you're essentially arguing that it's completely ok to pay someone so little they have a hard time even living paycheck to paycheck.

          Minimum wage isn't rising with prices, and that's a problem.

          •  I'm NOT Arguing Anything (0+ / 0-)

            I'm simply telling you franchisees are not going to pay low skilled labor $15.00 per hour... and our shitty economy cannot be used as leverage to make that happen.

            you and numerous other people here are in denial regarding the actual solution to the problem.

            FAIL.

            "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

            by Superpole on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 06:31:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not saying 15. (0+ / 0-)

              Even I think that's a bit high.

              10 or 11 shouldn't be too high, though.

              And minimum wage needs to be tied to inflation so that it rises with cost of living.

              Also, just about every place I've worked at was franchise-owned, and none of those franchises were small companies that couldn't afford to pay more.  I'm sure they're out there, but they're not that common.  Most of them are corporations that make good money.

              •  $11 Bucks per Hour?? (0+ / 0-)

                you do realize that pay is not going to lift QSR workers and other low skill labor out of poverty, right??

                and the deadbeats in congress will not push for $11 per hour. more like $9.00 (maybe) and they will declare that a BIG success if it passes.

                "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

                by Superpole on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 02:54:14 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  nice for you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MaryKane
      these folks have to got to figure out a way out of the QSR business if they are serious about increasing their income.
      Being a democrat means having a policy idea for making it possible for these people to do that. In today's economy, in today's job market, it's simply impossible for millions of Americans. The jobs just aren't there. The new jobs being created are mostly crappy, part-time, minimum-wage service jobs. Millions of Americans have no choice but to work at this kind of job their entire life.

      You may call yourself a Democrat, but you seem to have nothing but contempt for people stuck in this dreadful way of life due to they way our economy is controlled by and for the rich.

      •  Another Weak Load (0+ / 0-)

        "contempt"? did you read my post?

        I DID work for three years in a restaurant-- have YOU worked in the food service industry? No? that's what I thought.

        The jobs just aren't there
        Helloooooooooooo???

        Look, you can't discuss any problem if you refuse to consider all of the possible options/answers to the problem.

        ever since the crash in 2008, myself and several people here have pointed out THE ONLY WAY out of the ditch is a massive, fully funded infrastructure program (at least twenty year period) passed by the deadbeats in congress.

        they are not doing this.

        instead, the so called budget they just passed includes $80 BILLION dollars for Afghanistan.

        ???????

        it is a FACT that for every $1 Billion dollars spent on infrastructure, 50,000 jobs are created. these are high pay, high benny jobs for architects, engineers, construction workers, truck drivers (since these projects are funded by the government, most if not all of the construction labor would be union. that means great pay and bennys.)

        so do the math please: $80 Billion dedicated to infrastructure here in the U.S. (instead of pissed away in afcrapistan) equals 4,000,000 jobs.

        WHY do I have to explain this here over and over again? wait, I know why-- I'm curious if YOU know why.

        does anyone here have any clue as to what 4,000.000 high pay jobs would mean? it would lead to a RIPPLE effect in the economy: MORE people would be eating at restaurants = MORE workers would be needed = those workers could demand more pay.

        My contempt is for the deadbeats in Congress, because they are NOT making this happen. they are worthless and yes, that includes ninety percent of the "democrats" in congress.

        "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 04:16:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I hear this a lot from those opposed to raising (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MaryKane

      the minimum wage.  The problem with this line of thought is, who mans the Subway I go to every once in a while for lunch?  While it certainly isn't the teen on their first job, the clerk I usually see is too young to be receiving Social Security or a pension.  Also, I see the market is starting to demand a wage above the current minimum wage for fast food restaurant work.

  •  if we're to believe what's depicted on PBS, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert

    (and we have no reason not to), we'd know too that even department store employees were given room & board as well.  it was pretty similar to being in service, it seems.

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:25:26 PM PST

  •  Taxes (0+ / 0-)
    The 1910 cook earned tax-free pay, while 2013 cook pays 7.65 percent of his income in Social Security taxes as well as income taxes on more than a third of his pay, assuming full-time work every week of the year. For a single person, that’s about $29 of that $55 raise deducted for taxes.
    Cut taxes, but for this bracket!
  •  I've already informed the family (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MaryKane, AoT

    Starting January 1st we will no longer eat outside of the house. No more fast food or even fancy restaurants I will no longer support industries that don't pay a living wage to grown up people. I advocate a two tier minimum wage that pays less for teens who are under 18 and have not graduated high school. This would theoretically keep kids in school. Other than groceries from union grocers, toiletries, gas, socks, and underwear I will buy nothing next year.

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