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Less Than Compelling Arguments For McDonald’s Labor Practices

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How could the nation have survived such a horrible outcome?

It’s a good thing for pop music, honky-tonk feminism, and Canadian tax collectors that McDonald’s pays lousy wages. If the food stores paid their frontline workers enough to survive on, Shania Twain would still be working there, a shareholder claimed at the company’s annual meeting this week.

The unidentified man, who said he’d been a McDonald’s investor since 1990 according to BuzzFeed News, used a Q&A session to rattle off a list of successful celebrities like Twain, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Hollywood star Sharon Stone who had worked in a McDonald’s earlier in their lives. “I’m sure if they were making $15 an hour, they’d still be working at McDonald’s,” he said, as thousands of current McDonald’s workers protested outside.

No Shania Twain? Where would horrible country radio have been in the late 90s without her? Nashville would have had to find some other cookie cutter to sing vapid songs that make a mockery of a once great tradition of music (and one that is still great on the margins).

God, we should force McDonald’s to raise its wages to $15 just to prevent future Shania Twains from reaching country music stardom.

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  • Nobdy

    This guy is absolutely right. All those incredibly ambitious people would have stopped dead in their tracks if offered a low (but not below the poverty line) wage and a zero status job. That’s why they all stopped working as soon as they had enough wealth to support themselves.

    I know, personally, that if I could make $15 an hour getting burned by oil, shouted at by drunk drivers picking up food on their way home, and being sexually harassed by a 21 year old manager named Cody, why I would quit my law firm today and take that deal, you betcha you betcha you betcha.

    Are there ANY conservatives left who do not derive their premises from their conclusions? Seriously. This is a real question. It seems like every conservative so-called thinker starts with a wrong conclusion, develops ludicrous premises to support it, and then raises their hands in triumph over having “out-thunked” the “dumb libruls.”

    • Cheap Wino

      Yep. He never stopped to think how many Shania Twain’s never made it because they were trapped in a cycle of poverty that prevented them from having the wherewithal to get out of that minimum wage job because it doesn’t fit with the conclusion he wants.

      • Nobdy

        Or the musicians who tried to support themselves with restaurant work or another ‘day job’ but couldn’t make it work and had to take a more consuming job that messed up their scheduling and interfered with their art.

        The idea that we’d have LESS art and music if more jobs allowed people to support themselves is just crazy. If you want people to be able to create the best way to do it is to subsidize them. Barring that you can make it so they can work enough to survive and still have time and energy left to create. Barring that you can make up a stupid story about how poor people are motivated by poverty while rich people are motivated by pay (If low wages inspired Jeff Bezos as a McDonald’s employee shouldn’t we reduce his pay as a CEO to inspire him even more?)

        • tsam

          Which is why we sometimes see scary talented people playing 20 people in a coffee shop or local bar. I’m not exactly talented, but reality got in the way of my dreams of playing guitar for a living.

    • Derelict

      Are there ANY conservatives left who do not derive their premises from their conclusions?

      No.

      This is one of the reasons why conservatives are so “underrepresented” in the sciences. Science doesn’t allow you to say, “I’m going to prove my theory is correct.” It also doesn’t allow you to ignore evidence that doesn’t fit your theory. Conservativism would evaporate like toluene on a hot watch glass if it had to examine evidence before stating conclusions.

      • Linnaeus

        This is one of the reasons why conservatives are so “underrepresented” in the sciences.

        This may be true, but I wouldn’t take it as a given because of someone’s scientific training. People are quite capable of compartmentalization, not to mention that some questions are more amenable to scientific inquiry than others.

        • witlesschum

          Mmmhmmm. We should bring James Watson in to lecture about it, perhaps.

        • efgoldman

          This may be true, but I wouldn’t take it as a given because of someone’s scientific training.

          Yup. I give you neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, as well as all the doctors who are RWNJ Senators, congresscritters, and state legislators.

          • rhino

            Calling doctors ‘scientists’ is risible.

            It’s a trade, not a science. It *uses* science as a source of received knowledge to apply to health, rather like Engineering *uses* physics and math to provide received knowledge to create tables they plug numbers into.

            It’s a useful trade, but it ain’t ‘science’.

            • tsam

              Lots of doctors conduct lots of research.

              • Warren Terra

                Yeah, no. A significant number of people who do real biomedical research have MDs, but most MDs don’t even understand what science is. If you talk about someone doing biological research and call them “a doc” it’s an insult. I’ve known some excellent scientists who had MDs – some of whom, I think, didn’t have PhDs – but on average there are fundamental differences in approach and mindset that make a huge difference. It turns out you simply want different things from a doctor than from a researcher, most of the time. That MDs are inculcated with a lot of biological facts is important for their medical work and can be an advantage in doing biological research, but it’s only part of what you’d need.

                This works the other way around, of course. I know a lot of biology, but I know almost nothing about how it’s applied practically – and even if I did have more medically relevant knowledge (if for example my expertise were in pharmacology) there would still be hugely important skills in assessing and interacting with patients that I lack and in which I haven’t been trained. Doctors are great! But they aren’t scientists.

                ETA it’s also important to distinguish real research from rather meaningless hobbyist opportunities made available as a sop to doctors’ egos, and actual scientific studies from MDs’ “case reports” which are literally anecdotes.

            • Lee Rudolph

              A friend of mine—a large-animal (i.e., farm) veterinarian (D.V.M.) who got a Ph.D. in microbiology, studies viruses, and has been working at the CDC in Atlanta for a decade or so—used to say that doctors are so cute when they try to do science.

              Of course some doctors are scientists (in the sense of their behavior at times, not their credentials) as are some engineers. But it isn’t required of practitioners in either field.

  • Mudge

    What a twit (see Monty Python). Let’s just say the minimum wage will still be..drum roll..the MINIMUM wage. So, if you don’t want to drive a 1998 Oldsmobile, you still can become a country singer.

  • Derelict

    Ah! Self-righteous sophistry!

    This is the same reasoning that says since [random famous/wealthy minority person] was able to pull him/herself up by the bootstraps, we have no need for a social safety net. This works perfectly with the obverse argument: Since people are still poor despite the existence of a social safety net, we can declare all anti-poverty programs a failure and eliminate them.

    How people with these sorts of reasoning skills ever earn more than minimum wage . . .

    • waspuppet

      Yes – I can’t help feeling that if this investor’s income was reduced to $15 an hour, he would not say “OK; I’m cool with such a princely wage.”

      I also couldn’t help noticing that he did not include himself among the people who bootstrapped themselves out of a McDonald’s job into fabulous wealth. It’s almost like there’s a permanent class of haves. But that couldn’t possibly be.

    • efgoldman

      This is the same reasoning that says since [random famous/wealthy minority person] was able to pull him/herself up by the bootstraps, we have no need for a social safety net.

      And sometimes the bootstraps themselves are a mythical mirage. [::cough:: Clarence Thomas ::cough::]

    • rhino

      There is damned good money in saying what the powerful want to hear said…

  • tsam

    I can’t believe this is real. This is like an argument that dumbfuck relative who butchers the language and logic on Facebook posts would posit as an ocular ipecac.

    Let’s talk about professional musicians. It’s not a career choice among a bunch of similar options. It takes an incredible amount of drive and focus. The idea that any aspiring musician would take McDonald’s money over being a famous pop star is pile of fail higher than your eye.

    • Origami Isopod

      I can’t believe this is real.

      I can. This is bog-standard modern conservative rhetoric. Actually, this isn’t too different from the rhetoric of Horatio Alger days, either.

      • This is bog-standard modern conservative rhetoric. Actually, this isn’t too different from the rhetoric of Horatio Alger days, either.

        Is there still a discernible difference between conservatives in the two eras?

        • Gilded Age conservatives would not have approved of Shania Twain.

        • witlesschum

          Beards.

        • ColBatGuano

          Hats.

    • Warren Terra

      Just to pick up on one part of your comment: my extremely limited knowledge of the day-to-day lives of working musicians suggests that extremely few of them are pursuing their music as a coldly rational strategy to maximize their income and escape a low-wage lifestyle. I have no idea what Twain’s career arc looked like, but I think a lot of working musicians would actually make more money in the cold, greasy embrace of Mayor McCheese than they do pursuing their art.

      • tsam

        Exactly. With nearly all of them, it’s ALL they want to do. Other career options, especially joining the Hamburglar’s crime syndicate isn’t even a consideration. They work there for the flexible hours and enough money to eat until they hopefully get something going.

        (Also , the Mayor McCheese thing made me laugh so hard-nice one)

      • tsam

        Twain’ career arc is similar that of most others–try, fail, try again, fail, drive on until you get there.

        • KmCO

          I would actually rather listen to Shania Twain circa 1999 than Taylor Swift.

          • Well of course. Swift was ten years old in 1999 and I’m sure her act was not yet polished.

          • Luckily this is a choice one never has to make. Barring Hell existing.

          • tsam

            I can handle small doses of both of them. They’re both stupidly talented, but point the talent in a direction I don’t necessarily like. But they’re both hugely popular, so whatever they did worked perfectly.

            • In college, I accompanied a date to the school’s hockey arena for a Howard Jones concert. I knew I would face two or three hours of pop tedium and I knew there would be cheap beer to help relieve the pain. Then, late in the concert, Jones abandoned the synth and went to play the piano and my god he could play. For one song. And then he went back to the synth.

              For the last thirty years, I’ve assumed that all pop sensations have some real talent regardless of whether I can find it by listening to their hits.

              • tsam

                I’d say that’s absolutely true. Current example: Bruno Mars.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  talent and popular success are just usually mysteries to me. I remember watching the CBS 75th anniversary program, where Tom Wopat and John Schneider came out in tuxes and sailed through a medley of the CBS theme songs- it was just amazing, not just to me but to the live audience, all the old CBS stars themselves. And it was two guys who got famous for sliding across the hood of a big orange car named for a traitor

              • sparks

                Even Kenny G?

                • His crap doesn’t sound worse to me than Jones’s crap.

                • tsam

                  You mean the guy who is a master of his instrument (giggity) and could likely play with a professional orchestra? Yes, even him.

                • sparks

                  As long as you don’t mistake it for jazz.

                • Nobdy

                  There are definitely pop stars who are not great musicians. Manufactured boy bands come to mind. Mark and Donnie Wahlberg ain’t exactly virtuosos.

                  On the other side you’ve got Dave Grohl and all the other people who became rock or pop stars almost by accident because they were great at playing music and couldn’t stop doing it.

              • KmCO

                I love Howard Jones. He had some really fun songs.

              • rhino

                Yep, I’m pretty sure I saw that same tour, and for the same reason (hoping to get laid). It was stunning.

                Other examples of similar talent hiding behind formula: Christina Aguilera, Bryan Adams, and of course Patsy Cline, who was wasted on almost all the garbage she sang.

                • That’s a pretty strong statement on Cline, although this is what can happen when you are completely reliant on songwriters.

            • KmCO

              I’ve come to appreciate Taylor Swift as a person more in the last couple of years. She’s gone from (in my opinion) playing up a somewhat vapid, privileged girly-girl style to really growing up and discovering more of who she is and growing in confidence, both in herself and the knowledge of people who are toxic to her. But I do not like her music.*

              *My absolute favorite musical acts are obscure, psychedelic, and perhaps inaccessible to large segments of the population. But I don’t consider myself a musical purist. If I like a song, I like that song, and I don’t care if it’s “poppy” or whatever. But T. Swift’s music just doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t find it musically interesting, first and foremost, and then the themes don’t really resonate with me. At least Shania Twain had some songs that I thought had interesting riffs or chord sequences.

              • Derelict

                “What’s good music? If you like it, then it’s good music.”

                Duke Ellington

                • Of course Duke Ellington never heard Shania Twain.

                • rhino

                  The tragedy of Twain is that she has an incredible voice, good stage presence, obvious drive and determination and no evidence of any kind of soul.

                  Soul in the musical sense. I have no idea if she’s cruel to puppies or whatever.

                • Warren Terra

                  I think “tragedy” is laying it on a bit thick. She has had considerable career success and has made a lot of money. I have no idea what her goals and priorities are, but it seems quite possible that she has found it possible to do what she likes and has found happiness, despite failing to pursue her music in the way you would prefer.

        • B. Peasant

          Try, fail, try again, marry a famous record producer.

      • Shakezula

        …extremely few of them are pursuing their music as a coldly rational strategy to maximize their income and escape a low-wage lifestyle.

        So unlike us squares.

        But seriously, in my experience, they run the gamut just like everyone else. Some people are as scarily focused and some people you wonder how they can even read a play list. Their motives are all over the place. And there’s little connection between talent/focus/success.

        Some of their calculations may seem a bit odd on the surface. Like, skipping a meal to afford drumsticks or strings? Crazy stuff. But if that allows them to play a couple of gigs that will cover the rent and groceries for the week, it makes sense.

        I think what makes some of them different is where the desire to play ranks in relation to the desire to live comfortably. And even that changes.

        And this is before you get to the insanely high bar for “making it” as a musician the higher bar for “maintaining it.”

    • JDM

      Shania has given plenty of interviews in Canada over the years. Pretty straight talker too. She’s often stated that she hoped to become a songwriter and be successful enough to own a paid up house and car.

  • Origami Isopod

    Posting a photo of a live horse? Who are you and what have you done with Loomis?

    • Lee Rudolph

      It’s not “live” so much as it is “pre-dead”.

    • Woodrowfan

      I assumed it was a song about Catherine the Great….

    • Hogan

      They’re now serving that horse at a McDonald’s near you.

    • If Shania Twain ever sings to a dead horse, I promise to post that photo here.

      • Warren Terra

        How long do horses live? Could well be a dead horse by now.

  • Warren Terra

    Its the McDonalds-as-Victorian-Poorhouse argument. The poor must suffer, or they’ll never knuckle down and escape their poverty.

    • Linnaeus

      Are there no workhouses?

  • brownian

    a shareholder claimed at the company’s annual meeting this week.

    The unidentified man, who said he’d been a McDonald’s investor since 1990 according to BuzzFeed News

    [My emphasis.]

    If this is true for McDonald’s employees, then surely it’s even moreso for McDonald’s investors.

    If the government had taxed this man’s investment ‘earnings’ so that he likewise made less than $15/hour from simply owning shares, just think what that man might have done. Maybe he’s the artist we’ve been waiting for since 1990. What albums might have he recorded, what canvases might have he painted, if only he’d had the incentive?

    • Derelict

      As noted above, in America, the only way to get poor people to work is to make them even more impoverished. Otherwise they lack all incentive to not be poor.

      And, in America, the only way to get rich people to work is to make them even wealthier. Otherwise they lack all incentive to be rich.

      You sometimes see this latter argument expressed as, “Well, if I had to pay 30% income tax my second million dollars, I wouldn’t even bother making any money.”

  • DrDick

    If it would actually end the endless flow of vapid country pop stars, let’s raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour (which we really need to do anyway for workers to afford housing).

  • Shakezula

    Come the revolution that person will be forced to read the names of all the McD’s employees who didn’t become huge successes. While treading water in a shark tank full of chum.

  • witlesschum

    I wonder if there will be a McDonald’s in Galt’s Gulch?

    • Derelict

      Would you like some fries with your think strips of objectivist jerky?

      • rhino

        Paging chef Scalzi. Paging chef Scalzi!

    • tsam

      Of course. But those employees won’t be spoiled like ours. They’ll be paid in Big Macs.

  • Mike G

    It’s an argument so stupid I’m surprised Rush Limbaugh hasn’t belched it out yet.

    But I’d be open to an economic policy that could have strangled Justin Bieber’s career at its infancy.

    • ColBatGuano

      Rush would fart it out.

  • Brett

    Why do they even bother with stupid bullshit like this?

    If I was a McDonald’s CEO or investor, I’d just loosen up ties with the franchises in terms of control over employees (so as to avoid getting reclassified as an employer of them), and then blame the franchisees for bad wages and labor conditions. Say something like “we’d love for our franchises to pay their employees well, but ultimately they’re their restaurants to manage and own” and so forth.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Say what you will about Shania Twain’s music, but she gave rise to one of the all-time great memes over at Sadly, No! One of the resident troll/punching bags wrote a screed about how if it were up to Teh Libruls, we’d all be living under sharia law. Only it came out “shania law.” It wasn’t just a typo; he repeated it several times.

    The Sadlies, of course, had a field day. Under Shania Law, attractive women will have to bare their abs at all times, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” will be the national anthem, etc.

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