The American restaurant business is a bubble, and that bubble is bursting. I've arrived at this conclusion after spending a year traveling around the country and talking to chefs, restaurant owners, and other industry folk for this series. In part one, I talked about how the Good Food Revival Movement™ created colonies of similar, hip restaurants in cities all over the country. In the series' second story, I discussed how a shortage of cooks -- driven by a combination of the restaurant bubble, shifts in immigration, and a surge of millennials -- is permanently altering the way a restaurant's back of the house has to operate in order to survive. This, the final story, is simple: I want you to understand why America's Golden Age of Restaurants is coming to an end.
American Airlines issued new uniforms to its front-line employees in September, the first such redesign in decades. Almost immediately, though, flight attendants reported hives and headaches, and despite AA claiming that three separate tests had revealed no issues, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants has filed a grievance (2-page PDF) demanding that employees be given the option to wear the old uniforms. AA executives have responded by wearing the new uniforms themselves. Union representatives are not amused.
Economic growth in the United States: A tale of two countries - "An economy that fails to deliver growth for half of its people for an entire generation is bound to generate discontent with the status quo and a rejection of establishment politics." [more inside]
Business of Fashion: "Is Your T-shirt Clean of Slavery? Science May Soon Be Able to Tell. Shoppers lured by a bargain-priced t-shirt but concerned about whether the item is free of slave labor could soon have the answer — from DNA forensic technology." [more inside]
The economic geography of a universal basic income - "An underdiscussed virtue of a universal basic income is that it would counter geographic inequality even more powerfully than it blunts conventional income inequality. By a 'universal basic income', I mean the simple policy of having the Federal government cut periodic checks of identical dollar amounts to every adult citizen, wherever they may live. Importantly, a universal basic income would not be calibrated to the local cost of living. Residents of Manhattan would receive the same dollar amount as residents of Cleveland. But a dollar in Cleveland stretches much farther than the same dollar in Manhattan..." [more inside]
Nike Boasts of Empowering Women Around the World while the young women who make its products in Vietnam are intimidated, belittled, and underpaid.
At midnight on Friday, Long Island University Brooklyn's campus locked out 400 fulltime and adjunct faculty. [more inside]
Who Works for the Workers? — Gabriel Winant on the future of the American labor movement [more inside]
Because most people think of work like customer service when they think of remote jobs, these jobs are usually classified as clerical. 911 dispatchers are no exception. Unlike most clerical workers, though, 911 dispatchers often have to handle talking citizens through traumatic situations, often risking compassion fatigue and trauma themselves in the process. In order to get 911 dispatchers access to mental health services and support, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials are openly campaigning to reclassify 911 dispatchers as first responders. As part of that campaign, 911 dispatchers have been speaking out this week about some of the more harrowing experiences they've talked people in crisis through.
If Locke is viewed ... as an advocate of expropriation and enslavement, what are the implications for classical liberalism and libertarianism? The most important is that there is no justification for treating property rights as fundamental human rights, on par with personal liberty and freedom of speech.In an essay in Jacobin entitled John Locke Against Freedom, Australian economist John Quiggin argues that Locke's "classical liberalism offers no guarantee of freedom to anyone except owners of capitalist private property." [more inside]
Candacy Taylor spent seven years studying American beauty shop culture. Her 20,000-mile journey among salons catering to African-American, Appalachian, Cajun, Dominican, Gullah, Jamaican, Japanese, Orthodox Jewish, Lumbee Indian, Pakistani, and LGBT communities led her to this conclusion: "[R]ace matters, you know? And more specifically it's about hair texture....Practically every ethnicity has developed a specialized product or procedure to change their hair texture, and as a result, beauty shop culture is a window into contemporary understandings about race, segregation, and integration." Transcript [txt doc] of her 2014 lecture, from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. [more inside]
"Brett knows all the top Chaturbate models and analyzes their shows with the intensity of a film critic. He’s even made a YouTube channel to share tips with potential cammers: Invest in studio lights, keep a consistent schedule and don’t text during a performance. Yet for all his professionalism, Brett is fairly new to the job." - How To Be A Cam Boy - Angelica Chapin profiles one of the most popular men in the online stripping business. (photos slightly NSFW)
The Economic Lessons of Star Trek's Money-Free Society - "[Manu Saadia] points to technologies like GPS and the internet as models for how we can set ourselves on the path to a Star Trek future. 'If we decide as a society to make more of these crucial things available to all as public goods, we're probably going to be well on our way to improving the condition of everybody on Earth', he says. But he also warns that technology alone won't create a post-scarcity future... 'This is something that has to be dealt with on a political level, and we have to face that.' " (via) [more inside]
We used to think that as living standards improved, less work would deliver more income and thus more leisure time. But now, more and more work hours are what everyone's after. Because in today's economy, the alternative to working more isn't enjoying quality time with friends and family. The alternative is nothing. The American workplace has basically become a Thunderdome where the victors are rewarded with long hours. How insane work hours became a mark of American privilege by Jeff Spross in The Week [via NextDraft]
"None of that for the Boxcar Children, who are so Puritan that Henry worries, out loud, that building a pool on Sunday would be amoral—before Jessie justifies the activity by saying that the pool will help them keep clean. " The Spirit Of Capitalism and 'The Boxcar Children' - Jia Tolentino for the 'New Yorker'
Kennedy was right - "Much that is valuable is neither tangible nor tradable... Gross domestic product (GDP) is increasingly a poor measure of prosperity. It is not even a reliable gauge of production."* [more inside]
Elizabeth Warren has a great idea for making Tax Day less painful - "She's taking on TurboTax and other predatory companies." [more inside]
"The most unappreciated and undervalued forms of technological labour are also the most ordinary: those who repair and maintain technologies that already exist, that were ‘innovated’ long ago....We can think of labour that goes into maintenance and repair as the work of the maintainers, those individuals whose work keeps ordinary existence going rather than introducing novel things." Innovation is overrated: "Hail the Maintainers," an essay by Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell.
Fetishizing Family Farms Broken families, underground vice, and sexual variance - not stability - characterized the American family farm for most of its history, argues historian Gabriel Rosenberg. [more inside]
The Cost of Caring: After Emma realized that her white-collar job in the Philippines would never pay her enough to send her children to college, she came to New York and became a nanny. She hasn't seen her kids in 16 years.
In only the second case decided since the recent death of Justice Scalia, the United States Supreme Court today reached a decision [PDF] in the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, deadlocking in a four-to-four tie that upholds an earlier circuit court ruling finding agency fees for non-union teachers to be constitutional, but that sets no precedent for future cases. [more inside]
I was made to recite the story of my greatgrandmother, to the extent that I knew it: Her name was Sujaria, and this was her village. The British took her away in 1903 to work their sugar plantations in a place now known as Guyana. She sailed on a ship called The Clyde. My grandfather was born on that ship.Gaiutra Bahadur traces the story of her great grandmother's singular journey as indentured labour meant for the sugar plantations of the Caribbean, shedding light on the lives of women in British India over a hundred years ago.
25 years ago, Paul M. Romer's oft-cited article: "Endogenous Technological Change" (pdf) was published in The Journal of Political Economy. In it, he tried to explain how technological progress and knowledge creation affected the dynamics of growth. Romer’s model (pdf) became the "primary engine that fueled a decade-long re-examination of long-term growth in economics." This past October, Dr. Romer posted 7 follow-up blog entries to his historic paper, in order to 'revisit the basics,' starting with: Nonrival Goods After 25 Years. [more inside]
Oral arguments were heard on Monday in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a Supreme Court case in which the plaintiffs are attempting to invoke their First Amendment right to free speech to avoid being compelled to pay their share of the costs of union representation. Summarizing the oral arguments for SCOTUSblog, Amy Howe notes that "public-employee unions are likely very nervous, as the Court’s more conservative Justices appeared ready to overrule the Court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and strike down the fees." [more inside]
It's Payback Time for Women - "Society is getting a free ride on our unrewarded contributions to the perpetuation of the human race." (via) [more inside]
The Beggar CEO and Sucker Culture castigates employers who think their employees should do extra work for free.
Voices of the Food Chain Farmers are the iconic symbols of the food system, but food production, processing, and distribution make up nearly 15% of the American workforce. Today, StoryCorps and the Food Chain Worker Alliance are sharing videos of conversations from workers in different industrial sectors of the food system, showing how food labor crosses boundaries of culture, language, and experience. [more inside]
On Gawker's Problem with Women. A former staff writer describes how a media company founded on whistleblowing and radical transparency failed its female employees.
Rewrite the rules to benefit everyone, not just the wealthy - "If there's one thing Joseph Stiglitz wants to say about inequality, it's that it has been a choice, not an unexpected, unfortunate economic outcome. That's unnerving, but it also means that citizens and politicians have the opportunity to fix the problem before it gets worse." (via) [more inside]
Here's the Deal: The Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership by Barack Obama - "In other words, the TPP means that America will write the rules of the road in the 21st century." (PDFs; previously) [more inside]
Does "human trafficking" mean "modern-day slavery," as President Obama says? No, "the word is a way to target marginalized groups like immigrants and sex workers in the name of a (confused or cynical) humanitarianism." [more inside]
It was late 2011. Haley was a 32-year-old phone tech earning about $35,000 a year, and he was in a sour mood. Price had noticed it, and when he spotted Haley outside on a smoking break, he approached. "Seems like something's bothering you," he said. "What's on your mind?"Remember the Guy Who Gave His Employees a $70,000 Minimum Wage? Here’s What Happened Next., by Paul Keegan, Slate (originally for Inc.) [previously]
"You're ripping me off," Haley told him.
What it’s like to earn a living as a research subject in clinical trials Today, Stone no longer relies on strangers in bars—instead, he’s a part of a small community that shares info about study opportunities. Stone says he sends mass texts whenever he sees a new study online. In exchange, the group does the same for him. The members of this group call themselves guinea pigs, or lab rats. They also call themselves professionals.
Chick-fil-A and the Politics of Eating: In recent days, the complicated politics of urban consumerism have been playing out most visibly, with the arrival of Chick-fil-A, a totem of red-state habits, in New York City. Created by a conservative Christian child of public housing, S. Truett Cathy, in Georgia, in the mid-20th century, Chick-fil-A has come under fire during the past few years over comments made by the founder’s son Dan Cathy, the company’s president, in opposition to same-sex marriage. [more inside]
Life as a waitress too often means low pay and sexual harassment — When you live paycheck to paycheck, reporting discrimination or harassment becomes complicated. [more inside]
Really, though, shouldn’t authors be more likely to write about unions now that labor is so gravely imperiled? Don’t we need more novels about what unions are capable of, now that pencil-necked geeks like Scott Walker are eviscerating them in public? - The Seattle Review of Books reviews Windswept, a new science fiction book by MeFi's own Adam Rakunas. Interview. He also posts fiction on Twitter at Adam's Bedtime Story.
In honor of Labor Day, UC Berkeley Labor Center has made some interesting informational tools available. There is the Map of Public Assistance Expenditures for Working Families by State, The Inventory of US City and County Minimum Wage Ordinances and a 2014 Chartbook of Low Wage Workers in California.
FINLAND: New Government Commits to a Basic Income Experiment - "The Finnish government of Juha Sipilä is considering a pilot project that would give everyone of working age a basic income."[1,2,3] (via) [more inside]
Mike Bulajewski on the war between labor and management in the software industry, as manifested in the rise (and possible fall) of the Agile development: From this subset of principles, it’s clear that although Agile positions itself as a software development methodology, a closer inspection reveals clues to a greater ambition: to protect the interests of software engineers at work. [...] With this agenda, it is possible to characterize the Agile movement as a labour union.
In a week when China's troubled economy and plunging stock market have made headlines worldwide, the Globe and Mail probes one of hidden causes of the difficulty the country faces in transitioning to a modern consumer economy: The Ant Tribe, the middle class Chinese who are literally being driven underground. [more inside]
As the demand for tech labor grows, ambitious teenagers are flooding into San Francisco. There’s no official tally of the number of teens who work in tech, but Fontenot estimates that there are as many as a hundred recent high school dropouts working on startups in the city. Some were too distracted by programming projects and weekend hackathons to go to class. Others couldn’t pay for college and questioned why they should go into debt when there is easy money to be made. Still others had already launched successful apps or businesses and didn’t see why they should wait at home for their lives to start. In Facebook groups for young technologists, they saw an alternative: teens lounging in sunny Dolores Park (dolo, as they call it), teens leasing expansive South of Market office space, teens throwing parties whenever they want. And so they moved to San Francisco, many of them landing in houses like Mission Control. -- The Real Teens of Silicon Valley: Inside the almost-adult lives of the industry’s newest recruits
If you feed your pet commercial pet food, there's a good chance the fish in it came from slave labor. "In the past year, Thai Union has shipped more than 28 million pounds of seafood-based cat and dog food for some of the top brands sold in America including Iams, Meow Mix and Fancy Feast, according to United States Customs documents."
"We're still trying to eliminate sweatshops and child labor by buying right. But that's not how the world works in 2015." - Michael Hobbes [more inside]
Housework is not work. Sex work is not work. Emotional work is not work. Why? Because they don’t take effort? No, because women are supposed to provide them uncompensated, out of the goodness of our hearts.
President Obama, blogging at the Huffington Post, announces new overtime regulations. The rule change proposed by the Department of Labor would raise the salary threshold of workers covered by overtime to $50,400, from $23,660. [more inside]
The New York Times reports that the Dominican Republic will begin deporting thousands of undocumented migrant workers, most of them Haitian, later this week. The Washington Post provides historical context. In The Nation, Greg Grandin reports on the imminent event. Last week, he characterized the effort as "a vicious, anti-black pogrom.” In Harper’s, Rachel Nolan has a detailed letter from the Dominican Republic explaining the situation at length.
Aspirational parents condemn their children to a desperate joyless life From infancy to employment, this is a life-denying, love-denying mindset, informed not by joy or contentment, but by an ambition that is both desperate and pointless, for it cannot compensate: childhood, family life, the joys of summer, meaningful and productive work, a sense of arrival, living in the moment.