Monthly Archives: October 2013

Politics of Fast Food Wages, Part II: Who Deserves a “Living Wage”?

In Part I, I asked if there should there be a law requiring business owners to pay themselves a “living wage.”  And if business owner can’t afford to pay herself such a wage, then the government should intervene, subsidizes payroll. I suspect most conservatives and liberals are in agreement about this law:, ridiculous, ethically and practically.  Few are willing to pay for someone’s fuck ups.  Tornado destroys business, fine, we’ll consider.  But not incompetence.

Ridiculous, says the liberal, because it’s the business owner’s fault if her business fails.  She didn’t work hard enough, she didn’t treat employees and customers well, she had a bad idea.  In other words — and this is a tough one to get the left to admit — a so-called “living wage” isn’t an American, much less universal, right, A living wage has to be earned. It’s HER fault and taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for HER fuck ups.

Fair enough and  I think most conservatives would agree.  But shouldn’t this line of reasoning be applied to everyone, including those making minimum wage?  If a business fails because its owner is lazy or a dumbass — and most businesses fail within two years, sometimes leaving its owners destitute and homeless — then what should we say about the person who can’t seem to get beyond minimum wage and rise to management position? Left says such workers are exploited.  Right calls them lazy.  After considering “modest proposal,” which is it?

Here’s a question I ask applicants:

 Who is overpaid?
a) Microsoft Engineer making $150,000 a year, full benefits, 3 weeks paid vacation,matching 401k.
b) McDonald’s Cook making $10/hour, no benefits, no paid vacation.
c) Police Officer making $80,000 a year, full benefits, 4 weeks paid vacation, lifetime pension after retirement (20 years service).

Nearly all applicants pick “A.”

Later, I ask the same question in different form:

Person A from age 5 to 25, attends school 6 hours a day, studies 4 hours a day, spends 6 hours of leisure time learning to build and building, with like-minded friends, random things, like a tree house, a bridge, a dog walking robot. A also spends an hour per day daydreaming of building something that will improve world’s standard of living. At age 25, he graduates with a Masters degree in electrical engineering and is offered a salary of $150,000 to work as a product developer for a green tech company. He gets 3 weeks vacation, full benefits. He accepts the position and works 60-80 hours per week, and is expected to be available for phone calls and e-mails during his vacations. He pays Federal Government 30 percent of his earnings.

Person B, from age 5-25, attends school 6 hours a day, studies 1 hour a day, spends 6 hours of leisure time passively watching TV shows and films like Jersey Shore and Twilight, 3 hours a day daydreaming about being wealthy and pampered and adored by everyone. At age 25, he graduates with a degree in Socks, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. Unable to find a job in his field of study, he takes a job as a cashier at McDonald’s, making $10 per hour, 40 hours per week, or $20,000 for the year. He doesn’t have to pay taxes.
Let’s assume one of them is “underpaid.” Which one and why?

Nearly all applicants pick Person A.  Meaning nearly all my applicants are confused about how the world works and about to what they’re entitled.

So, which is it?  Is the minimum wage worker underpaid or not?  Is he getting what he deserves?  More on these questions later.  For now, let’s focus on following questions:

a) Is a living wage a universal right?
b) Should all business owners be paid a “living wage” and be protected by labor laws?
c) Do all employees deserve a “living wage””

Part III — What’s a Living Wage — coming soon.   (Yes, we’re deliberately avoiding discussion about the constitutionality of a “living wage” because most American could care less about the Constitution, that contract between the US government and its citizens).

Politics of Fast Food Wages, Part I. A Modest Proposal

This past summer, fast food workers throughout the nation protested their wages, with some asking for minimum wages as high as $15/hour.  In other words, workers are demanding “living wages.”

Ok.  Before we discuss the politics and morality of fast food wages, consider this proposal.

Let’s pass a law that requires all restaurant owners, scratch that, let’s say all business owners, to:

1. pay themselves a “living wage”
2. provide themselves health insurance coverage.
3. pay themselves time and a half for overtime.
4. work no more than 60 hours per week

Think about such a law.  Does it seem ridiculous?  Where would the money come from to pay business owners who don’t make enough money to pay themselves a living wage?

Think about it.  We’ll review some of your responses in Part II.


How to Make Cooking Fun: Theme Parties

For some, cooking is a chore.  Perhaps the fear of failure is overwhelming.  Or the entire process is tedious.   There are many ways to make cooking fun for oneself and the family.  One way — for some — is to build a meal around a theme.  (Not toga). Use the meal to develop a story. Or vice versa. For instance:

Lower East Side Manhattan, 1910.  You’re a recent Jewish Russian immigrant who doesn’t speak English living in a 400 sf one bedroom tenement with spouse and 6 children. What do you serve for dinner on Saturday?

1943, occupied Paris.  You own a bistro.  You’re the daughter of a French spy in Vichy government.  Your father has instructed you to seduce a certain German officer who frequents your business.  Serve him a special meal that will get him to reveal to you state secrets.  The future of your nation depends on you.

It’s 1618. You’re a cook travelling on Silk Road, returning home to Milan with spices purchased along the way.  What are some of the meals you serve the entourage?

1983, in a maximum security prison near Bakersfield.  You’re the prison cook.  Final meal for some dude who will be served his final meal tomorrow.  Sentenced to death for gruesome murder of a family.  What does he request as his final meal?

Your great, great, great, great, great, granddaughter is getting married.  You don’t like the person she’s going to marry.  You’ve been reincarnated as a cook assigned to cater her wedding meal.  What does  your subconscious tell you to make so that it communicates your disapproval of this match?  Or how do you jinx the wedding with the meal?  Be subtle, don’t just trash the meal.  You are, after all, a professional.

The point is to make a meal that will to take you to a different space and place.  Doing so will you force you to learn how to work with constraints. Constraints make cooking fun and one a better cook, not the abundance of ingredients and availability of latest gadgets.  Cooking this way will help one better appreciate what cooks past and present, from different places, do to feed themselves and others.  And it’ll help one understand the psychology of eating and feeding, how what we eat shapes our identity and defines who we are.