On Fast Food, Strikes, Boycotts, Wages, Buy Local First, Etc.

assembly @ sorbonne, paris 1968 uprising
assembly @ sorbonne, paris 1968 uprising

So I went to McDonald’s The other day (no actually the day after the strike). Instantly felt guilty upon ordering. The guy who took my order seemed upset by something…. or perhaps just very hungover. Disclosure: I am a regular (~3-10 time per month, usually never McD’s though) fast food user, in spite of my politics and organic + fair trade preferences. The fact is, although unemployed my disposable spending, when the controller isn’t stalling it, is around minimum wage/fulltime/before tax (that’s excluding tuition, rent, utilities, phone, and ‘net) (but including food, gas, cigarettes, coffee, booze, and any more durable goods I might want, and studio rent). I choose to eat cheap and spend more on coffee and drinking establishments / shops. So although I often feel broke it is not the same sort of broke as theirs.

So then I was struck by a thought: boycott fast food, buy local more. Followed by wait, boycotts mean no more fast food jobs, (?) and what they want is $15 an hour. What to do? Send letters to congress? In Australia the minimum wage is AU$16.37 which this morning happens to be US$15.0111. In Australia they were much less affected than much of the world by WallStreet(r)’s selfdestruction/implosion, and the ensuing EU crises. They have lower unemployment, inflation around the typical standard targets. The Consumer Price Index graphs that came up on Google were indecipherable to me as a non-economist. But I looked up some prices a couple weeks ago; bread and beer at least looked on a par with the norm here in USA.

So where to begin? Fast Food: a) unhealthy for the most part b) low wage c) will not hire me, I don’t think, although last time I checked I mainly looked into retail and IT; I am overqualified and have many suspect empty times on my resume d) corporate multi-national (some exceptions) e) using local-sourcing or organic restaurants is far out of my price range and there are only like three in town if you exclude the limited selection at our homegrown [fair-trade + organic] coffee chain f) probably restricts access to full time employment and hence benefits, and the ability to pay for stuff like classes, vehicles, moving out of sketchier neighborhoods etc…. of course said local coffee chain also is mainly part time, but I think they get like $8+ + tips. g) fast paced h) no mistakes i) abrasive customers j) limited prospects…. guess that’s all for now k) oh right no unions, although that is not unique to food industry.

Flickr: Toban B (CC BY-NC 2.0) right; TitaniumDreads (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) left
Flickr: Toban B (CC BY-NC 2.0) right; TitaniumDreads (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) left

As for tipping… it can create conflict between workers, is in essence a way for (some) customers to pay for attention, and most customers tip the same regardless of service, and creates income instability. http://jayporter.com/dispatches/observations-from-a-tipless-restaurant-part-1-overview/

His flat gratuity restaurant outperformed his other by a lot. Enough that they drew smear attacks from other area restaurants. Not sure how the division of tips was handled, but it was by a mathematic system, i believe.

Strikes/Organized Labor: a) sometimes effective b) increasingly hostile business/government climate since 1980 c) hated by the same people who hate contraception and love Walmart and exploited overseas labor c) can cost you your job (uncertain of the legalities here, but it still can) d) media politicians and businesses work to create the perception that they are bad for labor these days e) although occasionally corrupt usually this is more with the officers, although union rules that prohibit the white collar office worker, e.g., from moving his own PC seem silly and counterproductive f) i know less about this than other things having not read “A People’s History of the United States” in years (go figure american education system)

Boycotts: a) effective at their purposes (but what are our purposes in reforming fast food? not just higher wages, i mean instead what are the intermediate steps on the way to higher wages) b) probably would not be advocated by employees of the boycotted organization unless truly dire circumstances (where do we get another job?) c) …… hm, is waffle house fast food? i would have a hard time giving that up. and would have to change several habits, and still would be eating stuff produced by exploited workers at the farm level (and starving servers/cooks/living-with-parents/4roommates etc.) (because i cant afford to eat at much more expense than waffle house). Cook everything myself? Haha i dont have that kind of time and staying at home is depressing, and its bad for the general economy. Plus I like junk food.


$7.25 x 2000hrs (50 weeks) = $14,500 if you can get 40 hours hahahahahah and never get sick. Federal Income tax based on assumptions about minimum wage (probably flawed) are supposed to be about $452 for a single person, dunno if that includes earned income tax credit and whatnot ( http://apps.irs.gov/app/withholdingcalculator/ ). Seemingly state taxes drop another $684 off that (? I thought minimum wage payed less tax). $13,264 left now.

[Edit: full time is defined as 32 hours so assuming they keep you at 31 and you work 51 weeks a year instead of 50 the number $14,500 drops to $11,462.25, but I have already written most of the article so I don’t want to alter everything. JUST KEEP IN MIND as you read you’re likely have $3000 less than is listed below. Your gross weekly income is $224.75 not $290… and I’ve already whittled your annual savings with no indulgences except $120 a month down to $1524 down the page withouth taking that $3k, and you haven’t gotten sick yet and have no hobbies except a phone and internet, and you were lucky enough to start this game with a stocked apartment and scooter and warddrobe]

This result of KY’s formula does not remotely match the table they provide…. Whatever. Let’s just say $14,000. According to rent.com there are exactly 2 developments in Louisville/Jeffersonville that can be let for $400-390 in 25 mile radius of city center. (note we have not calculated if we are eligible for welfare, subsidized housing, food stamps, or winter heating assistance yet). Whether any are available is not stated, and this pretty much assumes we have a car. If we set the limit to 500 and 10 mile radius there are 24. So knock $6000 off that. $8000. And unlike mortgages, rent does not qualify for special subsidies from the taxation authorities or government. Figure $100 for utilities; this is pretty much a stab in the dark; now we have $6800. Still no phone, internet, TV, food, gas/bus passes/bicycles, maintenance, doctors, electronics, recreation, vehicle tax, or anything.

I think someone who works 40 hours ought to be able to afford a home, to eat, to play, to get to and from work etc.

$6800. We don’t have a car. We are lucky. We have a 50cc motor scooter. $630-800 but only if you know how to use search engines well. anyway we already have that. If lucky 100mpg so 3.7c per mile. If we don’t get run over and ride 20 miles a day about $22 a month on gas. No exceptions. Insurance? No idea. $6670. And you can carry only what fits in a backpack for shopping purposes. Assume we are lucky and have a washer/dryer included w/ apt. Coffee, $8 per week. $6250. [edit: $4 rounding error, will not fix. also add $156 for fair trade organic coffee ($11/wk) if that’s your preference and you live in louisville you live in louisville, maybe more elsewhere]


At least we don’t live in hong kong on chinese minimum wage.

lost citation
lost citation

We might get this or worse. This was $610 per month in 2002 though and rents have been going up along with foreclosures, and prices up since 2002. So probably not so pretty, anyway.

To continue… For the food budget, hard to say. The max for a single person on food stamps in MA and KY is $200 per month (dropping across the board in November, BTW).  Couldn’t get figures on minimums. So lets say $250 for our hypothetical fast food worker with no hobbies who is not on food stamps. That’s about $8.20 a day or for the food stamp taker, $6.66.  Wait, no $6.55 on 30.5 days instead of 30. The $8.20 would be $8.33 on 30 days. No junk food, no restaurants, unless you eat McD’s and Taco Bell all the time, or rice and beans to save for restaurants, no starbucks, no dating. Neither is too healthy. That’s $3000 ($3600 on $200 for food) a year for food. $3250 ($3850 on $200 for food) left. Assuming we aren’t a puritan, have been lucky enough to avoid addictions and smoking, and have exceptional self discipline for this meagre life, we spend $100 a month on alcohol, and $20 a month on other drugs. That’s $1440 so we have $1810 left.

Again, we are lucky, have reasonable clothes and dishes and medicine cabinet already. But things wear out, so we probably need at least $36 on underwear and socks alone annually, if not more. That might get you 12 pair socks and 6 undies at target. $1774. Pre-owned McDonald’s uniforms are available in different colors in the $25 dollar range (eBay). We’ll need at least a couple of those annually. $1724. Shoes, $100 and up if you want them to last amiright? $1624. Our spare change is dwindling and we haven’t even been to the doctor yet or repaired our scooter or replaced broken glasses and plates. Goodwill and such like can help with the clothing and dishes if you can stand going out of fashion or, if lucky, hipster style. Figure at least $100 a year at goodwill (also a good source for coffee grinders, coffee makers, and food processors). $1524 left. You want new clothes? Last I checked the cheapest collared shirt at Target was $23.99 in men’s.

We can’t buy land so even if we were able to get an RV or Tiny Home we’d still be stuck with trailer park rent.

[EDIT: see above, we are now $1463.75 in the hole]

I think we are eligible for foodstamps you know…  Assuming you have under $2000 in savings or $3250 if we’re over 65. Go even slightly over 40 hours and you aren’t eligible anymore though, so try to avoid overtime, eh? unless you have savings or family… but if you have savings you aren’t eligible anyway. Just checked and no non food items are covered by SNAP. So let’s dig a little deeper. Although seeds and plants are covered we have very little space in which to grow them or resources for grow lights and whatnot. You’re landlord will almost certainly not allow you to tear up the pesticide, herbicide and, in florida, colorado, etc, dye laden grass. [More after montage]

Katie Tegtmeyer CC-BY-2.0
Katie Tegtmeyer CC-BY-2.0
Cristi CC-BY-2.0
Cristi CC-BY-2.0
"Make a Wish" Katie Tegtmeyer CC-BY-2.0
“Make a Wish” Katie Tegtmeyer CC-BY-2.0
"The birth of consciosness" [class that is] kevin dooley CC-BY-2.0
“The birth of consciosness” [class that is] kevin dooley CC-BY-2.0
BlaiseOne CC-BY-2.0
BlaiseOne CC-BY-2.0

Envelopes if you still need to mail bills once in a while: $1. Stamps @ up to 36 (3 per month) * 46 cents each, $16.56; lets just make this $18.40 for 40, since i don’t think you can buy single stamps. We have internet now and autopay, if, that is, you’re real good at avoiding overdraftage… so you may only need like 3 not 36! Apparently snail mail is more secure than most email services, though; though the outside of the envelope will still be photographed [every single one] (postcards do not require return address, btw, and you can custom make them for next to nothing with your cryptic messages). Notebooks; everyone needs notebooks, even if only one or two a year $4 for 2 or if you journal maybe like $16 for 8 or if you write and journal like $40 for 20…. we’ll just compromise on 4 for $8. Pens $4 for 24. You do not get a pet unless its a goldfish. Not done yet. $31.4. Now you have $1,492.60.

Laundry detergent, dishsoap, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo, razors, (normally unnecessary) deodorant, shave cream/gel, toothpaste, tooth brushes, sponges (but no dental floss, glass cleaner, surface cleaner, floor cleaner [nuts how SNAP doesn’t cover vitamins, fish oil (you will really need that with the diet you’ll be eating; for cell membranes); could do hemp seed instead, or minerals, eh?] or dish gloves, or toilet cleaner). Let’s just file all this section and some of the paragraphs above the montage as ‘shit people who don’t make minimum wage take for granted’.

[US median earner’s wage: hard to determine since all the shit that’s coming up on google duckduckgo is mostly about ‘household’ income, may try again… interesting skews: KY median: 41.x thousand, massachusetts: 63.x thousand (2011 census buereau) wildly different estimates in American Community Survey vs. Annual Social and Economic supplement for MA 2011 (20k), only a few k for KY. the Community survey threw the bignum.

Wikipedia US inflation adjusted median household income graph: 50k. … a Rare report on median annual WAGE instead of household income showed $26,364; huffington post acknowledge that single people exist more than others … (as pessimism reaches 10 year high 2011) . Some random person on ChaCha 4 years ago says the media income 4 years ago for a single woman was 35.1k, over 8k less than the average for any man (averages are much more misleading than medians in most countries. in the US the average is higher than the median because of the concentration in the top fraction). post-gazzete.com: single black women have median wealth during working years of $5 (not a typo) wealth being assets, not income. black women had MEDIAN $100, hispanic $120. white single ladies had median $42,600 in assets/networth/wealth, 39% less than median single white men… Im tired of this. 

&&&% !#/ Social Security Dept. says average wage index in 2011 was 43k (18k different from huffpo’s median). Justice Dept. says 1 person households (excluded from the web by census bureau) in KY are [i think these were averages, not medians, so skewed up] 39.57k 2011, and 55.16k in MA 2011 &&& !#/

back to cleaning supplies. We have $1,492.60 left. There will necessarily be some guesswork on quantities here and on what the best were or would be. 10 bars soap (in this case ivory, since it’s mainly free of chemical junk i think) $4.4 at kroger, conservatively 4 bottles laundry soap if you keep cleanlier habits than me (you probably do) $20. Paper towels 12 rolls (I use significantly less than this actually) my $26.20 number is skewed by buying only 2 at a time but, hey we don’t exactly have a ton of storage space in this cheap efficiency apartment so let it stand. I don’t know how much ‘bath tissue’ I use much less the figure for a female. Lets say 48 in increments of 12 $24. Coffee filters maybe $2.40. This is the end of where my receipt collection goes. So let’s add it up before proceeding to the internet: $77 (note that we haven’t actually been calculating sales tax in this article). $1,415.60 left.  Forget the internet it’s going to take too long and be inaccurate (walmart has too many items to find the deal and kroger doesn’t post inventory to the site and target is typically a little pricier) (we don’t have storage for more than a few bulk purchases so don’t go there), I’ll just take a trip later and make some notes…

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 mod as hell -- yeah I guess this might be possible
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 mod as hell — yeah I guess this might be possible
CC BY 2.0 GoldenEel -- or this
CC BY 2.0 GoldenEel — or this

You’d probably have to cut down on name brands if you really want to eat ok through the month. Hope you know how to cook. Dirt cheap frozen food gets old real fast and would still run you at least $100 a month by itself. Will have to do the food research later. If as I have heard in the media the real SNAP number is $28.61 a week, it is worse. Did finally get to the cleaning stuff etc. research… Moving on…. We still have $1,415.60 left but I noticed I had left internet/phone bills out sooooo.

Not going to do extensive research on this. Hope you don’t want a smartphone. They’ll eat you alive on data use unless you want to go up to minimum $40 (if you can hold it to 200MB) and most likely $60 a month. And that is for prepaid. The contract plans I’m not looking at because they’re concealing the info on data and texting. For a feature phone you can get 250 minutes and unlimited text at $25 a month ($5 for each 50MB of data, but who wants to do internet on a feature phone?). $35 for 500 min, and unlimited text and *feature* phone data. We will take the $25. Basic Pro home DSL is $30, or $18 if you sign a 12 month contract. Man I need to switch, they don’t even have my 768k plan anymore. $536. You have $779.60 left.

Cleaning/Misc.—: Fish Oil: $12.50 for 200. 200 Multivitamins $11. 36 crappy razors $7.50. 4 cans shaving cream $5.20. Mouth wash $6 for 2 bottles. Toothpaste $8.40 for 4 tubes. Toothbrushes $4.50 for 4. Shampoo 5 for $5, if you can stand $1 shampoo. Trashbags if you use one every 5 days $15 for 80. Toilet cleaner $2.50 for 2. Surface cleaner $3.60 for 2. Dish soap, 2? big ones for $4. Sponges 8 at $5. CFL bulbs 4 for $10. Miscellaneous OTC meds for $20.

That’s $120.20. You have $659.40 left. Which your TV bill would eat except we aren’t doing that. So would a gym bill. You want a bicycle? You really want to store that in such a little apt? Remember, this is

IF  you get 40 hours a week

MickeyD’s won’t say what the health insurance rate is on the website or the base pay. I Assume base pay is $7.25 or whatever the local minimum wage is. You do get free access to a 24-hour hotline staffed by nurses. I don’t want to go through the whole process of giving my personal info to get a quote on scooter/driver insurance or renters insurance. You would want to carry them in case, but you probably can’t really squeeze it out of the budget.

I guess you might be able to see a doctor, optometrist, and dentist for $300…. would we?

Since you can’t eat out much, you spend a big majority of your time cooking-cleaning-working-sleeping-driving.

Now I guess let’s consider sales tax. Here in Kentucky food and clothes are taxed, as they are in most states, and alcohol not served at a bar is too (restaurants included, it seems. weird, no?) So we’re paying sales tax on somewhere between $5,374.60 and $3,934.60 depending on how much of our luxury budget is spent on bars or illicit drugs. CIgarettes get sales tax too if you smoke, but seriously you can’t afford it. Let’s just assume 90%. At Louisville/KY’s 6.25% rate that’s $302.31. So we have $357.09 left.

Cell phone tax KY 9.95% on $300 bill ~$30.  Scooter oil bottles x2 – $18. Now $309.09. Registration and tax on scooter ???.

Tampons, Birth Control, Condoms, Makeup, Facewash – Ignoring.

Drain cleaner at least $4. Index cards: only $0.50 at walmart. Sketch book $5 to much more…. $5 and up for art pens. Mechanical pencils or art pencils $4  and up. Melatonin to help us sleep since we have so many problems: at least $18 a year (240 count). Candles, maybe $13. Matches/Lighters at least a few lets say $4. Bulletin board to remind yourself the future could be better: at least $12. $55.50. Yeah we need some things to make life bearable other than beer and internet. $253.69 left. I’m sure the incidental necessities like medical care and (required) scooter insurance can take care of that. And Remember, if you’re on 31 hours instead of 40 you’re already $2,750 in the hole. Even without our $120/mo luxury budget ($3.95 per day or $3.93 per day on a leap year) we would be $1,350 in the hole. Which takes us all the way back to 3 paragraphs before the montage.

Church? Charity? Yoga? Meditation class? Therapy? Vacations? Staycations? Forget about it. Forward this to anyone who opposes raising the minimum wage. Plenty of adults and even senior citizens are in these jobs, if they object that they are supposed to be for high school kids only. There is zero room for error or illness. And zero room for education (and almost no time). Tell them about Australia (remember at the top?).

Next up food study, and anything else I can think of.

http://www.endoftheinternet.com/ … http://www.turnofftheinternet.com/

No actually still more to come CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 mrjoro
No actually still more to come CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 mrjoro

Minimally the food study. Nah. Screw it I’ll put some in an additional post. I’ve already been at this for 3 days. I’m goin’ to taco bell (in the future, all restaurants are taco bell, remember?) It’s 1:15 am. Not cooking. Incidentally you can get a little less than 24 sixes of PBR here for $120 or a little more of Natty Ice/Beast Ice (you don’t want those). Or 32 bottles of Five Oaks. If we cut out the luxury budget to nothing and took food stamps ($200 a month) at 31 hours we would be $1,050 in the black. With luxuries still in the hole. ($3.95 of luxuries a day). at 40 hours. Up $4,038 with them. But remember we get cut off if we save half of that and the bottom falls out. If SNAP is $28.61 a week in reality, we are up only $138 on 38 hours, and $3,126 on 40 hours. And most of these multi-national cheapasses will do anything to keep you less than full time and hence away from benefits. And at 40 hours, even 3 hours of overtime knocks you out of SNAP. See my next post.


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