On What I Learned Working as an Au Pair for a Family in France

I thought all au pairs in France were sexually abused by their host dads? Or at least chased around the table or something? Is this, then, not true?

Posted on September 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm 0

On How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Chain Restaurants

@MiltonFriedman'sGhost I guess the same way they did before McD's, Starbucks and Applebees came along?

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm 0

On How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Chain Restaurants

Some things that can happen with chains: The quality may start out high, but once the brand is established and the local competition is booted out, it goes down and the price goes up. Yes, they hire local labor but they don't pay as well, particularly after local competition has disappeared and the whole town is controlled by chains. They lobby in Washington against increases in the minimum wage. And steal the tips, or use tips to excuse paying employees well. Franchises rake off money to HQ which doesn't get spent in the local economy. Many franchisees are not much more than sharecroppers (Subway most famous for this). They avoid taxes by paying "royalties" for "intellectual property" (design, marketing, brand franchise, etc) to subsidiaries located in low-tax countries like the Netherlands (see recent fuss about Starbucks in the UK)

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 7:23 pm 0

On So Long, Sedan; Hello, Bus

@stuffisthings Also, there is exactly zero mention of Chinese people in this article, even though Chinamen (and, ok, Chinawomen) are the largest single ethnic group on the planet. For shame.

Posted on January 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm 0

On Why the Swedes Move to Norway And Why I Tagged Along

Also, Kitchen Stories, a great, great movie in which a Swedish time-and-motion man researches ergonomic improvements to the Norwegian kitchen.

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 6:06 pm 0

On My Parents Said Money Didn't Matter, But It Did

Student loan debt is now apparently higher than all credit card debt in the US, not far off $1 trillion. And it's one of the few kinds of debt, they say, that you can't get out of by filing bankruptcy, thanks to the ironically labeled Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, or Bush bankruptcy bill. Sallie Mae, which used to make lots of money as a middleman between government and student (taking fees and interest income on government-guaranteed loans) has now been taken out of that side of the market, thanks to our Prez. So now they're focusing their efforts on getting parents to co-sign instead of the govt. What happens when former students now working as baristos can't pay? DON'T WORRY! Compassionate conservatives like MITT ROMNEY WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU! For instance, put you in a nice, maybe privatized, Debtor's Jail"

Posted on October 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm 0

On How Do We Repay Our Parents?

As one who has put 2 ½ kids through college, I must say I was very touched to read this piece and the responses to it. One gets the impression that today’s youngs are universally full of resentment and hostility towards those of us who are lucky enough to have grown up in a more equitable society where education was less expensive and, generally, there were reasonably good jobs waiting for us when we got out. It’s a very pleasant surprise to see so much gratitude.

Posted on July 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm 0

On Surviving the Financial Aftermath of Your Parents' Divorce

@bitzy Couple of questions. (1) If the lump sum is already there to pay for the wedding, why do you have to grovel / remain on speaking terms? (2) Why don't you just cancel the wedding, forgo the deposits, take some debt on the other obligations, and elope as planned? You'll probably feel better doing that, even at some cost.

Posted on July 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm 0

On Books I Acquired Last Year for Little or No Money

Betterworldbooks.com can be really good on prices, often with free shipping; has a large selection and does good things in recycling and raising money for libraries. Amazon, of course, is great but unfortunately quite the opposite when it comes to ethics -- horrible labor practices and with dreams of world domination -- so I try hard not to use them if at all poss. Most thrift shops also have books, though some are raising their prices to unconscionable levels. Also, help independent booksellers by browsing on ioba.org.

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 9:58 pm 0