On Living in Poverty, When "Poverty" is a Place

Well, not surprisingly, these statistics are a little dishonest. (But, unfortunately, only a little. The situation really is quite dire, just not as dire as these particular numbers suggest.) 2012 is the latest available year from the census, and the US poverty rate is 15%. Then the article said, "As recently as a decade ago, the situation was much less dire: in 2000..." Isn't a decade ago 2003? How did we end up with 2000? It turns out that the poverty rate in 2003 was 12.5%, whereas the poverty rate in 2000 was 11.3%. And 2003 was a Bush year, while 2000 a Clinton year. So let's pick the number from a decade plus 3 years ago to illustrate our point... Anyway, the poverty throughout the mid-2000's was hovering around 12.5%, and it only noticeably worsened starting 2008 (13.2%) and 2009 (14.3%) to settle at 15%. What happened in 2008? That's right, the Great Recession. You'd expect poverty to increase during a recession. So that's not the mystery. The problem is that, unlike previous recessions, the poverty rate did not go back down after the recovery. BTW, the poverty rate during the 1990's roughly looks to be around 14% and the 1980's around 13.5-14%. So in fact the Bush years were a relative low in the poverty rate in the modern past.

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 10:43 am 0

On Other Fast Food Restaurants Paying Beyond the Minimum Wage

@Mike Dang "The question is then, if a fast food chain like In-N-Out Burger can sell $2.20 cheeseburgers and pay their employees a starting hourly rate of $10.50 an hour, why isn’t this viable for other fast food restaurants?" I've wondered about this myself. Here are my guesses why: 1) In-n-out is not franchised, so there's one fewer level of profit-making. Of course, that means there's a limit on how fast In-n-out can grow. 2) In-n-out has a limited menu, and that means simpler/less inventory, fewer equipment, better scale, easier training, etc. All of this translates into lower cost. 3) In-n-out does not rely on coupons, meal discounts, and other gimmicks that cut down on the price of a meal. 4) In-n-out spends less money on advertising. Just guessing here, since I do not watch commercial TV or web advertising. Why don't other fast food brands do the same thing? Some do, for example Habit, Smash Burger, 5-Guys, etc. Why doesn't McDonald's? Because McD chose a different business model years ago.

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 8:07 pm 3

On Other Fast Food Restaurants Paying Beyond the Minimum Wage

@Mike Dang Sure. But it was still wrong to cast blame on stock markets and investors. And you need to bear in mind most of these owners of fast food restaurants would probably not be in the restaurant business if not for the franchise.

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm 1

On Other Fast Food Restaurants Paying Beyond the Minimum Wage

"It probably helps that these chains are privately owned with no board of investors to report to." Most fast food restaurants are owned by franchisees, so they are also privately owned with no board of investors to report to. I would guess that fast food pays minimum wage because it can, and employees work at fast food restaurants for minimum wage because they have no other alternative. Melian Dialogue anyone?

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm 1

On Hobby Lobby Ruling Isn't Just Anti-Woman; It's Anti-Employee

@Josh Michtom@facebook Josh, you argue like my 4-year old. "I could eat the spinach, but what if the spinach is poison, and I die!" Religion is non-scientific? And most religious people are selective about what religious laws they follow? Really? What if the spinach is poison? BTW, I think many churches and newspapers are also incorporated. Do they also give up their Bill of Rights protections?

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 10:32 pm 0

On Hobby Lobby Ruling Isn't Just Anti-Woman; It's Anti-Employee

@Ester Bloom My last comment on this particular thing, I promise. Per NYT, '“No one has disputed the sincerity of their religious beliefs,” Justice Alito wrote. The dissenters agreed.' If both sides of the Justices agree, I think I'm on pretty firm ground that Lobby Hobby's sincerity is unquestioned, despite what Josh or Ester might insinuate. BTW, Lobby Hobby's objection to contraceptives is very nuanced. NYT again, "The companies said they had no objection to some forms of contraception, including condoms, diaphragms, sponges, several kinds of birth control pills and sterilization surgery." I'd be willing to be that Lobby Hobby's investments are in the contraceptives they approve of (and are willing to insure their employees for).

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 9:30 pm 0

On Hobby Lobby Ruling Isn't Just Anti-Woman; It's Anti-Employee

@Ester Bloom Here's an article that's perhaps less biased. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/us/at-christian-companies-religious-principles-complement-business-practices.html

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm 1

On Hobby Lobby Ruling Isn't Just Anti-Woman; It's Anti-Employee

@Ester Bloom Hobby Lobby closes on Sundays for Sabbath, right? I think they've foregone more revenue and profits in the name of their religion than this will ever make them.

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 9:07 pm 1

On Hobby Lobby Ruling Isn't Just Anti-Woman; It's Anti-Employee

@Josh Michtom@facebook But I thought the officers of Hobby Lobby are trying to act morally. You may not agree with their morality, but I thought their sincerity was never in question.

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 8:05 pm 0

On Hobby Lobby Ruling Isn't Just Anti-Woman; It's Anti-Employee

I guess we'll never hear Josh complain that a corporation is acting immorally.

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 7:37 pm 1