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Life Under Puzder

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I won’t attack Andy Puzder for hiring an undocumented worker to clean his house, but I sure will attack for everything else, including how he treats his own workers.

In 1984, I was hired as a cashier at Hardee’s in Columbia, S.C., making $4.25 an hour. By 2005, 21 years later, my pay was only at $8 an hour. That’s a $3.75 raise for a lifetime of work. Adjusted for inflation, it’s only a 2-cent raise.

Andrew Puzder, the chief executive since 2000 of CKE — which owns Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., and other fast-food companies — is now in line to become the country’s next labor secretary. The headlines ponder what this may mean for working people in America, but I already know.

I already know what Trump/Puzder economics look like because I’m living it every day. Despite giving everything I had to Puzder’s company for 21 years, I left without a penny of savings, with no health care and no pension. Now, while I live in poverty, Trump, who promised to fix the rigged economy, has chosen for labor secretary someone who wants to rig it up even more. He’s chosen the chief executive of a company who recently made more than $10 million in a year, while I’m scraping by on Supplemental Security payments.

When I began at Hardee’s, I was hopeful. I liked the work and received a promotion to shift manager after only a month. But the pay remained low, and even with my husband’s salary as the head cook at Fort Jackson, we relied on food stamps and Medicaid. We were two full-time-employed adults; we shouldn’t have had to turn to the government, but we had kids to raise, and so we were left with no other choice.

Low pay wasn’t the only reason my family struggled: It was the lack of benefits and respect, too. I remember once my manager came to my house on a day off and demanded I go into work. I remember trudging through Hurricane Katrina to get to the store. I remember being denied a raise multiple times.

In 2005, I was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had to stop working. After more than two decades at Hardee’s, I left without any savings, a 401(k), pension or health benefits. That’s Puzder’s America.

But hey, fast food workers are all 16 year old kids in their first job and we don’t need to worry about paying them a living wage, right? It doesn’t matter I guess since Puzder will lead us on our Great Leap Forward of Automation in the next four years. Massive unemployment and desperate poverty won’t just be the fate of fast food workers anymore! The New Gilded Age is a glorious time!

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  • vic rattlehead

    That is a heartbreaking and infuriating story. But it is also vivid and well-written! Wise should start a blog if her health allows it.

  • Linnaeus

    Obviously, it’s this loser’s own fault for working at Hardee’s for over twenty years.

    • Karen24

      I know you mean this as satire, but I read the comments, and about half of them said exactly that. “Fast food work is not a career and her misery is her own fault for not making herself more valuable over 20 years.”

      • N__B

        Obviously, the only value we all have is in our work. Work is therefore at the core of the American Dream of peace, prosperity, and freedom. Or, more succinctly, arbeit macht frei.

        • tsam

          **MASHES LIKE BUTTON LIKE 150 TIMES***

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Sorry, but that’s pretty much it. I’m sympathetic to “stickiness” of labor arguments, but in this instance we’re not talking about someone with a non-transferable skill set or who lacked required credentials to switch jobs. Nor are we talking about someone in a declining industry where there were no other equivalent jobs to switch to. And employee turnover in the fastfood sector is incredibly high — 150% or more annually, source: http://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3168&context=dissertations — meaning that there are almost constantly job openings (especially over a 20-year potential job search period). She wouldn’t even have had to take a pay cut or lose benefits by switching jobs since it appears she was already making just a hair over minimum wage and getting no benefits! And unless the Columbia, SC economy is different than Denver’s, there should be fast food places or other types of chain dining establishments that pay at least marginally more than minimum wage or otherwise give some sort of employee benefits.

        • Jon_H11

          there should be fast food places or other types of chain dining establishments that pay at least marginally more than minimum wage or otherwise give some sort of employee benefits.

          I lived in Columbia SC for a few years, the answer here is Nope. Especially taking into account that she is an AA woman.

          • efgoldman

            Nope. Especially taking into account that she is an AA woman.

            Clearly, a dubble-loozah parasite on society's ass.
            Seriously, I can’t even imagine….

        • tsam

          So you’re just ok with selectively applying the ‘Y SHE DONT GET BETTER JOBZ’ trope?

          This is dangerously close to rushing to the defense of Hardee’s for not paying a career employee a living wage because there are lots of other jobs she could take. Whether this has any validity or not is irrelevant. All persons employed deserve a living wage.

          • Rob in CT

            Just Dropping By has libertarian tendencies that are sometimes subtle and sometimes… not.

            • Ahuitzotl

              Just Dropping By has libertarian authorityworshipping bootlicking tendencies

              • N__B

                To be fair, bootlicking without authority worship is nothing more than unpleasant footgear maintenance.

                • tsam

                  Unpleasant? Let me show you my dungeon parlor.

                • rea

                  Surely, you’ve got to respect someone who licks themselves up by their own bootstraps

      • trollhattan

        Yep, when career blue collar jobs disappear jobs once meant for those just entering the work force become more or less permanent for tens of millions who’re scraping daily to pay the rent and put food on the table. Am recalling when a paper route was once the prototypical kid’s entry point to the job market–now it’s adults driving around neighborhoods before dawn, likely as not before going off to their “regular” job.

        Speaking of food, I’ll speculate Ms Wise’ heart condition derives from eating that shitty food daily for twenty years. As if she had a choice.

      • Linnaeus

        Not surprised at all, which is why I stayed out of the comments.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Obviously, it’s this loser’s own fault for working at Hardee’s for over twenty years.

      Fixed, I got your back, Carl.

      • Linnaeus

        Heh, appreciate the gesture. I was being sarcastic, but I just haven’t (yet) adopted the sarcasm font.

    • wengler

      It’s pretty funny that people can think this and then simultaneously lament the destruction of unskilled factory jobs that paid $25 an hour.

      • sigaba

        Unskilled factory work is MAN JOB.

        Food service, janitorial and service are WOMAN JOB.

        • lizzie

          Precisely.

  • tsam

    But hey, fast food workers are all 16 year old kids in their first job and we don’t need to worry about paying them a living wage, right?

    You know, I have routine rage attacks over a couple of people on Facebook who rail on this issue (this being Washington, where I’m proud to say our minimum wage is far better than most states, though still not a living wage).

    They insist a whole bunch of businesses are going out of business: This is demonstrably false but it’s not the worst part.

    The worst part is their condescending, snide, aristocratic put-downs of people who do this kind of work–as if they aren’t worth a living wage. It’s disgusting, and a huge problem in our society. It’s one thing to value education and revere someone who puts all the effort into a Master’s degree. It’s quite another to consider those who don’t or can’t beneath us.

    They’re on the punch list with the Nazis and people who want pineapple on pizza.

    • Linnaeus

      The worst part is their condescending, snide, aristocratic put-downs of people who do this kind of work–as if they aren’t worth a living wage. It’s disgusting, and a huge problem in our society. It’s one thing to value education and revere someone who puts all the effort into a Master’s degree. It’s quite another to consider those who don’t or can’t beneath us.

      Yep, and it’s not just openly right-wing people who do this, unfortunately.

      • leftwingfox

        Unfortunately true.

      • tsam

        It’s absolutely not–though these two offenders seem to be at least somewhat right wing. They’re both women, and I notice mostly Lost Pinup posts (which I dig immensely), but every once in a while I see a “RIP SMALL BUSINESSES IN WASHINGTON”.

        I had fun asking them what was going to happen to my small business, and feigning surprise when finding out that other businesses allow their survival to teeter on the edge of a couple of dollars per hour to their (almost certainly) few employees. They hate that shit. I’ll go ahead and award myself an epic troll medal for that day.

        • Linnaeus

          Definitely the right-wingers are much, much worse about it.

          • tsam

            Yes–especially the ones who do similar work–(anything not requiring a college degree, physical in nature). There’s just something about working in a fast food restaurant that has gained a particularly nasty stigma, and I DON’T LIKE IT.

            • rea

              Senior partner at my old firm sneered at my husband for working fast food–I was able to point out that he was managing a business that netted more per year than the law firm.

            • Brownian

              There’s just something about working in a fast food restaurant that has gained a particularly nasty stigma, and I DON’T LIKE IT.

              It really is one field people love to loathe.

              Once in awhile I would see people sharing that meme comparing fast food workers to EMTs, asking why the former deserved to make the same wage as the latter (my online space is my liberal bubble, so this meme was usually shared in a critical fashion.)

              I find it illustrative that the social value of ‘saving lives’ is only trotted out when fast food employees’ wages are raised. When I ask people why I, as someone who works to cure cancer for a living (I don’t, but I don’t always feel like explaining that epidemiology has nothing to do with skin disorders), make substantially less than the CEO of Hardee’s, all of a sudden saved lives lose their objective value.

              • ThresherK (KadeKo)

                That OMGEMTEMT! effluvia gets around. When and where EMTs make less than $15/hr is the most fun to ask people how EMTs won’t benefit from a raised minimum wage.

                • JL

                  EMTs make shit in most parts of the country. I’ve never figured out why that isn’t an argument for paying EMTs more rather than other people less.

              • tsam

                make substantially less than the CEO of Hardee’s, all of a sudden saved lives lose their objective value.

                Well, to you, since you have the ability to make value judgments that aren’t loaded full of prejudice. These haters, not so much.

                For me, I’m still a little baffled by the idea that we have to choose between EMTs and fast food workers as more deserving of a living wage. Sort of like the dim bulb motherfuckers sharing memes about refugees vs homeless veterans. I looked all the way through the rule book and it turns out we don’t have to choose which of these national disgraces to fix immediately or sooner.

                • Brownian

                  For me, I’m still a little baffled by the idea that we have to choose between EMTs and fast food workers as more deserving of a living wage. Sort of like the dim bulb motherfuckers sharing memes about refugees vs homeless veterans. I looked all the way through the rule book and it turns out we don’t have to choose which of these national disgraces to fix immediately or sooner.

                  It’s such bullshit. I think I saw someone tweet something to the effect of “You can always tell when immigration policy is in the news by the number of conservatives who suddenly pretend to care about the homeless.”

                • tsam

                  Yes–the one that really gets me wound up is when they suddenly care about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, just next to a post about how sluts murder their babies all the damn time and are worse than 2 Hitlers, 4 Stalins and one Pol Pot.

              • epidemiologist

                Interesting, I have experienced people over-valuing my job so much that when I am not anonymous, I try to just not tell them what I do. (I am also in cancer, so my choices are also to call myself a “cancer researcher” or be asked what an epidemiologist is.)

                The flip side of all of these jobs that make you sound like some credit to society is that you’re already being compensated handsomely by being constantly treated as a credit to society. Most such jobs are reasonably well paid, respected, were affirmatively chosen on some level by the people who hold them, and are, as my partner puts it, “indoors wearing pants”.

                Our society tells people that we should “do what you love” and even that it’s virtuous to do so and bad not to. I think this is completely backwards. I’ve worked retail and food service jobs– my last retail job was so bad I quit by just walking out. My job now involves doing exactly what what I like to do, going with my conscience 100% of the time, being praised by nice people, and using skills that give me like 3 Plan Bs. Wise sacrificed her comfort, her health, her future, and most people’s respect to support her family. I think it’s pretty obvious who the real hero is.

                • Brownian

                  I am also in cancer, so my choices are also to call myself a “cancer researcher” or be asked what an epidemiologist is.

                  Same here, though I do more cancer surveillance than cancer epidemiology, and the bulk of my job is helping actual researchers produce and analyze data.

                  I find I can head questions about my work off at the pass with “You know how much you hated statistics in high school and hoped to hell you’d never have to calculate a confidence interval again? That’s where me and my colleagues come in, but with cancer.”

                  Though sometimes people hear ‘surveillance’ and think I’m some sort of spy. I let them.

                • epidemiologist

                  Cool! I have often thought about doing that type of work next. (I am a PhD student and analyst currently.)

                  I actually am doing a surveillance related project right now, although with a research/disparities purpose (find a way to estimate cancer incidence in areas not usually reported, give to legislators). I try to not say “surveillance” or share that governments collect this type of individual-level cancer data because I don’t want my Infowars-loving father in law to start writing letters to the editor.

                  I tell people my job combines three terrible things: cancer, racism, and math.

                  One of my professors put it even better: “We count dead people.”

                • Dennis Orphen

                  cancer, racism, and math

                  If you start a blog, you have a good working title to start with.

                • Brownian

                  One of my professors put it even better: “We count dead people.”

                  Yup. I never see patients’ names unless I’m performing record linkage for a specific research project, but I’ve taught myself to read them as patterns of letters, rather than names. Still, I’ve been doing this long enough that I occasionally come across the name of someone I know or their relative, and it’s a bit of a punch in the gut. I have to consciously ‘forget’ anything about their diagnosis that they haven’t told me themselves.

            • Jon_H11

              Working fast food is terrible.

              There shouldn’t be stigma against people working those jobs when those are what’s available, but the fact that they are all that is available should be an epic scandal.

              • tsam

                And it’s HARD fucking work. I did it for a few years. It was not an easy job.

          • tsam

            For context, one is an RN, one is a bartender. Guess which of the two has the most vicious sadz about rising minimum wages. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            • Brownian

              I know a bartender like that. He’s also got MRA and libertarian tendencies, so he thinks women are less valuable to society (unless they’re making babies) and lies about his tips on his tax forms.

              It’s all I can do to point out that his contribution to society is grabbing the bottles that have been purposefully put out of customer’s reach. A rent-seeking stepstool as it were. (I kid, I kid. There’s nothing wrong with providing food or drink as a job. I used to work part-time as a server/bartender just to get the people fix I miss in my day job.)

          • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

            Once saw a Tumblr post pick up hundreds of likes from a lot of social justice people (a lot of whom I knew online and respect/like) in which an awkward (and no doubt creepy) man had leered at a super-photogenic Millennial queer woman with lots of followers who had gone into the Chipotle where he worked, and she had zinged him with something to the effect of “Guess this is why you build burritos for a living, huh?”

            • tsam

              **sigh**

              • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

                To be fair, I guess a lot of kids who are on basically the right side of issues think fast but not carefully, and it’s hard for them to pass up a good zinger.

                It’s similar to people who joke that Conservatives need “trigger warnings” or “get triggered” by X. If you believe triggers are real, and that trigger warnings are useful, why in God’s name make that joke?

                • tsam

                  To be fair, I guess a lot of kids who are on basically the right side of issues think fast but not carefully, and it’s hard for them to pass up a good zinger.

                  Yes, though it’s not just kids. I know plenty of liberal adults who uncritically pass along inane, stupid posts that at first look, seem ok, but are loaded with logical fallacies that run the entire gamut of reasons they’re stupid. Hell, I’m probably guilty of it myself.

                • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

                  @tsam I certainly do. If nothing else, I’m catch myself much too often being obliviously ableist–and that means there are doubtless many more times when I am ableist without ever catching it even after it’s too late.

                • tsam

                  I do it. I’ve been trying to undo my “white knight” sexism. It’s been tough. Though I’d say you and I have an advantage in that we care enough to do better.

                • Woodrowfan

                  I gave up on a liberal blog I enjoyed a few years ago when they started posting crap from “People of Walmart.”

                • humanoid.panda

                  Once saw a Tumblr post pick up hundreds of likes from a lot of social justice people (a lot of whom I knew online and respect/like) in which an awkward (and no doubt creepy) man had leered at a super-photogenic Millennial queer woman with lots of followers who had gone into the Chipotle where he worked, and she had zinged him with something to the effect of “Guess this is why you build burritos for a living, huh?”

                  I have a somewhat similar reaction to the “mediocre white man” meme. I see where it’s coming from, but I kinda feel that all of us are mediocre in various ways, and there is no reason to accept bullshit meritocratic language like that.

                • JL

                  It’s similar to people who joke that Conservatives need “trigger warnings” or “get triggered” by X. If you believe triggers are real, and that trigger warnings are useful, why in God’s name make that joke?

                  I have this reaction too, I thought it was just me.

                  I get that people are doing it because they’re using words like “triggered” and “safe space” the way that those conservatives are, in a sort of “in your face, asshole!” way, and also that some of the people who do this are people who (like me) have triggers themselves, but I still don’t like it and wince at it.

                • Origami Isopod

                  Tumblr isn’t all kids.

                  Also, there’s a lot of classism in U.S. liberalism. It’s pretty bad up here in the Northeast, especially.

                • Darkrose

                  Pointing up the hypocrisy in wingnuts accusing the rest of us of being “snowflakes” when they’re the ones who are white, cold, and incredibly fragile.

            • Dennis Orphen

              Link? Asking for a friend.

              • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

                I don’t have a link to a three year old post on a site I outgrew.

                • Dennis Orphen

                  “Hand me down website”

                  The original question was kind of joke anyway, as are most of my comments. Don’t forget to tip the veal.

                • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

                  @Dennis Orphen veal is murder you’re a bad person.

                  (That was me missing the joke again!)

                • Dennis Orphen

                  I’m a bicycle riding, mass transit using (with the bike), mostly vegan, very off grid living post 1968 New Leftist, for future reference.

                • ZakMcKrackenAndTheAlienMindbenders

                  @Dennis Orphen I have been assuming you are also one of the people (like me) who still reads Dawn Powell?

                • Dennis Orphen

                  @ZMKATAM

                  Yes I do read Dawn Powell, good to know someone else does, you are the first I have encountered.

                  Do you read James Purdy too?

      • LeeEsq

        We are dealing with some very old and nearly universal aspects of human society. Humans might be social animals but we are also hierarchical animals. To most people the idea that there are types of work that should be degrading in conditions and low in pay makes a lot of intuitive sense. The details of this impulse manifests differently but its not hard to find it.

        • tsam

          And there’s a hierarchy to work as it relates to class–one I don’t have an especially big problem with. Paying a nuclear physicist more than a dishwasher makes some intuitive sense, if for nothing more than the amount of money, time and work put into an advanced physics degree. But there is no reason that someone who gets his/her butt out of bed and goes to work deserves any ridicule for what they do (unless it’s like a communications director for Trump) and there’s no reason for them to not earn enough of a living to take care of themselves and their families.

          • sigaba

            At least the dishwasher is paid to wash dishes. The nuclear physicist probably spends most of his time writing grants to an NSF that is being bankrupted as we speak.

            The nut is the nuclear physicist makes only a tenth the hedge fund quant does with the same skill set.

            • Dennis Orphen

              the nuclear physicist makes only a tenth the hedge fund quant does with the same skill set.

              With the nuclear physicist’s money too, charging mad fees with no oversight, generating more paper on the physicist’s account than the physicist does himself at work.

              Who’s the real genius?

              • Linnaeus

                “Work it out, mate. We’re in the wrong fucking game.”

        • Tzimiskes

          I have my doubts about this. What anthropology I’ve read doesn’t make hunter gatherer societies sound very hierarchical. It seems more consistent to me that this is a feature of pre modern agriculture rather than a condition of humanity. My viewpoint is that agriculture rewarded a lot of really nasty human traits and we are currently living in a period where we are beginning to throw off some nadty habits developed in our agricultural phase. Unfortunately a lot of our institutions have a basis in agriculture which is making it harder to throw off the dominance of those that actually liked and were rewarded by the terrible agricultural lifestyle of the past 6 millenia.

          • tsam

            Aren’t our nearest primate relatives VERY hierarchical? I know that doesn’t really prove anything, but it seems like it’s a thing.

            This isn’t meant to contradict your point about the oppressive classism humans regularly use for the benefit of the upper crust types. But I think we’re somewhat drawn to ranking ourselves withing a hierarchy, and punching down is a tool we use to forget our shitty ranking within that system…?

            • Dilan Esper

              Read “Sex at Dawn”. I am very much not a fan of evolutionary psychology, but that book makes a lot of sense.

              • LeeEsq

                “Sex at Dawn” always struck me as a way trying to advocate why your beliefs on how society should treat sex really are grounded in nature while other ideas are not. Its advocacy masquerading as science.

                • tsam

                  I don’t see how the pervasive instinct to treat sex as more offensive than ultra violence in art relates to anything related to evolutionary biology.

                • Lost Left Coaster

                  I don’t see how the pervasive instinct to treat sex as more offensive than ultra violence in art relates to anything related to evolutionary biology.

                  It’s really strange, when you think about it — there’s really no reason to treat depictions of sex as offensive at all. It seems so natural in North American society, but it’s a choice that we’ve made.

                • DrDick

                  I don’t see how the pervasive instinct to treat sex as more offensive than ultra violence in art relates to anything related to evolutionary biology.

                  It is not an instinct (biologically driven) and is a cultural feature that is not at all universal.

                • tsam

                  Right–instinct was the wrong word. Cultural defect!

                • tsam

                  It’s really strange, when you think about it — there’s really no reason to treat depictions of sex as offensive at all.

                  Especially when you consider that outside of IV fertilization, sex is necessary for the survival of the human race. Violence, on the other hand, is pervasive and an unqualified detriment to humanity.

              • DrDick

                I have not read the book myself, but it appears rather problematic (for the same reasons as most evo-psych). It is true that humans are not naturally monogamous.

                • Origami Isopod

                  but it appears rather problematic (for the same reasons as most evo-psych).

                  I have yet to see any popular ev-psy that wasn’t a pile of ex post facto reasoning meant to justify the modern status quo.

                • DrDick

                  Me either.

              • Dennis Orphen

                I told the publisher to retitle the book Morning Missile, the namesake of my first rock band.

                They didn’t listen (to me or the band).

            • DrDick

              Depends on which of our closest relatives you are referring to. We are equally related to chimpanzees and bonobos, shoring about 98% of our genes with each (who also share 98% with each other). Chimpanzees are fairly hierarchical, though less so than baboons. Bonobos not so much.

              • tsam

                Right–though I think the bigger point is that do witness varying degrees of social structures in our evolutionary cousins, so it’s not entirely out of line to think that we have some natural tendency to classify ourselves as above or beneath others in some kind of de facto rating system. Then again, once we developed reasoning, that should have gone out the window, aside from recognizing that leadership is needed in complex social systems, sooooo I could be totally full of shit. I should shut up since I have no clue what the hell I’m talking about.

                • DrDick

                  Hierarchy in humans is largely, if not entirely, a cultural invention which only emerges after the advent of sedentism (which happens about 8-10,000 years before agriculture).

                • tsam

                  What’s it gonna take to get rid of it?

            • Dennis Orphen

              Our nearest primate relatives are under the kind of stress from degraded and shrinking environments that cause all kinds of negative psycho-social externalities. When we stop pushing them to the brink of extinction, then we can analyze their social structures.

              • Dennis Orphen

                I should have been brief and just said ‘environmental stresses’.

                It’s been awhile since I had to pass tests on this stuff.

          • LeeEsq

            Pre-modern agriculture existed as the default state of human society for several thousands of years and had enough time to influence human thought on the matter.

            • Tzimiskes

              I wouldn’t disagree with that, but I think it makes a difference whether we are talking about a few thousand years of selection or something that dates back to our primate ancestors. If it is a few thousand years then it is more likely that the problem is mostly one of cultural inertia, while their may be a minority of throw backs to our more hierarchical ancestors most of us can and will be perfectly happy in a future with less hierarchy. It is just a matter of taking apart the hierarchical institutions that currently exist thus depriving these individuals of institutional power and thus marginalizing them since there will not be majority coalition to reinstitute these institutions once dismantled. However, if hierarchy is more deeply rooted in our biology then it follows that egalitarian institutions require a hierarchical veneer to reconcile people to them. This is admittedly rather pedantic given current issues but is nevertheless a question I enjoy considering.

              I would note against my pet theory that all revolutions I have read much about simply try to replace one hierarchy with another rather than try to develop representative institutions throughout society. In my hopeful moments I think this is simply historical contingency. We just don’t have much history yet that is post plurality agricultural employment.

              • DrDick

                It is most definitely not about biology. It is a cultural invention.

              • Dennis Orphen

                all revolutions I have read much about simply try to replace one hierarchy with another rather than try to develop representative institutions throughout society

                That’s the crux of the difference between a civil war and a real revolution in the lexicon of a political scientist.

            • DrDick

              Many primitive agriculturalists are also egalitarian.

          • Brownian

            I have my doubts about this. What anthropology I’ve read doesn’t make hunter gatherer societies sound very hierarchical. It seems more consistent to me that this is a feature of pre modern agriculture rather than a condition of humanity.

            This is generally my understanding as well, though they’re not entirely without hierarchical or gendered roles. In fact, foraging societies like the Ju/’hoansi (AKA !Kung) have social practices that act to reduce hierarchies, such as ‘insulting the meat’: hunters who’ve killed are expected to downplay the success of their hunt, and everyone else joins in. “Why did you even bother wasting an arrow on that scrawny thing? Are you blind?” when in fact the carcass is huge and full of meat. We would call it ‘tall poppy syndrome’, but they will explain the reason they do this is so that no one person starts to think they’re too big for their britches, which can lead to violent, fatal confrontations.

            • DrDick

              This kind of thing is the norm among mobile foragers generally.

              • Ahuitzotl

                The ancestor of the disagreement over pizza toppings

          • DrDick

            Speaking as a professional anthropologist, you are generally correct.

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Humans might be social animals but we are also hierarchical animals.

          No, there’s really no evidence that humans are “naturally” hierarchical. The development of hierarchy in humans is historically contingent. Small groups of humans are generally non-hierarchical. To have a big man, or a chief, for a small group usually means that person has responsibilities to the group, charismatic authority but not dictatorial power.

        • DrDick

          Humans might be social animals but we are also hierarchical animals.

          No we are not. For most of our several million year history we have lived in egalitarian societies. Hierarchy only emerges about 20,000 years ago.

          • Nick never Nick

            You guys are talking about economic hierarchy only — there are many societies that have less of this. However, all societies have some form of hierarchy; spiritual, status, skill, gender, or many more possibilities.

            Neither do we have a several million year history — that term is meaningless. Humankind is impossible to define in the near archeological term, but it is highly unlikely to be older than 100,000 years old, and far likely much younger.

            • Lost Left Coaster

              all societies have some form of hierarchy

              No, but that’s the thing: this is incorrect.

              The problem with your comment is that you’re equating difference with hierarchy. It is possible, for example, to have someone who is recognized as a spiritual practitioner but not according that person a hierarchical position. In egalitarian societies, it is not that everyone is the same role or has the same skill. Rather, no one is recognized to have special power over others based on that difference. Brownian above makes reference to a very famous example of this, discussed in Richard Lee’s classic text “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari,” which I highly recommend, which discusses how !Kung hunters keep each others’ egos in check to maintain a flat, non-hierarchical society.

              • Nick never Nick

                Yes, I am familiar with Christmas in the Kalahari — Dr. Lee taught part of my intro anthropology course. The San do have social hierarchies, for example, healers. Specialized knowledge is a form of hierarchy — just because their society has other mechanisms to keep it in check doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Our society has those same mechanisms, for example, the taboo about bragging about how much you earn, or asking someone else what their wage is; and we still have hierarchies.

                • DrDick

                  You are misusing the terms. Among the !Kung, people with special abilities were respected more, but had no more power or anything else.

                • Nick never Nick

                  Well, that’s my point — a greater degree of respect is a social gradient. It may not be the same money gradient that is being discussed in the Washington Post article, but a hierarchy of respect, or of age, or of wisdom, or anything like that, is a hierarchy.

                  Nowhere in my comment did I state that I meant a hierarchy associated with formal power or status. However, I would argue that all of the gradients mentioned above will have effects on social or political dynamics.

                • DrDick

                  The kinds of social difference I am referring to are both contingent and weak and are potentially open to everyone. They do not actually constitute “hierarchies” as the term is normally used in social and behavioral sciences. In humans, actual hierarchies, of the sorts we have been discussing in this thread, require an elaborate structures and constant effort to maintain them. Humans are not naturally strongly hierarchical, compared to chimps for instance.

                • Nick never Nick

                  Fair enough — I don’t mean to argue about something that I’m sure you’re far more knowledgeable about than I am; and I probably am misusing specialized terms that I don’t understand. My original comment was just pointing out that when we (i.e. Americans) discuss how hunter-gathering groups aren’t hierarchical, we’re almost always using that term in the way that means most to us: resources and formal positions. That’s all — I didn’t mean to force you to get into the weeds of how you work on this issue.

            • DrDick

              No, I am talking about structural inequality generally. Speaking as a cultural anthropologist with 30 years in the profession, whose major focus is structural inequality, you are talking nonsense.

              • Nick never Nick

                Maybe, it’s not my specialty. I don’t think what I said is any more nonsensical than asserting our species is several million years old.

                • DrDick

                  Once again you reveal your ignorance. The human lineage, as separate from that of the other apes goes back 6-8 million years. Admittedly until about 3.5 million years ago our ancestors were more similar to chimpanzees and bonobos than us in many ways. By 3 million years ago, genus Homo emerges along with stone tool manufacture.

                • Nick never Nick

                  My good Doctor Dick, this is more a battle of each of us revealing our own ignorance. Speaking as a biological anthropologist, with advanced training and fieldwork in evolutionary biology, paleontology, and human anatomy, your eliding of the difference between ‘species’ and ‘human lineage’ is nonsense.

                  Several million years of history is not ‘ours’, it belongs to multiple species and subspecies as well, who are decidedly not us. And I won’t even get into your use of the term ‘ancestor’, which reveals a basic ignorance of how cladistic methodology and discourse work.

                • Nick never Nick

                  And might I point out, the urge to call people ‘ignorant’ is unattractive in academics (or anyone, for that matter). Maybe what I said seem absurd to you as a specialist; however, the vast majority of people that you’ll meet on a chat board are not in your specialty. Insulting them doesn’t lead to interesting exchanges. I think the subsequent comments show that my point was not, actually, that far off the mark. But, perhaps it was.

                  The fact that you did it in a post asserting (for the second time) something that is spectacularly wrong is the sort of ironic justice that happens fairly frequently on the Internet. Note that when I first pointed this out up-thread, I managed to refrain from insulting you. Doubling down on it suggests that you enjoy throwing your weight around somewhat more than I’d expect, from a teacher.

                • wjts

                  DrDick does not know nearly as much about biology (and indeed biological anthropology) as he imagines he does.

                • DrDick

                  The fact that you did it in a post asserting (for the second time) something that is spectacularly wrong

                  There seems to be a bit of miscommunication here and I admit I get a bit touchy on this topic (are humans naturally hierarchical), mostly because there is so much nonsense coming out of the evo-psych pop culture literature. We seem to apply the terms “human” and “our lineage” differently and I class all members of genus Homo as “human.” In doing so I am following the usage of my biological anthropology colleagues, including one whose specialty is human evolution. I admit I glossed over your specific reference to “species” and was perhaps over generalizing, though If we are the descendents of those earlier species, which seems to be the case, then it is our history as well.

              • trollhattan

                Speaking as a cultural anthropologist with 30 years in the profession, whose major focus is structural inequality, you are talking nonsense.

                Love these “I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here” moments that so brighten our interwebs.

                • Nick never Nick

                  It would be better if Dr. Dick turned out to be Richard Lee himself

                • Dennis Orphen

                  If the cool kids aren’t hanging out here than they are cool in title only.

          • Rob in CT

            Hierarchy only emerges about 20,000 years ago.

            Only?

            • DrDick

              Out of the 3 million year history of genus Homo, that is miniscule.

              • Rob in CT

                Sure.

                20k years is significantly longer (roughly 3x) the length of time we’ve had civilization. Which is the timeframe that matters when we’re talking about our politics.

                • DrDick

                  Actually about 4 times, as the advent of civilization is generally put at about 5500 years ago.

                • Rob in CT

                  I edited from 4x down to 3x because I’d read some stuff recently that makes me think civilization might go back farther. But IIRC, there’s some debate over whether that was civilization or… what was the word you used? Sedentism?

                  I know 5500 YBP = Sumer.

                • DrDick

                  Sedentism, or settling down, preceded agriculture by 8-10,000 years. These groups built permanent villages which were occupied at least seasonally for generations. They still relied on hunting wild animals, fishing, and gathering wild plants. The Indians of the Northwest Coast and California, as well as the Ainu of northern Japan maintained this lifestyle into the historic period. This is likely the period when the earliest hierarchies emerged.

      • Derelict

        To anyone who has this attitude I say, “YOU try working this job for just one month. I guarantee you’ll be sobbing on public transit by the end of day 3.”
        I held these kinds of jobs when I was a kid, and they were barely tolerable back then. Having to actually live on something like that? Anyone who does has a lot stronger constitution than I do. And WAAAY more than any asshole who would look down on such a worker.

    • NewishLawyer

      That is the deep Calvinism of America

      • LeeEsq

        I think its a much more universal trait. Society’s perception behind who does fast food work and other similar jobs has changed much more slowly than the people actually doing those jobs. These really used to be teenage jobs done for pocket money, etc. but that changed. Doesn’t stop people from still seeing them this way.

        • David Hunt

          That may be a universal trait, but Calvinism is sort of the Platonic Ideal of it. It basically says that God rewards moral people with material wealth. So if you’re poor, it’s because you deserve it, you filthy peasant (last three words implied instead of stated outright).

          • LeeEsq

            I’d think that concepts of Dharma and karma are even more of a Platonic ideal of it. Your state in life involves what you did in your past lives so if your at the bottom than you really deserve it.

            Calvin’s actual ideas were much more complicated than popular Calvinism and he believed that there could be people who received the grace of God among sinners. Jean Calvin saw salvation as something that random. Its his followers that changed this.

          • Dennis Orphen

            We need to use the term ‘filth’ the way our mates across the puddle in Blighty do.

            Urban Dictionary link above, may not be safe for work, you rent-seeking internet surf on the clockers, you.

        • DrDick

          As an anthropologist, I assure you that it is not.

        • Ahuitzotl

          Lee: no, this attitude is really rooted in US society, not more generally. Inasmuch as it’s now seen as degrading or disgusting, the attitude is one that has spread from the US due to the massive cultural sprawl of the US.

      • Karen24

        I’ve been reading about the struggle against caste in India — Gandi is not a hero in that — and can say confidently that if humans can mistreat people they will. Japan has a similar issue, and one that combines economic exploitation, social roles, and racism. It’s still WRONG, but it is also common.

        • DrDick

          It is common in state level societies, which are grounded in hierarchy and elite privilege.

          • Origami Isopod

            Unfortunately it doesn’t seem realistic that enormous numbers of human beings could live without some kind of state organization.

            • DrDick

              I do not disagree with that, though I do not think we need the kinds of extreme inequality we see in most state systems, which generally operate for the benefit of elites.

              • Origami Isopod

                Well, no. A lot of the dysfunction in the U.S. is specific to U.S. culture.

                That said, tribalism is our weak point, and it will always be exploitable.

    • leftwingfox

      Hey, when I go for pineapple pizza I tip well.

      • tsam

        Ok. I’ll allow it.

    • Anticorium

      Oh, don’t worry, anti-intellectualism will also keep on thriving. Whatever amount of education you have, the right wing will have a way to explain why it’s the wrong one.

      • tsam

        It seems to be getting worse at a scary alarming rate.

        • Dennis Orphen

          Breeding in captivity always seemed a little iffy to me. Those damn pandas are smarter than many of us are.

          • humanoid.panda

            No argument here.

            • Dennis Orphen

              I figured your nym might mean something like that.

      • lizzie

        Very well put.

    • Brownian

      It’s disgusting, and a huge problem in our society.

      And it doesn’t quite make sense to me, given how we laud the CEOs and upper management of flipped-burger provisioning corporations.

      If people who flip burgers aren’t worth a living wage, then what about the guy who depends on burgers being flipped, but doesn’t actually flip them himself?

      • sigaba

        There’s this old quote of George Lucas’s, that people would throw around to prove that he’s a sociopath. Someone asked him what the most important skill in being a director was: storytelling? Creative sense? Camera skills? His response was “Getting other people to do what you want.”

        Many people see management as a brute virtue and an end in itself. It doesn’t matter what you get people to do, the fact is you got them to do it and you got to keep 10% off the top. Speak not of dependency or mutual obligation; it is commie talk.

      • Origami Isopod

        In our “The customer is always right” society, service workers are considered fair game for any sort of abuse customers want to dish out at them. They’re “pissboys.” Maybe our economic sin eaters.

    • heckblazer

      What these jagoffs don’t realize is that teenagers actually have an even lower federal minimum wage – $4.25 an hour for the first 90 days.

    • DrDick

      All too common, especially among those with relatively privileged backgrounds (looking at you Mittster!).

    • Dennis Orphen

      Please Tsam, get off facebook, but stay here.

      • tsam

        I should.

    • efgoldman

      I have routine rage attacks….

      You? Really? Naah.

    • wengler

      Hey now, they are also deferential toward public school teachers who often have master’s degrees…

      Heh. No they’re not. Fucking public worker sponges. Take their pensions!

      • tsam

        Well, it’s not like what teachers do is important.

        • Dennis Orphen

          Administration is where the action is.

  • David Hunt

    Who do Puzder think is going to buy his crap after he and his have impoverished every non-rich person in the U.S.?

    • JKTH

      That’s the idea. Impoverish people until they can’t afford anything but fast food.

      • If it’s good enough for Herr Trump, it’s good enough for all of us!

    • tsam

      All the people who believe that Barack Obama took away all their guns and money and it was too late for our hero who makes those calorie nukes to save the republic.

      (That’s a LOT)

    • Dennis Orphen

      The rich will just buy thousands of hamburgers, rolling plastic tubs of fries and 55 gallon drums of soft drinks, per person, per diem.

      Suggested Reading: The Ganymede Takeover by Phil Dick (there he is again!) and Ray Nelson.

    • guthrie

      Only libtards think about the future, the market will take care of that.

      But seriously, they don’t know or care. It’s a matter of getting what they can now, the future can look after itself.

  • geniecoefficient

    I dare folks to venture into the comments. No swallowing psychoactives first to help you through it.

    • Cassiodorus

      I did this after seeing your post because I’m a glutton for punishment.

      When I see all of these morons rant about some people don’t “produce enough value to be worthy of living,” I’d like to tell them to practice what the preach and stop being surplus population.

      • Linnaeus

        When I see all of these morons rant about some people don’t “produce enough value to be worthy of living,”

        I seem to recall a certain man, regarded as the founder of a religious faith that became integral to the ancestral cultures of many of the people who now live in this country, who took a very different view.

        • Dennis Orphen

          I hear his old man really lightened up a lot after the kid was born, too. He was kind of a jerk. I guess people can change. Although that whole ‘immaculate conception’ nonsense seemed like a clumsy, transparent child support dodge to me. But what do I know, except that if there’s a hell below, we’re all going to go, as one of my heroes once sang.

          • Linnaeus

            We’ll all go together when we go.

            • No one will have the endurance
              To collect on his insurance
              Lloyd’s of London will be loaded when they go

      • Karen24

        I wanted to ask all of those idiots what they did for a living. I’ll bet money that none of them do anything that could be considered the production of actual value.

        • Dennis Orphen

          Don’t forget to ask those who do work, who signs their paychecks, or where those who aren’t directly the government get their money to make payroll from.

      • AttorneyAtPaw

        And I guaran-damn-tee you that most of said morons regularly wander into the very same establishments and place orders, thereby attaching value to what the workers produce. This typifies the psychosis of the modern American conservative: the constant need to shit on someone simply short-circuits their cognitive process.

    • tsam

      Well now that’s not very nice.

      • geniecoefficient

        What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

  • ThresherK (KadeKo)

    I won’t attack Andy Puzder for hiring an undocumented worker to clean his house.

    Fck that nicety. For every Dem nominee who got tut-tutted into retirement by the NYT and David Broder over this king of thing, I will attack Puzder.

    I will, and ask all the RWNJs how a SecLabor giving a job to An Illegalz will help Real ‘Murcans,

    • Lost Left Coaster

      I will, and ask all the RWNJs how a SecLabor giving a job to An Illegalz will help Real ‘Murcans,

      But this kind of attack could reinforce prejudices against undocumented immigrants.

      • tsam

        Yeah, I agree. It’s tempting to bash this guy in his stupid mug for his utter hypocrisy, since this would have disappeared a Democratic nominee within seconds, but the argument will get co-opted by the “DE PORT ILLEGAL HORD” crowd and probably cause some damage.

        I agree with Loomis’ sentiment, even if I want to see this guy die in flames.

        • Nick never Nick

          Not even considering the fact that then, when the tables turn and it is used against Democrats, we aren’t able to defend the dignity of people working without status.

          • tsam

            Excellent point.

    • Nick never Nick

      Would you attack Betsy DeVos for dressing like a slut?

      • Rob in CT

        I think that’s a terrible analogy.

        • Nick never Nick

          Sure, maybe it is. So would you? Suppose you could derail her nomination by doing that?

          • Rob in CT

            No.

            I don’t see that as comparable to this, at all.

            • Nick never Nick

              It is in two ways.

              1) It’s cynical, because you are attacking someone for doing something that you yourself don’t object to. I hazard that most people here on LGM don’t judge women for how they dress; neither do they judge employers for hiring non-status people.

              2) It is counterproductive. We would like our schools to teach people to value and respect women, not to judge them; attacking the Secretary of Education for her dress habits undermines this. Similarly with the effects on illegal aliens — what are the implications when both parties in government make their employing them a sign of stigma?

              • Rob in CT

                Actually, I do object to people hiring undocumented workers because it’s flouting the law and, assuming cash under-the-table payment*, screwing us out of FICA revenue. Further (and even more importantly), the employer is exploiting the fact that the person is undocumented to save $$. That’s shitty behavior.

                It is especially egregious in someone being nominated to be Secretary of Labor.

                I don’t blame the immigrants at all.

                Similarly with the effects on illegal aliens — what are the implications when both parties in government make their employing them a sign of stigma?

                That we badly need immigration reform? I know, most people don’t think like me…

                * if not, then we’re into faking SS #s territory, which is bad for other reasons.

              • DrDick

                I think this analogy is flawed. We attack DeVos because she is an opponent of public education and we attack Puzder for willfully violating labor laws. They are the antithesis of what they are supposed to support and defend.

            • trollhattan

              IMO the innate hypocrisy is in the uber-rich still cutting corners just to save money in their personal lives when they can easily, and I really mean easily, legally hire their domestic staffs.

              They’re cheap and they think rules are for others and never themselves. Meg Whitman got caught up in this running for CA governor, and she’s a bloody BILLIONaire.

              Whitman’s former housekeeper and nanny, Nicky Diaz, tearfully recounted how in June 2009 she was suddenly terminated by Whitman and her husband, Griffith Harsh, after she said she asked the couple for legal help to obtain U.S. citizenship. Allred also alleged that Whitman became aware of Diaz’s undocumented status years earlier, but took no action.

              Whitman said the “charges are without merit.”

              Diaz told reporters that just a few months before Whitman announced she was running for governor as a Republican, the former eBay CEO fired her after nine years spent cleaning the couple’s 3,700-square-foot home in an upscale Northern California suburb and shuttling their children to and from school and appointments.

              “From now on you don’t know me and I don’t know you,” Diaz said Whitman told her in the summer of 2009. “I was shocked and hurt that Ms. Whitman would treat me this way after nine years. I realized at that moment that she didn’t appreciate my work. I felt like she was throwing me away like a piece of garbage.”

              Not just a housekeeper but also the nanny.

              • Domino

                “You’re good enough to help raise my offspring, but you’re dead to me the second YOU ask ME for assistance”.

                • Dennis Orphen

                  Children as possessions and objects. Lot of that going around.

              • muddy

                That’s how you stay rich. When I was 19 I was a server at a high end country club. Those people were the worst tippers. They didn’t even need to pull out a wallet, just sign the chit. Thing was, they wanted you to act really servile – now I would not be above acting servile if that’s what the job required, but would need to be properly compensated for that. I used to say that they used 30 years of saved tips to pay their country club fees.

                Somehow when they canned me for insufficient servility I ended up with 8 place settings of silver plate cutlery. And all their whipped creams were flat.

    • JKTH

      There are far better ways to attack Puzder (though I guess calling up GOP Senators and complaining about it might be productive).

    • Alyssa Picard

      He deserves some shit for this, having nothing to do with the legal status of the person he employed, because his “not knowing” her status also means he wasn’t paying the Social Security or unemployment taxes he was required to pay as her employer and which he only could have paid by filling out paperwork that would also have made him aware of her status.

      All of this to say: he has demonstrated the same contempt for employment law across time and regardless of the scale of the operation he is running.

  • AMK

    Democrats and liberals spend too much time making the moral argument for higher minimum wages instead of the practical argument.

    The moral argument is hard to make past a certain point because it depends on sympathy for people like this, who work menial jobs for years without demonstrating any higher “value” and do so at least in part because of their own poor choices (like having kids she can’t afford). The sympathy reservoir among even left-of-center people has a definite ceiling. It also gets bogged down in crab-bucket comparisons…lots of people feeling that the EMTs are more “valuable” and so should not get the same as the burger-flippers, etc..

    The practical argument doesn’t require any sympathy: (1) higher minimum wages boost the economy because all that money gets spent by millions of people and (2) a higher minimum wage means lower indirect subsidies that Walmart etc. get through wellfare. It can be spun into a self-interested argument for anyone who works in a business dependent on consumer spending. Natural condescension actually strengthens it, because it treats most low wage workers as walking stimulus units instead of trying to elevate their individual social and economic “value.”

    • Rob in CT

      I’ve made the practical argument. It doesn’t work better. Mostly, I think, because the person you’re talking to will turn it into a moral argument.

      • Ahuitzotl

        AND will flat-out deny the practical argument to your face, insisting that a rise in minimum wage will be followed by a rise in prices at least equal in size; despite evidence to the contrary.

    • Mart

      I bring up the fact that our tax dollars are subsidizing the average Walmart with $900,000 since they do not pay a living wage, and their employees are on food stamps and housing assistance. Usually get no response or they change the topic. Used to surprise me, but now I figure they are thinking the solution is to get rid of food stamps and housing assistance…

    • Origami Isopod

      and do so at least in part because of their own poor choices (like having kids she can’t afford).

      Because having kids should of course be a privilege reserved for the rich. Especially in an age of reduced access to abortion and attacks on contraceptives.

      • tsam

        Right–and peoples’ financial circumstance are either static or improve after pregnancy. This is just plain commonsense, see?

    • Snuff curry

      That second paragraph is too ghastly to tackle, so I’ll just complain about reservoirs having definite ceilings while poking holes in that ancient strawmoralliberal who believes “burger-flippers” “get the same,” or ought to, as EMTs.

      • Origami Isopod

        Forget it, Snuff, it’s AMKtown.

  • semiotix

    I won’t attack Andy Puzder for hiring an undocumented worker to clean his house

    Yeah, but you totally should.

    This is not a victimless crime. Puzder isn’t the harmless stoner breaking an unjust law by buying an ounce of pot. He’s the guy putting up razor wire and booby-traps on the public land where he’s got his grow set up.

    American citizens, undocumented workers, the rule of law, and Andy Puzder. Only one of these isn’t hurt by Puzder paying sub-market wages under the table.

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