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Pay a living wage and still make money

I keep telling my out-of-work friends to apply at these stores:

The average American cashier makes $20,230 a year, a salary that in a single-earner household would leave a family of four living under the poverty line. But if he works the cash registers at QuikTrip, it’s an entirely different story. The convenience-store and gas-station chain offers entry-level employees an annual salary of around $40,000, plus benefits. Those high wages didn’t stop QuikTrip from prospering in a hostile economic climate. While other low-cost retailers spent the recession laying off staff and shuttering stores, QuikTrip expanded to its current 645 locations across 11 states.

Many employers believe that one of the best ways to raise their profit margin is to cut labor costs. But companies like QuikTrip, the grocery-store chain Trader Joe’s, and Costco Wholesale are proving that the decision to offer low wages is a choice, not an economic necessity. All three are low-cost retailers, a sector that is traditionally known for relying on part-time, low-paid employees. Yet these companies have all found that the act of valuing workers can pay off in the form of increased sales and productivity.

“Retailers start with this philosophy of seeing employees as a cost to be minimized,” says Zeynep Ton of MIT’s Sloan School of Management. That can lead businesses into a vicious cycle. Underinvestment in workers can result in operational problems in stores, which decrease sales. And low sales often lead companies to slash labor costs even further. Middle-income jobs have declined recently as a share of total employment, as many employers have turned full-time jobs into part-time positions with no benefits and unpredictable schedules.

QuikTrip, Trader Joe’s, and Costco operate on a different model, Ton says. “They start with the mentality of seeing employees as assets to be maximized,” she says. As a result, their stores boast better operational efficiency and customer service, and those result in better sales. QuikTrip sales per labor hour are two-thirds higher than the average convenience-store chain, Ton found, and sales per square foot are over 50 percent higher.

Can’t find my way home

Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, John Hammond, and Freebo:

A case of you

Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed.

Joni Mitchell:

The kind of love you never recover from

Dar Williams and Hugh Blumenfeld with the lovely Christine Lavin song about the one that got away:

The world sucks

So watch this instead:

Source courtesy of Thomas Soldan

The coming collapse of the middle class

An interview with Elizabeth Warren back in 2006:

Suspended coffee

This reminds me of the story about my neighborhood diner, where people paid the checks for the people after them:

Can’t afford coffee? No matter. In Bulgaria, an old Italian tradition that sees good souls buying hot drinks for those who struggle to make ends meet has taken hold after weeks of tensions over deepening poverty.

More than 150 cafes across Bulgaria have joined a goodwill initiative modelled on the Italian “caffe sospeso” tradition, which literally means “suspended coffee”, according to a Facebook page devoted to the movement.

The tradition — born in the cafes of Italy’s southern city of Naples — sees people pay in advance for one or several coffees without drinking them.

A customer-in-need can then later ask if there is a “suspended coffee” available and have a hot drink without having to pay for it.

Poverty in Bulgaria — the European Union’s least wealthy country — is increasingly sparking social unrest, with several desperate people setting themselves on fire in the past month.

Weeks of street protests also forced the right-wing government to resign on February 20.

Most cafes that decide to join the “caffe sospeso” initiative — which has been covered extensively on television — have posted pictures of payment slips issued for free coffees on the Facebook page.

Amen!

Dear Victoria’s Secret,

I am a father of a three year old girl. She loves princesses, Dora the Explorer, Doc McStuffins and drawing pictures for people. Her favorite foods are peanut butter and jelly, cheese and pistachios.

Even though she is only three, as a parent I have had those thoughts of my daughter growing up and not being the little girl she is now. It is true what they say about kids, they grow up fast. No matter how hard I try I know that she will not be the little ball of energy she is now; one day she will be a rebellious teenager that will more than likely think her dad is a total goofball and would want to distance herself from my embarrassing presence.

I know that this is far down the line and I try to spend as much time as I can with her making memories of this special time.

But as I read an article today posted on The Black Sphere, it really got me thinking that maybe the culture that we currently find ourselves in is not helping the cause.

Recently I read an article that Victoria’s Secret is launching a line of underwear and bras aimed at middle school aged children. The line will be called “Bright Young Things” and will feature ” lace black cheeksters with the word “Wild” emblazoned on them, green and white polka-dot hipsters screen printed with “Feeling Lucky?” and a lace trim thong with the words, “Call me” on the front.”

As a dad, this makes me sick.

I believe that this sends the wrong message to not only my daughter but to all young girls.
I don’t want my daughter to ever think that her self-worth and acceptance by others is based on the choice of her undergarments. I don’t want my daughter to ever think that to be popular or even attractive she has to have emblazon words on her bottom.

I want my daughter (and every girl) to be faced with tough decisions in her formative years of adolescence. Decisions like should I be a doctor or a lawyer? Should I take calculus as a junior or a senior? Do I want to go to Texas A&M or University of Texas or some Ivy League School? Should I raise awareness for slave trafficking or lack of water in developing nations? There are many, many more questions that all young women should be asking themselves… not will a boy (or girl) like me if I wear a “call me” thong?

I want my daughter to know that she is perfect the way she is; I want my daughter to know that no matter what underwear she is wearing it does not define her.

I believe that this new line “Bright Young Things” thwarts the efforts of empowering young women in this country. “Bright Young Things” gives off the message that women are sex objects. This new line promotes it at a dangerously young age.

I implore you to reconsider your decision to start this line.

By doing so you will put young girls’ self-esteem, self-worth and pride above profits.

Sincerely,

Rev. Evan Dolive
Houston, TX

Hat tip to John Yannone

“There is something wrong with the American character as to why we believe as society and officially as government that violence is a means to an end, that violence is OK to solve our problems, if we think somebody might have some weapons of mass destruction, it`s OK to go and invade their country and kill hundreds of thousands of civilians.” — Michael Moore, MSNBC, March 22, 2012

Georgia plans to invade Tennessee

Over water.

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