When Restaurant Workers Can’t Afford to Eat

In July, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) of New York, an organization dedicated to improving wages and conditions for people who work in restaurants, released a report called "Food Insecurity of Restaurant Workers." The report, based on surveys and interviews with people in the restaurant industry in New York and San Francisco, shows the ways in which the employment conditions of restaurant work make it very difficult for workers to feed themselves.

A Banker Missing His Wallet Asks for Some Money

It was close to 1 a.m. when I left the wedding on Saturday night, and since I was still wide awake and had all of my senses, I decided I’d save the money I had set aside for cab fare and walked to the subway, which was two blocks from the venue. I’d normally feel self-conscious about wearing a tuxedo on the subway because strangers can’t help but stare, but it was late and I found a seat in the back of the car.

When I got to my stop and walked out of the subway and in the direction of my apartment, a man wearing a college sweatshirt who looked to be in his late thirties approached me and tapped me on the shoulder while I waited at a crosswalk.

“Excuse me—I need some help and you look like someone who can help me.”

“Okay…” I said. I was highly aware that it was late, there were very few people around, and that I was wearing a tuxedo.

Hottest Corporate Celebrity Couples: Family Dollar Tree & Truzilla

Dollar Tree is buying Family Dollar even though Family Dollar is totally the better name. Two of the nation’s leading super-budget chains can, by their powers combined, do more to take on Wal-Mart.

The deal will give Dollar Tree more than 13,000 stores across the United States and Canada, vaulting the company ahead of Dollar General to become North America’s biggest discount retailer, with more than $18 billion in annual sales. …

Dollar Tree sells a mix of consumables in suburban stores across most U.S. states, as well as discretionary items such as gifts, party goods and greeting cards. Everything has a price tag of $1 or less. Most Family Dollar stores are in low-income neighborhoods. Its presence is biggest in Texas and the eastern United States, where it mainly sells lower-margin food and household products. “This acquisition will extend our reach to lower-income customers,” Dollar Tree Chief Executive Bob Sasser said. 

The markets are happy. Wal-Mart shrugs. Dollar General declines to comment. I wax nostalgic: my first date involved a dollar store and a pink bubble necklace that I kept on my bedroom dresser for years.

Related: Brokelyn’s Dos and Don’ts of 99-cent Stores. Yes to cheap0 pregnancy tests; no to toothpaste. And definitely yes to frugal gift basket ideas!

+ Zillow is buying Trulia. Gasp. What does this mean for our real estate porn habit? 

Defining ‘Rich’

At the Upshot, Lynn Vavreck, a professor of political science at U.C.L.A., discusses a survey she did in which she asked respondents how much income their household needed to earn to be considered “rich.” It turned out that the “I’d be rich” number increased with the rise in income:

This is, perhaps, unsurprising. Based off our discussion of if money buys happiness, we know that it makes more of a difference to you if you’re going from a low-income household and into the upper classes.

As for me, I live a pretty comfortable life on a sub-six-figure income. I imagine having a household with $293,000 would feel pretty rich to me.

No Progress on Poor Kids at Top Colleges

Despite effort, or the appearance of it, there has been no change in terms of getting high-achievers from low-income families to elite schools.

In 2006, at the 82 schools rated “most competitive” by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, 14 percent of American undergraduates came from the poorer half of the nation’s families, according to researchers at the University of Michigan and Georgetown University who analyzed data from federal surveys. That was unchanged from 1982. And at a narrower, more elite group of 28 private colleges and universities, including all eight Ivy League members, researchers at Vassar and Williams Colleges found that from 2001 to 2009, a period of major increases in financial aid at those schools, enrollment of students from the bottom 40 percent of family incomes increased from just 10 percent to 11 percent.

What does make a difference? Investments of money, which most schools either can’t or won’t prioritize, and investments of time, like sending admissions officers to schools that are off the beaten track. Also, perhaps most importantly, helping students understand that the sticker price at high-end colleges is not what most middle- and working-class families pay:

Folks Sure Do Have Strong Opinions About Kennedy Weddings

When a man gets married, one says, “Congratulations!” When a woman gets married, one says, “Best wishes!” And when a Kennedy gets married, one says, “Don’t get into a small plane with him, no matter HOW good a pilot he says he is. Learn how to swim !!! don’t cross any bridges.” That, at least, is how randos on Facebook react. Sarcasm! The digital equivalent of throwing rice.

As perhaps you saw this weekend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has married Cheryl Hines. It is not the first time at the rodeo for either member of the couple. RFK Jr. has been married twice before and has six children; Cheryl has been married once and has a daughter. Even outlets like TMZ have been uncharacteristically restrained in regards to the couple, wishing the newlyweds happiness without unpacking and flinging around all the baggage the bride and groom brought with them to Hyannisport.

Well-known rich families in America seem to bring out the strong opinions in many of us, and no dynasty more so than the fabulously wealthy, famously unlucky Kennedy clan. (A Roosevelt recently married without any fuss.) The family seems to be a magnet for the problems of affluenza: drugs, alcohol, women, accidents, accidents involving women, drugs, and alcohol, and inadvisable moves into the political arena. Is how you feel about the Kennedys indicative of how you feel about wealth in general? Or are they too unusual to serve as a crucible?

Here are some of the other details about this wedding that are making Internet commenters bonkers:

How Americans Think About Fairness and the Economy

There is massive new Pew Research Center poll (185 glorious pdf pages) that dissects the attitudes of Americans on all sorts of things. There is much to mull over, starting with the study’s division of the American populace into eight ideological groups: Solid Liberals (all left all the time; like me, more or less), Steadfast Conservatives (fiscally and socially conservative), Business Conservatives (corporatist, but not so down on gays and immigrants), Young Outsiders (socially liberal Republicans), Hard-Pressed Skeptics (left-leaning, working class, disillusioned), Next-Generation Liberals (like the Solid Liberals, but unconvinced of the need for social programs or anti-discrimination legislation), Faith and Family Left (like the Solid Liberals, but homophobic), and (boringly) Bystanders, who are what they sound like: disengaged and uninformed.

These groups break down mostly as you’d expect (although the right is more polarized than the left). The study is full of charts that show the spread of each group’s opinions across some typical left-right divide, and they all pretty much look like this one:

A Modest Proposal to Reduce the Likelihood of Unjustified Shootings by Police

At this point, it is becoming evident that there is something about the way police officers are trained in this country, or about the culture that seems to pervade police departments, that needs to change. We can speculate about why this is so (or argue whether it is so). Greg Howard at Deadspin has smart things to say about the militarization of police forces (when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail). I have a lot of ideas about the general stratification of society along race and class lines, and how that plays out in policymaking, law enforcement, and perceptions of poor, minority neighborhoods. But whatever the causes, it is safe to say that black men dying unnecessarily at the hands of police is a problem, and one society cannot quickly fix. So perhaps we should consider some sort of temporary solution.

What’s in a Name? Oh, Only Your Success in Life

Having a white-sounding name is worth about eight years of work experience. “Jamal” would have to work in an industry for eight years longer than “Greg” for them to have equal chances of being hired, even if Jamal came from a privileged background and Greg from an underprivileged one.

– the Atlantic, again. They’re killing it this week.

When I met my college roommate she said, “Oh!” I said, “Yes?” She said, “No, it’s fine, I just — Ester from Washington, DC? I assumed you were black.” Others have assumed I’m Korean. Largely though I have benefited from having an “easy” name: easy to pronounce, easy to understand, easy enough to spell if you can remember to toss the unnecessary “H.” Easy to read as Jewish/white.

Have you had to battle your own name for legitimacy? Have you changed your name to give yourself a smoother time of it? Does knowing that Greg opens doors makes you more likely to opt for Greg for your own kid, or do you say “FU White Supremacy” and do what you want, knowing progress has to come eventually and will only come if we fight for it?

Concerning Public Assistance, Shame, and Healthy Eating

From a website I was surprised to find myself perusing, since it's called "Christ and Pop Culture" (neither of which interests me greatly), here is an interesting first-person account of trying to use WIC vouchers at Whole Foods (spoiler: you can't).