Will this one weird trick do anything to influence people's beliefs in "studies" ?

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135 Responses

  1. Stevie P says:

    My own favourite:

    And did those feet in ancient times walk upon England's mountains green?

  2. mcinsand says:

    One of the things that totally turns me away from a story is failing to reference what studies/articles/experts have concluded. Although column inches are precious, backing up the article makes the difference between worth reading versus merely a fishwrap. 'Studies say' is as bad as someone that starts a sentence with 'they say,' which merely alerts you to the fact that you no longer have to pay attention to anything that follows.

  3. Tam says:

    From now on, every time someone uses the term "living wage" in my presence, I'm going to ask if they pay their babysitter one.

  4. Tarrou says:

    I think McArdle had the best single-line take-down of that article, which I paraphrase roughly as: "If Mcdonalds could raise the price of a big Mac 68 cents without having any adverse business effects, why haven't they already done so, and kept the profit? Did they forget to be greedy?".

  5. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Given what was revealed here recently about the math requirements for a degree in economics, and the general history of that discipline, I think it is fair to say the following;

    When economists warn that a politically popular plan or regulation ail depress the economy they are quite probably right. When economists assure us the a popular plan or regulation will be economically neutral or beneficial they are very probably wrong.

  6. ZarroTsu says:

    Probable Probability states that probable probabilities are probably only a probable probability.

  7. Renee Jones says:

    McDonalds can pay 15 dollars an hour without raising prices at all, but they feel that the CEO's insane salary is more important.

  8. cdru says:

    From now on, every time someone uses the term "living wage" in my presence, I'm going to ask if they pay their babysitter one.

    I paid my babysitter what our mutually agreed upon rate. If she can't live off of what she charges, then she should charge more or otherwise refuse to babysit at that rate. And if I feel she's not worth the rate that she charges, I'm free to find another babysitter.

    Besides, I'm not sure that the "living wage" of a 14 year old is all that important.

  9. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Another factor to keep in mind when dealing with the concept of "living wage" is that far too many so-called Intellectuals feel that a summer of Martha's Vineyard is one of the necessities of life.

  10. Tam says:

    Renee Jones,

    "McDonalds can pay 15 dollars an hour without raising prices at all, but they feel that the CEO's insane salary is more important."

    Thank god you're here! I've always wanted to ask an authority on executive compensation what an appropriate salary would be for the head of a Fortune 500 corporation? What's a ballpark figure you would consider "sane", and why?

  11. Kerwin White says:

    Can we please work an "I eat paste" joke in here somewhere?

    Kthxbai

  12. Burnside says:

    @Kerwin

    I'm okay with raising McDonald's prices sky high, as long as the cost of paste remains the same

  13. Tam says:

    "Can we please work an "I eat paste" joke in here somewhere? "

    Two all-beef patties, I eat paste, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun!

  14. Luke says:

    @renee –

    I recommend doing the math on that. CEO Salary is $13.8 million, # of employees is ~1.8 million.

  15. JT says:

    According to a study, content scraping and retweets are not journalism.

  16. Tam says:

    RT @JT According to a study, content scraping and retweets are not journalism.

  17. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    I've felt for some time that one of the factors in inflated corporate level salaries is the inheritance tax and the tendency it fosters for turning firms held by the families of the founders into Board of Directors operations runs by a specialized class of suit-wearers.

    Yes, family owners can be just as rapacious and divorced from the working man's day to day reality as any suit, but their name is on the building. They have an emotional connection to the company's reputation.

  18. No Name Given says:

    Aren't McDonalds franchised, anyway?

  19. DS Ulman says:

    "I've always wanted to ask an authority on executive compensation what an appropriate salary would be for the head of a Fortune 500 corporation?"

    Considerably less the $8 million plus. I doubt if Don Thompson is such a great CEO that McDonalds could not find someone just as good who is willing to work for $4 mil. Such wages are simply theft from stock owners. Supporting such wages by screwing over the folks who are the company's face to the public is simply stupid.

  20. Jeremy says:

    The phrase 'living wage' makes me think of zombie hordes, not sure why.

  21. Kerwin White says:

    Two all-beef patties, I eat paste, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun!

    Thank you, Tam. I can smile a little more today.

  22. Luke says:

    @No Name Given – Not all of them, which was one of the major flaws in the "study." It only looked at company operated stores and not the franchises.

  23. TM says:

    From now on, every time someone uses the term "living wage" in my presence, I'm going to ask if they pay their babysitter one.

    I strongly suspect they do, but not out of any goodness of their hearts. In my experience it's the fact that babysitters are savy enough to demand such a wage (and are in high enough demand with low enough supply). Seriously, around my town these days, if they're not family or friends, the going rate for a babysitter is $10-$20 / hour. Granted you can find daily rates cheaper from folks watching more than one kid at their own home, but if you want them to come to you expect to pay a pretty penny.

  24. Jim says:

    I want to intervene in everyone else's business transactions and impose a standard upon them that only exists for my gratification and have them follow those standards under penalty of law.

  25. N. Easton says:

    I am totally okay with the minimum wage being raised. It'd cause some problems with my business if it doubled tomorrow, but if it went up by a dollar or fifty cents a month until it hit 15 an hour, I'd stay ahead of it.

  26. Tam says:

    TM,

    "Seriously, around my town these days, if they're not family or friends, the going rate for a babysitter is $10-$20 / hour."

    'S what I get for not paying attention. I vaguely remember in my early teen years charging a dollar per hour per kid, provided the parents booked me at least a week in advance. :o

    Now all you kids get off my lawn, with your hipping and your hopping!

  27. Tam says:

    "…if it went up by a dollar or fifty cents a month until it hit 15 an hour, I'd stay ahead of it."

    So would the cost of basic goods and services.

  28. N. Easton says:

    There would probably be some increase in cost, but it wouldn't be proportional. Doubling the minimum wage isn't going to double the cost of everything.

  29. Zack says:

    I used to have a lot more faith in studies….

    before I did undergrad research myself. Then I realized that, if I was anything to go by, 90% of people doing undergrad research have absolutely no idea what we're doing for the first 80% of the time we're working on anything, and everything gets slapped together in that last 20% when it will contain some pretty grievous errors or omissions.

    @Renee Jones:

    Number of employees worldwide: 1.8 million

    CEO's Pay: 20.17 million annually

    Assume living wage=static $15 USD/hour

    Assume work week= static 40 hours/week

    Assume 52 weeks/year

    Living wage for one employee: 31200 annually

    Living wage for all employees: 56,160,000,000

    Assume current pay: $8/hour (marginally over minimum wage, for making multiplication easier.)

    Gap: $26,080,000,000

    Assume all executives have pay equal to MD's CEO.

    Number of executives which would need to surrender 100% of their salary to pay for this living wage:

    1310

    So even under a set of fairly conservative assumptions, the prospect of paying for it simply by executives surrendering their salary is ridiculous (because no one else in the company is going to get paid anything LIKE what the CEO's getting paid). They would have to raise prices.

    Also, you have to consider: a living wage varies from place to place. Things will be less pricey in SC than NY, and will be less pricey in SD than CA. For the most part, rural unskilled workers get by just fine on the federal minimum wage.

    And them raising prices would disproportionately impact the poor- because the poor eat a fair bit more fast food than the middle class or rich do, because it's fast and cheap. This goes to the problem at the heart of raising the minimum wage- raising the minimum wage increases the cost of basic goods, the kind that minimum wage labor is required to create, and is indeed the major cost in- most notably food. The kind of goods that consume only a small proportion of a middle class or rich budget, but that constitute an enormous amount of the salary of the poor.

    The solution is not to legislate higher wages, but to find a way to help the working poor- people who are almost universally diligent and honest- earn higher wages via facilitating learning, adoption of trades, earning of certifications, etc.

  30. Tarrou says:

    "McDonalds can pay 15 dollars an hour without raising prices at all, but they feel that the CEO's insane salary is more important."

    Ok, let me do some simple google-fu and fifth grade math.

    Salary of Don Thompson (CEO of McD's) in 2012: $13.4 million
    # of people McD's employs: ~1.7 million people

    Let's assume that a "sane" salary is…….oh, Zero dollars. That sounds about right for the head of a multinational corporation, right? That means that if they just eliminated CEO compensation, Mcdonalds could offer each of their employees a $7.88 raise……per year. Figure 30 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, and that raise becomes…. one half of one cent per hour.

    Fuck. Yes. Man the barricades! Eliminate all CEO compensation! One half of one penny per hour more for all! Down with the capitalist pigs!

  31. N. Easton says:

    "For the most part, rural unskilled workers get by just fine on the federal minimum wage."

    That is either an extraordinary claim, or you have defined "get by just fine" in an unusual way.

  32. Mercury says:

    Study this Huff'n'Puff:
    If the government didn’t hand out food stamps like AOL subscription CDs McDonald’s wouldn’t be able to get away with the very low wages they pay their employees.

  33. rmd says:

    I paid my babysitter what our mutually agreed upon rate. If she can't live off of what she charges, then she should charge more or otherwise refuse to babysit at that rate. And if I feel she's not worth the rate that she charges, I'm free to find another babysitter.

    By happy coincidence, that's exactly the strategy McDonald's follows with its employees.

  34. My namesake Mercury adds some of the missing variables to the equation here.

    Does government assistance help mitigate the problem… or simply enable it? Food stamps have become a sort of regulatory capture for the "industry" of being poor. What started out as (apparently) a necessary welfare has proven to keep the entire bottom-scraping situation in a very stable state.

  35. No Name Given says:

    @Luke: let me guess, they also looked only at McDonalds in the USA and not at all at those in other countries (though those are probably almost all franchised)

  36. Anton Sirius says:

    "McArdle had the best single-line take-down of that article"

    It's weird. I recognize all the words in that phrase, and yet together they make no sense at all.

  37. Anton Sirius says:

    Although I guess if you want an authority on innumeracy, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better one than McArdle.

  38. Clark says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    Although I guess if you want an authority on innumeracy, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better one than McArdle.

    In what way has McArdle ever been innumerate?

  39. Anton Sirius says:

    McArdle's inability to put a decimal place in the right spot is rather notorious, Clark. See

    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/12/department-of-awful-statistics.html

    and

    http://inversesquare.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/megan-mcardle-is-even-more-always-wrong-than-usual-arithmetic-is-hardmostly-outsourced-edition/

    and I could Google for plenty of other examples if you can't/won't find them for yourself.

    'Innumerate' may be harsh. 'Sloppy' and 'cavalier' are probably more accurate descriptions of her relationship with math.

  40. mud man says:

    The reason why McDonanlds has to pay minimum wage to stay competitive is that Burger King pays minimum wage. Argyle, raising the minimum wage wouldn't have any effect on the inter-corporate competitive situation, only the intra-corporate.

    sane wage for a CEO?

    Studies show that income above about $80k does not correlate with life satisfaction.

  41. Ryan says:

    On the subject at hand – studies – it has long been a pet peeve of mine that news outlets do not properly source and/or link studies – academic or non-academic. Thus, I remain skeptical of claims of "stuides" without reading the piece itself. That said, I read a lot of studies concerning genetics in particular, so I have no problem with the concept of studies themselves. Indeed, a publication in a reputable peer-reviewed journal is an excellent indicator of methodological validity, generally.

    The dilution of the term 'study' by the media is what I take issue with. I actually don't want to seek people's confidence in 'studies' generally shaken – indeed, unfounded skepticism of scientific methodology leads to bullshit such as the lunatic ravings of the anti-vaccination movement, or hard-line "Creationists," or a myriad of other people who (1) do not understand how science works and (2) make no effort to educate themselves.

    On the tangent of the "living wage," while government social programs enable corporations like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, etc to get away with paying substandard wages, supply-and-demand economics don't work either because governments are notoriously beholden to large corporations which have an active interest in maintaining a cheap, disposable workforce, and will often go to great lengths to ensure it is maintained: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/04/11/rbc-foreign-workers-apology.html

    Similar measures exist in the United States. Eliminating social entitlements that subsidize the Wal-Marts and McDonalds of the world only workers if the supply-and-demand economics are also entrenched by regulation; otherwise, there are all kinds of factors that confound free-market economics (a reality that Adam Smith himself very much recognized).

  42. perlhaqr says:

    Racist.

  43. a_random_guy says:

    N. Easton: "I am totally okay with the minimum wage being raised. It'd cause some problems with my business if it doubled tomorrow, but if it went up by a dollar or fifty cents a month until it hit 15 an hour, I'd stay ahead of it."

    That may be true in your business. However, in other businesses there are jobs that just aren't worth $15 an hour. If they aren't worth it, the jobs will be eliminated. There are ample sources in the Internet showing that dramatic increases in unemployment tend to follow increases in minimum wage.

    For those businesses that would pay the increased wages, they will need to pass the costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices. This will increase inflation; after a few years, the real value of the wage increase has disappeared. On the positive side, this means that unemployment eventually drops again.

  44. Shane says:

    @DS Ulman

    I doubt if Don Thompson is such a great CEO that McDonalds could not find someone just as good who is willing to work for $4 mil.

    And yet …

  45. naught_for_naught says:

    Just wire this translation into your brain and run it whenever you hear/read pop press discussing anything science related,

    "According to a study…" = "According to Modern Jackass…"

    (with the exception of Science Friday on NPR, cuz Ira Flatow is the shit).

  46. Shelby says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    Wouldn't it be more accurate to say, "I disagree with McArdle's politics and most of her conclusions, and therefore suspect she cannot do math, even though I've never bothered to prove her math is wrong"?

  47. Shane says:

    @DS Ulman

    Supporting such wages by screwing over the folks who are the company's face to the public is simply stupid.

    And just how is it that "THEY" are "SCREWING" over the nice folks that work in their restaurant? I am curious? Is it because "THEY" are offering a salary far below what "YOU" consider appropriate? Because last I checked "YOU" weren't really part of their wage negotiations. But alas there is something that "YOU" can do! "YOU" can go to the fine folks at the restaurant and "YOU" can give the fine folks the compensation that "YOU" think that they deserve. "YOU" can bypass directly "THOSE" greedy people and help the little guy. POW! Problem solved.

    I will create a little song in praise of "YOUR" selflessness and "YOUR" soon to be greatness.

  48. Shane says:

    @N. Easton

    I am totally okay with the minimum wage being raised.

    Why wait? You are just being greedy if you don't start the process yourself right now. Just think of the families working for you, and … ::gulp:: THEIR CHILDREN!

  49. Clark says:

    @Tam:

    I vaguely remember in my early teen years charging a dollar per hour per kid

    Yeah, but that was back before Nixon took us off the gold standard, so you're comparing American Eagles and oranges.

    ;-)

  50. N. Easton says:

    Shane:

    I already pay over the minimum wage. But you don't strike me as being interested in a serious discussion.

    a_random_guy:

    What are these jobs that can be eliminated? Are they unnecessary? If the goods or services a business provides are of so little value that they cannot charge enough to pay their employees a livable wage, then I agree that that is a serious problem.

    I'll put it plain and simple. If the economic system in our country results in people who are willing and able to work full time being destitute or close to it, then it is a failure, regardless of whether the logic used to build it is internally consistent. A system must be judged by its results.

  51. Darryl says:

    The whole premise of "it will just HAVE to be passed on to consumers" is simply wrong. That is not the only option. Another option is to pass some of it on to consumers and have the shareholders take a little less return on their investment.

  52. matguy says:

    "As reported in the Huffington Post" is usually my first indication of a story not to be taken at face value.

  53. melK says:

    Perhaps you have heard of the French proposal to limit executive compensation to no more than 20 times the minimum wage paid by the company? here

    I agree that taking the millions paid to the executive and spreading them among all the workers would provide said workers only a token. I agree that the "critical one man" in the company has more risk in his job than the janitor does.

    But tell me what, precisely, justifies said "deciderator" earning in one year what the janitor might in a long, long lifetime? And remember that if that one year is ALL the CEO gets in his job, he's still a lifetime ahead of the janitor.

  54. Dan Weber says:

    McDonald's could probably survive by doubling wages.

    But it wouldn't change the $8/hour employees into $16/hour employees.

    They would get rid of their $8/hour employees and hire new $16/hour employees.

    McDonald's jobs aren't supposed to be permanent (well, you can go into management). The fact that some people are stuck in them is a serious problem. But you can't just pass a law to fix that.

    It's also fun to laugh at the people who think that the CEO pay is the problem. CEO pay is largely totally fucked due to board capture, but that money is coming from shareholders, not the employees.

    And McArdle is a woman who isn't a liberal, so she is going to attract her share of loons who think they can't be sexist since they vote for Democrats.

  55. Renee Marie Jones says:

    McDonalds pays more than $15 an hour equivalent in Denmark, because of union pressure. They could pay the same here.

  56. Renee Marie Jones says:

    Before anyone uses the phrase "supply and demand," please demonstrate the existence of differentiable single valued scalar functions representing costs and utility as a function of quantity for the actually existing US economy.

  57. marco73 says:

    Here's a job that can be eliminated:
    The cashier takes your order, punches it into a cash register, takes your money, then someone else hands you your order.
    Why have the cashier? Have a couple simple kiosks, you punch in your order, pay with your card or put in cash, then get an order number, and wait for the person who puts your order on a tray.
    The real reason there is a cashier to to try an upgrade your order (large? with cheese? need an apple pie?).
    At $7.25 per hour, the cashier makes sense. At $15, forget the cashier, you will be placing your order on a machine. Just look at the self-checkout at Walmart or Home Depot.

  58. Dan Weber says:

    Dumping bullshit on people is a poor way to win arguments.

    If your goal is not to win but to feel good about yourself, well then bravo.

  59. Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk says:

    melK:

    Given that the French unemployment rate is reported to be at a 15-year high (above 10 percent now), I'm not inclined to pay much heed to French compensation proposals. Whatever their doing, it is not working; hammering away at executives seems unlikely to improve the situation.

    I'd turn your question around: what objective principles would you use to place a defined limit on executive salaries? Invocations of "fairness" in the abstract seem inadequate, as no one necessarily agrees what the concept requires in this situation. So, for example, what should McDonald's CEO make and how do you arrive at your figure?

    N. Easton:

    Nothing wrong with sympathizing with those who earn minimum wage, but your "[i]f the economic system in our country results in people who are willing and able to work full time being destitute or close to it, then it is a failure" rhetoric sounds a bit like "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

    Harsh as the results may be, it's likely always going to be the case that unskilled labor has relatively low pay. I don't say that to denigrate McDonald's employees. My first full-time job out of high school was at McDonald's. But my co-workers and I had very little to offer. And that was more than 20 years ago. As near as I can tell from my occasional visits there now, McDonald's employees often are even less skilled today (sometimes possessing only the most rudimentary English and mathematical knowledge).

    R.M. Jones:

    According to the 2012 Big Mac Index (published by The Economist), Denmark has one of the most expensive Big Macs at $5.37 in U.S. Dollars, as opposed to the United States price of around $3.57. I hesitate to make too much of this without further study, but the difference would seem to accord with contention that higher wages will correspond to higher prices.

  60. Ryan says:

    @perlhaqr

    If that was directed at me, you're going to have to elaborate, particularly with an accusation as foul as that one.

  61. Arlight says:

    Let's not forget all the other industries that hire at below $15/hr. Most employees at the super market, and at restaurants, data entry positions in an ungodly number of businesses, security guards, non-medical staff in hospitals, receptionists, the list goes on and on. It's not just McDonald's that doesn't pay this Living Wage, it huge swathes of industry across the country.

    I worked for $3.35/hr when I was a teen. I waited tables for minimum wage plus tips (CA is nice to waiters), I struggled to pay rent and car insurance at $10/hr for years. I understand what it takes to make it on those wages. I have kids now trying to make it on their own in the same circumstances. And if we moved the federal minimum wage to $15/hr, a lot the jobs that my kids are qualified to do would have to disappear or the cost of living would necessarily go up because not every industry and cut executive pay, soak the shareholders and just eat the cost.

  62. Steven H. says:

    @Renee:

    Just curious, what does a Big Mac cost in Denmark?

  63. Clark says:

    @Renee Marie Jones

    McDonalds pays more than $15 an hour equivalent in Denmark, because of union pressure. They could pay the same here.

    For extra credit, tell us the dead weight loss of people who would enjoy a McDonalds snack at $5, but not at $10.

    For example, I was recently on a road trip and stopped at a McDonalds (the only time I ever get fast food).

    I paid $5 to get maybe $6 of utility. It was a good trade.

    But I wouldn't pay $10 to get the same $6 of utility from a unionized McDonalds. Which means that I wouldn't have stopped there. I'd have stayed hungry and thirsty for another two or three hours until I got home.

    In fact, we could bring even MORE union pressure to bear and pay people $30/hour. And then, of course, even fewer people would stop there.

    Pretty soon you've made restaurant food unavailable to either the working poor or the middle class, but preserved it as an option for the rich.

    That may be a desirable social change from your point of view, but it's not from mine.

  64. Kevin says:

    It's always nice when someone like Renee Marie Jones shows up in an otherwise reality-based discussion, in order to play Washing Generals to our Globetrotters. Things would get a bit dull otherwise.

  65. Kevin says:

    ergh…. that was supposed to say WashinTON Generals… y u no have edit button?

  66. Kevin says:

    and of course, I typo'd again, in my typo-correction. I'm going to go sit in the corner now and think about what I've done.

  67. N. Easton says:

    Ex-Clerk:

    I don't think I've ever seen an attempt at communism that went anywhere particularly good, so I'm not inclined to sign on to "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Well, not unless such wild improvements were made upon previous attempts that it was worth another shot. It's a mild understatement to say that I find the prospect of a workable new&improved communism to be kind of dubious.

    As to the kiosks mentioned above? That's going to happen anyway. We've already had a big shrinkage in the demand for, say, office workers. Ask any really old-school lawyers how much more support staff their offices needed before ubiquitous information technology. The efficiency gains in many other areas are probably similar, although I can't speak with much authority on what's happened in the manufacturing sector.

    So, spitballing: What do we do when automation of simple tasks is so thorough that the market for labor undergoes another catastrophic shrinkage? Or rather continues the shrinkage that is already ongoing. Do we make up more stuff for people to do (and I mean literally invent and overpay for busy-work), expand the welfare state, or let people go hungry? I am convinced it's going to be one of those three.

  68. joshuaism says:

    I don't get your argument, Clark. I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but one anecdote is just one anecdote. And what is the target of your ire? Egghead studies? Boneheaded journalists? Minimum wages?

    Would you care to comment on CJR's take-down of the other side (posted just a couple days ago by the same author)? http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/wsj_edit_page_foolishness_on_t.php

  69. Dan Weber says:

    It's quite possible that with the labor freed up we will end up with still brand new jobs that were unthought-of a decade ago, just like many jobs done today would be impossible for someone 60 years ago to imagine.

    I don't think we should rush as fast as possible towards destroying low-wage jobs. It's possible (as in, it would not violate any laws of physics) that getting rid of the low-paying jobs will result in improved wages for everyone. I think it's much more likely that we will end up with even fewer opportunities for low-skill people, and I'm not sure how it's in the welfare of low-skill workers to make low-skill work illegal.

  70. Shane says:

    @N. Easton

    I already pay over the minimum wage. But you don't strike me as being interested in a serious discussion.

    Ok how about this for serious. I don't think that you pay enough to your employees, even though you pay over minimum wage, so I am going to come to your business and take a look at your books. I will bring the threat of force so that you indeed will comply with my simple request to look. Then we I will determine how much you will pay based on my assessment of your books. Does this sound good to you? I hope not, because this is what you are going to do to every business including yours. You will decide what every business will and will not pay for it's employees regardless of what the business or it's employees want. Is this serious enough for you? If you don't like being told how to run your business, maybe just maybe other business people don't like it either.

  71. Shane says:

    @Darryl

    Another option is to pass some of it on to consumers and have the shareholders take a little less return on their investment.

    And your assets or time are invested in this how? So you are going to walk down the street and tell a random stranger that he really doesn't need his wallet that you will take it and divide it based on a fair plan that you have that will help a lot of people. Good thing it isn't YOUR wallet cause you might think that that was theft and that person really has no business telling you how to deal with the money in YOUR wallet.

  72. Shane says:

    @macro73

    Here's a job that can be eliminated:
    The cashier takes your order, punches it into a cash register, takes your money, then someone else hands you your order.

    Done, go to Jack in the Box.

  73. Carl says:

    As per rule #1, the answer to the title of this blog post is "No".

  74. Carl says:

    " melK • Aug 2, 2013 @10:25 am
    But tell me what, precisely, justifies said "deciderator"
    earning in one year what the janitor might in a long,
    long lifetime?"

    The answer to that one is pretty simple: none of your business, in the most literal sense.

  75. Shane says:

    @melK

    But tell me what, precisely, justifies said "deciderator" earning in one year what the janitor might in a long, long lifetime?

    Nothing, welcome to the game.

    And here is another one for you. What justifies your bloated ass salary? WHAT!!!! you say, you don't know anything about me or even what work I do!!!!!

    Exactly

  76. Xenocles says:

    "Such wages [to the CEO] are simply theft from stock owners."

    It sounds like the shareholders ought to do something about it then. If they don't, what business is it of mine?

  77. Shane says:

    @N. Easton

    … find the prospect of a workable new&improved communism to be kind of dubious.

    But strangely you advocate it.

    So, spitballing: What do we do when automation of simple tasks is so thorough that the market for labor undergoes another catastrophic shrinkage? Or rather continues the shrinkage that is already ongoing. Do we make up more stuff for people to do (and I mean literally invent and overpay for busy-work), expand the welfare state, or let people go hungry? I am convinced it's going to be one of those three.

    You were the one that decried the end of the economy when manufacturing jobs shrunk and then moved overseas.

    You were the one that decried the end of the economy when service work became a larger and larger portion of the US economy.

    You were the one that decried drought as India consumed more water as it's population swelled.

    Yours is what is known as "failure of imagination". The world will not stay as it is, no matter how many want it to. It will change and evolve. What was once a nuisance black goo coming out of the ground is now called a resource.

  78. barry says:

    I heard on a TV somewhere (it may have been a flatscreen) that current economic theory is; if you want a rich person to work harder you pay them more, and to get a poor person to work harder, you pay them less.

  79. mud man says:

    If society actually were libertarian, then these libertarian justifications would make more sense. But it's a team sport and nobody's a free agent. Perhaps the field should be leveled by other means?

  80. Shane says:

    @mud man

    Perhaps the field should be leveled by other means?

    Maybe that is the problem, maybe the field doesn't need leveling.

  81. mud man says:

    @shane
    Easy for you to say. "The hammer's on the table, the pitchfork's on the shelf …." -Dylan

  82. Dan Weber says:

    if you want a rich person to work harder you pay them more, and to get a poor person to work harder, you pay them less.

    If you ignore different workers that is obviously silly.

    My business will be much cleaner if my janitor makes $50,000 than if he makes $22,000. This is not because the janitor works better with more money. This is because the janitor I hire at $50,000 will be a lot better than the one I hire at $22,000. If something is forcing me to pay that much, I am going to make sure he's worth it.

  83. En Passant says:

    Ryan wrote Aug 2, 2013 @11:25 am:

    @perlhaqr

    If that was directed at me, you're going to have to elaborate, particularly with an accusation as foul as that one.

    I think perlhaqr was satirizing a trope commonly used by those claiming to represent workers who oppose dismantling "social entitlements that subsidize".

    As in "only a racist would dismantle entitlements". Or something.

    In other words it was intended not to inflict butthurt, but to be dead-pan humorous, and offered ultimately in support of your point.

    I'll go to my room now.

  84. TomB says:

    I'm beginning to hear the theme song to "Dennis Moore"…..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLkhx0eqK5w

    "Wait a tic… blimey, this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought."

  85. En Passant says:

    [clickety clack, whish!]

    I'm coming out of my room briefly to say I think that Stevie P on Aug 2, 2013 @3:15 am, the very first comment here, wins the thread.

    [whish! slam!]

  86. Blah says:

    Tangent: I find the near ubiquity of those "one WEIRD trick!" and the more-insidious "that your doctor/dentist/mechanic/priest doesn't want you to know!" ads just utterly horrifying. They seem to be multiplying, which means that on some level they are effective, which means that there is a staggeringly large percentage of the general populace who literally places more faith in the anecdote of a supposed mom/neighbor/octogenarian than actual scientists and professionals in their given fields. No wonder the world is in the state it's in now if people actually think that snorting baking soda is going to fix their rotting teeth or whatever the hell those ads are actually trying to shill.

  87. Tarrou says:

    @ Anton – Fact-free whinging and subject changes? Not following you down that tard-hole.

    @ Renee – Thank you for making my day. At first I though you were a mouth-breathing simpleton attempting to obfuscate her rampant ignorance through the use of made-up words. On reflection, I'm going with satire bordering on the preternatural. Kinder that way, and more fun for me!

  88. Basil Forthrightly says:

    @blah I'm with you; there's a pseudo-Darwinian impetus amongst the sleazoid end of "monetize your website" crowd that leads to the ad fads like that one. As soon as a new gimmick starts producing a marginally higher revenue per page view, all the ad brokers and networks adopt it; if they don't, the content owners shift to the ad service that gives them higher revenue.

  89. TM says:

    which means that there is a staggeringly large percentage of the general populace who literally places more faith in the anecdote of a supposed mom/neighbor/octogenarian than actual scientists and professionals in their given fields.

    I've long argued that a large part of this is because the real scientists and professionals don't control their own message. They outsource the distribution of their information to new outlets, PR departments and press releases, which horribly mangle and distort what they're saying. Combine this with the frequency with which the science is used and abused by politicians and political agitators and the number of time where academics are caught in outright lies and falsifications and the number of times that science (even correct science) is then used to justify forcible interference with people's lives (or worse, see forced eugenics) and you have a populace who doesn't trust the scientists any more than they trust the politicians. Science, Politics and Religion, 3 big areas that control vast parts of people's lives and the 3 biggest areas where the "commoners" are often pushed out. If the choice is trusting one of the high priests or trusting your mom, or your mom's friend, or a friend of a friend of a friend, is it any wonder they reject the messages from on high?

  90. James Pollock says:

    "It sounds like the shareholders ought to do something about it then. If they don't, what business is it of mine?"
    What, exactly, CAN they do about it?
    AFAIK, nobody has ever solved the agency-cost problem involved.

  91. Tam says:

    N. Easton,

    "There would probably be some increase in cost, but it wouldn't be proportional. Doubling the minimum wage isn't going to double the cost of everything."

    You're right; BMW's would be largely unchanged in price and Big Macs would probably only go up 80-90% or so…

  92. Xenocles says:

    "What, exactly, CAN they do about it?"

    Well I don't know, but if they can't do anything about it then their ownership doesn't seem to mean a lot, does it? I suppose it depends on the structure of the corporation, but one would think if the problem is big enough they could vote to dismiss the people who made those decisions. Failing that I guess they could sell their shares. The present situation seems to be either good enough for them to hold their positions or bad enough to be unable to find a buyer. I'm guessing it's the first.

    There are partial solutions to extreme cases of the agency problem: if the situation gets bad enough you can fire your agent and try your luck with someone else.

  93. AlphaCentauri says:

    The CEO salary is the business of the shareholders, who elect the board of directors. Now, a large number of poorly performing businesses have highly compensated executives, in defiance of all logic. Yet it's almost unheard of that the shareholders fail to confirm the nominees recommended by a company's existing board of directors.

    Part of the reason for that is that a lot of shares are not being voted by the actual shareholders. Those investors "own" them only because the own shares in a mutual fund that owns them. The shares are voted by the highly paid executives of the investment firms that sell the mutual funds, not by the actual investors whose money is on the line.

    Personally, I would consider a company with disproportionately low worker salary compared to executive salary to be a poor choice for a long term investment. A company that doesn't value the employees that deal with its customers on a face-to-face basis is a company that doesn't value its customers. (See how Clark felt the need to explain that he only eats at McDonald's when he travels, as if it is shameful to be a McDonald's customer? How did McDonald's allow that perception to arise?) And an executive that can make more money in five years than he can spend in a lifetime has no interest in the long term viability of the company, either. He'll put in a few years then cash in his stock options before stock prices are impacted by his short-sighted policies.

    So, forget legislating the CEO-to-janitor compensation ratio. Just give me the data to judge for myself (and count the salaries of outsourced employees, too). And give me the aggregate data for mutual funds, too. Let the investors and customers decide if it matters enough to change the decisions they make with their money.

    You can't expect the market to govern the situation if there's a disconnect between the consumers (investors) and the vendors (the publicly traded companies). Why aren't the people who are complaining about salaries providing this data in usable form?

  94. melK says:

    @shane
    But tell me what, precisely, justifies …
    Nothing, welcome to the game.

    Thanks for the welcome. I'm new to it.

    @Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk
    I'm interested in the CEO compensation cap largely as an awareness mechanism. That is, I have no good answers for you on it. CEO compensation has ballooned – in some cases – where bottom end compensation has actually lost purchasing power. Law has established a lower bound for compensation, perhaps you haven't been given sufficient opportunity to object to that. But if you don't object to minimum wage laws, why would you object to a minimum wage law that tied said minimum wage to what the CEO gets from the company? Enforcing the '80s republican "rising tide" theory, after a fashion.

    As for France and proposals, if their unemployment is as you say, I'd think they have more motivation to try different things than the rest of us do. "Hanged in the morning", right?

    Or perhaps Australia should be our exemplar, with (verily I read it myself on the interwebs) $15 minimum wage and 5.8% (or so) unemployment?

    On the gripping hand, blaming (or praising) a single policy for the result of an entire economy has the same validity as listening to sound-bite news and thinking you got the whole story.

    Perhaps we should do a study…

  95. angstela says:

    I used to have a co-worker who would ask for massive changes to our program UI and the website because he "mailed it to a list of 500 MBAs" and "got overwhelming feedback saying we should …".

    Except what he really meant to say was, "my wife commented that she thinks that …"

    Oh, the good ol' days.

  96. Chad Miller says:

    > Tangent: I find the near ubiquity of those "one WEIRD trick!" and the more-insidious "that your doctor/dentist/mechanic/priest doesn't want you to know!" ads just utterly horrifying. They seem to be multiplying, which means that on some level they are effective, which means that there is a staggeringly large percentage of the general populace who literally places more faith in the anecdote of a supposed mom/neighbor/octogenarian than actual scientists and professionals in their given fields.

    There's an interesting Slate article ("How one weird trick conquered the Internet") about this trend. Interestingly, they mention one hypothesis that the ads are intentionally not that credible to people with any reasonable degree of skepticism; rather, they're just barely believable to gullible idiots so that only gullible idiots will click their ads, yielding the best conversion rates. They mention that this tactic appears to be working for 419 scams as well.

  97. grouch says:

    Proposed solution to all U.S. (pat.pend, tm, LLC) problems:

    Henceforth, Representatives, Senators and President shall be compensated at no more than double the median annual income of their constituents, including non-monetary benefits received during and after term of service. Elected officials shall have no immunity from laws they pass.

    Sorry, I don't have a study to quote that supports the above. I'm just guessing a little incentive might go a long way at the federal level.

  98. Clark says:

    Miller

    There's an interesting Slate article ("How one weird trick conquered the Internet") about this trend.

    Indeed; I read it and the subject line was partially inspired by it.

  99. DS Ulman says:

    "@DS Ulman

    Supporting such wages by screwing over the folks who are the company's face to the public is simply stupid.

    And just how is it that "THEY" are "SCREWING" over the nice folks that work in their restaurant? I am curious? Is it because "THEY" are offering a salary far below what "YOU" consider appropriate? Because last I checked "YOU" weren't really part of their wage negotiations. But alas there is something that "YOU" can do! "YOU" can go to the fine folks at the restaurant and "YOU" can give the fine folks the compensation that "YOU" think that they deserve. "YOU" can bypass directly "THOSE" greedy people and help the little guy. POW! Problem solved.

    I will create a little song in praise of "YOUR" selflessness and "YOUR" soon to be greatness."

    Thank you. How far are you from blowing through your inheritance and having to get a job?

  100. Clark says:

    @melK

    I'm interested in the CEO compensation cap largely as an awareness mechanism.

    That's a good reason to muck about in a large running system with lots of parts you don't understand.

  101. Piper says:

    Meh. McDonalds pays a higher wage in Western Europe and I don't think that's due to some heavy duty licensing fees on 'french' fries…. It can be done. Doesn't mean it has to be. FWIW, I get a lot better experience from the well-paid employees at In-n-out (non-unionized). Ditto Costco vs Walmart. There is a cost associated with these hiring practices.

  102. Shane says:

    @DS Ulman

    Thank you. How far are you from blowing through your inheritance and having to get a job?

    Because you are hardworking? Because you have a job then somehow you are better than me? Do you suppose that maybe I have a job too? Can you imagine that my pay might be ::gasp:: less than yours? How would that fit into your little us vs. them narrative? What if I made little more than the workers that you are so desperately trying to help with other people's money? What if, and this is a big IF, what if I have learned to live within my means? And here is the really crazy part, because I am supposed to be some trust fund baby, what if money is a means not and end. ::GASP::

    I find that people that look to other peoples money as though it was some sort of public resource, are pretty interested in not having their money taken, and do everything in their power to get out of the obligation that they so easily place on everyone else. Are you one of those people @DS Ulman?

  103. Vermin says:

    Also a truism: The answer to any rhetorical question calling for a number is six.

  104. Piper says:

    That's just 42, broken down and added up… ;)

  105. wgering says:

    What @Shane said.

    For those bemoaning the wretch'd state of the downtrodden McDonald's workers…there's this thing called a tip (not sure how McD's does things, but if front-of-house and kitchen share tips, you really should be tipping). If you don't think fast-food service merits a tip out of your own wallet, why does it merit money out of someone else's?

  106. Tarrou says:

    @ grouch,

    I like your "Stick it to the man" suggestion, but that only means that the politicians would start actively trying to imprison, deport or move their poorer constituents, to increase the average.

  107. Goku says:

    There are obviously no single rule that could ever account for all situations of CEO pay. However, personally anytime I see a CEO making more than 50 times the firm's employee pay it makes me raise an eyebrow. Not that there aren't cases where far more is justified, but that is a level I start want to actually see how the CEO is driving 50x more value for the company than the average employee.

    As far as McDonalds, hey I'm all for the workers but when you dig into the numbers it isn't as crazy as it may first seem. Last year on their corporate owned stores they make roughly 1.6B in profit on 18.6B in revenue. That's like an 8.6% return. A nice steady return at a respectable rate to be sure, but it isn't that much.

    You see people saying they could double every employees pay/benefits no problem. If they did that just at the company owned stores suddenly those stores are running at a -3.1B loss instead of a 1.6B profit.

    I'm sensitive to worker abuse and started looking into this case expecting to find it. However, after looking at the numbers I'm just not seeing it.

  108. Steven H. says:

    @Tarrou:

    "I like your "Stick it to the man" suggestion, but that only means that the politicians would start actively trying to imprison, deport or move their poorer constituents, to increase the average."

    Apparently, Hawaii has instituted a government fund to pay for one-way tickets to anywhere to their homeless, if they'll promise to never come back.

    Something about excessive drain on their social services….

  109. Dan Weber says:

    why would you object to a minimum wage law that tied said minimum wage to what the CEO gets from the company

    Because it is incredibly silly. Why should the CEO of a bunch of lawyers be allowed to get paid more than the CEO of a bunch of unskilled workers? (Wait, what if the law firm hires a janitor??)

    In fact, if CEO pay is at all correlated with compensation, you have guaranteed that the second company would have worse management. Congratulations.

    (NB: There is good reason to be skeptical that CEO pay correlates with quality. But can you guarantee that it's not with sufficient surety to give the people that you are supposedly trying to help bad management?)

    Also, it's incredibly easy to work around. Really really trivial.

  110. TomB says:

    In fact, if CEO pay is at all correlated with compensation, you have guaranteed that the second company would have worse management. Congratulations.

    I'm pretty sure Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream tried this very progressive approach in the 90's. IIRC, they had to give up when nobody applied for the job.

  111. TM says:

    Another possible outcome of tying CEO compensation to the level of the lowest paid employee is that there will simply be no more lower paid employees. Jobs will be automated, those that can't be automated will be outsourced and those that can't be outsourced will be hired as contractors instead. For retail and fast food where contractor employees are not likely possible, I imagine we'd simply see an explosion of franchising.

  112. Xenocles says:

    You can play with artificial incentives all you want. But aside from principled objections you run into two major problems:

    1. You don't know if what you intend to incentivize is a good fit for every affected part of the system (i.e., maybe your plan can work in one industry but not another and you don't know it because of your imperfect knowledge of both industries).

    2. There is no such thing as a system that can't be gamed for the optimum benefit of a player, and as soon as one player cracks your system the knowledge will spread throughout the field. This second rule suggests that the rules system should be as simple as possible in order to promote transparency in how the players are gaming the system.

  113. Xenocles says:

    Amplification (This really should have been part of my #2 above):

    The result of the players being able to game the system is that what you think you're incentivizing may be very, very different from what you wind up getting. For instance: you incentivize higher pay by indexing C-level pay to median salary at the firm. This may lead to higher pay for the current low-level guys. Or it might just lead to the lower-skilled workers being fired and replaced with service contractors (who aren't employees of the firm, and so don't count against the metric). If you globalize the rule so that those service firms also have to follow it, maybe the original firm just tacks on some of those duties to their skilled employees – there's no reason why an engineer can't take out his trash once a week, perhaps.

    It's possible the equilibrium following your rules change will be a step in the direction you desired, but even if that happens it's likely the result will fall short of what you thought you would get. The inevitable result is a rules system that has to be constantly updated to compensate for the new tactics the players are learning. Since the players who won't or can't play the optimum strategy have a good chance of being eliminated, in the end you wind up killing off firms artificially.

    To the extent that "society has to pay for the difference" between actual wages and this "living wage," I can only say that society pays regardless, whether through taxes for social services (which is a choice, by the way – there is no hard requirement for welfare) or through the higher prices for their goods (or the lost profits for the firms in which they've invested). The money is all coming from the same general pool.

  114. marco73 says:

    @Shane
    Good comment. Here in Central Florida we don't have Jack in the Box. There was a McDonald's near Disney that experimented with kiosks even in foreign languages, but apparently they were a little pricey, compared to a $7.25 cashier.
    But for $15 an hour, why have a guy making french fries, when you could have a machine that senses when the fry hopper is getting low, takes the product from the freezer, fries it up, and refills the hopper. Same goes for flipping burgers, making shakes, brewing coffee.
    I've spent a career in IT taking menial tasks away from low paid and not so low paid workers: clerks, accountants, engineers, etc. Some of those people then make use of the technology and are much more productive; some resist change and end up leaving.

  115. Ancel De Lambert says:

    Fuck the shareholders. Sit on their ass do nothings. Fuck the stockmarket and everything to do with it. The very fact that it's legal to short a stock is reason for concern. You wanna pay a higher wage to McD employees? Bleed it off the stock.

  116. Xenocles says:

    Speaking of unintended consequences…

  117. Careless says:

    It's quite possible that with the labor freed up we will end up with still brand new jobs that were unthought-of a decade ago

    Given how low our LFPR is now (if we exclude homemakers, probably the lowest ever), I don't think we need to free up more labor to see if that happens.

  118. Shane says:

    @Ancel De Lambert

    Fuck the shareholders. Sit on their ass do nothings.

    Yeah grandma and grandpa need to get their asses out there and do some damn work for that retirement income. Cause I sure as hell ain't paying taxes on them. And all of those tools that think that stocks might be a investment in the future … well fuck 'em.

    Fuck the stockmarket and everything to do with it.

    Down with the fascist tyranny! Anarchy forever!!!

    The very fact that it's legal to short a stock is reason for concern.

    When you don't care about the stock market, you should care about shorting said stock market. Yes, YES, that makes perfect sense.

    You wanna pay a higher wage to McD employees? Bleed it off the stock.

    Brilliant!! So, Phase 1 collect blood from stocks, Phase 2 … , Phase 3 higher wages.

  119. D.S. Ulman drooled:
    "Considerably less the $8 million plus. I doubt if Don Thompson is such a great CEO that McDonalds could not find someone just as good who is willing to work for $4 mil."

    Considering that the board of directors represents the stock holders, and that they can fire the CEO any time they want, if this is true, why haven't they done it, and pocketed the savings? Why does so much liberal whining sound like sour grapes and jealousy?

  120. TomB says:

    Fuck the shareholders.

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Although that would be a shareholders meeting I'd pay good money to be at.

  121. James Pollock says:

    "Considering that the board of directors represents the stock holders"
    You're assuming.

  122. Dan Weber says:

    Even if we were to pretend the stock owners are owed exactly zero and all their profits were to go to the employees, that still wouldn't come close to closing the gap to $15 an hour. McDonald's has a net income of about $700 per employee.

    Per employee, the Federal government gets more money in FICA taxes than McDonald's does in net income.

  123. inode_buddha says:

    There's one study that everyone believes with no problem, and that study was done by Masters and Johnson. Just sayin'.

  124. grouch says:

    Wait. There are people who eat at McDonald's?

    No wonder they believe in "studies". Brain == deep-fried in partially hydrogenated, interesterified TBHQ and sweat.

  125. Anony Mouse says:

    Or perhaps Australia should be our exemplar, with (verily I read it myself on the interwebs) $15 minimum wage and 5.8% (or so) unemployment?

    1) US dollars or Australian dollars? ($15 AUD is about $13.35 USD)
    2) How much is a Big Mac in Australia?

  126. Shane says:

    @inode_buddha

    There's one study that everyone believes with no problem, and that study was done by Masters and Johnson.

    Oooops, not everyone knows even. Please link.

  127. MosesZD says:

    study" turned out to be something done by by an undergraduate, and it contained basic math errors.

    Sadly, so did the rebuttle. So just as people say stupid things about the Law, and you see them, I see people saying stupid things about financial statements and accounting all the time.

    Both made nice tries for their respective ideological cohorts. But, both are dramatically wrong in their conclusions and look like incompetent wankers to me.

    The actual truth is that the true number cannot be computed from the financial statements due to aggregation, workforce allocation and benefits issues in "Payroll and Benefits." To do this right, you have to work from the bottom-up, not the top-down.

    Neither did that. Both used the worst possible data that is horribly corrupted with aggregation issues and thought they were 'doing it right….'

    The whole fight has been a laugh fest in my little CPA circle.

  128. wgering says:

    @Shane said:

    You wanna pay a higher wage to McD employees? Bleed it off the stock.

    Brilliant!! So, Phase 1 collect blood from stocks, Phase 2 … , Phase 3 higher wages.

    You forgot "Phase 4: Profit!!"

  129. Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk says:

    melK:

    Australia may have decent unemployment figures, but the price of the Big Mac is higher there as well. If I am reading the data correctly, a Big Mac in Australia costs $4.62 in U.S. Dollars as of July 13, 2013. The underlying data is available via here:

    http://www.economist.com/content/big-mac-index

    That's well above the U.S. price. Again, I hesitate to make too much of this (given the variety of factors that could be in play). But, like the price difference between Big Macs in Denmark and the U.S., the price difference here at least suggests that raising wages to the suggested level could have consequences beyond those anticipated.

  130. zefal says:

    Was it actually 69 cents, but they didn't want people to giggle at their study? Raise your Big Mac by 69…

  131. TomB says:

    Sadly, so did the rebuttle. So just as people say stupid things about the Law, and you see them, I see people saying stupid things about financial statements and accounting all the time.

    Which "rebuttle" are you talking about? I read at least 4. The fact of the matter is that the KU undergrad made a very basic error calculating the wage increase (forgetting that the vast majority of McDonald's workers don't work for McD's, but their franchises.)

    Most of the rebuttals were merely pointing that out.

  132. Pete says:

    There's competing research by "real" economists Jeannette Wicks-Lim and Robert Pollin, in which they claimed a 48% increase in minimum wage could be supported by a five cent price increase for a Big Mac: http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/resources/minwage_notesjune19.pdf
    See also:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/01/the-mcpoverty-calculator.html

    I'm sorely vexed by these wildly different calculations.

  133. Steven H. says:

    @Pete:

    Your first link says that a 48% minimum wage increase would require a ten cent increase in the price of a Big Mac, assuming that the owners of Mickey-D's doesn't want to lose money on the deal (the five cent figure assumed McD's would eat half the cost of the wage increase – I don't see that).

    As to whether the total increase in costs would only be 2.7% for a 44% increase in wages for most of your employees, I can't say, but it sounds a bit dodgy to me.

    Oh, and extrapolating business cost increases based on five data points (which aren't terribly linear) just seems…wrong.

  134. TomB says:

    There's competing research by "real" economists Jeannette Wicks-Lim and Robert Pollin, in which they claimed a 48% increase in minimum wage could be supported by a five cent price increase for a Big Mac:

    Well, they came up with this little gem in 2009, so I'd be a little leery of their "analysis":

    Recent research by Robert Pollin and Jeannette Wicks-Lim (available at http://www.peri.umass.edu/green_jobs) suggests that investments in green energy will create jobs that generally pay well above the typical wage.

  135. Movie Buff Mtl says:

    "My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw it at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious."

    "Thank you, Simone."