90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Fast Food Economy

Fast food workers, walking off the job, say their minimum wage just isn’t enough. We’ll look at the low wage, fast food economy.

Demonstrators in support of fast food workers protest outside a McDonald's as they demand higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation Monday, July 29, 2013, in New York's Union Square. (John Minchillo/AP)

Demonstrators in support of fast food workers protest outside a McDonald’s as they demand higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation Monday, July 29, 2013, in New York’s Union Square. (John Minchillo/AP)

Across the country, fast food workers are walking off the job, saying their wages are just too low. They can’t make it, and they can’t take it.

Tuesday it was Kansas City, and before that it was Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Detroit and Milwaukee.  They’re saying, “You try living on $7.25 an hour” — the minimum wage in most of the country. Poverty wages.

Critics say, “Come on! Move on up. Get another job.”

For a lot of people, that’s easier said than done. And the wages feel punishing.

This hour, On Point: Fast food workers, walking off the job, saying they can’t take it anymore.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Steven Greenhouse, labor and workplace correspondent for The New York Times. Author of “The Big Squeeze: Tough Times For The American Worker.” (@greenhousenyt)

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of Rear Clear Markets. Formerly the chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, the chief of staff of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers and an economist on the staff of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers. (@FurchtgottRoth)

Terrance Wise, 34-year-old father of three daughters who works at Burger King and Pizza Hut in Kansas City, Missouri. He has worked in the fast food industry for 18 years.

Mary Ann Harris, 64-year-old Chicago resident and Wendy’s restaurant worker, where she has been employed for 11 years.

Interview Highlights

Steven Greenhouse gives background on the strikes and the two sides of the argument:

This week, there are going to be fast food strikes in seven cities at McDonald’s, Taco Bells, Wendy’s, Burger King, you name them — up to 20 different brand restaurants. It started in November with the first series of strikes in New York City, and it’s really been expanding … The folks pushing this — different community groups, some labor unions, most of all the Service Employees International Union — are really trying to create in many ways a low-wage workers’ movement, and they decided to begin with the fast food industry.

They really think that the typical wages in the fast food industry … the median wage for front line workers is $8.90 an hour in the fast food industry. They say that’s just not enough to live on … a lot of these jobs are part-time, so you have a lot of workers who work maybe 20 hours a week. They make, say $8.50 an hour. That’s $170 a week, $8,500 a year. And these people are saying that’s just not enough, something is fundamentally unfair, we have to change it.

On the other side, the industry, many conservatives in Congress say these workers should just be paid what the market determines, and the market says they should get $7.25, $8.00, $8.50 an hour. If the market were willing to pay them more, they’d pay them more. And if they really aren’t happy with their jobs, then let them get  a college degree and go elsewhere. One of the things we see is that about 40 percent of these low-wage workers — 40 percent of the workers in the United States who earn less than $10 an hour have some college or a college degree, which is pretty surprising.

So the big question is after these strikes in these seven cities this week, where does the movement go from here? Can they really pressure even the McDonalds and the Burger Kings to raise wages? Can they pressure Boston City Council, the New York City Council, the Detroit City Council to raise the minimum wage or get their states to do so?

Terrance Wise works for both Burger King and Pizza Hut and described his struggle:

We’re slowly dying off in these jobs. I’ve invested eight years with Burger King, poured a tremendous amount of energy into the company, only for them to continue to let me down. As far as my family, I have three daughters … I’m currently homeless. And this movement is about making the public aware … they come in, you see the crisp bag that we hand the food out and we’ve got to be smiley-smiley, so you would think life is just peachy. But when I clock out and I leave my shop, I actually have no home to go to. And I don’t see what could possibly be right about that.

One of our callers — Don from Columbia, S.C. — said that the problem wasn’t with the jobs, but rather with personal drive and work ethic. Here’s how Wise responded:

My mom, when I was growing up, she was a restaurant general manager. So these jobs can be good paying jobs. They make the money, they make the profits, millions of dollars every year, and the s hould be able to share and distribute it and make sure their employees are taken care of.

The stigma is everyone that works here is high school students coming in. I work with adults with families and kids … So to say these are just low-wage, entry jobs and they’re for high schoolers and they’re unskilled — there’s a lot goes into our jobs. We operate, we deal with customers, we do a lot of work, but we’re paid pennies for what we do.

Greenhouse responded to Don, too:

Don in Columbia voices the sentiments of a lot of people, but I think Don forgets that we in the United States have freedom of speech. We have freedom to speak out. Federal law guarantees the right to push to improve your ages, to improve your working conditions. And I think Terrence and many others, they’re just exercising their rights of free speech and to try to improve their lot and to pursue the American Dream.

Now, some people say you accept the job, you should stick with whatever wage they offer you. But in American history, tens of millions of workers have pushed over decades to try to improve their wages at their job … of all the American workers making less than $10 an hour — which ain’t much — 40 percent are over the age of 35. So I think there’s a misconception that these fast food jobs are just for teenagers. Many of them are for adults; 27 percent of people who earn less than $10 an hour are parents. They have to raise their kids.

Wise on raising consumer prices to raise worker wages:

I’ve had feedback from customers and people in the community. Some get it that it’s morally unethical that we live the way we do. And they say, “For my neighbor, my brother Terrance, I’d pay an extra 60 cents to see his family not homeless. I’d pay an extra 60 cents to see Ms. Harris in Chicago who can’t afford medical do better.” So it’s about your neighbor. Tom, would you pay an extra 60 cents to keep a family off the street and to make sure that everyone in these United States lives well?

Caller Victoria on the difficulty of moving out of the service industry and the cost of education:

This whole notion that folks should get a second job on top of the first — a lot of these quick service restaurants expect people to have absolute open availability while only scheduling about 25 hours a week. I have a college education and because of the economy have had to settle for working in a restaurant. And I tell you what: It’s been impossible to get a schedule that will allow me to go get my master’s or any continuing education or even allow for me to have any money to get further education.

You keep saying, “Well, why don’t you just get another job somewhere else?” You almost get pigeonholed. I graduated in 2004 … it’s been impossible to find other jobs because people don’t think I have the professional qualifications or the ability to do anything besides work at a restaurant now.

Interactive Map

CNN Money: 2013 Minimum Wage, State By State

From Tom’s Reading List

The Los Angeles Times: Hundreds Of Fast Food Workers Strike Over Minimum Wage: “Advocacy groups such as Fast Food Forward organized strikes in New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Mo., and Flint, Mich., to protest the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Demonstrators, coming from jobs in mega-chains such as McDonald’s and KFC, are also seeking the right to form unions without retaliation.”

The New York Times: Fighting Back Against Wretched Wages: “Their anger has been stoked by what they see as a glaring disconnect: their wages have flatlined, while median pay for chief executives at the nation’s top corporations jumped 16 percent last year, averaging a princely $15.1 million, according to Equilar, an executive compensation analysis firm.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    About 8 or 10 years ago, I walked into a gas station in southern Missouri and got a 16 oz cup of coffee, and 2 donuts. The girl at the register said, “27 cents”, I said, “no miss, I have 2 donuts and a refill. She then said, “that’s right, 27 cents” ! This week I bought 3 donuts and a coffee at a station in town, the bill was almost 4 dollars ! The message of the story is; it very much depends where you live, as to how much you need to make to survive. However, it is true that prices are rising faster than the government admits, especially for food and gas and other essentials. When I was a “kid” we would buy 10 candy bars for a buck ( 12 if they were on sale ) and WALK to the movies, to see 2 films for 25 cents ! Do the math and ask yourself, have wages increased by similar percentages ?

    “Parity”; used to be a word used by unions when bargaining for wage and benefits. Today, it is hard to find a union, period ! Even if you did, you would probably find them to be weak and I hate to say it, but “unmanly” I have been a member of 5 different unions in my life, so I am speaking from some real life experience, here. I can remember some union meetings that were run from “ out of town-ers”, the muscle would stand on the stage, knuckles dragging the ground, in their 1000 dollar suites, that hid the metal bulging from their jackets, fairly well. When they said, “dis is da way it’s go-en to be”, IT WAS ! WE ALWAYS GOT A RAISE !

  • Shag_Wevera

    If there were no minimum wage, I wonder how much entry level workers would be paid?

  • LinRP

    Come now. If “these people,” to quote Romney, really wanted to “care for their lives” they could make $14.50/hour EASY. Just get a second full-time job and work 16+ hours a day. Bootstraps, baby. That’s how you pull yourself up.

    (For the record, before I get spammed, that’s sarcasm.)

    Eventually, somehow, someway, sometime, it is from here that the uprising in this nation will come. Sheryl Sandburg may fancy herself as “a leader of a social movement,” but change NEVER starts at the top–trickle down doesn’t even work in that regard. The injustice, the unfairness, and the tyranny of inequality in this country will be the wellspring from which dissent will, eventually, come.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I understand being the operator of Mitt’s car elevator is a plum job.

      But one had better look good in a “Sgt Pepper” coat.

  • Bluejay2fly

    Some jobs are by nature going to be awful, poorly paying jobs, the preverbal lower circles of job hell. Stoop labor, retail, fast food, these are all jobs which should be done by people who are entering the job market and are creating an employment history. Unfortunately, for many, these jobs are not ancillary to any kind of fulfilling and well paying careers. We need to understand that the job landscape is just as an essential part of our lives as is the food chain, health care, and national security. If people are going to be forced to perform work which is not physically demanding, not mentally challenging, and not spiritually rewarding at least it should be temporary.

  • margbi

    When Henry Ford paid (gasp!) $5 a day to his workers, his friends in the manufacturing biz thought he was crazy. He knew that you can’t have a mass consumption society without decent wages being paid to workers.
    Speaking to the quoted McDonald’s budget with factored in a second job, the word on the street is that the first company doesn’t tell its workers what their shifts will be until very late in the game so it’s impossible to have any kind of a scheduled second job.

    • William

      I read a book about those early days at Ford and the main reason for paying Ford workers more was to reduce the high turnover rate. There was a stiff competition for skilled workers in Detroit at that time. It worked. We need a labor shortage once again, but both parties are going into overdrive to ensure that will never happen by allowing massive amounts of illegals into this country.

      • northeaster17

        Ford also realized that if he wanted to sell cars he also needed customers who could afford them. A notion that does not equate to dollar menus but is another reason he paid well.

        • John Cedar

          You repeat hogwash urban myth.

          After becoming a jagillionaire Ford raised wages on SKILLED workers in order to attract and retain SKILLED workers. He did this in response to his high turnover rate. After raising the wage he mused about the other affect it had on economics.

          • northeaster17

            I did not want to imply that was the only reason he raised wages but it was a reason I’m sure he would have noticed. But he also made money on the deal. The American way. Right?

            http://corporate.ford.com/news-center/press-releases-detail/677-5-dollar-a-day

            After Ford’s announcement, thousands of prospective workers showed up at the Ford Motor Company employment office. People surged toward Detroit from the American South and the nations of Europe. As expected, employee turnover diminished. And, by creating an eight-hour day, Ford could run three shifts instead of two, increasing productivity

          • William

            To think he did it on his own without government interference or mandates. Amazing how that worked.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Yeah, right up until the Battle of the Overpass.

            No jackass bosses like Ford in Williamworld, hm?

            Henry Ford is a great example of the kind of boss you’d better keep on the good side of. But he was, charitably, “quixotic” in behavior if not outright mentally ill.

            He almost wrecked Ford Motor Co in his later years. And drove away his son Edsel, a fine “car guy”.

          • jefe68

            It was Edsel who saved the company.
            He designed the Model A and had the tenacity to stand up to his father’s belligerence towards change.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Oh, also the original Lincoln Continental was his idea.

            If ever someone didn’t deserve what happened to his name after his death…

          • margbi

            I question whether the workers would have been considered “skilled” even in the day. Remember, this was a new method of manufacturing – the factory line where each person performed one job repetitively for his entire shift. Today of course, a lot of the planning is done by computer entry but then it was brute force. The turnover rate was probably because the work was boring, dirty and dangerous and eventually even the strongest workers wanted something better.

          • John Cedar

            I am pretty sure the workers recruited with the new higher wage came with experience and abilities in working metal. Even if they did not, it was still a way of getting the most productive best of the best employees.

        • William

          He also made huge mistakes. He clung on to his old Model T, black only, which drove customers to GM. He was right about the unions and fought them to the bitter end.

      • StilllHere

        There is always competition for skilled labor.

  • HonestDebate1

    Minimum wage is an abomination. It hurts the poor.

  • Yar

    We have a caste that thinks food should be cheap and the people who harvest, cook and serve our country should not have access to health care, retirement or even citizenship. History has shown that these conditions cycle to revolution. Our minimum wage should be indexed to energy, it should provide enough for a person to live, and a person who works should be able to have access to health care and have security when they are too old or are unable to work. Call it a union, socialism, religion, self interest, it all comes down to maintaining a stable society in which to live. It is selfish, short sighted, dangerous, and just plain stupid to ignore these fundamentals. Yet, this is what the politicians we have elected are doing. It will not end well, unless we change. Money is an artificial horizon; wealth is the collective skills, infrastructure, knowledge of a society. Fail to invest in these and our society will fail.

    • John Cedar

      If by caste you mean most of the customers, then we do indeed have a caste that thinks food should be cheap. But they don’t give a thought to healthcare when making those purchasing decisions.

      • Yar

        Not every customer has true choice. I seldom go to a Walmart, but some can’t afford to shop anywhere else. Don’t judge those who have few resources and little choice. Do you know about the food stamp challenge?

        http://site.foodshare.org/site/PageServer?pagename=programs_movement_education_snapchallenge

        Make it more realistic, by only cooking with a microwave, until Friday when your electricity is cut off.

        • John Cedar

          I will pretend that it is true and that not every customer has a choice. It is irrelevant. The vast majority of customers do have a choice and still shop price to the best of the ability of their tiny brains.

          Today we have an entire country that eats out entirely too often and eats food prepared by other people most of the time. The workers in these food service jobs are performing the jobs that women used to do for free at home. The illegal immigrant are performing the jobs that families used to do for themselves at home for no pay.

          We often hear about the fake statistical productivity increases of employees but we never hear about the lower productivity people make of their spare time. Be it spending 12 years in high school but not learning cursive, or spending five years in college but not earning a degree.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Never tie your wage rate OR investment rate to any one sector of the economy. You open yourself up to manipulation. It’s like a game of pool. Learn to “play position”. This lack of insight is one reason unions have lost their power. Too many people running these organizations do not understand how to dance with the system. They have a hard time with abstraction !

  • 1Brett1

    If they’d just do away with the minimum wage altogether, jobs would appear in droves! Instead of having, say, for example, 60 employees at $7.25 an hour, a company could have 120 employees at $3.60 an hour! That’s twice as many jobs! And, if Obamacare were repealed, employers could have their employees work over 40 hours a week!

    If mandatory overtime labor laws were also repealed, employees could even work as much as 96 hours a week without any negative impact on a company’s bottom line!!! $3.60 an hour at 96 hours a week is $345.60 [thumbs up!]. 28 hours at $7.25 an hour only comes to 203 hours [thumbs down!]. Think of how much more spending power a worker could have with that extra $142 a week?!?!

    And, there’s even enough time left over for workers to get another part-time job!!!

    Corporations could make more money, expanding their businesses, creating more jobs, paying workers better and better wages without the chains of the Federal Government shackling their efforts…the poor would become the middle class!! Why, there’s your middle class right there! And, there’s an economy in full recovery! More spending on fast food and cheap, disposable goods that are based on planned obsolescence!

    Then, if we could just get rid of all those pesky unions, we could prosper even more and become exceptional once again. Think of it! People buying new cars, flat-screen tvs, companies providing jobs for an ever expanding workforce without having to pay a minimum wage or being crippled by some communist union! ‘Merka could make it rain all up in here!!!

    And, hey, if one company didn’t treat its employees right, they could just leave and go to another company! The market would become a level playing field of healthy competition and true incentives! Each rugged individual would control his own destiny!

    But, no, Obama doesn’t want that! He wants to destroy ‘Merka and systematically make each and every person dependent on government so he can crush the soul of what made this country great because that’s how he rolls!

    If a man is forced to pay his employees minimum wage, then the terrorists have won!

    • J__o__h__n

      You left out all of the manufacturing jobs children could do. Our eight-year-olds could compete against the Chinese if the government would get out of the way of the job creators.

      • 1Brett1

        See, another great idea! With such an unfettered market all is possible!

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Really? Our eight year old? With their fat, overfed, under movtiveated fingers? Sleeping only one or two to a bed?

        Let’s refine your masterstroke: We need not just any 8 y.o.s, but the certain type of youths–long fingered. Stock your labor pool with kids who are shining at guitar, piano and violin lessons.

        • 1Brett1

          We could even breed for that! A master race of long-fingered people!

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            I knew I shoulda “banked” some Andres Segovia when I had the chance.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      The problem with having decent wages and benefits, or SS and medicare, is that it’s “unsustainable”. So, the best way to have a decent economy is to cut everything. If nobody has any wages or pension or health care, except the romney types, it will be “sustainable” and we’ll all be happy and better off.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Corporate America has figured that out that’s why things are made in Mexico, China, Vietnam, etc : D

  • thequietkid10

    Reading the guest list, I am sympathetic towards Ms. Harris. It is easy to see how someone might loose their job in their mid fifties and be unable to recover.

    But uh, Mr. Wise, I’m curious to know if this guy had a plan? He started in fast food at the age of 16? By the time one of the best economic periods in this country he had already been in fast food for four years. And times weren’t so bad under Bush either (unless you were a solider stuck in Iraq). Did he go to school? Did he have one of kids really young? Could he not find a better paying waiter job or cleaning job in 18 years? Is his wife the primary breadwinner? Does he want to become a manager? What’s his story.

  • Charles Vigneron

    Washington State has the highest minimum wage and jobs didn’t flee in droves.

    To eliminate the minimum wage entirely and thinking jobs would appear in droves has been done. We call those depressions.

  • toc1234

    oh great, steve greenhouse, organized labor’s cheerleader at the NYT… industry bad, unions good… zzzzzzzz

    • 65noname

      you can’t really think that neo-libs like greenhouse balances out the manhattan institute,

  • Yar

    Your guest Terrance Wise better hope that YUM brands doesn’t buy Burger King, because they will fire him so they don’t have to pay his health care for working more than 32 hours in a week. Why should a person not get health care because they work for two (or more) part time employers? We need to find a better way. We are exploiting a large number of people in our country.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      YUM?

      Don’t they own Taco Bell? I mean, I can’t think of a greater insult to a food-like corporation than that.

      • Geenius_at_Wrok

        Yum does own Pizza Hut, which is his second job. (Note that it pays even less than Burger King does.)

  • StilllHere

    There is a reason these are called unskilled jobs.
    How much time before the whole order taking process is automated? I’d much rather input my order via a touch screen than have to deal with some surly order taker who isn’t happy in their job and has to take it out on me.

  • julian mccormick

    i realize that the wages are low and the workers want more pay but they’ve been paid that for a while whats different now?

  • creaker

    One thing that’s getting a little crazy is more of these employers are adopting a “just in time” scheduling model for part timers. Rather than a fixed schedule, you get called in when they need you – so one week you might work 35 hours, the next two you may only work 20. And not specifically one shift. And you often don’t know until the day you are scheduled to work.

    And there’s an agreement you make that you will always be available to be scheduled – meaning you can’t get a second job.

    Basically these workers have become the folks standing on the curb waiting to see if there’s any work that day.

    • northeaster17

      I saw that with my then 18 yr old daughter. She was supposed to be always available. Hard to get a 2nd job that way. By the way she has other work now.

  • toc1234

    did the McD budget include all the govt assistance that people earning 18k are entitled too? I’m guessing Tom and Steve wont point that out…

  • William

    Tom, create a labor shortage and the wages go up. Keep importing cheap, low skilled workers and wages stay flat or go down. There is no mystery to this problem. Are you going to push harder for less illegal immigration? Not a chance.

  • 65noname

    why in the world is government radio using a professional spin dudette from the industry funded manhattan institute as if she is an honest analyst? At least balance it with a professional from the union. But, of course, that might anger government radio’s corparte funders.
    And why i n the world would the announcer say that the dishonest budget that macdonalds put out for its workers was “no doubt” done in good faith? Right before he had to point how dishonest that budget actually.

    STOP USING MY TAX DOLLARS TO PROVIDE A PLATFORM FOR RIGHT WING SPIN ARTIST DISGUISED AS NEWS ANALYSTS.

  • sik4toyz

    As callous as this is, I don’t think a person serving hamburgers or fries deserves $15/hr.

    Ever.

    These people made a choice – a career choice- and they do not have the right to complain about it. It is a gangster move to turn on their employers like this.

    I have two degrees and 10 years experience and I am
    lucky to have a job that pays $22/hr which is half of what I should be making. I cannot go out and strike –this is the way the economy is now. I barely make my student loans, bills and rent.

    I refuse to feel sorry for these workers who flip burgers — try learning a new skill. I have to update my skills every 6 months. How many of these workers would ever do that?

    Yes, I’m a snob. Yes, I care about poverty but how does paying someone with a mindless job deserve $15 hours seem
    fair to those of us who have real skills and have paid our dues getting educated, to avoid the fast-food life?

    • northeaster17

      They have the right to complain…Period. Snobs obviously lack empathy. Why should you expect any with your nose in the air.

      • sik4toyz

        In this economy, most of us are struggling but I don’t get to walk off my low-paying job and rage against my employers. These folks act as if they have no other choice. It is greedy. What other type of work could they do, by the way??

        • northeaster17

          One again…Empathy. You look at them and ask if I can’t do that why should they? Walk a mile in their shoes. Is it always the poorest that are greedy.

        • lakiesel

          You could walk off the job if you want. You can organize if you want. It’s your choice not to. Just because you’ve chosen to be complaisant with the pittance compensation you’ve been offered doesn’t mean you should slight those who’ve chosen to fight for justice. McDonald’s and Burger Kind are MULTI-BILLION dollar corporations. They can afford to pay better. They are choosing to concentrate their profits at the top and not evenly distribute it. And it wouldn’t hurt if the price of the food was raised a bit. It’s so cheap it doesn’t at all reflect its true cost.

          There was a time when a person could get a decent paying job after high school in the service industry or manufacturing. There was a time when a middle-class person could buy a home and lead a decent life. People say “those times are over” as though it’s all set in stone. The reason those times are “over” is because people have grown lazy and complaisant with what they’ve been offered.

        • keltcrusader

          “I am lucky to have a job that pays $22/hr”

          “In this economy, most of us are struggling but I don’t get to walk off my low-paying job”

          “low paying job” does not equal “$22/hr”

    • Steve_the_Repoman

      I have sympathy for both you and the worker you besmirch.
      You may want to redefine/identify the common problem.

    • Roberto1194

      Don’t drink that wrong thinking Koolade man!
      Do you really wish others ill because you are yourself are not sufficiently compensated and therefore unhappy? We’re all in this together, and the sooner we understand that there is enough for all to have at least a reasonable standard of living the better off we will ALL be economically, physically, mentally, spiritually…

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Good, cleansing stuff. There’s just something weird when the scorn is aimed by a bachelor’s degree holder not at the Donald Trumps and Ken Lays of the world, but at someone who wants more money out of a job performed while wearing a disposable paper hat.

    • jefe68

      The issue here is that you have become complacent with low wages. You’re not even aware that you are making the same wages when adjusted for inflation as someone in the 80′s. Think about that for a while.

      I do agree that there is a finite amount one can be paid for a fast food job. That said there is something very wrong in this nation in terms of how income has remained stagnant for the past 30 years.

      If you think $15 is a good wage for having two degrees and good skills you are misguided.

    • lakiesel

      Do you eat at McDonald’s?

      I find it extremely hypocritical when people prop up these multi-billion dollar corporations who can afford better (and more sustainably and humanely raised/grown) food, but still insist on buying crap food but show zero respect for the workers who serve them this food.

      Working in the food/service industry is a hard, hard job and does take skill. I say this as someone with a Master’s degree who makes $25/hr half-time (I can’t get more hours) at a cushy office job and haven’t worked in the food/service industry since my early 20s over a decade ago. And yet, because of the economy and the insane inflation of rent (my rent was just increased $100/mo and I’ve been told next year’s lease will see a $125/mo increase) I just filled out my first application for a couple of waitress shifts to supplement my income.

      My education got me a bunch of loan debt and a lot of the same people who criticize people for getting into debt for education are the same people who then criticize those for working these low-wage jobs. They’re the same people who then get angry when these low-wage workers then turn to the system to get aid via food stamps or Medicaid (which is a drag on the economy), though if the corporations offered a living wage and benefits, the government would not have to offer as much aid and people like Terrence would not need to turn to welfare programs to survive. The corporations can afford to pay people more. It’s both a moral and economic imperative.

      The message of naysayers? Get a better job or go to college. But don’t take out loans. Don’t complain or ask for anything better. Just leave if you don’t like it. Don’t ever work within the system to change it.

      Maybe $15/hr is a little high for fast food, but man, at least $10 or $11/hr and decent benefits.

      • StilllHere

        I love a good McDouble, highly recommend.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Tom, if someone doesn’t mention Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickeled and Dimed”, there is a major gap in this program.

  • StilllHere

    Twice as many workers are employed in the government as compared to manufacturing in the US. Do we value government twice as much? Is this the way to a prosperous future?

  • creaker

    I heard a study one that some Walmart in WI was providing like 300 jobs – and they got paid so poorly they qualified for about $900k in government entitlements.

    We subsidize employers paying low wages.

    • StilllHere

      The story there is really about how easy it is to get government entitlements. It’s free money, no strings.

      • creaker

        These workers would have striked – or just would never have worked there, if those wages were not supplemented by the government. The primary benefit of those entitlements go to the employer.

        • StilllHere

          No, they go to the worker because they are so easy to get.

          • 65noname

            no, its a government subsidy for employers

  • toc1234

    Tom, nobody can live on $15/$20 an hour??? doing 50hrs per week is over $40k. the question Tom should ask this guy is what he was thinking buying a home. just rent.

    • StilllHere

      Well he’s got his $120 cable bill and his $80 cell phone bill and the boat payment.

  • OnpointListener

    “Free Market… What the Market Will Bear”…. Hogwash!

    Taxpayers and property owners are subsidizing these fast food outlets by providing their workers with food stamps, medicaid or sliding scale insurance, heating assistance, emergency room care. This is not a “free market” system.

    • Kathy

      Exactly and it’s not like fast food is a low profit business.

      • StilllHere

        How do you know? What is the profit margin?

        • northeaster17

          That’s why they are on every corner. No money here. Right?

          • StilllHere

            That’s not an answer. But maybe they make it up in volume.

          • northeaster17

            The folks who can afford to invest in these franchises are not in it for nickels.

          • StilllHere

            So what is the profitability?

          • 65noname

            yes it is. Its just an answer that you don’t like

    • Bluejay2fly

      Your also subsidizing all the unemployed we cram into prisons, the military, and universities.

  • Coastghost

    What a rich show, in just the first segment! A NYT reporter (I mean, another NYT reporter) discusses with an NPR news show host the plight of fast-food workers whose industry itself is a public health hazard to hear NPR’s coverage elsewhere: then Tom interviews a KC fast-food worker with a fiancée with three children who is on strike because he’s become homeless. I hear lots of missing pieces in this story, but adding Obama soundbites is not adding content.

  • ProudPatr1ot

    Dear Don, the caller who think that this is just a problem with work ethic,

    You can eat a whole bag of d!cks, buddy.

    Signed,

    everyone

    • LinRP

      Can I give this 10 million thumbs up? Infinity million?

    • StilllHere

      Sounds like maybe that comment hit home with you. Look inside bro. Don’t blame the truth speaker.

      • jefe68

        Troll.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Wow. You’re a jackass.

        • StilllHere

          Here’s a guy who enjoys eating bags of d!cks.

      • ProudPatr1ot

        Yes, that’s exactly what it is, and thank you for your insightful comment, which has left me to face my deep-seated insecurities.

        Good comment, bro.

        • StilllHere

          No problem.

    • sickofthechit

      Sounds like somebody watched The Daily Show Tuesday night….

      • ProudPatr1ot

        Actually, I didn’t? But bags of dicks and the eating thereof has been a Certified Thing on the internet for a while now.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Caller Don says “Leave your job” rather than “make it better”? And that there’s a negotiation going on between a fast-food employee which is akin to my middle-class office-job and my manager?

    I should have known there was a slam at “work ethic” coming from the caller.

  • Coastghost

    Terence is also exhibiting no profound sense of how the economy works, and Greenhouse and Ashbrook are doing precious little to educate him or the listening public, although Tom did at least try, kind of sort of.

    • StilllHere

      Tom’s not really good on how the economy works, so I don’t blame him.

  • Scott B

    The caller forgets that they accepted the fast food job because there was often no other job, better paying or not, available.

    • StilllHere

      Not according to Terrance.

  • thequietkid10

    I like how Terrance basically admitted that he could go out and find a better job, but doesn’t want to because he fast food companies make a lot of profits and they should take care of him. (if their business model is anything like Supermarkets that’s not true at all)

    • northeaster17

      Supermarkets pay better with benifits.

  • funboy187

    Don can go to hell.

    • StilllHere

      Ouch, was he talking about you. Sorry to hear that.

      • funboy187

        What’s that supposed to mean? Please tell.

        • StilllHere

          It’s been shown that attempts to bully are usually borne out of insecurity.

          • funboy187

            His comments were ignorant and hateful, as are your own.

          • StilllHere

            This is based on the standard where telling someone to go to hell is not? I think I’m on the right side of this one. IMHO

          • funboy187

            IMHO, Don can go to hell. So, yes.

          • StilllHere

            IMHO, I’ve figured you out. Pitiful.

  • InActionMan

    I have deep sympathy for these workers. However, the fact is that the age of labor is over. There was a time when a person without an education and a strong back could make a decent living. Unfortunately, that time is over.

    The minute the fast food wage goes to $15.00 per hour is the moment that the company brings in the Burger Flipper 1000 robot.

    I do agree that “just in time scheduling” should be illegal. An employer should be required to provide set hours for part-time workers so that the worker can get a second job.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Then let them do what capitalists do: Grab what they can while they can, to the last penny.

    • Bluejay2fly

      Many of us pay outrageous school and property taxes along with high payroll tax in order to pay for the millions we jail and on welfare because “the age of labor is over”. The elites who have socially engineered this paradigm should all be mass murdered as traitors.

      • InActionMan

        I am more conspiratorially minded than most but, I don’t believe this was engineered by the elites. Technology simply advances and it has reached the point where machines don’t just leverage human labor allowing on person to do more work it has eliminated the need for the human entirely.

        In a CAPITALIST economy the holders of capital have always had more power than those who can only provide their labor but, the scales have finally tipped overwhelmingly in the favor of the holders of capital.

        Americans have been sold a bill of goods that the goal in life should be to “get a job” and work for someone else, putting their destiny in the hands of others, rather than become a business owner and an acquirer of capital.

        There is going to have to be a massive investment in skill training and entrepreneurial education or America will soon feel the jackboot of Fascism to keep the lid on things.

        • Bluejay2fly

          Sometimes like minded people organize and begin to implement policies which benefit their interests. Corporate America along with politicians have created a power structure which has shaped the business scape in favor of creating wealth for the few at the expense of the many. A conspiracy does not have to be a bunch of people sitting around a long table smoking cigars. The curriculum that Harvard Business School teaches, the values of Wall Street, the lies the media tells, all of these operated independently but key into each other to create a particular policy direction. I bet nobody has ever told you directly to like war but look at how our society NEVER views war as policy failure. Nor do any “normal” people speak out against war as state sanctioned killing.

    • Geenius_at_Wrok

      Is the age of democracy over as well? Shall we all resign ourselves to a future of one-party authoritarianism, maybe a nice return to feudalism, updated for modern times and technologies? Our expectation and acceptance of losing the things we value is exactly what makes the loss of those things a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” — Frederick Douglass

  • Coastghost

    Surely NYT and NPR have some distribution centers or phone banks they can hire Terence with and double or triple his income. Terence: apply to the New York Times and National Public Radio for remunerative employment, you’re in the wrong industry, to hear them go after the industry most other days.

    • StilllHere

      Are we sure they’re not paying him already?

  • Scott B

    The argument that raising the wages will make it harder to hire is right up there with the Koch brothers working to eliminate the minimum wage, saying it holds workers wages down. Both are saying, “Let me help you up by pulling the floor out from beneath you.”

  • toc1234

    Good lord, how long did Tom’s team prep Mary Ann for this interview?? are they reading from a script??

  • Yar

    Yes people will pay an extra 68 cents, but not as often. They are attracted by price.

  • Dab200

    Very low priced menu of unhealthy food. Maybe if it was more expensive people would actually eat less!

  • Coastghost

    Tom: fast-food industry employment is ENTRY-LEVEL work in the US economy. The work is primarily for teenagers. NOT intended for long-term or career development. This is obvious to some people, not at all obvious to many others. Why is it not obvious to all?

  • MarkVII88

    If a low-wage, likely low-educated food service employee wants to go to a different job, what does the experience at Mickey D’s or Pizza Hut, or KFC really qualify them for except another low-wage food service job???

    • StilllHere

      It’s not a bad first job, if your reviews are good. For low skilled workers, the biggest hurdle is showing up when they’re supposed to. Establish a good record on that and you can translate it into better opportunities.

      • Yar

        You forgot proving you will not rebel against the master. If you start or join a union movement, the mark of the beast will follow you throughout your career. The Chamber of Commerce makes sure of that. I want two years of public service for all youth, teach people how to work in a fair workplace environment.

        • StilllHere

          Who would want to hire a divisive employee who brings their general unhappiness into a productive and fulfilling work environment?

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            The crackpots from Galt’s Gulch are here! Oh boy!

          • Yar

            You just explained the violence of slavery, can’t have one of the slaves acting up. If the work environment is already productive and fulfilling, “acting up” won’t change it. If it is exploitative, pointing it out is really divisive. I tell myself to not respond to you, but you are so divisive that I can’t help myself. You advocate for a cruel world. Life isn’t fair, but we are called to bend the curve toward fairness. “I don’t want no peace, I need equal rights and justice.” Peter Tosh

          • StilllHere

            Wow, did not see that coming. Slavery, really? That makes no sense. I cannot relate any of my varied work experiences, as employee, manager, or owner, to the environment you believe exists. If the divisiveness makes us better great, but it’s just someone projecting their own unhappiness then let’s part friends so that you can realize all your potential elsewhere.

  • suzieinnewport

    Here’s an idea to help the workers’ movement.

    In addition to strikes and walkouts, workers should get their families and friends to boycott fast food establishments until their wages are raised. Workers and consumers unite!

    • StilllHere

      What’s the last boycott that worked?
      As soon as the press moves on, it seems like these get no traction.

      • suzieinnewport

        True. we need a stronger independent media that dies not only operate within the parameters of neo-liberal economics. Kudos to On Point for giving the actual workers air time. Their voices are powerful. Still trying to think of a boycott that worked, to answer your question. Any help?

        • StilllHere

          I think media interest reflects consumer interest or lack thereof.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            “The media reflects consumer interest…”

            Hahahaha. That’s a good one.

          • StilllHere

            Have you finished your bag? Oh, nope, still have one in your mouth.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            I’ve always wanted to be insulted by a fifth grader who doesn’t know anything. Thanks for making my wish come true.

          • suzieinnewport

            StillHere, I think your model of cause and effect is too simple. Isn’t it possible that the media creates desire, and doesn’t just reflect it? Also, I believe that consumer boycotts were effective during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.

          • StilllHere

            Media creates desire, not sure. Marketing certainly does. I view the media as an information source skeptically. Desire mostly comes from within. You’d think with a connected world, boycotts would be easier to organize and more effective. I just don’t think people see the motivation as justified.

      • jefe68

        The one on Rush Limbaugh worked.
        He’s been dropped by Cumulus.

        They work, of course you don’t think workers should be able to organize do you.

    • Mari McAvenia

      I’m onboard with this. Not that I could afford a cheapo-fatty-burger even if I wanted one.
      The folks who work at fast food joints must spend half an hour’s pay- at minimum- just to buy a junior-burger-thingie for their lunch. The boycott WILL start there, as they and their families become poorer while working longer and harder for wages that ought to be an embarrassment to our entire nation.

  • Steve_the_Repoman

    Implied Social Contract.
    Future promise of upward mobility.
    Once the fire is lit the burn may be difficult to extinguish.
    In revolution the consequence and pain is often shared by those that never saw it coming.
    The voice of one crying in the wilderness…

  • http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHHartmann Matthew H. Hartmann

    This food does not seem healthy at all. Let’s take half of the workers and put them on organic farms. I would love that job. Close half the restaurants and improve the country’s food supply. Then watch health care costs come down. This would make the country better, but unfortunately will never happen.

  • brian copeland

    Everyone keeps talking about these employees going somewhere else. Sure, if they can manage to find a different job, it will be fine for that person. But you’re just going to have a new person in the same situation.

    The supply of cheap labor will remain without more government intervention, especially in this economic climate. The demand for cheap food will also remain. There alone is the case for higher minimum wages.

  • manganbr

    The conservative tradition offers conflicting perspectives on the problem of quality jobs vs. overall job creation. At the moment, the emphasis among free-market republicans is on the number of jobs (the case in Texas, for instance, where many new, low paying jobs have appeared in recent years). But there was once the notion, advanced by Phyllis Shlafly, that the entrance of women into the labor force would vitiate the benefits and pay of all workers. Now, putting the gender prejudice aside, what Shlafly’s position acknowledges is that, as a society, we may need to consider whether fewer better paying, higher quality jobs are preferable to more, lower paying jobs (what the restaurant owner lobby advocates for). It’s certainly not a question of whether the man or woman works (or even whether the couple is heterosexual). . . but whether it might be better for everyone’s quality of life to have one bread-winner per family who holds a well-paying job with good benefits. This approach could be sold as a pro-family perspective, as it allows partners to stay home managing household, raising kids, etc. So for instance, when business owners complain that the Affordable Care Act will make it so they can higher fewer full time workers, the positive trade off is that the full time workers they do maintain will have an overall better situation, and can provide more for their families. Put this together with all the technological advances expected in our economy (automation, artificial intelligence, high skill requirements, etc), and the idea of striving for full or higher percentage employment makes even less sense. The key is in detaching the benefits of a bread-winner model from the prejudices of a patriarchal family model.

  • J P Fitzsimmons

    A quick look at McDonalds financials shows a before tax profit of about $10 billion or $22,000 per employee. Could they give half of this to their employees? Unfortunately their market value of $98 Billion puts it at just about the right price/earnings ratio. However, their market value is 7x their book value. In other words their market value is highly inflated like all asset values including securites, commodities and real estate. The fundamental problem is our financial system that has been driving asset values to create wealth instead of real investment.

    • StilllHere

      What’s the breakdown of company-owned stores versus franchises? How does this impact your analysis? How have you accounted for joint ventures in foreign markets?

    • OnPointComments

      According to the 2012 Annual Report for McDonald’s, none of the amounts or observations in your comment are correct.

      • J P Fitzsimmons

        The Current market value of McDonalds is about $100Billion (1 billion shares outstanding at ~$100 per share). Reported EBIDTA $9.9 Billion. Number of reported employees ~440,000 giving ~ $22,000 per employee. McConalds has 1 billion shares outstanding but holds 658 million shares in their own treasury. Like most of the S&P 500 companies, they have been buying back their own stock using cheap debt. Over the last decade the S&P500 companies have purchased over $3 trillion of their own stock to run up the market value. Check the S&P web site. S&P now offers an index stock of the biggest buybackers.

        • StilllHere

          A stock buyback has a temporary impact on prices but long-term the business’ value and prospects trumps it. Issuing debt to buy stock just diversifies the company’s stakeholders. What about my previous questions?

        • OnPointComments

          Your analysis is only for the employees of McDonald’s Corporation and its employees in company-owned restaurants, which are a fraction of employees in all McDonald’s restaurants including those owned by franchisees. Your calculation of $22,000 profit per employee is wrong because it includes all profit from all sources, not just profits from the operation of company-owned restaurants.

  • adks12020

    I worked in restaurants for years and I totally agree with the last caller. Restaurants always expect open availability. That’s one of the reasons people get stuck in those jobs. The widely varied schedule doesn’t allow a person to get a second job because it’s impossible to tell the other employer when you will be available.
    I was a line cook at a chain restaurant and the managers always scheduled split shifts that would take up almost 11-12 hours a day with a break in the middle. They made it seem convenient but in reality it was absolutely horrible. I’d work from 10 am to 3pm and 4pm until 10pm most of the time. Then they would intentionally schedule each person in such a way that they could avoid paying overtime but still be scheduled for 6-7 days in a row even if it meant giving a 2 hour shift one day and shooing you out the door before you hit OT.
    It’s a very tough existence; it’s exhausting and stressful. I’m glad I eventually found a better job and I feel for people that can’t get out.

  • Dab200

    The minimum wage should be set based on cost of living. What’s the annual poverty line? Set the annual salary above that, divide by 52 weeks and 40 hours a week – that should be a minimum wage.

  • Roberto1194

    The mean, lean, selfish… -as little as you can it for- mindset has infected all levels of our society, and each and almost every one of us !!
    It’s only most obvious -and most painful- for individuals and families subsisting on the edge of destitution.
    The rest of us just go along with the delusion that you can have a healthy and prosperous society by this way of thinking.

  • Yar

    Wait a minute, why isn’t working in fast food not worth a living wage! It angers me to say that Terrence need to improve his skills. We should pay him for his work, not paying a living wage is theft.

  • Scott B

    Fast Food corps are loyal to their shareholders first. Look at that budget McD’s came up with for their employees, showing how good they have it if they do X, Y, & Z.They didn’t even consider food in the budget they set for their employees. FOOD! What’s that say about how the upper management views the people doing the grunt work?

    “Don’t say it’s raining when you’re pissing down my back” – “Slave to the Grind”, Skid Row

  • Coastghost

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is ALSO a corporation: how much are NPR interns being paid this summer?

    • OnPointComments

      According to the NPR website, the hourly pay for a summer intern is $8.75 an hour.
      http://www.npr.org/about-npr/181881227/internships-at-npr

      Some of NPR’s radio personalities make:
      Terri Gross: $246,000
      Ira Glass: $171,000
      Renee Montagne: $405,000
      Steve Inskeep: $356,000
      Robert Siegel: $359,000
      Scott Simon: $364,000

      • Coastghost

        I wonder if Corporation for Public Broadcasting founder and Vietnam War wager Lyndon Baines Johnson ever dreamed that public broadcasting could become such a lucrative enterprise?
        Again, I tell Terrance Wise he’s in the wrong business: all he needs is an NPR gig. Or maybe the New York Times could hire a new guest columnist or a new bureau chief for the Midwest?

      • thequietkid10

        Why, I bet if each of those personalities took a 10,000 dollar paycut they could provide a living wage for those poor NPR interns.

        I eagerly await an NPR investigation on the topic….

        • StilllHere

          How about a petition?

          Will sensitive NPR listeners boycott NPR?

      • J__o__h__n

        Those internships truly are entry level jobs that offer training, connections, and a great resume line. No one interns at NPR for twenty years.

  • sickofthechit

    Social mobility is why we need Medicare for all. No longer would employers need to cut back hours to avoid providing basic human rights. charles a. bowsher

  • Yar

    Terrence already has two jobs, how many more does he need?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      One more. No matter how many he has, the answer is always “one more” (to some people).

  • burroak

    So many observations to write about on this massive socio-economic issue; it is not just pertinent to fast food, but the service industry as a whole: department stores, grocery stores, restaurants, airlines, cafe’s, hotels, etc.
    Is the market saying that it is 100 percent impossible to raise laborers pay; unless, of course, we lower management pay.
    This explosive wage gap between management(salaried) and non-management(hourly) has been occurring for the last four decades.
    This is a societal problem, and a big problem, because it is feeding America’s poverty epidemic.
    Where are the large percentage of high-wage paying American jobs? Oh, they require college degrees, so you go to college with a hundred thousand dollar loan, and survive while earning your degree at a minimum wage job.
    And fifty billion dollars in foreign aid can most certainly invest in hundreds of thousands of high wage jobs that would repair and update our nation’s water infrastructure, bridges, and schools.

    • thequietkid10

      There are lots of jobs that don’t require high level degrees. Truck drivers, construction workers, mechanics, HVAC. Certainly pay better then fast food and don’t require a college degree.

      • burroak

        Agreed, vocation schools, and the trades are great careers. Some people do not have the aptitude or passion to make lifelong careers in these.

        • thequietkid10

          don’t have to, if you hate the job that much, at least a vocational position gives you the opportunity to get more education and find your dream job.

          • burroak

            And, what if they live in a region that does not have a burgeoning economy to provide hundreds, perhaps thousands of construction jobs. Also, perhaps some of these low-wage workers cannot afford, either the time or finances, to pursue these careers.
            Are there regions in America where there is limited socio-economic opportunities. Some do not have access to vast opportunity.

      • keltcrusader

        Not true, most of those types of jobs now require some sort of training which costs money. CDL Licensing for truck drivers, mechanics need training from tech or community colleges due to the complexity of engines and the use of computers to find problems, and HVAC is also either tech or CC or an Apprenticeship. For construction, unskilled labor makes low wages until you acquire the skills to start making higher pay.

      • StilllHere

        Truckers get trained for free.
        Construction workers get skills on the job.

  • AC

    how is it legal for the company to cut back their hours so severely? plus don’t you have to work a min amount of hours to qualify for insurance benefits?

    • InActionMan

      You don’t actually think the Corporate States of America is a Democracy?

  • suzieinnewport

    The speaker from the Manhattan Institute is doing a good job reciting the free market, anti-worker, neo-liberal 10 commandments/talking points (why did cap and trade enter the discussion, for example?)

    Must we here these every day? They derail every productive conversation about making life livable for the 99%.

  • Coastghost

    Greenhouse equivocates on the “economic evidence”. The consensus of professional economists hardly revolves around the arguments of Krueger and Card.

  • Eric Herot

    The idea that people just won’t be hired if higher wages have to be paid is pure BS. McDonalds hires exactly the amount of staff required to make a franchise location function smoothly and provide the best possible service to customers. The number of employees required to do this does not magically allow them to hire fewer people to do the same job. And because labor is actually not a majority of the cost of a McDonald’s hamburger, a 50% wage increase is not likely to make a the difference between a store being profitable or not.

    • StilllHere

      McDonalds doesn’t hire anybody at a franchised location.
      What % of costs does labor represent? What is the net profit margin?

      • Eric Herot

        “McDonald’s” includes their franchisees for the sake of worker treatment, healthcare, etc. The parent company sets all kinds of specific rules for individual locations, and wages could definitely be among them.

        And according to the show, labor appears to represent about $0.60 of the price of a ~$3.50 Big Mac.

        • StilllHere

          Could, could?
          Who cares what it is relative to a Big Mac? What is it relative to all costs of store operation?

          • Eric Herot

            Well unless the Big Mac is unusually profitable or a loss leader, I think it’s safe to assume that if labor makes up ~17% of the cost of a Big Mac, it probably also makes up 17% of the store’s budget (including profit).

  • Josh Drawdy

    caller “Don” should brief himself on the history of the industrial revolution if he believes corporations volunteer fair wages on their own. The customer base of these establishments are often low-wage workers as well. a price increase seems by most accounts not feasible but the salaries of corporate executives and even some franchise owners have plenty of room to help. i would love to see a company make a policy tying store profits to wages.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Yep.

      The “nth” step in any management saga is “rewrite history to pretend that which was gained through struggle, upheaval and suffering was handed over by smiling, happy bosses at the request of corporate suits.”

    • brettearle

      And so as they do, the Right Wing Propaganda Network, via AM Talk Radio, will brand these businesses as Hammer & Sickle Guilds.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Hammer and Sickle?

        I love their baking soda!

        • brettearle

          I do, too.

          But I’m neither a capitalist or a communist.

  • William

    Terrance, a CNA is a better job than flipping burgers. Two parents, 9 dollars an hour each, toss in EITC, Food Stamps, and maybe Section 8, you are moving up.

  • sickofthechit

    The authoritarian woman claiming “we have the highest corporate tax rate blah blah blah” is either being disingenuous and deceptive or she is hopelessly uninformed. Very few companies in the US pay the top rate. She needs to learn about and speak in terms of what is called the EFFECTIVE Tax Rate that companies actually pay. charles a. bowsher

  • Dab200

    I can’t hear even once more about corporations having the highest tax rate – what was the actual rate that McDonalds/Wendys, etc paid last year?
    Lets name 3 big corporations that actually paid 35% rate?
    GE paid 0/zero, got money back in fact!!!!!!!!

  • Lonnie King

    I worked atva McDonald’s 20 years ago making $5.50 an hour. Gas was Under a dollar. Now people are making $7.25 an hour and gas is nearing $4. Like many other resources, minimum wage is not keeping up with inflation. It’s dispicable!

    • John Cedar

      I see your point but keep in mind that minimum wage workers are uglier, lazier and dumber with way more baggage than they had 20 years ago. There is a lot of overhead that goes into garnishing their wages to pay for the parrot and rent to own wide screens they had judgments for. It takes labor hours to keep their methhead baby daddy from hanging out on premise. Or to keep them from circulating their marital aids party fliers while they are supposed to be working. The frequent texting at work causes them to trip a lot when they are walking. They bring the experience rating way up on your health insurance because of tripping, GERD, hypertension, smoking cessation, sprained backs knees and ankles.

      How much would you pay Trayvon’s girlfriend if she were working for you? You wouldn’t hire her, that’s how much.

      • J__o__h__n

        You get what you pay for.

        • John Cedar

          Some people get things they don’t pay for

          and other people pay for things they don’t get. :)

      • Lonnie King

        Well my point is minum wage is not going up with inflation. My second job after leaving McDonalds was to work at a lumber yard making $6.26 an hour.

        Today I am thankful to have a good paying job as a Connectivity Engineer at a technology company. I understand the struggles that low wage workers are going through.

        • John Cedar

          What’s a connectivity engineer?
          It doesn’t make sense to measure inflation with a single number.
          If you add in the government subsidy the workers receive, you would probably find the wages are going up. If you adjusted for the quality of the employee you definitively would. I remember when Jan and Marsha were working and Jan stole Marsha’s job.

          • Lonnie King

            I install and configure office copiers and scanners on client networks.

            I simply used gas as one instance. So many things have gone up in price over the years. From milk and bread, to cars and houses. Minimum wage has not kept up with that growth.

  • creaker

    It’s almost comical that these folks who aren’t even making enough to live off of are supposedly able to afford to go to school any time they choose to “raise themselves up”.

    And what do they have to look forward to after? There’s some town in MA where the McD’s there is only hiring college grads.

  • Dab200

    The minimum wage has not gone up for decades, In real terms it is lower that 40 years years ago. Everything else is more expensive. The value of unskilled work should also be higher now than 40 years ago.

    • fun bobby

      but the demand for it has decreased and will continue to do so

      • Dab200

        That’s not true: all your fruit and vegetables are collected by minimum wage workers, all your meat is being cut by minimum wage worker, all your food, not only at fast-food places, is served by minimum wage worker, you hair is cut by a minimum wage worker, your house is cleaned, painted, your garden tended to, your shopping tallied and bagged and so on, is done by minimum wage workers. The companies that employ them increase their profits every year, CEO gets 500+ times the minimum annual wage and the rest of us substitute those workers that can’t survive on such wages with food stamps and other forms of tax-funded help! This is the sick form of wealth redistribution. This is all so called service industry that can’t by its nature be exported and that is why their numbers and demand is not decreasing.

        • fun bobby

          you must have me confused with Donald trump. i grow and pick as many as my own vegetables as i can. the assistant meat cutters at the supermarket (stop and shop) make 15.50 an hour. they have had an opening for a while. i don’t eat much fast food. waitresses can make very good money, well above minimum wage. my hair is cut by my best friend. i clean my house tend my garden and do my shopping myself. i don’t like how under the current system we seem to be subsidizing places like walmart (who does pay above the minimum wage BTW).
          the demand has and will continue to decrease for all types of human labor. the computer that rings up my groceries gets paid nothing, the computer that answers the phone gets paid nothing. the machine that does my bank transactions gets paid nothing. field work is becoming more and more automated and mechanized. the robots that make and ship 36 billion legos a year get paid nothing. transportation employs 15% of workers and self driving cars now exist. how long until all those jobs are gone? less than 10 years. can you tell me what a human can do that a machine cant do better and/or more importantly cheaper?

          • pete18

            Design and service robots.

          • fun bobby

            nahh we have robots for that now. our most useful economic feature is now our ability to consume. something americans lead the world in.

          • pete18

            Consume robots.

          • fun bobby

            oh, we will. if they ever invent a robot that loves accumulating cheap Chinese goods then we have really had it

  • http://www.facebook.com/anita.paul.5680 Anita Paul

    Ok she blames a lot that is not totally in effect yet. Too much regualations. Isnt’ this the fact that to little regulations crashed the economy.

  • OnpointListener

    I admire Terrance Wise for his candid and honest approach to his dilemma.

    Ms. Roth is a political hack and Fox news darling. How can she sleep at night? Basically, she is advocating that it is ok to require hard working people live in poverty even if such people have to rely on food stamps and public assistance to survive… as McD and others rack in the profits. Sickening.

  • scrabble12

    Go to college and get a better job is the answer everyone keeps saying as if it’s a practical solution. if someone is working 2 to 3 jobs to pay for day to day expenses where are they going to find both the time and money to go to college? Add to this in the US we do not make college loans that are affordable for people at the “middle class” level…how is someone below that level going to afford them? These experts are completely out of touch with reality.

    • creaker

      There’s a lot of kids out there with college degrees and working – and after they pay their school loans they have less left over than if they were working a part time job in fast food. The “practical” solution then is keep at and in 12-15-20 years you’ll dig yourself out.

    • fun bobby

      walmart offers tuition assistance

  • Tamara2012

    I’m shocked to hear the conservative speaker say that is reasonable for the US Govt to subsidize these low, low wages (and thus multimillion dollar corporations) through food stamps and section 8. Wouldn’t it make much more sense to invest these funds in education to help these people break the cycle of poverty?

    • J__o__h__n

      I’d rather pay the actual market value of a product that includes the cost of a fair wage and health insurance than subsidizing corporate profits with my tax money when the costs of their food, health care, and rent are shifted to the government.

      • John Cedar

        I would too.
        But that is not an option.
        Because the jobs and business would not exist without the subsidy.

        Because Clinton allowed astronomical proliferation of price discrimination by distributors, through rebates discounts and allowances, today the break even analysis of small retailers is much higher than it is for large ones. Requiring that they pay more to their employees would be the final nail in what is left of them. Large retailers would respond to increased cost and less competition by raising their prices.

        • jimino

          “Because the jobs and business would not exist without the subsidy.”

          Then in a true free market capitalist economy they shouldn’t exist. If the small guys get destroyed by the big ones, that’s life and those small-business owners can use their entrepreneurial skills to find some other way to make a living.

          Isn’t that your response to these low-paid workers? Shouldn’t it apply to you too?

          • John Cedar

            I am not a free market type of guy.

            But in your scenario you were talking about requiring employees to provide some things, such as healthcare, to employees, which is a long way from free market.

    • John Cedar

      I am shocked to hear you say it is a subsidy to the corporations rather than a subsidy to the employees and to the customers.

  • adks12020

    $7.25/hour at 35 hours per week is $13,195 gross if a person doesn’t take any vacation! That is absolutely ridiculous. No one can live on that. Even $9.50/hour only ends up being $17,290 gross. How can anyone, with or without kids, to be expected to live on that, especially in a city where cost of living is much higher. In New York a 1 bedroom apartment can cost over 1,000/month in a bad neighborhood.
    We, the taxpayers, are subsidizing these corporations. We are allowing them to take advantage of the public support system so they can earn immense profits and it’s absolutely terrible. They know their employees can’t live on those wages but they also know they will receive public assistance. Sickening.

    • brettearle

      If we `audited’ these captains of industry, I think that with a number of them we could ask, what Gordon Gekko, was asked:

      “How many yachts are too many for you?”

      I exaggerate to make a point.

      The moment we consider the issue of `subsidizing these corporations’ , we confront the insipid propaganda from the Right–about anyone protesting profit, especially via redistribution of wealth, to be socialist or communist.

      If voices are louder against such salacious rhetoric, then maybe something will be done, eventually–so that men and women who work their tails off, during the day, don’t have to sleep on a park bench at night.

      Otherwise, what answers do we have?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        “Greed, for want of a better word, is good.”

        The dirty little secret is that greed is said as praise to one strata of folks in this country, and as an insult to the rest of us.

        • John Cedar

          I don’t think many would praise greed.
          It is another matter that people with the “big picture” understand it is a necessary force like gravity.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Yeah, “greed” is necessary, but when little people get it, it’s a character flaw. When big people have it, it’s how they got there.

        • pete18

          Define greed please.

    • Coastghost

      Well, since our Federal and state governments won’t abolish evil fast-food eateries outright, let all sensible citizens from this day forward refuse to patronize ANY and ALL fast-food restaurants: no more cheeseburgers, no more fries, no more goopy buffalo wings, no more buckets of mystery meat, no more flavorless pizzas, no more generic fried seafood. Boy, that’ll show ‘em!!

    • fun bobby

      maybe that’s why we have public assistance

    • Richie

      > We, the taxpayers, are subsidizing these corporations.

      I think this is the important point. In a vacuum I oppose raising (or even having) a minimum wage. But since we have various social safety nets, there is a societal cost in paying people low wages.

      I common problem in this country is the various government programs that hide the true cost of goods and services so we can’t make rational decisions. (Another example is the housing market, that is subsidized by things like Fannie Mae and “too big to fail”, which distorts the true costs of homes.)

  • Mari McAvenia

    The American dream? To paraphrase George Carlin, you have to be asleep to believe it. I agree that many opponents of a living wage for service workers ( that’s most of us nowadays ) are condescending and cruel towards the people serving them. I wonder why these “tough customers” aren’t getting more spittle (or other undesirable bodily fluids) in their faux-shakes. Perhaps they are and they just don’t know it- yet.

  • sickofthechit

    Why don’t we all just start tipping fast food workers to show our solidarity with them? I am only talking quarters and such, but if each of us chips in it will add up. Many of these resturaunts operate on a 30 second per order time scale. At 25 cents per order that is an extra $30 per hour. Now that “rush” of orders is only for short periods, but you can see it could add up to enough to make a difference as in quarters per hour as Mary Ann Harris called for. The managers won’t be able to keep a lid on the money coming in. charles a. bowsher

    • brettearle

      Many Fast-Food services forbid it.

    • StilllHere

      Sounds reasonable.
      Also, feel free to send in an extra check to the government.

      • jefe68

        You should change your name to stillfullofshite.

    • J__o__h__n

      We should ban tipping and pay all restaurant workers a living wage.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Yeah, but that goes into “feature, not a bug” territory. Especially since Reagan made taxes on “imputed tipping” (the amount waitstaff was supposed to be tipped based on grosses) the law.

        If that hasn’t been fixed, waiting for someone from the Teabaggers to do it.

        • John Cedar

          It is called income tax and tips are income.
          There is nothing to fix.
          Unless you are talking about the fact that tips are assumed to be a lesser percentage of grosses than they really are?

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Reagan changed the law so that taxes were levied not on the actual tipping but on the amount of the restaurant’s receipts.

            Waitstaff who were tipped less than X % of a $Y bill still had to pay income tax as if they were tipped X%. They had to pay income tax on money they didn’t receive.

          • amyinnh

            Imputed would be the bug.

          • John Cedar

            I don’t understand what you are saying.
            You keep a daily log and pay on that amount at the end of the year.
            You get to lie and say you averaged 8% without question.
            If you try to cheat more than that you might get scrutinized just like everyone that reports things on their taxes that deviate too much from the norm.

    • John Cedar

      I have 250 employees and most of them are at minimum wage. I do not allow my employees to take tips. If I caught them taking tips I would terminate them.

      • Yar

        Would you ever consider giving them a percentage of sales? What is your turnover? How much does it cost you in human resources to only pay most of them minimum wage?

        • jefe68

          I don’t this guy cares a lot about the people who work for him.

      • Angela

        Why not allow them? Are you proud of the fact that you are a minimum wage employer?

        • jefe68

          He’s the bossman, and don’t forget it.
          I bet this guys a real pill to work for.

        • John Cedar

          I am grateful that I was born with the ability to do what I can. I enjoy accomplishing things that impress myself and I enjoy sharing those accomplishments with people that are close to me. I enjoy bringing goods and services to communities and neighborhoods that were not served. I enjoy hiring people and kids that couldn’t find a job. I don’t like paying adults minimum wage but don’t see any way around that.

          Is that pride?
          What are you proud of?

          • StilllHere

            Thanks for contributing to the economy, unlike so many here.

      • fun bobby

        why?

        • John Cedar

          I would ask:
          Why are cops and elected officals not allowed to take tips?

          • methos1999

            Cops & elected officials are public employees. Are your staff public employees?

            What is the name of your business? – I’ll be sure to avoid it like the plague since you’re clearly a nasty piece of work.

          • fun bobby

            are you saying they don’t? are your minimum wage workers enforcing laws or making budgets or laws?

  • sickofthechit

    Flash strikes are fine and all, but I think it is time we all start doing our part and begin supporting “Flash Boycotts” (copyright charles a. bowsher 2013) at targeted restaurants each week. One week it is McDonalds, next week Wendy’s (fresh hamburgers, yeah!), next week Burger King. Maybe do it the first week of each month. The restaurants being boycotted that week will notice, and the ones not being boycotted will notice an uptick in sales. Or, we could flash mob them with cars in the parking lots and in the drive thrus not ordering anything , just there to express our support. $15 per hour may be a little high, but $7.25 is certainly way to low after two or three years experience. Compromise anyone? charles a. bowsher

    • fun bobby

      I have been boycotting fast food for years. who eats that stuff?

      • StilllHere

        I’ve been boycotting personal jets and yachts. Fight the power!

        • fun bobby

          we should all boycott taxes until the govt stops killing people and wasting our money

  • brettearle

    Bottom line is, for many reasons, it’s harder to `make it’ in the US than it was 30 years ago.

    The system requires significant overhaul–otherwise it’ll only get worse, resulting in societal breakdown within 20 or 30 years.

    There seems to be so many indicators of this: earning power, morale, job stability, incivility, nuclear family disruptions, etc.

    What can be more emblematic of this Breakdown than what we heard on the program today?

    Many people want to better their lives, and are only theoretically capable of doing so–because, by their circumstances, they are trapped.

    • amyinnh

      The labor market is also being flooded. College used to be the answer in a down market. But there’s not point in racking up student loans when there’s no future in using that degree.

      • brettearle

        More and more men and women, who, earlier, could afford to leave the labor market, now cannot.

        So that’s an additional “inundation” factor.

        • amyinnh

          As they continue working for less and less. Another factor, offshoring profits. So, the 401Ks people were counting on have their stock profits hostage offshore. Accountant tells me it’s their “fiduciary” duty to do so. Blindsided. Benefits the wealthy to do so, not those in need of their profitable stock income.

  • Ellen Dibble

    To me, the fast food economy seems handmaiden to the Eisenhower superhighway system. Anyway, they grew up together. Someone mentioned toward the end of the show something about a carbon tax. I forget the context. But it seems to me that without all the fast-food outlets, people might not drive as much, being a great boon for the air we breathe and the climate. So my childhood involved taking along a picnic or at least a thermos if you went any distance from home. It seemed a luxury of the increasingly profit-oriented economy to buy food you could wait a half hour to eat at home. I ask myself, What needs do we have that start-up, low-skill jobs might provide for us all? Possibly fast food is cheap because we won’t pay more, but actually some of us always have considered fast food a luxury, and often not a healthy one. Maybe we need to be weaned off the Big Mac, both those employed there and those partaking.

  • J__o__h__n

    I think it would be an interesting show to have a couple of actual small business owners on to discuss their economic challenges, labor costs, and how much of that is due to regulation and other factors. I don’t mean people from the NFIB, US Chamber of Commerce, or the Heritage Foundation.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Let’s invite both a big chain manager (voice filter required for anonymity), and also the owner of the proverbial “little pizza place” owner,

      The latter is easy to find in any suburb between Portland and Philly.

    • John Cedar

      I am a small/medium size business owner.

      I participate in a lot in share groups and interact with a lot of people in my industry.
      I am often disappointed in the amount of knowledge and insight many small business owners have.
      They tend to reluctantly become business people and have more ability in the product service than in how the bottom line is being affected by their actions and decisions. But they do understand when the government has taken up their time and distracted their focus from their primary interest.

      Currently I have an employee who I have been legally advised that I cannot terminate because he filled out FMLA

      His medical condition is that he is a drug and alcohol addict.

      Last year I had to write a check for 5k to an employee who was verbally told she could come back on light duty with a doctors note. But the note from her doctor ended up saying she could not lift more than two pounds. I do not have any positions that can accommodate that restriction. The state advocated for her and strongly suggested I settle. They would not tell me if I legally should have accommodated her and/or how I should have done so. That took up three days of my time. This type of thing is why I finally registered to vote, in a state where my vote doesn’t count.

      • Markus6

        I doubt you’ll get many responses. You don’t fit the model that businesses are exploiters and people making low wages are the exploited. A surprisingly high percentage of people want to think of themselves as victims.

        • StilllHere

          Especially around here.

  • jimino

    It strikes me that these folks are the current equivalent of the Depression era “Okies”, but at least we have a safety net provided by we the people that was not present then and in fact was implemented in response to those conditions, so they don’t have to uproot and wander in search of a subsistence job. Hopefully the necessary economic adjustment doesn’t require another global depression and violent fight for resources and power that the last crisis of this magnitude did.

  • Beyond_The_Political_Spectrum

    Anyone who argues against raising the minumum wage should try living off of it for a while (and no, I’m not talking about living beyond one’s means…I’m talking about a subsistence living).
    http://beyond-the-political-spectrum.blogspot.com/

    • fun bobby

      if you don’t like your $7 an hour job ask for a raise or get another job. if no other employer will pay you more than $7 maybe that’s what you are worth

      • Beyond_The_Political_Spectrum

        Not-so-great talking points. Let’s break them down shall we? Asking for a raise…really, how often does THAT work in the world outside your head? Get another job..in an economy where former (and experienced/mid-career construction workers, bank officers, and college graduates) are vying for the same jobs…riiiight! Finally, employers don’t pay you “what you’re worth,” they pay you what they feel because its an employer’s market. Hope that detracts from your fantasy thinking.

        • fun bobby

          the squeaky wheel gets the grease. if you are valuable to your employer they will give you a raise. sounds like you are a bad negotiator. I negotiated a bonus last week for myself. there are currently millions of openings. if you are in new england and need a job I can have you working tomorrow( with no skills needed and well over minimum wage). there are plenty of openings. sounds like you have a victim mentality. no one is forcing you to have any job and if you don’t like it quit. if you are so sour on employment why not become self employed? who will you blame for your lack of success then?

          • Beyond_The_Political_Spectrum

            You sound delusional. You really think your personal experiences are reminiscent of others? You need to live outside your thinking. That’s not a “victim mentality,” but a reality mentality.

          • fun bobby

            no its true. you can really have an above minimum wage job. in reality lots of people do. I even know poor uneducated immigrants with poor english language skills who have come to America and are now very successful. lots of them. the fact that you don’t believe its possible is a victims mentality. I would like to know exactly what in my comment caused you to make that ad hominem attack part of your argument?

          • Bryan Yee

            Fun bobby,

            “if you are in new england and need a job I can have you working tomorrow( with no skills needed and well over minimum wage). ”

            Do you know of exactly where these jobs are at? I’m curious and was wondering if you could send me a link to where I could possibly apply to bryanyee7@msn.com.

            Thank you.

            Bryan

          • fun bobby

            cool, I will email you. its really hard to find good workers these days

          • fun bobby

            yes blaming “the system” for lack of success is a victims mentality. you are saying that people cannot make choices that they can and do. all the time. like I said, if you know such an individual let me know I will have them working by tomorrow.
            if what you are saying is true then poor uneducated immigrants who come here should all fail. in many cases they don’t. I liked you condescending ad hominem comment at the end. how does that add to your argument? maybe you should live outside your thinking

  • http://www.facebook.com/russell.ludwick Russell Ludwick

    These companies raking in the profits should just pay more. They can afford it.

    • Sy2502

      No, actually what’s going to happen is that you, the consumer, will pay more.

  • Bluejay2fly

    She went to Oxford her minimum wage’s annual salary would not have covered her book costs. She obviously came from money.

    • brettearle

      Good point.

      And yet she claims, “Baskin-Robbins”.

      Hypocrisy at its Highest.

  • Sy2502

    Fast food is supposed to be cheap. Want to take a wild guess at why it’s cheap? Fast food is often the primary source of food for other people on minimum wage. If the price goes up, what are these folks going to eat?

    • tbphkm33

      That makes zero logical sense. So, after toiling all day making little to no money, fast food workers spend $20 on buying dinner for their kids at a fast food restaurant??? Equivalent of around 50% of the money they made that day.

      • fun bobby

        that’s how it goes. add in a $10 pack of ciggerettes and they are working for gas money

  • orwelllutz

    As science fiction writers point out, humans don’t live long enough to learn any lessons — or perhaps it is our refusal to learn from our elders ……… before the New Deal all Americans suffered from exploitation and insecurity in the workplace. With the right to organize and collectively bargain, our middle class came to life.
    Now, after 40years of dismantling the New Deal, and the embracing of Globalization by ignorant (or subversive) politicians,
    we as Americans have arrived at 1900 again.

    And going back to school, we know, places us in debt without a job to pay for it.

    • StilllHere

      Thanks for the fiction.

      • brettearle

        Your response is Fiction.

        His response is Non-fiction.

    • margbi

      You said it. Remember that most of the working conditions we take for granted today, the 40 hour week, no child labor, safe working environments, vacations, were the result of union action in the 30′s. Why would we want to get rid of those helps – and go back to 1900?

  • StilllHere

    Obama, to OP’s horror probably, was trying to glom onto Amazon’s success yesterday. How much do these pickers get paid? I’d suspect more than fast food workers because the job seems more demanding and perhaps requires more skill.

    • fun bobby

      they get 10 bucks an hour for terrible back breaking work. its basically mindless. they will probably be replaced by machines sooner or later. did you hear the npr piece about a woman who worked in one? once fast food pays $15 they will all quit amazon

  • orwelllutz

    Oh! before I forget. Small business in American is a sorry excuse for an employment driver. They don’t pay a living wage or provide benefits, under-report income, and get to deduct everything. When we speak of entitlements, let us consider the “entitlements” some small business people have because of the hard work, or luck, of an ancestor.

  • tbphkm33

    One way to view this is that in this type of capitalist system (U.S. capitalism) one group lives off the misery of a larger sub-group. In a way like a pyramid, with the 1% at the top. The 1% only exists parasitically off the toil of the groups below them — and if you do not think a hired CEO, not the inventor or business entrepreneur, making several hundred million dollars per year is parasitic, then you are incapable of critical thinking.

    You get to the middle class, the pyramid is more evident, in how they exist off the toil of the working poor – lest you fool yourself, the middle class is the class to feasts on cheap fast food, the poor cannot afford even fast food.

    This is another structural crisis facing the U.S., something has to be done. For the first half of U.S. history there was open slavery, since then we have had various forms of economic slavery.

    One avenue is increased development of public-private partnerships. Akin to the German model of apprenticeship. Some community colleges have made great strides in this realm.

    • fun bobby

      except slaves had job security, guaranteed housing, free healthcare and food security.

      • jefe68

        I hope this statement is an attempt at sarcasm.
        Because if it’s not you have some serious issues buddy. The amount of things wrong with this comment are off the charts.

        • fun bobby

          oh what’s untrue?

    • pete18

      That’s one way to look at it, but it’s an inaccurate way. People move around within the income groups and always have. It is a myth, usually propagated by those who decry capitalism and wealth that there are static categories of income with one group “living off the misery of the other.”

      An ongoing University of Michigan study about income dynamics which found that “most of the working people who were in the bottom 20 percent of income earners in 1975 were also in the top 40 percent at some point
      by 1991. Only 5 percent of those in the bottom quintile in 1975 were still there in 1991, while 29 percent of them were now in the top quintile.”

      http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/opinion/sowell-wealth-inequality-a-numbers-game/article_66caa4d6-0a5c-11e1-b171-001cc4c002e0.html

      http://psidonline.isr.umich.edu/Studies.aspx

      This data was echoed by a study by the US treasury covering the periods from 1996 to 2005, which found:

      • There was considerable income mobility of individuals
      in the U.S. economy during the 1996 through 2005 period as over half of taxpayers moved to a different income quintile over this period.

      • Roughly half of taxpayers who began in
      the bottom income quintile in 1996 moved
      up to a higher income group by 2005.

      • Among those with the very highest
      incomes in 1996 – the top 1/100 of 1 percent –
      only 25 percent remained in this group
      in 2005. Moreover, the median real income
      of these taxpayers declined over this
      period.

      •The degree of mobility among income
      groups is unchanged from the prior decade
      (1987 through 1996).”

      http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/tax-policy/Documents/incomemobilitystudy03-08revise.pdf

  • Angela

    2 thoughts come to mind. First, If these jobs are MEANT to serve as first jobs for teens, etc., and that’s why we need them and why they should be minimum wage, perhaps we should re-open the agricultural labor market back up to child and teen labor. My first jobs were in the fields. Can think of a million problems this could solve.
    Second, there is an elephant in the room. I cringed for Terrance when it was said that he has three daughters. I’m so sorry, but why would you have children, any children, when you can’t support yourself?
    The smartest thing I did as a poor person was to not have kids.

    • fun bobby

      you can go work in a field if you want.

      • Angela

        I experienced field work as a very healthy type of work. I love being outdoors and active. I would very much rather go work in a field than sit in a store selling cheap stuff, or in a restaurant selling unhealthy food, half of which gets thrown out. Physical labor can have a lot of dignity to it.

        • fun bobby

          absolutely, so what’s stopping you

        • Birdwatcher1

          That is great. I agree. As long as your field job offers you health insurance (or you can afford it) and you have food and shelter, it sounds like a plan.

    • tbphkm33

      Only today there is an article out about the billions family planning saves the U.S. per year, yet, the Nopublican’s on a state and federal level are targeting these programs for elimination. Access to family planning and contraception help individuals as well as society, even resulting in less abortions of unplanned pregnancies.

      • fun bobby

        but then how will we build a strong underclass?

      • Angela

        I hope to heck everyone who wants to parent can do so and I don’t particularly believe that being financially capable means affording new clothes and a college education for junior. But there has to be SOME thought about provision before one goes ahead.

      • John Cedar

        For people not paying attention:

        Family planning means “abortion”
        Access-to means “free”

        The flaw with the study is assuming that people would not pay for their own abortions and birth control if tax payers did not do it for them.

        • tbphkm33

          NO, family planning means exactly that – PLANNING. Providing sex education, contraception and giving people the power to control when they want to have children.

          Take your religious and/or conservative propaganda elsewhere.

          A number of news outlets are reporting it today, here is one:
          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/30/family-planning-savings_n_3678531.html

          • HonestDebate1

            People already have the power to control when they have children.

        • VinceD2

          Well if you are a budget hawk you should realize that an abortion is much less expensive thah an unwanted kid.

          If you are religion hawk, then please mind your own.

        • Birdwatcher1

          So far off base you cannot even see the base. Family planning means access (not always free) to contraception, and sex education (sorely needed in young people). Wow, major chip on that Republican shoulder, eh?

  • David

    The welfare benefits of underpaid employees should be charged back to the employer. If companies are not charging enough for their products and services to make it without the implicit government subsidy of welfare for their workers, then they need to raise prices or go out of business.

    • fun bobby

      but how will you define underpaid?

    • tbphkm33

      Too often it is not a question of not charging enough for a product or service, but that business sees labor cost savings as an important revenue stream. It comes about from the short-term planning that plagues the U.S. business world. Make a buck today, ignore tomorrow’s repercussions. Walmart and Amazon are profitable behemoths, but who also have growing legions of consumers who refuse to buy from them.

      • fun bobby

        I love buying from both

        • StilllHere

          As do I, I especially appreciate the self-checkout.

          • VinceD2

            And you just fired a cashier.

          • fun bobby

            I am sensing dishonesty, walmart does not offer selfcheckout

    • John Cedar

      Naw…bill it back to the customers…they are the ones that got the cheaper price or the good/service in a location that could not support the overhead due to volume.

      Or simply stop the welfare.
      I know lots of people that go camping with no running water, roof over head, cell phone coverage or electric for weeks on end. Why do we think a living wage should afford someone all those luxuries?

  • fun bobby

    so what should we do with the uneducated?

  • fun bobby

    if one wishes to have a career and works hard there are plenty of opportunities in the fast food industry. if you want to flip burgers and never be responsible then you will not advance. a manager at mcdonalds makes very good money and has great benefits

  • fun bobby

    got to be a few jobs between CEO and line cook

  • Greg Meyer

    The average middle-class American is subsidizing these large corporations and franchise owners by providing services to the working poor. It is an absurd notion to just charge more for a Big Mac – without facing the specter of individual and corporate greed. How reasonable is it that the owners makes 100 times the salaries of their workers while the American public makes up for the social costs of this inequality.

  • Christine

    It tore me up listening to this interview with the 64-yr old minimum wage worker today. Living in Canada, I grew up with minimum wage jobs to start, and understand the need for setting a bar with wage. The only difference is that we don’t have to think about paying for medical insurance out of our wages as we have universal health care coverage regardless of income. There is fast food in all industrialized countries with minimum wage. The only difference is that in the US you have to worry about your health and medicare on top of a very low wage for physically demanding work. I just can’t support any sort of fast food restaurant that is run by corporate greed.

  • andic_epipedon

    I rarely visited corporate fast food chains until I lost my job and was unable to afford better restaurants. I now work at a job that is 3 dollars an hour over minimum wage and less than 40 hours a week and I have a college education and plenty of experience. Most customers I see in fast food chains are poor themselves. If I seem like I don’t care about the employees at fast food chains it’s because I feel like I’m in the same boat they are. I don’t have a problem with fast food workers protesting, because if they succeed then invariably there will be a shakeup in wages in all sectors or I will be working at McDonald’s with my college degree. It may sound callous, but when I made 70,000 a year I was very pro $15 dollar an hour minimum wage. I believe in unions and workers rights, but I’m fighting for my life right now.

    • Eric Herot

      Just out of curiosity, and if you don’t mind my asking: What is your degree in, what is your experience in, and what part of the country do you live in?

      I would argue that one of the biggest policy problems we have right now as a country is that we’re doing a really bad job giving workers the means to change fields when their work experience becomes obsolete. This isn’t that hard to do (and I think most people would put in the effort) but for very shortsighted reasons, we aren’t willing to pay for it.

      Having someone previously making $70k a year now working minimum wage at a dead-end job is a huge waste of talent and resources, and it will sink our economy if we don’t do anything about it.

      • andic_epipedon

        I am a soil scientist. I worked in the government sector on environmental issues. I live in Portland, Oregon. I have several translatable skills that are often more impressive than the people I am competing against. The people with direct experience are getting the job. Either that or people are afraid of my resume and give me the polite overqualified vibe. I have not been able to break into new fields at the entry level because as the rejection letters state, “my resume is impressive” and I am not “what we are looking for”.

  • StilllHere

    Wage growth is a function of inflation and economic growth, both of which have been hard to come by, so it’s no surprise we haven’t seen my wage growth.

  • http://belacqui.tumblr.com/ Belacqui

    Fast-food industry, whose primary selling point is probably not in people but in its low production cost and pricing, is not immune from the trend of replacing more and more of its low-skilled workers with automated processes. I read this morning on Businessweek that entrepreneurs are already experimenting with fully automated barista machines:

    Baristas, Meet the Robot That Wants Your Job – Businessweek
    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-31/baristas-meet-the-robot-that-wants-your-job

    The striking workers really have a lot going against them.

    It’s always heart-wrenching to hear people, with their ghastly lack of imagination about situations and circumstances people could find themselves bound to, still nag about personal responsibility and options they could choose ‘were they smart enough’.

    • Eric Herot

      This is one of the reasons why the only real solution to the problem being discussed on today’s show is to get people a decent college education so that they can be designing and inventing the machines instead of just losing their jobs to one.

      • andic_epipedon

        I have a college education and experience. The answer is not college. The establishment just wants us all to go to college so they don’t have to deal with us. I fear the only solution is to move to foreign countries because the standard of living is going down one way or another due to globalization.

        • Eric Herot

          The standard of living is not going down for everyone. Certainly how well you do is affected a lot by what degree you get, but consider that access to a college education is one of the main advantages that the United States and most Western countries has over countries like India and China. In fact our colleges are so much better that wealthy people in those countries still mostly come here to go to school.

          One thing is true: Not all degrees are created equal. English majors and teachers are having a hard time finding work because our government is cutting back on research grants and public school spending (at the local level), but in engineering and technology, there are literally twice as many open jobs as there are applicants (if not more). More people moving to China and India would make the problem worse, not better (and lets face it: there’s a reason Americans aren’t lining up at the borders of those countries). FREE College is absolutely the answer (debt is arguably nearly as crippling as not having a degree in the first place), but it has to be the right college.

          • andic_epipedon

            The standard of living is going down for 90% of us. Certainly having my student loan debt forgiven would help. Not all of us are gifted in engineering. Believe me. I’ve tried. And it is true you don’t want a degree in English. But degrees that were solid ten years ago are no longer solid today.

  • AstroManUS

    Welcome to the future, ladies and gentlemen.
    This is America with no bubbles, globalized, and no answer to the question: When will it get better? We have leveled off with the rest of the world.
    By the way, what happened to the download option?
    I used it quite a bit.

  • StilllHere

    Congrats! Great story, too often overlooked. Thanks for sharing.

  • VinceD2

    Fast food jobs were never intended to be career jobs! They used to be done by high school and college students for yes, minimum wage. VERY few “adults” worked these jobs historically. But now these jobs are expected to pay a living wage for a family?

    Some of you are saying “Move on to a better job you lazy bum!” ok, But our wonderful business “leaders” have moved every job they could off shore. And our wonderful government, at business’s behest, have allowed and encouraged all of this! So where are these jobs? China, India, Mexico, etc.

    As for the SEIU: THEY have been campaigning for amnesty for illegals and vastly increased immigration so there will be even more workers competing for these non-existent jobs.

    Tom Ashcroft: You and NPR have been shilling for vastly increasing immigration, and in effect helping depress wages. SHAME ON YOU!

    So low wage workers, please do unite!

    Unite against moving jobs to foreign lands.

    Unite against amnesty for illegals and increased immigration!

    Unite against corporate greed!
    Unite against the shills for wage depression, the SEIU and NPR are near the top of that list!

    • Eric Herot

      Getting a job is *considerably* easier if you have a college degree and can afford to move where the jobs are. Minimum wages *should* be raised so that companies like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart are not able to lean on Medicare and food stamps in order for their employees to make ends meet, but that isn’t really the solution here (nor is cutting off immigration, which only serves to cut off one of the few avenues of growth for our economy). The solution is free (or extremely cheap) college education for all and enough of a financial safety net to give workers the means to move to where the jobs are (including food stamps, but also better transportation, free health care, etc).

      • VinceD2

        Even for grads the job market is tough. A degree is no guarantee of a job any more. and many degree holders have lost jobs through no fault of their own.

        Immigration in reasonable numbers and in accordance with the skills needed is a good thing. Excessive immigration, illegal immigration, and fraudulent H1B visas lead to wage depression and increased unemployment. Increased numbers are unsustainable and drive down the GDP PER CAPITA, which is the number we should be looking at.

        Yes, college costs are crazy! Obamacare doesn’t’ cut it, we need single payer. and yes our transportation system is awful. Rail is needed but it must be made to work.

        • Eric Herot

          A degree is not a guarantee of a job in a recession, but it helps. And it’s definitely one of the only ways out of a life of minimum wage jobs recession or no.

          If you could show me an economist NOT part of a conservative think tank that agrees with your assessment of immigration’s effect on the economy, perhaps I would agree with you. My reading of the research is that almost any influx of people is ultimately helpful to an economy as long as they are able to work, skilled or not. Obviously skilled is better, but even unskilled workers are good for the economy.

          And while single payer would be better, as with any government program, I refuse to make the perfect the enemy of the good. I’ll take what I can get. It’s definitely an improvement.

          • VinceD2

            The CBO report on the immigration bill admits that the bill will cause wage depression and raise unemployment. It’s simple supply and demand.

            Actually it is the liberals who should be opposing the bill on employment and environmental grounds.

            Again, more people may increase the total economy, but not the per capita economy. Or you might ask whose economy excessive workers benefits. The business owners have more customers, and more potential employees so it benefits the, But what about the working class? Increased competition for jobs and products = a lowered standard of living.

          • Eric Herot

            “Excessive workers” is a concept made up by xenophobic, conservative lawmakers to drum up fears about “the other” in the minds of their constituents. The business owners have more customers, and more potential employees, so it benefits *everyone who works there*. Yes, it probably benefits the business owner more (because of our irrational corporate pay structure and wealth-favoring tax system), but businesses having more customers is just about the best thing that working class people can hope for. After all it’s the lack of customers during the recession that has resulted in all of these layoffs.

            And the people coming in from south of the border, lets be clear, are not competing with “the working class” in America. They are generally *very* low skill and are mainly competing with the near-poverty workers and entry level non-college-educated works at the very bottom of the wage totem pole.

            Also, and this is being far too easily forgotten here, mainly what this bill changes it that it gives legal status to PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY HERE. In other words, these people are already working all of the low skill jobs they’re going to work! They aren’t going to take any additional jobs away! All this will do is make it harder for employers to take advantage of these workers by giving them legal status, which will almost certainly mean better (read: more competitive) pay. And this will mean higher pay for everyone, foreign born or domestic, because the below-minimum-wage worker that food service businesses have been using to undercut the jobs of legal citizens will suddenly be much more willing to take them to court for back pay.

          • VinceD2

            OK, you now you are playing the race card. Let me assure you that I am neither xenophobic or conservative. Nice try but no sale.

            Obviously you don’t understand supply and demand, and/or you assume that an economy can grow infinitely. More workers competing for jobs = lower wages, more consumers competing for goods = higher prices. Good for business? Perhaps. Bad for workers for sure!

            The illegal aliens certainly are taking decent jobs! Many are in construction, light manufacturing, landscaping etc. Only 5% are doing farm work.

            Yes, they are “already here”, 7 million of them are taking jobs that Americans would very much like to have, jobs that used to pay a decent wage.

            In 1986 we were promised that our laws would be enforced from that point forward, there would be no more illegal migration. We all know how that worked out. The Senate bill is full of escape clauses that will prevent enforcement in the future. The next wave of illegals are packing as we speak.

            It is obvious that you are merely parroting the open borders nonsense without bothering to think about it first. Please THINK about the things you are writing as you are VERY misinformed.

          • Eric Herot

            Ok, I’m hoping that maybe if I can explain this economic principle clearly and precisely enough, you will believe me that I am not just parroting what I hear from the “open borders” people (i.e. most impartial economists).

            It’s true that immigrants work in many sectors besides farming (including all of the ones you mentioned and many more), but in all of those sectors, they take the jobs with the least required work experience. But that actually doesn’t much matter if you consider that *usually* people consider it to be a good thing if workers with more experience move into their state. Do you think that South Carolina is complaining about the massive influx of auto workers from Michigan moving to their state? No! In fact all of the states in the south are tripping over each other to get those people to move to *their* state. Explain to me how a Michigan auto worker is better for your economy than a Mexican immigrant.

            So lets dissect your little equation and carry it forward to its logical conclusion:

            More workers competing for jobs = lower wages (yes, at first, but only briefly until those workers manage to amass enough wealth that they can start borrowing to buy houses or start their own businesses), more consumers competing for goods = higher prices. So it’s important to consider what factors go into a rising price. First, any business that has competition in its industry (which is MOST businesses) cannot simply raise prices, or it will lose customers even in a growing economy. The rules are a little different if you’re talking about a commodity like oil (something which has no doubt been getting more expensive), the price goes up because the supply is limited by the rate that we can extract it from the ground and refine it, so none of your competitors can get it any cheaper than you can. But this rule is not true for manufactured goods and services (unless most of their cost comes from one of those commodities). Take, for example, cars. Far fewer people are buying cars now than before 2008, but the price of the average car hasn’t gone down at all. The reason? The cost of a car is mostly labor (not only to put the car together, but to assemble all of its component parts). When fewer people buy cars, we lay off manufacturing workers. The cost of the car remains the same, but now fewer people have jobs. And similarly when more people buy cars (or landscaping services, computer chips, washing machines or any of the other things we still build in the
            US), most businesses opt to hire more workers so that they can match supply with demand (as long as there is competition, businesses are generally NOT free to raise prices as demand climbs).

            I have a hard time believing people who argue that “more workers” can somehow be bad with the economy because there is ALWAYS a double standard at play: If those workers are our own children or immigrants from wealthy countries, then it’s overwhelmingly a good thing, but if they’re the children of immigrants from poorer countries, then we must keep them out at any cost. But the laws of economics don’t work differently for poorer people entering the labor force (hence why we think people should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps), so this line of thinking can’t be based on good economics. It must be based on something else. I think racism is among those things, but also poor understandings of economic laws, and Republican politicians believing (correctly) that newly minted citizens are not likely to vote for them.

            In a sense, countries are a lot like businesses: It’s best if lots of rich people want what you’re offering, but all demand is good for employment (as businesses grow to meet demand, that inevitably means hiring people), even if your customers are mostly poor.

          • VinceD2

            1) 95% of illegals are not farm workers, That may be the one sector where a guest worker program makes sense due to the transient nature of the work. But we already have the H1A visas.

            Yes, the Southern states want well paid auto workers who will pay taxes and contribute. Most illegals are very low wage/skill and/or work under the radar. They are tax consumers to put i in Romney’s terms. Plus they are displacing American workers in many jobs. Of course you don’t accept this, but i remember when the meat packing plants got raided, Americans showed up the next day to apply for those jobs.

            You ASSume that I would welcome an invasion of immigrants from wealthy countries, you of course are again wrong. We do not need more people at ANY skill level at this time. We should have a near moratorium on immigration with the current unemployment levels. Instead the Senate wants to open the flood gates.

            What we need to do is bring up the level of the people already here, that means tightening the job market before allowing immigration. Immigration is like water, good in the right quantity. Too much is too much.

            Perhaps your race card applies to some, I can assure that is not where I am coming from. Noce try though.

          • Eric Herot

            You’ve sort of contradicted yourself here.

            Why is a skilled worker who is “well paid … will pay taxes and contribute” any different if they’re coming from Michigan or China?

            You keep forgetting the key fact here, which is that the *main* reason illegal immigrants are given preferential treatment for these jobs is that their lack of documentation makes them easy for businesses to exploit. If we made it easy for immigrants to gain status, that would take away this incentive. Tell me how this would be bad for American workers.

            And you’re still assuming that employment is a zero-sum game without offering a refutation to that argument. New workers, whether they are foreign or domestic born, tend to buy things. This drives up demand. Businesses hire workers to meet demand, thus creating jobs. Because of this thing called “leverage” wherein businesses borrow money in anticipation of future growth (and build factories, develop new technologies, etc.), which requires them to hire more workers *before* people have actually bought the stuff. This, again, means jobs. Immigration creates demand, which is a great thing to have during a recession.

            And lastly, lets not forget that most of Mitt Romney’s “takers” are actually elderly American Citizens, and the number of those is going up faster than the birth rate. This means that immigration is the *only* reason the US workforce is still growing faster than the retirement rate. Many other countries which actually DO have veritable moratoriums on immigration (such as Japan) have a *real problem* with this, and are actually considering relaxing fifty years of isolationist immigration policy in a desperate effort to reverse the trend.

            Any anyway, “takers” doesn’t mean someone’s net contribution to the economy is negative. It means their net contribution to the *tax system* is negative. That’s because we made a conscious decision to exempt people at the bottom of the income ladder from the tax system as a way to give them a better chance of moving up in the world. But because they still need a place to live, transportation, a phone, food, etc., they still provide demand, just like any other worker, so their net contribution to the economy is absolutely positive.

          • VinceD2

            We already have an ample supply of workers at ALL skill levels, does it not make sense to see they they have opportunities? Or would you prefer to flood the workforce with immigrants and give them preference. There is no contradiction here at all. Yes, a skilled worker will contribute, but if an immigrant skilled workers knocks an American out of a job, of is foreign workers are used to depress wages then it’s no good. And yes, that’s EXACTLY what has been doen with H1B visas.

            “If we made it easy for immigrants to gain status, that would take away
            this incentive. Tell me how this would be bad for American workers.”

            Because we flood the legal workforce with 11? 20? 30? million newly legal workers, and nothing is done to prevent the next wave of illegals from coming. The Senate bill has no real enforcement, it’s all escape-claused out of ever being reality.

            Never said the economy was a zero sum game. It’s not an infinite sum game either. Stop thinking of raw GDP, start thinking GDP PER CAPITA. Unfortunately economists and businessmen tend to think only of GDP, and that is what THEIR income is linked to. More total business = more income for them. But for the working class, that linkage is far from accurate.

            So do you want the problems of overpopulation, or adapting to a lower population? I’ll take the latter. Immigration in sustainable numbers is a good thing, Watch this:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muw22wTePqQ&list=TLwMlzhc_Hmn4

            So which world do you want to leave for future generations?

            Strongly disagree about low income folks contributing. They take more from the economy than they contribute. They are spending money that they do not earn, consuming more than they produce. Now before anyone crucifies me for that statement please read on, It’s not necessarily their fault that they are in this situation, especially when opportunities are limited as they are now. The smart move is to assure that all who are here have opportunities before allowing more people in.

            And bringing in or legalizing people who are low skilled and disrespectful of our laws is completely insane. There are many millions who want to come here and are willing to apply, wait and do so legally. Amnesty is a slap in the face to them.

    • Eric Herot

      And I think it’s pretty weird to argue that the SEIU is to blame for wage stagnation at McDonald’s, whose workforce is almost entirely NOT unionized.

      Lets keep in mind that union membership has declined over the last 50 years at almost EXACTLY the same rate as wages. Anyone who tells you that labor unions cause workers to get paid less or get fewer benefits is just a shill for a big corporations (or someone who just can’t do math).

      • VinceD2

        SEIU is pushing for wage stagnation in general through their support for the Senate immigration bill.

        Believe me, I’m all for unions, as long as they work for their members. Unfortunately union leadership has been working for themselves lately.

        • Eric Herot

          Immigration does not cause wage stagnation. That is one of the most widely refuted claims in all of economics. Some say it may cause a minor reduction at the very *bottom* of the pay scale (i.e. McDonald’s), but it more than makes up for it in help for everyone else.

          And please explain to me how backing immigration reform is in any way “working for themselves” on the part of the SEIU. How would that personally benefit SEIU union leadership at the expense of the workrs?

          • VinceD2

            Really? Ask a construction worker in the SW USA what the illegal workforce has done to his income. LOL, keep drinking that Kool-Aid! Supply and demand.

            It baffles me how a union can argue for immigration surrender (The Senate bill is anything but reform!) I suspect they see more unionizable workers which would boost their membership and salaries. There is no doubt that adding an excess of workers will undercut wages, the CBO report admits this.

          • Eric Herot

            Construction workers in the SW are suffering right now because there is a housing bust. There’s really no disputing the cause of that. It definitely wasn’t cheap labor. But to the extent that immigrants DO affect the wages at the bottom end, you must consider that *illegal* immigrants, with no ability to retaliate against an employer who fails to pay them properly for their work, are definitely going to command lower average wages than they were if they were given legal status (though, for example, a path to citizenship).

            And the laws of “supply and demand” don’t apply to the labor market because workers are not a commodity. The money you pay them can be used to apply for a loan to buy a house or invest in a business, and that activity creates more jobs.

            And I strongly suggest that you take a look at the FactCheck.org article about that CBO report, because what Republican Senators are going around saying about it is quite a tall tale. The CBO basically said that the main “wage depression” caused by the bill is actually just a statistical anomaly caused by the fact that undocumented workers (whose wages don’t currently count towards the average) once given a path to citizenship, would now have their wages included in the average, thus driving down the overall numbers, while having almost no effect on, as they put it, “current American workers.” And in the long term (after ten years or so), they found that it would actually increase wages. Now who’s drinking the Kool-Aid?

  • Sean

    So, EVERY job in the world is supposed to provide a livable wage for a family of four? What entitles you to that? The sole fact that you are working? I don’t think so.

    I worked in fast food during high school. After college, I worked for a newspaper that paid me just over minimum wage. I was poor and hungry and just barely paid the rent. Not once EVER did I think I was entitled to a better salary. Not once EVER did I even think about starting a family during that time. I knew that my situation was temporary……and it was. I moved on to bigger and better things.

    Is fast food work hard work? Yes, it is. But could a majority of the population do it? Yes……and that’s why it’s a low-paying job. Simple market economics.

    Should the teenager who stamps people’s hands at my local pool earn a salary to support a family? Or is that simply an entry-level job that will hopefully (like me) encourage him to succeed as I did?

    Ridiculous.

    • zeteotheos

      What’s not ridiculous is when software and robotics make most people unable to earn a living wage. When creating value in the economy requires an Einstein brain, what are most people to do? Those with family wealth and those blessed with genius could simply tell the “lazy” people to try harder and pull themselves up, but then I suppose half would know better.

      • fun bobby

        have you ever read player piano?

      • Sean

        I was replaced at the
        newspaper job I mentioned by a machine (specifically, the internet). I saw the writing on the wall and I
        quit. Anyway, until Judgment Day and The
        Rise of the Machines, there are still plenty of jobs out there for humans.

        Listen carefully to Terrance’s answers when
        Ashbrook asks him why he had children given his low salary or why he won’t look
        for another job. He stutters and
        stammers. Why? Because he doesn’t have an answer. It’s easier to sit in a crappy situation and
        complain than it is to get out there and hustle and look for something new.

        • andic_epipedon

          Fast food workers aren’t known for being smart. The reason the smart ones can’t get out of fast food anymore is because those of us with college educations have been pushed down the ladder. I did everything right and I still can’t afford children. What does that say about our society?

          • StilllHere

            It’s hard to know if you are the rule or the exception.

      • fun bobby

        I have thought a lot about this and I think that being a plumber will be valuable for quite a while. I could think of some ways robots could assist a plumber but it would be very difficult to make a robot to replace them. that’s all I have come up with so far

    • BenGjones

      It’s not a free market if there are big conglomerates pushing their thumbs down on it. To have this utopian ideal of a free market where everybody is paid what theyre actually worth you’d need companies to all be of roughly the same small size and all forced to genuinely compete. At the moment they’re Dole Fruit and we’re the bananas.

  • Birdwatcher1

    Tom Ashbrook, you HAVE to stop telling people that being a home health worker, or a low-level nurse will be a step up and will help them pay their bills better than a fast food job. Home health workers and aides in nursing homes work pretty hard, physically, and make lousy money, often times barely above (if at all) minimum wage.

  • digitlburn

    The fast food industry, any time that anyone suggests paying workers more, argues that there would be less demand and thus less jobs. Turning that logic on it’s head, if you paid workers more, wouldn’t there be more people out there able to buy their products, and thus a need for MORE jobs? Nobody ever takes that into account.

    As for the female guest…she serves up the normal Republican tripe of “oh, you need to better yourself and get more education, and these jobs are part-time, and it’s Obama’s fault because of the ACA, and blah, blah, blah…” Typical Republican propaganda, that ME AND MINE have educations and good jobs because we worked hard, and everybody that can’t earn a respectable wage is lazy and shiftless. I’m sure she counts herself as a Christian…and I’m sure she’s going to be surprised when the day of reckoning comes. Read Matthew 25:31-40

  • 65noname

    perhaps roth’s most dishonest comment was that she supports government benefits such as food stamps for low wage employees. Her employer, the manhattan institute, opposes ALL government subsidies, espically food stamps. And when they disengously sometimes claim that they only want to reform the program by cutting it, they are referring to cutting working people off the program.

    I have to wonder why the announcer doesn’t ask her at those moments if the manhattan institue is going to reverse its opposition to programs such as food stamps.

  • zeteotheos

    Technological advancement has reduced the value of simple labor. It is very possible that future jobs will increasingly require intellectual abilities that will make much of the population virtually unemployable.

    • fun bobby

      nahh they will make the robots easy to program

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cacimbo-Smith/1142235495 Cacimbo Smith

    Faux strike. Most of these protesters are not fast food employees – merely paid hacks. Not even one store was closed when workers worked off.

  • zeteotheos

    Another route is to make cheaper living more accessible. What about an X Prize for the development of an apartment that can be rented for $100/month. http://100dollarapartment.wikia.com/wiki/Creating_the_$100_Apartment_Wiki

  • zeteotheos

    If we consider the end point: How should an economy be centered when individuals have no capacity to produce? When robots and software can do everything cheaper and better than humans, how should economic decisions be made? When no one can earn a wage (not considering investment income) do we necessarily find ourselves in a socialist, communistic system?

    The investment income concept is not mute as this reminds us that even when this economy arrives, many will still have income. Their wealth will be able to generate more wealth. Their ownership of capital (essentially robots and software) will be able to produce value assigned to their name.

    • fun bobby

      what will they need us for? i am pretty sure the Japanese will have a working sexbot soon enough

    • HonestDebate1

      That’s why it is so essential to have a system of government that recognizes our naturally endowed rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that lets us dream and innovate to move humanity forward as best we can with the meager 70, 80, 90+ tops years we are blessed with. And be aware we are all, whatever your age, lucky to have made it this far.

      Passionate pursuit of excellence, sideways thinking outside of the box and the freedom to be curious enabled by a marketplace that rewards it cannot be programmed. Robots can’t do that.

  • Mark

    Get a gun a shoot rich people until they yield.

    Seriously! Look through the history of America and the American-style free market and you’ll see it has always devolved into violence. The only reason America didn’t collapse 100 years ago was because the government intervened with socialism to prevent a revolution. The only reason it functioned 200 years ago was because the rich held the poor as slaves at gun- and knife-point. Simply put: if the goal of the free market is to maximize one’s personal income at any cost to others, subject only to legal bounds where the law is written by the rich, then the future will be like the past: Pinkertons bashing workers heads, independent farms burned to the ground, company towns, and lynchings.

    There are two ways out of this folks:

    1. Socialism: the government constantly intervenes to balance the free market. Wages and taxes keep rising. Living standards increase, the gap between rich and poor falls, but innovation suffers and the economy slows. If we’re lucky, we end up like Sweden; not so lucky, France.

    2. Genuine free markets: Eliminate corporations entirely and return to 100% liability for everyone. Innovate and get rich, but screw up and lose everything. Freedom for everyone, but the responsibility that goes with it.

    Doing what we’re doing: striving to give the rich freedom while protecting them from liability, will only lead us to oblivion. The revolution will not be televised…it will be live on YouTube.

    • VinceD2

      Side note, Any correlation to the gun control noise?

      • Mark

        Historically? No idea.

        With the right spin, we can sell any idea, even a self-destructive one. The powerful have sold the ideas of: gun control (which only protects the powerful), longer terms for crimes with handguns (which only creates a market for new handguns), and drug use criminalization (which creates a black market and incentivizes violence).

        A real solution? We don’t need to end the Stand Your Ground Laws, we need to arm Black people. We CAN’T get rid of guns without amending the constitution, so the best response is to require everyone to be trained in using and carry a weapon in plain sight (holstered) at all times in public places (outside churches, hospitals, and schools). Arm enough Blacks and the problems with the White peckerheads take care of themselves. Rape? Less of a problem when every woman carries a pistol and regularly practices using it.

        Don’t like the gun insanity? Move to a country where they don’t embed such craziness in the constitution! All of UK, for example.

        • VinceD2

          Remove the racism and I agree with you. Unarmed people are easier victims no douvt.

          But “White peckerheads”?

        • StilllHere

          Judging by the violence, they already are armed.

  • JGC

    Diane Furchtgott-Roth noted that the striking fast-food workers were “organized” as if that would diminish their project because an establishment was helping them to forward their concerns. Who pays Ms. Furchtgott-Roth’s contract? Could it be an organized concern, like the Manhattan Institute?

  • BenGjones

    Tom Ashbrook was pushing the ‘get ANOTHER job(on top of the two you already have)’ when his job mostly consists of talking into a microphone on the radio. I know it’s unfair to criticise somebody who has showed a lot of compassion in the past, but his naivety about the job situation had me shouting at the radio whilst I was working.

    • lazlo

      I have great respect for Tom Ashbrook. However you have a point about his repeated, “Why not get another job,” jabs. It’s really tough out there for so many otherwise hard working people. But in the case of his guest, the fact that he’s permitted himself to remain at the same Burger King job for 8 years; not as a manger, not with long-term plans of taking over or starting his own franchise, but as an employee seemingly content with flipping burgers. I found this to be a real head scratcher. The wages these fast food places pay is shameful. And they should raise the price of burgers a few cents if it will help their employees. But someone who willingly chooses to stay at such a low paying job while starting a family on top of that, has to take some ownership for the economic hardships they face.

    • Emily4HL

      I think it was a rhetorical technique that didn’t quite work. I think he wanted to point out how difficult it is to get another job by using the refrain that many others express.

      That said, Diane Rhem’s show on the same subject at the same time (at least in Boston) was better.

  • emily

    Well one thing is clear if you are a fast-food worker than it indicates you are in the lowest economic sector and therefore there is no opportunity available because you as a worker add very little value to the economy. It’s baffling to me how workers in unskilled labor market somehow believe that they can rise to a higher position and make more money, et cetera.

    Secondly any fast-food worker should recognize that he or she is being paid for his value. Pushing keys on a register, flipping hamburgers,washing dishes requires absolutely no intelligence whatsoever. It requires no skills, no education. The workers are more of necessities to a firm, units of labor which enable a product to be sold opposed to employees say an engineer or executive that adds value to the firm by enhancing a company’s product’s profits. Therefore why would an employer pay a fast-food worker more? They would be wasting their money and they would receive nothing in return.

    Another problem is that fast food restaurants make nominal profits, typically 5 percent or less. A primary reason is that food industry profits are low but also because the products they sell must be kept low because the menu items sold at fast food resturants are to other poor people. So it’s poor customer base prevents it from raising prices to increase profits and stagnates wages.

    Finally it’s really pathetic to see these people protesting, it’s pathetic because they’re weak and stupid and have to cry like little children for others to help them. Why should we help them? They have had a pletheroa of opportunities to improve their live yet they chose to apply the least iniatiive, they applied the least effort to improve it and they without being forced chose to work minimum wage jobs where as they could have independently developed skills, attended college, learned a talent or so on. These people who are in the lowest class represent those who are the least, those who are the most lacking in all qualities.

    The lowest class is an immense burdern on our country in terms of welfare, social security, health insurance, economic development programs, charity and so on, they cost us in sum economic spending nearly a trillion dollars a year and they add noting to the economy. The majority of crime are commited by the lower class, majority of drug use, and nearly all social problems are caused by lower class people. What compels them to do it? No god, no government, no law forces them to do drugs, to commit crimes, to be solvenly, to be lowly, to apply the least initiative. The solution is very simple: population rebalancing.

    • emily

      I guess you can find flaws in my argument although firms do cater to demographic bases and mcdonalds demographic base is lower middle class to lower class americans. Some of the things I’ve stated are just observations, I guess I would need to research them although given their controversial nature I doubt many social scientist would research these topics regardless of their validity or truth.

      Not everyone has access to the same opportunity, this is determined by lots of factors like location, economic class, networking, it depends on awareness of mediums which would reward one’s capabilities(such as scloarships,contests, business accelerators,free conferences like those hosted by the ncaa, etc.) and a physical location where access to these things are present(like an university) However almost every single worker at mcdonalds or burger king or wal-mart over the age of 23 would be able to attend a community college for free using a pell grant or attend a state college and if they attended a state college, they would be able to attend without working. If they were a particularly good student and received high grades or took grants.

      Part of the problem with the lower class is a poor culture, a culture that rejects education, a culture of parents that want their children to start working when their teenagers, a culture that doesn’t encourage their children to be more and to reach for more than just what is required for sustenance. However at the same time a tremendous of money has been allocated to the lower-class and it’s only made a marginal impact and a multiple methods have been tried. Going forward nothing will work because although your not suppoused to think it, the reality is that inequality exists on a biological level. Some people are simple less, they are simply less intelligent, less capable, devoid of certain qualities, unable to learn advance skills and so on. This has been consistently proven in psychological studies of intelligence and executive functioning which shows the lower class is less intelligent. Also genetic studies are showing intelligence to be inherited and perhaps much of what a human being is can be understood on a biological/genetic basis.

      So one solution is to revert to a pre-industrial type of economy where home economics was prominent, i.e you worked on a farm and produced all your needs at home versus a trade based economy. Or perhaps other solutions, whatever the solution requires acknowledging the shortcomings and deficiencies of the lower-class. This would be the moral solution although population rebalancing is not immoral if it does not involve death but only sterilization.

      It’s about making a better humanity. Although I only advocate if it is proven. If it is proven that the lower class are in fact less intelligent by showing a genetic basis. If this is true then why would it be wrong to sterilize them?

      • pete18

        “If this is true then why would it be wrong to sterilize them?”

        Oh, I don’t know, maybe because that would make us a Totalitarian state that would be one step away from employing a Hitlerian euthanasia program.

      • Izzy

        emily,

        Again, your “observations” are flawed and ignorant.

        Quickly:

        Pell grants are not full grants, rather capped (around $5,500).

        You write, “Part of the problem with the lower class is a poor culture, a culture that rejects education, a culture of parents that want their children to start working when their teenagers, a culture that doesn’t encourage their children to be more and to reach for more than just what is required for sustenance”. Continuing with your general trend, this is a naive, misinformed, and asinine comment. I am not even sure if you can be taken seriously and i question from where you deduce your observations.

        Finally, there is absolutely no legitimate study that claims in some way that the poor are less intelligent. The very notion is insulting and completely erroneous.

        emily, to be frank, if society wants to better humanity, it should not rid itself of the people who are poor, instead it should rid itself of people like you.

        • emily

          That’s right and a pell-grant is enough to cover tuition for any community college in the country which was my point. Nearly every single community college has a matriculation agreement with state college system and each state typically has a highly respected flagship university(ohio state, flordia state, unc chapel hill, ucla, et cetera) If a person excels in comm. college he can obtain scholarships to help pay when he or she transfers or simply take advantage of loans.

          The solution to their problem is very simple but they chose to complain instead of taking appropriate steps.

          There are a plethora of studies that show the poor are less intelligent and that intelligence is genetically inherited. Why should money and resources be wasted on the inferior? I am not advocating mistreatment but simply a future generation without their presence. It’s really not that big of a deal.

          • emily

            Also another problem with the lower class is as stated the majority of crime, virtually all moral crimes are commited by lower class people.

            Nothing compels them to do it and yet you see an absence of crime in the middle class and upper class. Another problem is that they lack unity, they don’t form networks, they don’t self-organize, there is no sense of common belonging. In middle class enviorments and upper class enviorments there is an underlying social fabric, in the lower class they kill one another, they steal from one another, they cheat and exploit one another. It’s because they’re animals.

            Another problem is the lack of culture. What does a lower-class person do for culture or recreational activities? He indulges in drugs for one and again the majority of drug use is within the lower class. Again nothing compels them to waste their bodies. What else do they do? They spend their surplus funds on video game systems, cheap smartphones and large screen plasma televisions. It always amazes me the lower class person will complain about low wages and not having enough money but willfully wastes it on crap. Another problem is their housing, a lower class person will live in trailers, slummy apartments , ghettos yet they almost always have the income to seek nicer housing but choose not to. I suppouse to buy drugs and plasma televisions.

            Someone mentioned I was entitled, what is entitlement? A desire for a life worth having, a desire for a life that is better than inhabiting filthy conditions, a life that is better than being a menial worker? The lower class person is weak, he is dull, he is dependent so these traits become transfigured into a positive value, “tolerance”. Tolerate pitiful life, tolerate misery, tolerate living in deprived communities, tolerate crime and tolerate becoming a criminal. The opposite of this value becomes misaligned and subject for criticism because it the opposite of everything he or she is and can ever be, so entitlement becomes scorned.

            Every single day you live a life you dislike, every single day you work a job you dislike, every single day you tolerate a life that you “hope” will improve or a life that you reach out to external agents(government, ngos,society) is a life that you chose. Nothing prevents you from being better or having a better life except for yourself. So when I see millions of people living in the conditions that mark the lower-class and these people forming their enviorment and being the indivduals who consitute it and thus determine it(What else constitutes the environment except the people in it?) and see them for as they as, the only response generated is not scorn or contempt as it may seem but pity.

          • BenGjones

            I’m going to be charitable here and just say I’m from a working class background and I do not recognise the portrait you have painted of the working class.

  • Lawrence Jones

    Minimum wage should be $10 starting off for all fast food jobs. The work is hard, you are on you feet for hours, and taking carp off of ungrateful people.

    Big cooperation’s care about one thing only, their bottom line. The number one principle in business-Minimize cost and maximize profit.

    The big three-McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King are cooperate “Pimps”. After, Bush allowed cooperations to under fund retirement petition funds, create at-will employment, and redefine FT and PT, now you have grandmother and grandfather working jobs that teenagers should be working.

    Suppose to be the Richest country in the world;however, it’s citizens are living and working poor. .

    What a D———–Shame………..

  • CoSoCar58

    At 54, I would gladly flip burgers and wait on customers with a smile as a fast-food worker at minimum wage for 25 to 30 hours a week, but then I have a pension with health and dental insurance. These companies are exploiting people plain and simple.

  • Andy P from Ocnomowoc

    Forgive my spelling I typed this in a fury on my ipad.
    My goodness Tom my blood is boiling hearing this conversation as well. I have to tell you my story.

    In Oconomowoc Wisconsin, there is not much work for a 14 year old boy. i had a paper route since I was 12. But luckily I was hired that summer (2000) I turned 14 at the local KFC. Me and a buddy picked it for its locality and because it paid 10 cents more than McDonalds and seemed more laid back. i have to say that store helped me tremendously grow a lot. I had more money than most kids my age, a car, insurance, my own clothes. But this all changed around 2005. Every year I would give my life to the company, because I was raised to dedicate myself to my committments, and every year KFC would fall short. I got the 35 cent raise after 2 years, but As minimum wage increased, I came to find out that it overlapped my raise and I was making the same amount as new hires. Worse still, as new hires recieved their 35 cent raise, I was making less, while working the max amount of hours for a 17 year old with three years. I cooked, cleaned, helped my managers with inventory and cost calculations. The pressure was always the bottom line and even though I received no benefit, I had given myself to helping the store. d stay late, come in on my days off, and work twice ad hard and let other people go home early to help our bottom line.
    Starting over seemed so tough, I had payments I needed ti keep making, college was approaching (i could only afford a jr college, Uw waukesha) and other jobs seemed scary. Besides, this job was flexable, and I was told I would be moving up if I stuck at it.
    Eventually, I became manage when I turned 18 right before college, this was the first big raise I got. I was told I was lucky because the min wage went up to 7.00 so making 8.60 was so lucky of me to have snagged this promotion. (Even though the other two managers quit and I was the only person who wanted the shift supervisor job).
    So this went on as college went on and my bills piled up. Surely I could not leave with all of this time I had invested. Also, who else would hire me without a degree? I put my head down and worked 60 hour weeks while taking 12 credits at school. Luckily, after 5 semesters and the help of some AP credits in high school I passed.
    As I was ready to get into UW Milwaukee, I soon realized that I had accrued 4,000 worth of credit card debt from bills, tuition, and books. i decided to take a semester off. This was my downfall.
    I was in denial, I was avoiding the fact that I couldnt work more than 60 hours a week, i was living at home with normal bills yet I couldnt pay the ten thousand dollar tuition bill that year. I was working so hard what was I doing wrong? Theres not enough hours in the day to work harder. I spent all my free time trying to get more hours until I broke. I became erratic and started an opiate addiction from the search of partying to numb my feelings of failure.
    Because of my erratic behavior I was fired.

    This lead me on a journey of recovery that has put me in a full time job as a custodian, a part time job in maintenance, and a tiny ebay buisness. I only make 45,000 a year total but I am doing a million times better.

    What I have to say is that these companies thrive on employees like me. I was recruited and loyal even though I shouldnt have been. I thought that was the path to take, the lath of my parents, to work hard and thrive. They didnt ahve enough to help me but they had enough to keep me fed and sheltered. There are many more like me. I am still told today that 2% is a raise I should be happy with, I am lucky. Since I work at a school I have found out our administration makes the 3rd most in the state and is receiving a cool 10% raise and had been every year since 2008. I am still being taken advantage but its so hard to try Anything else for fear of starting over. The culture of these jobs draws you in and fills you with fear. I feel like I cant look at other jobs because I couldn’t be without pay for more than a week. I have been taught from KfC that it is better to retrain a new hire rather than reward loyal old ones. I was instructed to screw loyal employees as far as scheduling, raises, and promises. I was told there is no money to reward me because of the government and recessions even though I knew my district manager was making 100,000 plus. (I knew her son).

    You feel worthless, you are abused and are trained to seek approval by giving your heart out while the person next to you (who is hired at your rate of pay because of min wage) does the minimum. Whenever min wage goes into affect, the next day prices would go up. in the eightnyears I worked at kfc an 8 pc meal went from 14.75 to 21.79. Hotcakes at mcdonalds were 1.25 (1999)and they’re 3.10 now. Gas used to be under 1.29 and now its 4$ plus. I dont believe that this inflation is being recorded properly at least in my eyes. i do not know the answer to this but I know thay raising the minimum wage seems to only inflate every price around us, and most of the time we changed e prices the same day.

    Theres something wrong when an honor student cannot find the path to finish a degree in computer science. When a person who parties all summer can apply for grants, but a person who has to work to pay for books and car insurance and car payments makes too much money for grants (14,000 a year was too much) and too much money for subsidized loans(even though my parents didn’t help I didn’t qualify). I had the work ethic, but not the exerience, I thought loyalty was the path, but jobs now breed workers to be loyal shut up and put up or screw every employer until you get one through nepotism or luck to pay you more than you deserve. Its not fair, its not a level playing field. Theres no path for a bright young man with extreme loyalty and work ethic. All I know is that today Im happy with myself, and nothing will ever own me like KFC and my addiction did ever again.

  • http://www.ahhthesimplelife.com/ Carol Preibis

    Inequality
    is ruining our country. Not only is this bad economic policy, it is
    downright immoral! Please read my blog post “Inequality Is
    Ruining Our Country”: http://www.ahhthesimplelife.com/inequality-is-ruining-our-country/. Learn the facts, and find some suggestions
    for how we can fight these problems.

  • Regular_Listener

    The guest, Mr. Wise, seems like a good guy, and I wish him and his family the best in their struggle to find decent-paying jobs. But I couldn’t help thinking – why did he have 3 kids? Did he think it would be easy, or even possible, to raise 3 children on a McSalary?

  • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

    My comment seems to have gone to the bit bucket.
    These two issues could salute each other:
    http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/05/23/farm-bill-food-stamps
    http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/07/31/fast-food-economy
    Fast food restaurants could accept food stamps from patrons.

  • Pingback: Boston Fast Food Workers To Stage Strike | WBUR

ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 19, 2014
Lara Russo, left, Cally Guasti, center, and Reese Werkhoven sit on a couch in their apartment in New Paltz, N.Y. on Thursday, May 15, 2014.  While their roommate story of $40,800 found in a couch made the news, other, weirder stories of unusual roommates are far more common. (AP)

From college dorms and summer camps to RVs and retirement hotels, what it’s like to share a room. True stories of roommates.

 
Aug 19, 2014
Police wait to advance after tear gas was used to disperse a crowd Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

“War zones” in America. Local police departments with military grade equipment – how much is too much, and what it would take to de-militarize America’s police force.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Your (Weird? Wonderful? Wacky?) Roommate Stories
Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

We asked, and you delivered: some of the best roommate stories from across our many listener input channels.

More »
1 Comment
 
Our Week In The Web (August 15, 2014)
Friday, Aug 15, 2014

On Pinterest, Thomas the Tank Engine and surprising population trends from around the country. Also, words on why we respond to your words, tweets and Facebook posts.

More »
Comment
 
Nickel Creek Plays Three Songs LIVE For On Point
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

Nickel Creek shares three live (well, mostly) tracks from their interview with On Point Radio.

More »
Comment