Category Archives: Society

You’re Worth What You Can Get

If you know me, or have argued with me online, you ought to know that I’m a fiscally conservative dude. People hear “conservative” and they imagine Scrooge McDuck hoarding and counting his endless piles of money while Little Timmy freezes and starves to death outside. The truth is that being a “fiscal conservative” only means that you don’t play fast and loose with your money. You avoid impulse buys, and put more consideration into purchases and decisions that might affect your financial situation. You don’t spend money on a whim. It also does not mean that you are rich.

All of that needed to be said and for good reason. I’m not a huge fan of new regulations to drastically raise the minimum wage. But no,it’s not because I’m evil.

Scrooge McDuck counting his money.
Scrooge McDuck counting his money.

While many people who are against raising the minimum wage claim that “Burger flippers aren’t for $X per hour! This is outrageous!”, my stance is very different. I think you’re worth whatever you can persuade someone to pay you.

If Joe Teenager can convince his manager to pay him $50 an hour to flip burgers, then by all means I support it and applaud it. Sincerely. The key word here though,  is “convince”.

I don’t like the idea of strong arming someone into paying you more, especially when your employment there is voluntary.

All transactions should be mutually agreed upon by both parties; the buyer and the seller. Imagine you’re selling you car and someone offers you far less than you’re willing to sell it for. You have the right to not sell it. Employment is no different. As an employee, you are selling your services in exchange for an income, or benefits, insurance, etc. The employee naturally wants to maximize his income, and the employer naturally wants to minimize his payroll, but unless both parties can reach an agreement, there should be no transaction. Forcing a wage on your employer is no different than forcing your neighbor to buy your car for more than he’s willing to pay for it, simple as that.

The gut-counter-reactions to this might be “But people need a job to live!”  True. you may need a job, but don’t forget that businesses are not in the business of hiring people that need jobs. They’re in the business of making  money. Whether you need a job or higher pay is not the business’ concern – it’s yours.

Before you sharpen your pitchforks, hear me out. Just because I’m against raising the minimum wage does not mean I’m against higher pay. Just because I’m against rape, doesn’t mean I’m against sex. Just so long as each is consensual.

I don’t mind people getting paid more. I don’t mind burger flippers getting paid more. I try to avoid Walmart which pays a “starving wage”. I frequent businesses like Costco and In-N-Out which voluntarily pay well above minimum wage. I also tip well (when deserved). I vote with my wallet. I encourage everyone to vote with theirs. If enough people do it, it could cause some shifts.

Who works minimum wage though? Who should be? Lower paying jobs are usually entry level positions that don’t require much experience or a heavy hitting résumé. Ideally, they are for teens and young adults looking to gain experience and build their résumé in order to advance to a better job.

Entry level jobs are self explanatory. They are jobs for people entering the work force. By their nature, they are meant to be short lived. You get one, grow, learn, and move on to the next level, and the next person takes your place. It’s kind of like kindergarten. They can support a lone wolf, but probably aren’t suited for supporting a wolf pack. So teens be warned! Having kids on a McDonald’s paycheck is probably not a great idea.

Here’s where “fiscal conservative” finally comes into play. Making more money is one thing. Making decisions that result in less expenses is another. People need to think of life in terms of finances. the car you drive, the neighborhood you live in, the clothes you wear, and even when and how many kids you have are all financial decisions.

Would you buy a car if you couldn’t afford the payments?

Would you buy a home if you couldn’t afford the mortgage?

Would you buy a puppy if you couldn’t afford the food?

If no, then you shouldn’t have a baby unless you can afford to raise it. Again, simple as that.

Actual ad from a NYC teen parents awareness campaign.
Actual ad from a NYC teen parents awareness campaign.

Simple as this is. Straight forward as this is. No-nonsense as this, a lot of people hear that and are offended. They’re repulsed at the idea of children being a financial decision instead of a “life decision”.

What many fail to realize is that almost every decision is a financial decision, or at the very least will result in a different financial outcome. Life isn’t free, and so long as that’s true, life decisions are financial decisions.

That’s a whole other conversation and blog post, so let me stop there. Steering this all back on track, the point to all this is simple, so let me wrap this up.

Minimum wage jobs are meant for teens and people with few obligations – not for families.

Instead of regulating businesses to take care of people, people should regulate their own actions to better take care of themselves. If you’re 40 with three kids and on minimum wage, you *probably* made some poor choices, even if it was simple having more kids than you could afford. If you meant to have one child and ended up with triplets, then clearly you’re an exception to the rule.

No matter how old or young you are, if you’re in the work force or entering soon, always be improving yourself and making yourself more commercially valuable.

If you’re a voter, vote with your wallets before you rush to the ballots.

If you’re an employer who can afford to do so, try to help your staff out a little bit. Generosity goes a long way, and happy employees work better.

No matter who you are, remember that every decision is a financial decision, whether you life it or not.

All transactions should be mutually agreed upon by both parties.
All transactions should be mutually agreed upon by both parties.

Finally, you’re not worth what you think you are. In fact, you’re not worth what others think you are. You’re worth whatever you can convince someone else to give you.

Is Where You Choose to Live an Entitlement?

My interest has been piqued lately by a resurgence of the wage debate. Unions and labor forces across the U.S. have been staging protests over how much fast food workers should be paid per hour. This wage debate is nothing new. It’s been going on for years, decades, even centuries. See the French Revolution. In the U.S. this debate seems to flare up every couple years, and not coincidentally before election season.

A friend of mine recently posted on a link on Facebook about a recent San Diego fast food workers’ protest, which prompted a quick and furious online argument on his wall about the issue. But I am not here today to talk politics, or weigh in on this issue.

What caught my attention was that in the midst of all the arguing, my friend made a peripheral point that if people cannot afford to live on their current wage, that there are a number of solutions to their problem. If they cannot increase their wage, they can decrease their expenses, proposing that they move to an area with a lower cost of living. Mind you, this protest took place and my friend and I live in San Diego, California, so that narrows down the list of “Cheaper Places to Live” to practically everywhere else on the planet.

He was instantly hit with backlash. A friend of his shot back at him with, verbatim, “wait, living in San Diego is a privilege? that’s fucking ridiculous – if you were born there or your parents just ended up there before you, yanno, grew up, that’s a privilege, and you should move?

I didn’t reply. But my answer to him is “Uh, yeah dude.

He asked the question as if the rhetorical answer was “Well, um gee, when you phrase it that way, no I guess not.” But the answer is apologetically YES, YOU SHOULD MOVE.

This guy’s thesis is: Once you are born somewhere, living there indefinitely is a RIGHT, not a privilege.

Which is total bullshit, and let me break down why. I won’t use numbers and figures and charts and stats. Let’s break this down using real world practicality.

Personal Experience

I for one have always wanted to live by the beach. The cool weather, the quick job to the beach, the smell of ocean, the drunk college kids puking on my front lawn. Okay, aside from that last part, I’ve always wanted to live by the beach, but I couldn’t because it just wasn’t practical. Okay, you only live once, blah blah. But at the end of the day, paying an extra $200 per month on rent just wasn’t financially practical in my college years. By the age of 24 I had already learned that living where-ever-the-heck-I-want is not a right, was is in fact a privilege.

Micro Level

On a very micro-level, every responsible person chooses where they do and don’t live, based on what is financially feasible. If you have ever been on the market for a new home, and been hunting for the right house with a real estate agent, you know what I mean. One house is perfect. Maybe it has the big garage you’ve always wanted, it’s got a great view of the canyon, a pool, it’s in a good school district, or maybe it’s a 5-mile commute from your office. But reality kicks in. “Honey I’m sorry, it’s just out of our price range.

Macro Level

Now, shit’s about to get real. Show of hands, whose ancestors were born in the US? Most of our relatives at some point or another migrated here from abroad. Every year thousands of people leave their countries and migrate to the United States to call this country their new home. Some come from as close as Mexico like my grandparents did. Some come from as far as Russia, Asian, Africa, and the Middle East. Why do you suppose this is?

Entitled people who refused to leave their home town. (Sarcasm)
Entitled people who refused to leave their home town. (Sarcasm)

I don’t suppose they moved here because they thought the U.S. would offer them a worse life. They moved here because they thought they had more opportunity, could get better pay, land a better job, go to school, send their kids to school, or maybe avoid ethnic persecution. Whatever the reason, they all have something in common: They moved from A to B, because they thought it would bring them a better life.

These people quit their jobs, packed their bags, uprooted their families, moved thousands of miles, across oceans towards a new country, said goodbye to friends, relatives, neighbors, and their homeland, all of whom they’ll probably never see again, all for the shot at a better life. Some of these people cross treacherous deserts and risk death to illegally get hear, which albeit illegal still shows guts, determination, and sacrifice.

These immigrants can do all this, and yet some entitled U.S. born assholes still think living in San Diego, or this city or that city, is a right? Some people still think moving 300 miles out of state, or just to another city with a lower cost of living is unconscionable?

Excuse my French, but that, oh friend of a friend, is in fact fucking ridiculous.

The Ice Bucket Challenge

It has been a volatile past couple of weeks on social media lately, with the Israel-Gaza conflict and the Ferguson Missouri shooting. Oddly enough though, my casual observations have led me to believe that the hottest button issue on the web right now, is the Ice Bucket Challenge.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, the Ice Bucket Challenge is a social media meme in which you video tape yourself dumping a bucket of ice-water on yourself. Then, in your video, you challenge three other people to either do the same thing, or donate money to a charity. The charity being linked to the Ice Bucket Challenge is ALS Association, with the purpose of funding research to find a cure for ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This may not be 100% spot on, but this is the gist of it.

Steps of the Ice Bucket Challenge
Steps of the Ice Bucket Challenge

I’m not going to rip on the Ice Bucket Challenge, or start condemning the people who oppose it for water conservation reasons. What fascinates me is how worked up everyone has got about this issue, regardless of their stance on the subject. What seems like such a seemingly benign and oh-so-typically-cliché internet meme has turned out to be anything but cliché. The amount of hype surrounding this issue, and the amount of tension and heated arguments arising out of it are astonishing. There are several warring factions.

Faction 1: The Water Whiners

When the Ice Bucket Challenge first started, it was most popular on the East Coast and in the South. As it spread across the US, it finally made its’ way to the West coast, and more specifically California which is going through a huge drought at the moment. This prompted some people to rally against Californians doing the Ice Bucket Challenge as it was considered a waste of water at a time when our water supply was already dangerously low. These people weren’t necessarily against fundraising or spreading awareness about ALS, but against the wasting of the water.

Faction 2: The Three Bucketeers

This resulted in backlash from people who support the Ice Bucket Challenge, and dispel the water-related criticisms as baseless. Their counter argument is that compared to the amount of water people waste every day showering, cleaning dishes, watering lawns, or washing cars, the one-time use of 2-3 gallons of water is a drop in the bucket, no pun intended. This group will provide you with an onslaught of news articles and Wikipedia links confirming the Ice Bucket Challenge is the brainchild of Jesus and Gandhi’s joint efforts to stop the apocalypse.

Faction 3: The Like Bucket Challenge

Then of course you have the politically untangled. For this group, it’s not about finding a cure for ALS or conserving water. Their goal  however is to spread awareness… of themselves. These attention whores will accept your challenge if it means they don’t have to donate anything. But they will altruistically donate a video of themselves to the internet. Just don’t forget to ‘Like’ their video, or they’ll keep re-posting it. You’re welcome, Facebook.

Faction 4: The Cheapskates

Probably notorious bad tippers amongst friends and family, this faction just didn’t want to donate, so they did the Ice Bucket Challenge instead.

Skeptical Black Child on Cheapskates
Skeptical Black Child on Cheapskates

This is a very simplified overview of the situation, and I will simplify things even more. Regardless of what your stance is on the “issue”, let us please get a few things straight:

Is the Ice Bucket Challenge a waste of perfectly good water? Yeah, if you’re in California.

Is it a huge waste of water and worth worrying about? No, it’s pretty harmless.

Is the Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness about ALS? Yes.

Could the Ice Bucket Challenge be considered a success, in that it raised a ton of money that will go towards research for an ALS cure? Absolutely. This years’ donations have dwarfed previous years contributions.

So despite the waste of water, was it worth it? I’d say so.

Are tons of people using the Ice Bucket Challenge because they are  attention whores looking to get shares and likes on social media websites? Duh.

Tara Reid getting pneumonia
Tara Reid getting pneumonia

So the truth is that no one is really wrong. It could be considered a waste of water, but the vast majority of people seem to be okay with wasting a liiiitttle bit of water because hey, it’s for a good cause. Find me a fundraiser that didn’t chop down a tree or two printing out fliers for their latest canned-goods drive. Find me a marathon that didn’t litter the host city’s streets in Dixie cups, PowerBar wrappers and human excrement. No, seriously. Find me a Raiders game where a fan of the opposing team didn’t get stabbed in the parking lot.

Basically, we’re all willing to trash things up a little bit if we feel that the net outcome is for a good cause.

Congrats to the ALS Association for raising a ton of money, and let’s hope that it is money well spent. Cheers to the people who donated money to ALS or other notable causes. A pat on the back to people who legitimately did the Ice Bucket Challenge to spread awareness of ALS. Thank you, to the conservationists for spreading awareness of another legitimate concern. And to attention whores who did it just for five minutes of fame, may your Ice Bucket Challenge whorish ways get you pneumonia.

Why the World Cares About America

You read the title and I already know what you’re thinking. “Oh please! The world doesn’t care about America! How self-important! You’re so Americanly vain for even thinking that!” But hear me out for a second.

How many times have you heard people complain about the following:

“Why doesn’t America use the metric system like everyone else?”

“Why don’t Americans like football (soccer) like everyone else?”

“Why don’t more Americans listen to EDM like everyone else?”

“Why don’t American men wear capris like everyone else?”

American Fans

 

Yes, the world does care about America.

You especially hear this from Europeans. For a group of people that seemingly don’t like America, they sure spend a hell of a lot of time talking about everything American. They talk about how we don’t play the right sports, don’t eat the right foods, don’t listen to the right music, don’t wear the right clothes, don’t use the right rulers, or drink the right beer.

You’re probably nodding your head in understanding. As an American, or anyone, you’ve no doubt heard these common complaints about the US.

For you nay-sayers out there thinking “That doesn’t mean the rest of the world cares about America. We just think what they do is stupid.”…. Really? Really?

Remember that one kid in grade school you never talked to and didn’t care about? Remember you cared so little about what he did that you questioned and griped about his hobbies and interests? No? Me neither.

The truth is that people don’t talk about things they don’t care about. We don’t complain about things we don’t care about. We don’t try to convince someone that they enjoy the wrong sport, if we aren’t at least remotely concerned about their opinion.

The world does care. In fact, everyone else seems to care a lot about what Americans do and don’t do, what Americans like and don’t like.

American Football

But Americans on the other hand, don’t care what the world does.

Now think about how often you hear Americans complain that the rest of the world does like soccer? Close to never? Maybe I’m alone here, but in my 27 years of life as an American, with all my American friends, American TV shows, American news channels, and American movies, I’ve never once heard an American question or complain about why the world loves soccer. Why should we? We love football, they love soccer. Who cares if Germany or Brazil loves soccer? Good for them I guess. They found something they like, and we found something we like. All is well in the universe.

For the most part, Americans legitimately don’t give a crap what the rest of the world does or doesn’t do, likes or doesn’t like. We don’t care what you eat, where you live, what your rules are, that you don’t like guns, that your gas is so expensive, or that your cars are so small. We really don’t care.

It used to perplex me why everyone else cares so much, but I think I figured it out.

Barn with US flag

The world cares the America doesn’t care.

There seems to be a huge emphasis on the notion that Americans ought to be more like everyone else. Since we’re not like everyone else, were often viewed as being isolationists.

And that is the next big epiphany I had. The rest of the world cares that we don’t care. The world cares that Americans don’t mind not being like everyone else. The world cares that Americans march to the beat of their own drum. The rest of the world gets upset when we don’t show up to their party, because we’re having so much damn fun at our own party.

Americans don’t mind being different. Americans don’t mind foregoing otherwise unanimously celebrated events. Americans espouse “American Exceptionalism”. The world calls the United States isolationists because of this, despite our huge global presence. We don’t care, and we’re fine with that, and it bugs the shit out of everyone else. We make music that goes platinum, movies that are block busters, awesome TV shows, businesses that churn profit, Olympians that bring home the gold, and astronauts that land on the moon.

In conclusion….

This leads me to my final realization. The rest of the world wishes they were as culturally independent as we are. They hate that they drive American cars, watch American movies, listen to American music on American technology, eat at American food establishments, and speak the American language. They hate that our presence is so prevalent in their country, when their presence is so muted in ours.

When people around the world gripe about America’s preferences and culture, their complaints are not really that they that wish we were more like them. It’s that they wish they were more like us.

America Fuck Yeah!