Fast Food, Slow Progress

Can your family survive on fast food worker wages? That’s the question do-gooder icon Mother Jones put to readers recently, and although it’s a cliche, the answer really might surprise you. It might, in fact, horrify you. It sure did me.

Struggles by fast food workers for a living wage have been in the news for some time. Unlike waitstaff in traditional restaurants, they either don’t earn tips or earn negligible amounts ($15 a week was average when I worked for Starbucks twenty years ago).

Minimum wage is survivable provided one has a secure, affordable living situation and guaranteed hours, but guaranteed hours are a rarity in the industry. In the UK, McDonalds has made front page news for its commitment to so-called zero hour contracts which offer the workers anything from no work to overtime, as it suits the employer. Labour MP Andy Sawford responds, “In the ordering of their food they know how to identify customer levels so they cook the right amount, so they could use that same information with staff levels and give employees more certainty.”

This week, fast food workers around the country are set for escalating job action in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Flint, demanding a wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize without management interference. The actions are supported and coordinated by the Service Employees International Union. “We are slowly dying,” striker Terrence Wise told Democracy Now.

So what does it actually take to live on a fast food salary, if the right wing media is to be believed and granting the wage increase would cripple the nation’s Happy Meal capability, leading to a dangerous international burger imbalance?

The Mother Jones calculator queries your household size (just me and the cats, but they’re big eaters), your state (Canuckistan, but I picked Washington because, well, I’ve been there and it looks a lot like Vancouver), your city (provided your household is larger than one; singles it seems can fit in anywhere), and how much you make in a year (good question; I estimated $30,000 this year). Then it spits out a rather shocking statistic.

To earn $30,000 a year working as a fast food worker, I’d have to work 64 hours a week. The average number of hours a fast food employee receives is less than 25, and I have seven years at Starbucks that confirm it.

A household like yours in Washington needs to earn $18,245 annually to make a secure yet modest living. A fast-food worker working full time would have to earn $8.74 an hour to make that much.

The average fast-food employee works less than 25 hours a week. To make a living wage in Washington at current median wages, s/he would have to work 39 hours a week.

In 39 hours, McDonald’s serves 112,125,000 customers and makes $122,394,480. That’s about 30,598,620 Big Macs.

As author Barbara Ehrenreich pointed out in her book Nickel and Dimed, while companies repeatedly claim their employees like the flexibility of the scheduling, interviews with the actual employees indicate a labor force that would prefer standardized hours, preferably full time. With an increasing proportion of breadwinners vs students in the staffing pool, that demand is a very real call to action and challenge to the industry. ThinkProgress reports that if hourly wages on the front line doubled, the price of a Big Mac would go up a whopping (see what I did there) 68 cents.

While six-figure think tankers continue to wrestle with the problem, the Pew Research Center reveals that women are the primary breadwinners in 40% of US families, and that the average income for a single mother who has never married is $17,400.

She’d better get a second, or a third, job.

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The Most Important Person in the World

Nothing to see here. Problem, Officer?

Nobody. Nothing to see here. Problem, Officer?

I’ve been missing a lot of important stuff lately, including this message.

From nobody.

So I thought I’d share. Maybe someone out there who doesn’t exist yet will read it and start to.

Anonymously.

So, here we are, at the end of TeaMp0isoN.

I just wanted to say few words before I leave, you can consider them to be motivational or

just bullshit, honestly I dont care.

So, few years ago we started this cause, fighting for freedom, activism, hacktivism etc…

We raised alarm in the government, they have seen that we can win this war, that we can take our

own freedom back, our own lives back.

They started fighting back, but we have choose to not give up, to not bow in front of them

and let them take our souls and imprison them.

But im glad to see US all united, painters, musicians, teachers, wives, kids, doctors, lawyers,

im glad that all those people are now united, and they act as one.

War in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Libya etc…

People, realise thats just start, thats not even a glimpse of whats coming,

Im not gonna talk about illuminati, about satan, about faith or religion,

Im just going to tell you that you should check your own town and see how many poor people is there.

How many people were fucked by government, how many people were fucked by banks,

how many homeless people are dyeing in the streets during winter, how many poor people are dyeing from hunger.

Im not gonna tell you that hacking or hacktivism is not illegal, and not dangerous,

im not gonna tell you I enjoyed it.

I wake up 20 times during night because im paranoid, I dont want to end in jail…

You can call me a coward, you can call me whatever you want,

but I, I was here for years, I did fight for people, I did fight for freedom,

but now time has come that I feel im not good for it anymore,

this has drained so much life out of me, and I feel I didnt get enough people to hear

what I fight for, what WE fight for.

Im just begging you one thing, not just hackers, but everyone, even politicians.

Do not be ignorant towards US who are fighting for our freedom,

dont judge us for what we do, we are not terrorists,

we are just normal humans, who are fighting for better cause, fighting for people,

fighting for better future for our kids.

Do not fight each other, there is no sense in that, you are just runing each others

lives, if you hate someone who is fighting same cause as you, dont attack him,

dont troll him, dont prank him, dont ruin his life over little things.

Think bigger, think about future, because today you are a kid, but tomorow you will

have your own kids, and then you will realise how much you could do to help them

live better, to help them not be afraid of their own government.

Dont do work on this cause because of fame, work on because its right.

I ve lost so much in this fight, like every soldier on this battlefield.

So many friends got arrested, TriCk, MLT, Phantom.

I call them heroes, I call them freedom fighters.

I know that they and I will be forgotten in few months,

but I hope this msg will remain on the internet,

and that you the people will share it amongst urselves.

So now, im telling you goodbye.

Thanks for all those supporting us, and helping us fight this war.

Thanks for all those that respected us, and didnt leave us when things went bad.

Thank you alot.

#FreeTriCk

#FreeMLT

#FreePhantom

#FreeUsAll

#Freedom

So this is the end of TeaMp0isoN, we arent coming back anymore,

whoever tells you he is TeaMp0isoN or starts using our name,

do not believe him, because this is the end of us.

root@TeaMp0isoN:$ shutdown -n

Selah.

Second City, First Line of Defence

Chicago Frankfurt Montreal protests

Chicago Frankfurt Montreal protests

Things have been quiet around the ol’ raincoaster blog lately, mostly because I tried to update Ubuntu like a good little open sourcer and the feculent motherfucker has now stuck my computer in an endless reboot cycle, thanks SO much. Dear Hive Mind: watch your back.

This is because I downloaded Suelette Dreyfus‘s book Underground, isn’t it?

In any case, this is a good time to get back online, even with an outdated, borrowed computer that I can play X’s and O’s on just by writing in the dust of the lid. Because while I was doing nothing much at all but whining at the computer and seeking out home remedies for my (unending) toothache, people in Montreal, Chicago, and Frankfurt were real busy.

Black Bloc Cop

Black Bloc Cop

I think this guy got his uniforms mixed up. He should be a hit at NATO duty, when he wears the Guy Fawkes mask with the dress uniform. Black Bloc Boy is giving him total side-eye.

Cops in Chicago

Cops in Chicago

Chicago el protesto

Chicago el protesto

That caption? Not real Spanish, y’all.

We TOLD you to expect us!

We TOLD you to expect us!

This one is almost certainly British, because David Cameron simply doesn’t register outside of the UK. I can see one Anonymous flag, but can’t make out anything else except much nicer architecture than we have in Vangroover.

And, finally, Anonymous has re-posted its guide to secure browsing. The typos are glaring, but the advice is good, and you do not have to actually understand the instructions to follow the instructions. Like a lot of technical things, it makes more sense the more you use it. I mean, you don’t really know how your car engine works, do you? But you can drive, right?

=== The Ultimate Guide for Anonymous and Secure Internet Usage v1.0.1 ===

Table of Contents:

  1.   Obtaining Tor Browser
  2.   Using and Testing Tor Browser for the first time
  3.   Securing Your Hard Drive
  4.   Setting up TrueCrypt, Encrypted Hidden Volumes
  5.   Testing TrueCrypt Volumes
  6.   Securing your Hard Disk
  7.   Temporarily Securing Your Disk, Shredding Free Space
  8.   Installing VirtualBox
  9.   Installing a Firewall
  10.   Firewall Configuration
  11.   Installing Ubuntu
  12.   Ubuntu Initial Setup
  13.   Installing Guest Additions
  14.   Installing IRC (Optional)
  15.   Installing Torchat (Optional)
  16.   Creating TOR-Only Internet Environment
  17.   General Daily Usage

Since I’m starting from scratch anyway (reminder to self, do not trust Ubuntu One, those are the assholes who fucked up self’s computer in the first place, back up to USB, then give to Cthulhu for safekeeping) and it’s a stat holiday tomorrow in Canuckistan (surprise, American bosses!) I might as well work my way through this list and report back. Although if it works, how will you ever know it’s me? EH? I ask yez.

Twitpic O’ the Day: If You’re Not Helping, You’re Hurting

If you're not helping, you're hurting

If you’re not helping, you’re hurting

This post was inspired by a rather heated (40 or so comments) discussion on Facebook about whether misogyny within the ranks is holding back the Occupy movement. Make no mistake: it is. If you chart the flamewars on FB alone, the male individuals against female individuals flamewars are running about double the rate of the male on male flamewars, and this is AFTER the most sensitive women left the group altogether. This came as a huge, and saddening, surprise to me; I was raised in the era of Equality, when fighting for the rights of women was as accepted as fighting for the rights of black people or the handicapped. Apparently, when we were resting on our laurels and telling ourselves we’d come a long way, baby, things slipped backwards.

But silence is a form of collusion, as this image from AnonCircle points out, and it’s time to speak out.

One of the most telling signs of the backsliding: despite that thread being prominently featured in my friends’ news feeds and in various Occupy Vancouver Facebook groups and pages, I was the only woman who commented on it publicly. In a depressing version of “the lurkers are with me” I received many private messages of hearty support from women.

I, naturally, challenged them.

“If you think that, why do you not post it? Why are you telling ME that women deserve equal respect? I already know this.”

“Because I wanted you to know I support you.”

“Then support me. Take my left flank. POST.”

Result: one comment. One is an infinite times greater than zero, so I’m counting this as progress. Courage and support are not courage or support if they melt away like a vampire in daylight.

Slacktivists Arise!

Be Anonymous this May Day!

Be Anonymous this May Day!

Forgot about Bank Transfer Day? Missed the Million Hoodie March? Still emotionally support Occupy and the 99%? Not to worry! Here’s something you can do to support the 99% and it won’t cost you a damn cent or take one damn minute of your time. This is perhaps the most perfect protest for the Age of Slacktivism: a May Day protest in which you do not a goddam thing, and by so doing, bring the 1% to their knees.

(via Max Adams)

Think about it. Those are great odds, and no heavy lifting.

99 to 1

99 to 1