General Question

flutherother's avatar

Do you agree with the aims of the Fast Food Forward movement?

Asked by flutherother (22274 points ) November 29th, 2012

It seems wrong to me that people can work hard at a full time job and not make enough money to live on. Meanwhile the CEO’s and the shareholders grow rich. The fast food forward movement hope to change that. What are your thoughts on this important issue.

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118 Answers

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I guess the real question is, are consumers willing to pay more money for fast food, because you know the CEO’s and shareholders aren’t about to take the hit. Same with WalMart employees. WalMart is only successful because of their prices. Raise prices, and WalMart is no longer attractive.

Kardamom's avatar

Unfortunately, I have to agree with @Skaggfacemutt

I can barely afford the dollar menu at Taco Bell, if it were raised to two dollars, I couldn’t afford to ever eat there, which I hardly ever do any way.

Bellatrix's avatar

flutherother I think you live in a country where there is minimum wage legislation in place? “Australia’s minimum wage is $15.96 per hour or $606.40 per week” (Fairwork Ombudsmen, Australian Government). I absolutely support there being a legislated safety net to ensure workers aren’t being employed under slave labour conditions. This document shows the average weekly wage.nsf/mf/6302.0/ for Australians in 2012. This document details employment stats in October. Our people can be paid at least the minimum wage and the sky has not fallen in. Our businesses are still profitable. Our economy is one of the strongest in the world. I would actively avoid shopping in a store that did not pay its workers a fair rate of pay. I do avoid buying from companies I know are involved in using child labour or sweatshop labour in other countries. I certainly wouldn’t support a company that behaved like this in the country I live in.

Bellatrix's avatar

Can I just add that each on of the companies mentioned at the start of @Flutherother’s petition (with the exception of Taco Bell) is operating profitably in Australia. They are paying our minimum wage and surviving. They do it here because there is no option.

flutherother's avatar

We have minimum wage legislation here in the UK and there is no shortage of fast food places making a profit selling food at cheap prices. It seems very wrong to me that the few should profit from the labours of the many. Taken to extremes this leads to little better than slavery.

Bellatrix's avatar

One not on…

bkcunningham's avatar

We have minimum wage laws here in the US too, @flutherother.

jrpowell's avatar

Time to break out The Big Mac Index

Cost of a Big Mac in the United States is $4.20 When adjusted for exchange rates the cost of the same in Australia is $4.94

Minimum wage in Oregon is around seven bucks a hour. The national average in Australia is $15.96.

It would take me a lot less minutes of work to buy a Big Mac for myself in Australia.

Bellatrix's avatar

@johnpowell the national MINIMUM wage in Australia is $15.96. The median wage in Tasmania, the lowest paying state, is over $31.00 per hour.

This is quite an interesting site you can look at different pay rates for different jobs.

augustlan's avatar

I do support the initiative, but not just for fast food companies. Any worker working full-time at any job should be paid a living wage.

JLeslie's avatar

I am all for raising wages. The companies can only charge what the market will bear. They don’t need to make $40 million a year in profit (made up number) they can make $30 million. A minimum wage hike in general for all industries would be better probably, but a grass roots movement is not impossible, it has been done before with other issues.

@bkcunningham Minimum wage laws in America are a laugh compared to many westernized developed countries.

jrpowell's avatar

@Bellatrix :: you are correct. I made a goof.

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate So let me understand. You think it is more important for a 16 year old to work, then for his dad to earn a decent wage?

emilianate's avatar

Laws of economics is whats important, nothing else. Accurate statistics too. Australian as well as American stats on unemployment are bogus. They don’t account for half of the relevant factors which means that when you hear a 7.9% unemployment, it means its more like 18/20%.

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate Laws of economics is all that’s important? Being able to live on a decent wage is pretty important. Pay a minimum wage earner double and they spend a lot more money, revving up the economy. Take a few million out of the hands of millionaires and it barely dents their spending. Pay $7.25 an hour and you also pay that worker through tax money. The government makes up some of the difference in welfare type programs and the employer is the fat cat.

emilianate's avatar

A Decent wage is about fairness, not economics. Fairness belongs with charity.

You theory has been historically and currently proven false.

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate The history I know is one of America’s most prosperous times was when unions raised wages and the middle class grew.

10 people making $100k spend more than one person making $1million. The numbers are even more dramatic if you use a $10k increase in pay to the poor for 10 people and $100k less to someone who makes a million.

emilianate's avatar

A revisionist history, maybe. Like I said, your theories have been demonstrated to be false.

We have reached an impasse.

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate Sorry, fluther requires a little more than that. You need to support your claim, give examples. You might change my mind.

emilianate's avatar

Already did, in the first link.

The law of economics is simple. Minimum wage laws increase unemployment and or make prices higher, causes outsourcing, kills competitiveness, and kills freedom.

If you take into account the real unemployment rate numbers (not the crap stats the bls provides ,then the law holds true.

JLeslie's avatar

Your link says Australia’s economy is good.

emilianate's avatar

No, he is quoting someone who claims that the economy is good, hence he goes on to say .. “But statists ignore the details” and then offers the analysis. The only thing he doesn’t mention, which I added, is that the unemployment stats are bullshit. The numbers are far worse.

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate The details about young people out of work?

Bellatrix's avatar

These are the OECD figures for youth unemployment. That show youth unemployment for 15–24 year olds in 2011 in Australia was 11.3 compared to 17.8 in the US.

This is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

These stats say 24.4% of US teenagers are unemployed as compared with 16.1% of Australian teens.

Furthermore, to suggest a fair living wage is not about economics is ludicrous. People earning $7 an hour are likely to barely pay for their basic needs (if they can at all). Paying people a decent, living wage stimulates the economy with wage earners spending more on food, clothing and household needs. This is money being spent in US businesses.

A news story from Fox news does not qualify as evidence to me.

ETpro's avatar

It is sad we have listened to the prophets of unbridled greed here in the US so long now that we believe that a worker asking to earning a living wage is outrageously greedy, but that a corporate executive who needs to earn 300 times as much as the average worker has no effect on the cost of goods or corporate competitiveness in a world where our major competitors pay their management 12 to 15 times what they pay workers. It appears to me the landed gentry that once enjoyed the fruits of slave labor are now in a pitched battle to establish wage slavery in the place of the previous form.

By the way,speaking of companies that sell at great prices, take a look at how different Costco is.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

The fast food forward movement completely misses the point of an entry level position.

@ETPro Please tell us how much upper level employees NEED to earn.

ETpro's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 They seem to do well in Germany and Japan at a tiny fraction of the stratospheric salaries here.

emilianate's avatar

It is very easy to put this to the test. California minimum wage is $8. Unions are payed the most of any other state. California has the highest poverty rate of any state Source 1 and its teen unemployment rate over 36%. Source 2. Overall state unemployment is over 10%.

Simple laws of economics right there. Fairness got them jack shit. They also have one of the highest cost of living thanks to the greedy unions.

The person who wrote the article sourced everything like I did, so your argument is illogical. Furthermore, government statistics is bigger bullshit then any news media. The “bls stats” don’t consider those who dropped out of work, those who file for disability, those who are overqualified and are now working minimum wage jobs, part time jobs, among other important factors. Like I said, take these unemployment numbers and double them because those are the real numbers.

ETpro's avatar

@emilianate Fairness needs to be maintained on a national and not state-by-state level. I agree it’s madness for a single state to set a minimum wage far higher than neighboring states. Do that, and you get massive outsourcing to adjoining states as it is very inexpensive to shift jobs within the US compared to moving them to low-labor nations abroad and overcoming all the cultural and communication barriers that entails.

Bellatrix's avatar

Perhaps you would like to post the ‘accurate’ youth unemployment figures for the US since the Australian figures have apparently been manipulated. We should after all compare statistics calculated using the same method.

@Crashsequence2012, I don’t buy the argument that someone in an entry level position should be treated as slave labour.

emilianate's avatar

Fairness belongs with charity organizations not nationally, or state level.

I have yet to see an American statistician take into account all the important factors when measuring unemployment, so I cannot possible provide it, but based on what is missing from the statistical measurements, common sense dictates that had it been considered the numbers would be far worse.

Even with the skewed up numbers, look at the example I gave with the state of California. The laws of economics at play.

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate Don’t you think of EIC money and food stamps as charity? That is what these under paid workers receive. Why does it make sense to let a company make huge profits while people can barely live? The unions did become too greedy and ignore business needs in many cases, but that was along with ivory tower also not giving a shit about bottom line and wanted their outrageous salaries and dividends. Both are true, it isn’t black and white. Why don’t you think all salaries count when figuring a business’s bottom line?

ETpro's avatar

@emilianate When we did things your way, we had Dickensian England, workhouses, impoverished people freezing to death in the streets and their children becoming wards of the state. We had indentured servitude and a 18th century extension of Feudalism. I don’t think you can sell those values to 21st century Americans. But if you feel uncomfortable living in our kind of world, Somalia and other failed states are a short airplane ride away.

emilianate's avatar

@JLeslie,

Unlike government “charity”, private charity actually benefits people who really need it and that is because there is an incentive to run a good charity or else they don’t receive any more funding. This protects the givers too since they can pull the plug on inefficient organizations. There are global system ratings these days to examine efficiency. With government “charity”, you don’t have these options because its politicians who are in control of tax money, with inefficient government offices distributing the funds, not the tax payers.

If you have 1 minimum wage job and you cannot make ends meet, it means you need a 2nd and 3rd job, not welfare. You are required to work a lot harder when you’re poor. I did, and I was born into poverty, so what is there excuse? No jobs? Bullshit. There is always work. The only difference is people don’t want to work more jobs, don’t like the pay, or feel that they’re overqualified to do “low work”. They have no legitimate excuse for why they cannot work more and need charity.

A successful business is successful because of a good economic sense, not fairness. Go try developing a Corporation like Wal-Mart, and see if you can pay your unskilled laborers a much larger wage while remaining the worlds most successful Corporation.

emilianate's avatar

@ETpro

A revisionist history^^ I don’t need to sell anything. Your own policies are self-defeating and then you complain that its someone else’s fault only to repeat the same policies again and again.

Why don’t you leave to countries with more “social justice”? If Australia is so great in its socialized medicine and living wages, what are you still doing in America? Thought so.

ETpro's avatar

@emilianate Touché. Probably like you, I was born here, consider it home, and work to shape it the way I think is best for the nation. But the days of the white slave masters here are numbered. I think the nation is heading where I wish, not where you wish. But stay as long as you like and advocate for your ideas just as I advocate for mine.

El_Cadejo's avatar

“Why don’t you leave to countries with more “social justice”? If Australia is so great in its socialized medicine and living wages, what are you still doing in America? Thought so.”

God I love that argument…

emilianate's avatar

Some more laws of economics for you. Unemployment numbers are worse, but you still get the the picture.

Texas is a right to work state with an unemployment rate of 6.6%
Cost of living index is 91.37
Poverty Rate – 16.5%

California is a collective bargaining state (unions) with an unemployment rate of 10.1%
Cost of living index 129.07
Poverty Rate – 23.5%

Nullo's avatar

You guys realize that a law that raises the cost of a full-time employee means that they’ll just make ‘em all part-time, right?

Bellatrix's avatar

And double their workforce @Nullo – that doesn’t make sense. If you need an employee for 38 hours a week, why will increasing the cost of hourly pay lessen the number of hours you need to employ each person for. Employing two people would mean more training and if other benefits are paid per person rather than by the hour, double the cost of those benefits too.

augustlan's avatar

@Nullo What I meant, above, was that the minimum wage should be raised across the board, for full- and part-time workers. That working 40 hours a week at minimum wage should produce an income you can live on.

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JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate You pick two states and you think that is a valid sample to prove your theories?

Mississippi, right to work state.

Unemployment 10.5%
Cost of living 86
Poverty rate 25%

By the way, I tend to be anti-union, I prefer business follow the golden rule, not abuse workers in the first place, and keep government and union out of business as much as possible.

emilianate's avatar

I’m not about to list every single states stats.

Okay, first of all, your Mississippi stats are completely wrong.

Unemployment rate in 8.9% Source

And the poverty rate is 15.8% Source

Mississippi population is just under 3 million people.

Now to make an accurate comparison, you need to find a collective bargaining state (unions) with the same population. The closest match would be Connecticut.

Connecticut unemployment 9%.
Poverty rate 12.0%
Cost of living index 132.78. That is the 5th highest in the country.

emilianate's avatar

Here is the average of all states from the department of labor.

CBS third-quarter 2011 (cost-of-living index) 117.03
RTW third-quarter 2011 (cost-of-living index) 94.46

CBS average unemployment rate 7.5%
RTW average unemployment rate 6.9%

JLeslie's avatar

I live in a state with a fairly low cost of living, everyone tells me how grest it is. Yeah, great if you are going to die here. I will most likely move to a state with higher cost of living and it will be harder to move there than if I had just lived there to begin with. However, I do agree California has a big problem and that their cost of living is ridiculous, same with the DC area and NYC and some other areas around the country. Part of the reason is high salaried people are paid so much money. They drive up prices because they can afford it, and because of supply and demand forces, especially apparent in housing costs. RTW states tend to have different industries than states with large unionization, there are many factors that need to be looked at.

emilianate's avatar

Its not just the cost of living that is self-defeat, its the high unemployment and poverty rates. The entire point of minimum wages and unions was to bring fairness to the workers but instead all the state got was more people are unemployed, high poverty rates, and the cost of living rising. Those few who do get to keep their union jobs are compensated well at the greater expense of everyone else. This method also causes outsourcing, kills competitiveness and most importantly kills freedom.

This is why I said liberal policies are self-defeating. I don’t need to even point it out because they will live the experience.

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate So you think if wages were lower the companies would hire more people? Or, do you think they would pocket more profit?

jrpowell's avatar

So it sounds like you wish you had a union job and are jealous of people that have one. So you bitch about them to tear them down to your level instead of trying to bring yourself up.

dabbler's avatar

Pretending that corporate C-level execs in the U.S. are working for the benefit of the shareholders is delusional. Most are clearly not when we see again and again corporations run into the ground and while the execs have been paid huge compensation packages.
In general, C-level execs work for themselves and each other, period. Corporate boards are heavily interlocked and those folks make decisions to support each other, damn the rest of us. Some of them are smart enough to work for themselves longer term, which benefits all involved. But plenty of them are very simply parasitic and will suck whatever they can out of the company while they can.

We need two things at least.
Upgrade our laws about corporate governance so that the execs are genuinely accountable, and so that the workforce as a say in corporate governance. This works well for the most prosperous country on the planet, Germany. (BTW the U.S. and U.K. put those laws in place in Germany after WWII and would clearly do well to take some of their own medicine.)
Another is to decouple essential services, like health care, from employment. A universal health care system would be a HUGE boon to small businesses. And workers will have more freedom to change jobs/companies to get away from abusive practices.

jrpowell's avatar

@dabbler :: I totally agree about separating healthcare from employment. And I would also want the pension system destroyed (with people being payed what they were promised). It was a horrible idea to start with. Retirement and healthcare shouldn’t be tied to a employer. It hinders mobility. But that was probably why they started doing it.

bkcunningham's avatar

@dabbler, do you know the history of medical insurance getting tied to employment in the US?

emilianate's avatar

@JLeslie

Not necessarily. They still have taxes, tariffs, and other regulations to deal with.

@johnpowell,

Awesome analysis, Freud. Such a wealth of content.

dabbler's avatar

@bkcunningham “history of medical insurance” Yes, not sure what is your point.
At the time it seemed better than nothing. Unions fought for it. They were first to get it, and companies competing for competent workers had to offer health care to everyone. This was an aspect of the emergence of a robust middle class.

These days it is seen by companies as an expense to be dodged whenever possible.

bkcunningham's avatar

It has nothing to do with unions. It is because of labor shortages and wage freezes after WWII. The government placed freezes on what employers could pay employees. The employers used medical insurance as an incentive and perk for employees since they couldn’t offer more money.

JLeslie's avatar

I absolutely hate medical insurance through employers, and I do blame unions partly for creating that monster.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

@Bellatrix I agree.

Employees that hold entry level positions should not be forced into slave labor.

They should receive compensation, witch they do.

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Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I still say, no matter what you do, the fat cats that own these companies are not going to cut their own pay to pay the workers more. They will raise prices and bankrupt the company first. Take Hostess, for example. So, I guess the question is; would the workers rather have a low paying job or no job at all? Also, if the workers feel they are not getting compensated enough, they can always find another job. If they don’t have training for another job, then they need to go back to school. Slave labor??? Forced?? Since when do we “force” people to work for fast food joints and discount stores? Our free enterprise system means that if you don’t like where you work, don’t work there. If no one will work for such low wages, then the company managers will have a problem. As long as there are people willing to work for those low wages, the company doesn’t have a problem – does it?

ETpro's avatar

@flutherother Take a look at this chart of what has happened to corporate profits since Bush’s Great Recession, and how wage accrual compares. With that chart, and the fact that wealth disparity is not back to levels we have not seen since just before the Great Depression, here’s what I think.

I think that the income and wealth inequity in the US has gotten too great. If it continues to grow, as Republicans are dedicated to ensuring, it will result in the sort of wage slavery and malaise that drives revolutions. This isn’t good for anyone, the poor, the middle class or the rich. I think it’s a small cadre of Gordon Gekko like billionaires and top managers of multinational corporations who fund the right-wing think tank network that gives the GOP its marching orders. And I think the direction they have had is marching in will take us straight over a cliff if we don’t change course. So yes, I support Fast Food Forward.

flutherother's avatar

@ETpro Thanks for the chart. It clearly shows that something is badly wrong and wages for the poorest in society aren’t keeping pace with company profits or inflation. It is scandalous that people working full time can’t earn enough to live on while the greedy grow richer and richer.

bkcunningham's avatar

Take a look at this chart. Wow.

Nullo's avatar

@Bellatrix And not double their workforce. You ought to see the schedule gymnastics at my place. Late starts, early closures, borrowing full-timers in other positions, hour-wide gaps between short shifts… There are practical limits to what they can do, but my dog, do they try.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Unless the movement results in higher quality (it won’t) I’m not for it.

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham While corporate profits have skyrocketed, the CEO pay has followed suit. Nothing let over for the workers who actually make it happen. And as long as they are allowed to do so, the greed-is-good crowd will tilt the playing field ever further in their favor.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

The world NEEDS low risk low yield jobs that practically anyone can get as a TEMPORARY solution.

These lazy idiots who don’t want to dare to advance (either within the company through promotion, or by finding a better position elsewhere while employed) prefer to use the Soviet hammer to pound an entry level position into something more expensive for the company, making it increasingly difficult for said company to hire fresh personnel just happy to be off the unemployment doles.

You got employed, elevate yourself and make room for the latest rash of jobless.

Those that came before did it for YOU. Time for you to extend the same courtesy.

flutherother's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 So these ‘jobs’ aren’t supposed to be jobs they are just ‘temporary solutions’ to the unemployment problem. If you were working in one 40 hours a week it would feel like a real job I’m sure.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, why do you think Fluther was created and then sold by the creators? Why do you think the creators integrated the site with other things? Were they greedy because they wanted it to grow and make money? At what point does it become greed in your set of values? I’d love to have a real discussion with you without all the BS you promote and the standard liberal catchphrases about the evil Republicans and Bush is the reason for everything bad in the world.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Was fluther sold? I thought the creators went to work for another company, not that they sold it? Currently a lot of people volunteer to mod and edit, and our manager is paid, I have no idea how much.

bkcunningham's avatar

I got it wrong, @JLeslie. Sorry. Why do you think Fluther was created and do you think the owners would sell it if they were offered a gigantic pile of money for the site. (I don’t know why I was thinking they’d sold it to Twitter. Thanks for the correction. : )

Bellatrix's avatar

@bkcunningham I am not against companies being profitable. Where I live more people are employed by SMEs than by large organisations. Whether large or small, if organisations aren’t making a profit, people won’t invest financially and owner-operators won’t want to invest the time and effort they do. However, there are levels of profit. If you are paying your staff minimum or low wages that are less than a livable wage while at the same time making increasingly high levels of profit and paying your top execs exorbitant salaries and bonuses (whether they meet their targets or not) that’s not ethical.

It’s just plain wrong to have the guy on the shop floor having to work two or three jobs to be able to pay the rent because they are being paid as little as the company can legally get away with while the guy at the other end of the pay scale is being paid millions in bonuses while losing money for the company. As has been said a few times in this discussion, the gap between the wealthy and the poor is getting bigger and bigger and at some point something has to be done to address that.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Can we switch for a second to the example of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? They wanted to make money, but they also shared a ton of the money with their employees. Take their tour and the employees who have been there since the beginning talk about bonus check and bonus check and bonus check. Unexected checks and more checks. The founders still were rich, but shared in the riches for all those that helped them get there. Ben and Jerry originally had a policy that no employee’s rate of pay shall exceed seven times that of entry-level employees. Entry-level employees were paid $8 an hour I think, and the President who earned $150,000 annually if I remember correctly until eventually they discarded that rule when searching for a new president I think? I don’t know how much the profit was at that time.

As far as fluther, I have no idea if it makes a lot of money. If it is making a big profit, I think probably they should be paying the mods and editors rather than getting their services for free. Jellies do it for free because we want the site to continue. If fluther can be sold for money, then I would have no problem if Ben and Andrew decided to do it, I just hope they would try to ensure the site kept the inegrity it has established.

augustlan's avatar

Speaking to the Fluther discussion, we just barely break even at this point. It was (and still is) a labor of love.

bkcunningham's avatar

What do you get paid in comparison to the owners’ of Fluther, @augustlan? How is your benefit package? How much of your health insurance do the owners’ pay? Of course, I’m trying to make a point with asking you that.

Ben and Jerry’s pays their full-time employee’s $15.87 an hour. They are owned by Unilever NV a company that does $13 billion in sales a year. Don’t get me wrong. I think what the two TRIED to do was a great choice. It didn’t work and they ended up moving the ratio up and up and up because they needed to replace Ben Cohen when he retired. That is when they sold the company.

I would just like to keep it a choice and not get the government involved. The minimum wage is what happened when the government got involved. That is a simple way to put a complicated discussion. But that is how I feel.

I think another part of the discussion is what happened to make rent, food, medical care and other things we consider necessities so expensive people have to work two or three jobs to pay for these things.

augustlan's avatar

@bkcunningham I make next to nothing at this point. In its heyday, I made a decent-ish living at it, but in August, I took a 90% pay cut. (I now make $500/month). As far as I know, the owners take no salary now, either. I’ve never had benefits, because I am technically self-employed…a contractor. None of the other employees (we used to have a total of 2 owners and 3 employees, plus me) ever had health insurance either. When I say “labor of love”, I really mean it!

To the larger question, what happened to make necessities so expensive is the fact that the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation.

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham It is difficult to discuss wage equity with right wingers because they seem to view everything as if it must either be pure white, or absolute black. If a liberal will not embrace pure laissez-faire capitalism, destruction of the rights to organize and strike, elimination of the minimum wage and permanent wage slavery for a large portion of the population; then they are a pure Marxist, as @Crashsequence2012 seems to suggest.

I hardly think all entrepreneurs are evil. I have founded two businesses and still run my second one. I;m doing my darnedest to get rich in this one. Most job creation in the US today is thanks to small businesses. It’s the multinational mega-corporations who play the pure greed game. Their CEOs have to do so. Fail to do so, and they will be replaced by someone who puts profits ahead of all else.

From the climb up out of the Great Depression right through 1980, worker pay and management pay grew almost in perfect lock-step. The Conservative revolution ushered in by Ronald Reagan ended that. Since 1980, the bottom half of Americans have seen their wages remain almost flat while management pay has gone up over 300%. The lowest paid 20% actually lost ground between 2000 and 2010, while inflation surged ahead. Wealth inequity produced by that and by taxation being changed over the last 30 years to favor management and investors eventually collapses the consumer base that actually drives the economy.

I don’t want supply-side lunacy and I certainly don’t want Marxist lunacy. There’s a sweet spot in between those two extremes. I know, because I grew up in an America that was in that sweet spot. That America built the world’s first great middle class. The America since 1980 has been gradually dismantling the middle class and transferring what wealth they had to millionaires and billionaires.

I don’t hold workers as supreme, but I don’t think they are evil or idiots either. Taxes can be used to reward behavior or to punish it. I don’t understand why people who inherited wealth and invest it without working a day in their lives should get a better tax deal than people who make sure our sewers don’t back up, or who risk their lives on the end of the arm of a bucket truck restoring power after a storm like Sandy devastates an area.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham They are owned by Unilever now, but before that they were owned by the founders. I don’t see how what you wrote contradicts what I said? It is exactly what I said. Salaries changed over time and then they sold their business. As I said I am fine if fluther is sold, I respect the founders right and desire to sell their business. Ben and Jerry’s was profitable before they sold it, they made gobs of money and shared it with their employees also. The minimum $8 I spoke of was something like 30 years ago when they started, and for several years beyond that I would assume. But, as I said they gave bonuses a lot once they started making a lot of money, or maybe the better term is profit sharing as I found in this article.

The mission statement for Ben and Jerry’s still holds Their philosophy, so I would guess Unilever to some extent has maintained the integrity of what Ben and Jeery wanted to acheive. To try and say Ben and Jeery tries and failed is false. They tried and succeeded and since it did so well a larger company was interested in buying the successful business.

I have been to the factory tour, the employees who have been there since the beginning years don’t seem resentful of the wealth the founders made, they seem happy to have had a part in the success of the company and also seem to feel they were treated well and fairly.

Also, this article on B Corps is interesting. It gives a classic example of how for profit companies had to prioritize profit over everything else with a Ford lawsuit from years ago. There are successful businesses that focus on not just profits, but environment and employees, etc.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think anyone can argue that Richard Branson’s Virgin group is profitable. Certainly I think his companies have had their ups and downs but I think his philosophy makes sense. If you look after your staff well, your staff will look after the customer or client and in doing so, you look after your bottom line. It makes sense and it’s been working for him for a long, long time.

This interview with Branson in HR Magazine demonstrates the respect he has for the people who work for him and their importance in keeping his business growing and being innovative.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

@JLeslie Are you talking about the Ben and Jerry’s that is a publicly held company that gave away ice cream to the Occupy Wall Street nutcases?

Well, hedging one’s bets isn’t illegal but in this case it’s morally dishonest.

JLeslie's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 They were privately owned before they were publicly owned. They were very successful before they were purchased by Unilever. If they chose to sell their business I am fine with that, I have said that over and over again. The company still tries to stick to some ideals it seems from their mission statement, but I am sure some of what the founders wanted, tried to do, and even acheived has changed now since they don’t own it anymore. Did you read any of my links? I don’t see how they are being morally dishonest?

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Then let’s say hypocritical instead.

JLeslie's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 It’s not in my opinion. Maybe you think it is hypocritical because you think either communism, where everything is owned by the governemnt, or capitalism, where people at the top have the right to make all the money they can and abuse and use workers as long as they will allow themselves to be abused. There is a nice space in-between, I actually say more capitalistic than not, where business does well, has little government interference, and everyone does well.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

We live in this this nice space in between.

The key to staying there?

Keep government in check and held accountable.

History shows example after example of states with governments run amok, not so with commerce.

JLeslie's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 What are your examples of commerce run amok where everything is just perfectly hunky dory?

Crashsequence2012's avatar

@JLeslie My point is that there are none.

Soviet Russia, Congo Republic, North Korea.

There are NO examples of corporations having even a remotely extensive effect on nations as these governments did on theirs.

Government, not capitalism is your greatest potential enemy.

ETpro's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 So the British East India Company was a paragon of virtue? Were those who participated in the real Tea Party a bunch of commies and not American patriots? Are our history books all just liberal lies? Was there never an age of Robber Barons and did Teddy Roosevelt never have to bust the trusts? The Great Depression never happened? The two taxpayers of the Savings and Loan industry a hoax as well? Was the criticism of Enron, Countrywide and Bernie Maddoff all just liberal lamentations aimed at perfectly respectable businessmen? And was Bush’s Great Recession all lies as well?

Without government and reasonable regulation, all those abuses would be just a drop in the bucket to what you would see.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Crashsequence2012 Unless the movement results in more “equality”, I am not for it, either. I am telling those of you who are for it – you will not get the desired result. You might be successful and raising the minimum wage or getting pay raises, but you can’t “stop” the higher-ups from passing that increase on to the consumer. You can’t “stop” them from giving themselves multi-million-dollar bonuses. How are you going to do that?

emilianate's avatar

Michigan has a 9.1% unemployment and is one of the biggest unions states who has just officially turned to a right-to-work state. For years, people from union states have been fleeing for work in right-to-work-states. The products are just as shity as the unions. People wouldn’t drive a gm volt even if gm paid them to buy it.

Notice in union states when economic times are bad, businesses completely close down, but in right-to-work states, only some employees get fired yet businesses stay open.

You guys are all theory, but when it comes to economics and the real results, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

Simple question of course. If unions are so great, why force people to join unions and pay dues? Why do the union states have higher unemployment and greater cost of living than non-union states? And of course poverty rates and teen unemployment.

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate I don’t know. Some of those right to work states look pretty poor to me.

I think it is a valid point that if unions are so good why do we need to force people to join. I tend to be anti-union. However, the money behind the legislation has a master plan from what I can tell. I don’t believe the Koch brothers have good intentions ever. They help write and fund a lot of these changes. I also think Unions were an answer to employees being treated badly, unfairly, and if companies push too hard Unions will come back with a vengeance. People also to look to government to make things more just. I say, if you want capitalism to flourish, the middle class to do well, the economy to go round, and the US to prosper, then there has to be some balance, treating labor well, or when they can’t get ahead and feel abused you risk a big backlash. We see it in the third world all the time.

emilianate's avatar

This is the second time you linked old and inaccurate stats. I listed fresh stats from 2012 and I did a fair comparison with state populations. You don’t have an argument here.

Then there is more to this because of how long policies were at play.

ETpro's avatar

@emilianate Give all the arm waving a rest. Your 2012 stats do not PROVE that 2009 stats are wrong. They are different as one would expect them to be, three years apart. But nothing in the chart you post refutes the conclusion that @JLeslie is supporting, that “Right to work” equals right to work for less pay. In 2009, Mississippi was at the bottom of the barrel in unemployment. They have moved up to 44th place from 50th. Whoopee! Nobody disputes that we could achieve full employment in a heartbeat if we would only allow slavery. Wage slavery is the next best thing, and the far-right and GOP are now determined to institute wage slavery.

If you look at “right to work” states versus other states where unions still have sway, wages are lower in “right to work” states and poverty is higher.

emilianate's avatar

First, unions have been around much longer than right-to-work, so you cannot compare rates in the past, or even now in full accuracy. It requires time. Recent studies show much higher economic growth in right-to-work states, people fleeing from union states to right-to-work states. Why do you they want to be paid less? Are they stupid?

Since the end of slavery, the south dragged for 1 century behind the north, economically. It was monolithically democrat up until the last generation when republicans finally took over the south. You cannot expect to undo all the damage from the democrats in that amount of time.

Secondly, listing a list of poverty rates means nothing. Population has to be compared correctly. Unemployment must be compared. Union state unemployment is much higher than right-to-work. The cost of living is double. Youth unemployment is double. So if you have a 50k salary in California, you’re close to poverty because of the cost of living, and when you have a 50k salary in Texas, you’re twice as rich because of the low cost of living.

I already used a couple of states that takes into account all factors accept of course taxes and regulations which too must be compared to get an accurate result.

How the hell can you compare Australia which has 22 million people to America which has 311 million people?

emilianate's avatar

Every policy that liberals would like to see on a national level has been achieved on a state level in California. All you need to do is see the results to see if it works or not. I just got a news feed on that, take a look. 55 Reasons Why California Is The Worst State In America And The Entire State Is Rapidly Becoming A Bright, Shining Example Of Everything That Is Wrong With America

Crashsequence2012's avatar

“California…

Uber Alles…

Uber Alles…

California…”

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate The democrats in the south did the damage in the south? Those former democrats are now republicans, they are the same people, just called by a different name.

I think many many more factors than just right to work and cost of living factor into the calculation. Percentage of new immigrants in a state probably matter, and I don’t know what else. Funny how America can brag about our prosperity. We hear someine in a developing country only makes $100 a week and we think how poor that country is, but in America when cost of living in a particular state is low, everyone thinks that is a great thing. I live in a low cost of living state and all along people here tell me how great it is to be able to afford more, but my thinking is I won’t stay here forever, and then I will have lost moving back to the more expensive states, I would have been better financially staying where it is expensive most likely, possibly not because I am saving some money here, even if I lose buying back into the other market.

People at the bottom get paid much much lower in those inexpensive states, while Directors, VP’s and higher are still getting paid very well. The little guy loses the most in inexpensive states, the difference is vast. I live much better in the cheap state, because my husband is a VP, but the person working in sales at the mall can hardly pay their bills.

ETpro's avatar

@emilianate Thanks to @JLeslie for dispensing with the flawed argument that it was the Dixiecrats and not Republicans that damaged the South. They are one and the same group, just bearing new party affiliation. Their failed ideology has never wavered, regardless of how miserably it fails. Facts don’t trump ideology in their minds, and apparently you feel the same. Indiana’s GOP.

Unions helped America build the first great middle class in the world. That strong middle class is what drove the post war boom, the greatest economic expansion this nation has ever seen. Now we are dismantling the middle class and transferring its wealth to those who are already very, very rich. The top 1% now holds 42.7% of all the financial wealth in the nation. If we keep widening the wealth disparity and destroying the middle class long enough, we will have no consumer driven economy because consumers will be impoverished so a few would-be oligarchs can be trillionaires instead of multibillionaires. I don’t think that’s smart policy.

I will be the first to agree that Unions have to change as well. Too many have drifted from their initial charter of ensuring workers had prerequisite skills (rather like the trade guilds of old) and securing workplace safety and decent wages. They moved to featherbedding, protecting incompetence. They lost sight of the fact that their company’s survival was directly related to their survival. But the pendulum is swinging back on that. We shouldn’t destroy our unions, we should improve them for the 21st century.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro That’s exactly it, the pendulum. Both sides on the extremes are bad, are too greedy. True in business, unions, politics, religion…what a shame. I guess there needs to be some tug-of-war on each side, but why it always goes too far I don’t really understand.

emilianate's avatar

Facts, really? Do me a favor and show me one fact already. All I see is revisionist history and chatter.

What is the purpose of a union? To increase wages and increase employment. Show me the current union states that achieved low unemployment, low cost-of-living and low poverty rates.

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate The purpose of the union was to protect workers from unsafe working conditions, to get better pay, and reasonable hours. It is a reaction to unfair and bad conditions. It seems @ETpro and I both agree that unions become a business themselves, and there are problems with them, we are not being idealists about unions, but you seem to be an idealist about business owners and how they treat employees. I am not saying all employers are horrible unfair people, but enough are that we have unions spring up and needs for government regulation to protect workers. In MI they are talking about unions workers going from $30 an hour, to now beng paid $14. My guess is the fair wage is somewhere in the middle.

emilianate's avatar

But the result shows that fewer people are hired which means the pay increase is only appreciated by a selected few and since the cost of products and services goes up (cost-of-living) it means the pay increase is worthless since you have to spend more. Also, all those newly unemployed get hit with the rising prices.

They achieved nothing. And who says working conditions were improved because of unions and not competition, incentives?

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate So you mean to tell me business employs people they don’t need to run the business?

Competition did not improve conditions back in the day in many industries. There were monopoloies and oligopolies, and the conditions were shitty practically everywhere in a lot of manufacturing.

emilianate's avatar

@JLeslie, employs people they don’t need to run the business?

What?

JLeslie's avatar

@emilianate You say the business employs less people when they have to pay each employee more. Why would a business be employing more people than they need to run the business in the first place? Do you think if wages are lowered Chysler will hire more employees just because wages were lowered? Or, that they hire the amount of employees they need to make the cars they project they can sell? If they are running the business with fewer employees, when wages go down that will be more profit, it goes to the bottom line. They are not going to do people the favor of hiring them so they can have a job.

I don’t think it is perfectly black and white, sure high wages restrict hiring to some extent, but both things are at play, the business is going to want to run with as few employees as possible to do their business. They don’t hire people out of charity.

emilianate's avatar

Okay, I’m not going to debate history with you because there at least 5 different schools of thought on the industrial revolution conditions, and if those conditions were really “bad” when relating to the conditions of the entire world at that time, and who was actually responsible for improving conditions and causing monopolies. I follow the school that points the problem towards government. Monopolies are non-existent in free-markets, or don’t last too long. Anyway, back to your question.

Unionization is through force, not voluntary transactions which means employers did need the amount of people who were employed prior to the unionization. The problem is unions choke the life out of the employer through threats of strikes. The employer has to somehow balance the hit he is taking from the unions, so he lays off people he needed (against his will) and puts the extra load on the union or cuts expansion since there are less workers to handle the current demand. If they don’t cut expansion, then what you experience with union companies all too often is bad quality products and services. All those employees who were fired were able to meet the demands, and now they’re gone, so they’re are no longer efficient. Increased prices on products and services + bad quality = unionization.

As I said, if you pay attention to union states, businesses close down instead of laying off people because the contract chokes them out. If the extra staff was there, they obviously needed it.

Didn’t you hear the Mcdonalds owner response after the fast food foward? He said if they want the wage increase, he will be forced to let go employees to make up the loss. He cannot raise prices because the polls showed people were not willing to pay more. What might end up happening is he will close down shop the minute the economics stops working.

JLeslie's avatar

McDonald’s has more than just that problem. Their sales for existing store have been going down from what I remember. Costs are not their only problem, revenue is.

The auto manufacturers in the 60’s amd 70’s were making hand over fist, and the owners and executives were making gobs of money, and the workers wanted to be able to share in the wealth, so wages began to rise and benefits got better. It just got out of hand. Eventually the unions were asking for the moon and their demands being agreed to. I have a problem with what happened also. When I moved to Michigan in the late 80’s driving my Nissan, within a few months I thought to myself, these people have no idea how the “coasts” think about cars and car buying. And, I was amazed by some of the high pay labor was making. Between management and union I could see the wiriting on the wall for them if they didn’t make some changes fast.

When I worked for Bloomingdale’s in FL there was a point where a union tried to come in, it didn’t work. But, at the time conditions were pretty good, we followed a lot of the rules set in NY, and NYC was actually a unionized store and NY has more protections for workers in general.

emilianate's avatar

You ever visited a DMV or post office? There are 10 windows for service, but 7 of them are closed and the other 3 are occupied by 3 fat lazy people sitting there taking their sweet sweet time to handle about 100 people waiting in line. They make a ridiculous amount of money per hr with full benefits, pensions vacations, and you pay for it while getting shity service.

This is what happens in a private business that unionizes. You’re forced by union threats to fire the staff you needed to meet the big demand, you cannot expand, but you do it anyway and shift the burden on the few less workers, so you’re left with lazy union workers who have guaranteed contracts and cannot handle the huge demand. This is why you don’t see unions in the private sector. Very few, and those that are still around eventually collapse. You’ll find most of them in the public sector because they deal will politicians and its tax payer money so we don’t get to have a say in it. Just look at the auto bail-outs. We bailed out greedy union contracts that were unable to be met by the automakers. Unsustainable. If you look at their financials, they’re about to go bankrupt again.

emilianate's avatar

We’re not talking about layoffs here either, we’re talking about complete collapse of a company.

JLeslie's avatar

To answer your question, DMV in TN sucked. In FL not so bad, not bad at all actually. In FL I could make an appointment, they took me very close to my appointment time, all went well. MD was long lines, NC I waited a while, but it went pretty smoothly. In FL when I needed a permit to put in a new driveway, I went to the county, didn’t wait very long on a line, handed in my documents, and three days later they called me to say everything was ready. I was kind of shocked they called me, very efficient. I’ve called the federal government a few times for help with immigration paperwork or sosial security benefits, they were always helpful.

I went to Kohler to see their factory tour. Amazing shop they have. They run it with many less people than I would have imagined. They work hard in some tough conditions. I would assume most of them wind up with some hearing loss, some areas are very very hot. The man who gave the tour said the union and management there work well together.

And then I have known unions to be unreasonable and destructive. There are examples of everything. I, as I said, prefer not to have unions as long as the companies are not horrible.

Do you ever watch Undercover Boss? There was one about Fronteir Airlines, and I think it was dispicable that employees took a pay cut while the top executives were still receiving amazingly high salaries. Even when they became profitable again they only slowly started to get them back to their old pay, they announced at the end of that show they were going to do that. I don’t know if that was planned ahead to announce it, or if the CEO realized how hard his staff works, and how horrific his house with an indoor basketball court is going to look when they also show an employee who can barely live on her wage not only checking in passengers, but then also loading their luggage onto the plane in the heat, and then sweaty coming back to check in passengers for another flight. She better get that count right when loading the luggage, or the plane goes down. And, the pay was not $30 an hour, trust me.

ETpro's avatar

@emilianate Fact #1: The former Dixiecrats of the solidly Democratic SOuth are now dead or Republicans. There really was a Southern Strategy adopted by the GOP after Lyndon Johnson ordered federal troops into Alabama to enforce desegregation and voting rights. The base of the GOP is now mostly located in the Solidly Red South.

Fact#2: The postwar boom after WWII till 1980 was the greatest economic expansion in US history, even surpassing the Gilded Age.

Fact#3: Before Unions, we had child labor, widespread poverty and extremely dangerous working conditions. Children were used in the weaving industry to climb into the loom and free a stuck shuttlecock. Often, the loom restarted, killing the child, who was then simply left in the machine while another child was brought in to replace them. Working conditions got so bad in the coal mining region that the Coal Wars erupted, requiring the US Army to restore order. In 1900, workplace safety was next to nonexistent.

Like it or not, those are verifiable facts, not personal opinions.

ETpro's avatar

Further to the above, here is a map of states having “Right to work” laws in place as of 2001. Let’s leave out the states that have just recently passed such laws, as the effects have not yet had time to show adequately in them. Here’s a map of the poorest US states. The correlation is inescapable.

Finally, unemployment by state. Here, I see no proof that “Right to Work” laws do anything to ensure high levels of unemployment. To the degree this map and the right-to-work map do correlate, they appear to establish exactly the opposite.

Again, this is coming at it using facts rather than political ideology and argument by assertion.

ETpro's avatar

The unemployment map above was from 2009. I just happened on a map showing 2011 numbers and it makes an even stronger case that “right to work” laws are no magic bullet to full employment.

emilianate's avatar

As I said @ETpro, I’m not having historical debates with you or anyone. These are facts of one school of thought. There are 4 more to go.

As for right-to-work states. I provided you original sources from the BLS and Census, and instead you’re linking with me with charts from Wikipedia and third-party sources.

I gave you a few concrete examples that considers all the factors necessary for making an argument, if you want to make your point across, please show me concrete example showing all relevant factors using the original sources. Here are the original sources.

Bureau of labor statistics – Unemployment 2012
Census Bureau – Poverty Rate 2012
Council for Community & Economic Research – Cost of living 2012

Format it the way I did when comparing California and Texas like so…

Texas is a right to work state with an unemployment rate of 6.6%
Cost of living index is 91.37
Poverty Rate – 16.5%

California is a collective bargaining state (unions) with an unemployment rate of 10.1%
Cost of living index 129.07
Poverty Rate – 23.5%

As you can see with this example, the union state achieved the opposite goal it had intended to achieve.

ETpro's avatar

@emilianate You can’t make an argument for the entire nation by selecting the two states out of 50 you want to compare because they make the case your ideological bias wants made. The references I gave you looked at all 50 states, and their data is footnoted. It comes from exactly the same sources you claim are credible for your two-cherry-picked-state comparison. Enough said.

emilianate's avatar

I’m not about to write you an entire dissertation of all 50 states. It’s called an example, do your own work and a big example at that since there are 37 million people in California and 25 million in Texas.

How many more states would you like me to compare before you call it quits? And why am I doing all the work ? You want to prove something to me, then compare some yourself. Show me some opposite facts.

Your unemployment link is dead. It shows a map of the U.S with nothing on it.

You provide no link for the cost-of-living.

Your poverty rate is meaningless because it doesn’t list all the poverty rates starting from 2001 which is required to accurately measure the success or failure of the right-to-work states.

Most importantly, all data must be compared to the same years. You cannot compare a 2006 poverty rate with a 2012 unemployment.

You showed nothing.

emilianate's avatar

Also, none of your links takes population into consideration and all of your categories are in separate links, which means to compare all criteria with all states is extremely difficult unless its all put in one single link (one single study or chart).

Your method is primitive and shows nothing.

ETpro's avatar

@emilianate Yada, yada, yada… As usual.

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