The Fast Food Strike – KNOCK IT OFF!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It’s finally here- fast food workers across the nation are taking to the streets, holding signs and petitioning for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

To what end?

Patrick M. Sheridan writing for CNNMoney highlighted an example of the plight of a man trying to support a family on minimum wage:

“Frankie Tisdale, a 26-year-old worker from a KFC in Brooklyn said he will join the strike with fellow workers next week.

“Tisdale lives in his father’s house in Brooklyn with his girlfriend and two young children. He earns $8 an hour and works between 14 and 23 hours a week.

“With less than $200 a week, he sometimes has to choose between buying food for the family and taking his kids’ clothes for a wash to the laundromat. He said it’s too expensive to eat at the KFC where he works so he never does. ‘Everything costs more. Why can’t my pay go up?’ Tisdale says.”

Because you are not producing more.

I’m sorry Frankie, but that’s the cold, hard truth…

For the record, I have no problem with workers striking or protesting for higher wages. If a group of employees wants to pressure their employers and air their grievances by striking- more power to them.

I have several issues with mandated minimum wages.

Wages on mean rise with productivity. Every rise in income in America came on the crest of a period of increased productivity as a nation.

You can attempt to mandate wages- but you cannot mandate an increase in wages and protect jobs unless you are willing to also mandate employment. In nations that have attempted this, most notably the Soviet Union and Greece, the government must subsidize employers for excess labor.

Eventually, the system collapses under it’s own weight. It’s simple- cash needed to subsidize low productivity jobs at higher wages outstrips the revenues produced by that same labor.

Now specifically to Sheridan’s example…

If you intended to raise sympathy, you should have featured someone other than Mr. Tisdale!

Tisdale is sadly typical of the employee trying to “raise a family” on minimum wage, which, as a point of fact, is a very small percentage of all minimum wage earners.

Tisdale is living with his father and his girlfriend- note “girlfriend,” not wife, and the two children they produced without the means to provide for them.

To make matters worse, he’s working an average of only 14 to 23 hours a week. How many people can care for a family on 23 hours a week at any average job?

You can choose to address this issue on an institutional or societal level and simply mandate that employers pay more…

…or you can look at this on an individual level, which is much more beneficial.

First of all, the bracket that includes minimum wage earners is extremely volatile. The vast majority of people earning minimum wage today will be earning far more in less than four years.

Despite how it might appear on the nightly news, only about 5% of all hourly workers and 3% of all workers employed in the U.S. earn minimum wage.

If you’re currently working for minimum wage, there’s a very good chance that you’re single, under 25 working part time and still part of a family that makes more than $66,000 a year.

There’s also a very good chance that you’re a student. 62% of all minimum wage workers are enrolled in high school, college or vocational training.

That’s great! The single most important factor determining your earning capacity is your education, followed closely by work experience and job performance…

…which is exactly what minimum wage jobs are designed for.

These are jobs- not careers.

Employers don’t want to condemn you to minimum wage either. They know full well that people stuck at or near minimum wage are not satisfied, engaged or productive employees for very long.

I recently spoke with a representative from a growing restaurant chain who has no problem attracting good employees at minimum wage- as a part-time job or a step toward higher wages.

When I asked him about his take on the minimum wage debate, he basically told me that the math was very simple. In his chain, which is typical, the margin of profit to the franchisee is about 11 cents on every dollar. Let’s just round it to 10%.

A hike in minimum wage to even $9 an hour would be a 24% increase in labor costs.

The results?

Fewer hirings at the entry level and higher prices to the consumer.

It’s just math…

My focus is not on societal change. I’m getting too old to swing my sword at windmills.

My focus is on the individual…

What can YOU do- as an individual, to escape the trap of minimum wage?

#1 Stay in school… Your education is still the greatest determinant to your earning power. The vast majority of all minimum wage earners lack or have not yet earned a high school diploma.

#2  Don’t have kids…until you can afford them. The vast majority of people trying to support children on minimum wage are single mothers who had their first child under the age of 20.

#3  Develop your talents and abilities… Your earning power is determined by your value to your employer.

It really is that simple…

Or- you can pick up a sign and strike.

Just remember- no matter how high they set the minimum wage, it will always be the minimum.

Don’t settle for minimum- at any rate.

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Free College as a Fundamental Human Right – KNOCK IT OFF!

Free College

by Jim Bouchard

“‘We’re here today because we believe that public higher education is not a privilege. It is a fundamental human right,’ said Meaghan LaSala, one of the students who organized the event.” ~Portland Press Herald, April, 10, 2014

That’s a quote from a protest over cuts at the University of Southern Maine. It’s a cry that’s being raised all over the country.

Public higher education is a fundamental human right?

Well- no. It’s not.

KNOCK IT OFF!

Your “fundamental,” formerly described as “inalienable” rights are those rights granted to you by God or nature- whatever you believe. The key distinguishing factor is that inalienable rights are the universally recognized rights of birth that any freedom loving person agrees are not subject to debate, approval or distribution by any other man…

…or his representative government.

Those rights are brilliantly articulated in the Declaration of Independence. These “fundamental” rights are brutally limited in their number- and amazingly limitless in their expression:

  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Pursuit of happiness

Following that, laws were crafted to assure that these rights would never be infringed or restricted by a central authority, despot or tyrant. The “Bill of Rights” specifically protects these rights.

There have never been new rights constructed by our government- until recently.

Even voting rights amendments did not grant new rights. They simply asserted that those people once denied their natural rights would never be denied again. Once again- the government, which was still operating under some semblance of constitutional restraint, simply affirmed the principle of inalienable rights.

We seem to be entering the age of creating new “rights”. That’s a big problem.

First of all, education is NOT a right…at any level…

You may argue this point, but education is not a right.

We’ve agreed as a community that public education should be provided up to grade 12 and that you must attend school until age 16. All we’ve done over time is to assure that if public education is available to anyone- it’s available to everyone. Note that this applies only to “public” education.

Once you graduate high school- you’re on your own. If you really believe in freedom and inalienable rights, this is as it should be.

Here’s why…

Notice that in a free society, your “inalienable” rights don’t impose a cost on anyone else. It really is that simple.

Your life doesn’t necessitate the deprivation of anyone else’s life. Your freedom does not infringe on the freedom of others. Your pursuit of happiness should not interfere with anyone else’s pursuit…

…and there’s the problem.

Unfortunately, the word “free” is now confused with freedom.

Beyond a “fundamental” educational level, you start adult life as a free individual. You’re free to pursue your own ambitions, explore your own talents and to trade your abilities on the open market to build the life you choose.

Your individual expression of freedom starts to get expensive.

It costs money to build and operated public colleges. If you want to choose your pursuit- to study whatever makes you happy, there is a cost.

How can you justify the position that your pursuit is any more worthy than anyone else’s?

Why should the resources of any other free person be confiscated to finance your individual pursuit of happiness?

Again- as a community we’ve decided to invest in programs that benefit the community at large. The Constitution allows that the States and the People are free to make those choices.

Usually, the community invests in higher education that will directly benefit the people in that community. That’s why so many public colleges and universities were created to train teachers, engineers, agriculturalists, nurses and other vocations.

If your pursuit of happiness works in harmony with the needs of the community, you have access to subsidized education. Take full advantage.

If your pursuit of happiness is a little more esoteric, well…it is, after all, your pursuit.

Once you abdicate financial responsibility for your pursuit to the public- or to the government, you also abdicate your freedom of choice. If higher education is a right- and that right comes at a cost.

Who grants the RIGHT to higher education?

The entity providing the means of support dictates the terms. If the government grants you the right to higher education, then the government dictates what you should study.

Is that really what you’re after?

Do you have a RIGHT to fully subsidized higher education?

No more than I have a right to publicly subsidized guitar lessons. Why is my pursuit of happiness any less worthy than yours?

Be careful. Answer that question honestly and you’ll meet the dark and dangerous specter that struck fear in the hearts of our founders.

_____________________________

Jim Bouchard is a speaker and author of THINK Like a BLACK BELT. Learn more about Jim at ThatBlackBeltGuy.com…

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Richard Sherman and the very real rewards for bad behavior

No harm, no foul. Richard Sherman and Erin Andrews pose for photos following the famous outburst.

No harm, no foul. Richard Sherman and FOX Sports reporter Erin Andrews pose for photos following the famous outburst.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

“Richard Sherman could stand to make about $5 million in endorsements — all because of his 15-second rant moments after helping the Seattle Seahawks get to the Super Bowl.”

Well there you have it. But make no mistake- no sponsor would be floating this money like that Colin Kaepernick pass if you weren’t willing to buy what they have to sell.

Personally, I have absolutely no issue with what Sherman did on the field.

I played semi-pro football. For the casual fan, suffice it to say that you should cling to your Disney/Rudy ideals of brightly adorned warriors waging chivalrous battle.

Those who have played the game know what happens on the field is a little different than what you actually see on your TV- even in HD.

Sherman and Richard Crabtree are ballers. These are highly competitive men playing a game with an emotional intensity you cannot begin to understand unless you’ve strapped on the pads yourself.

What happens between those lines is their business.

And…to Sherman’s defense, all he was trying to do after destroying the 49ers last gasp at a championship was offer his opponent a handshake and a hearty “Hell of a game!” It was Crabtree who put up his hand in Sherman’s face and gave him a rather ungentlemanly shove. 

Check out this video…

Richard Sherman Screenshot

My problem with Sherman starts the moment FOX Sports reporter Erin Andrews asks him to recount the final play…

Richard- game over. You have something more to settle with Crabtree, take it to the field next year. You made an ass out of yourself and as you admitted later (and as your coach pointed out to you), your rant showed flagrant disrespect to the other members of your team.

Don’t shed any tears yet- the other Seahawks really don’t have a problem with Sherman’s outburst. Neither do most of you.

And I don’t feel sorry for Andrews either. She’s a big girl; she’s a professional and she knows well the world she works in. Point of fact- that’s exactly the kind of interview that makes NFL football exciting for the audience. Most of the TV folks would not so secretly like to see more of it. (Read: “Erin Andrews on Richard Sherman interview: ‘It was awesome’” from SeattlePI.com)

Remember that for years commentators have been calling the NFL the “No Fun League!”

Here’s the rub…

“Sherman’s agent, Jamie Fritz, told CNNMoney that interest in his clients has boomed since the remarks. While Sherman’s current endorsements amount to just a bit more than his $550,000 NFL salary, Fritz believes there are millions in deals that will be signed soon, — some before the Super Bowl is played Feb. 2.”  (money.CNN.com)

You LOVE Sherman’s tirade…and now you’re going to reward him for it.

I know plenty of people are upset over what they see as at best an unsportsmanlike display- but the fact remains that several key sponsors see dollars here…

…and they’re only willing to pay because you’re willing to buy.

Richard Sherman is a football player. Despite what some people think, he is a very intelligent young man and was an outstanding student as well as athlete in college. Right now he’s applying that intelligence to maximize his opportunity- so be it.

I don’t like what he did, but hell- it’s only football. (Yes- I did just say that.)

If you don’t want to encourage this kind of behavior, don’t support the sponsors that will no doubt be rolling out various clips of Sherman and probably fat middle-aged couch jocks throwing fits in their living rooms.

If you don’t care- keep buying this crap; from athletes, celebrities, politicians and their sponsors.

If you really want to stop bad celebrity behavior…just stop buying it. Unless you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is…or your mouth where your money is…

KNOCK IT OFF!

The Attack on Christmas: KNOCK IT OFF!

Santa Womanby Jim Bouchard

If you’re one of those Grinches who wants to eradicate Christ from Christmas…

…KNOCK IT OFF!

I don’t identify myself as Christian and I frankly don’t give a damn whether you are or not. Still, I acknowledge that Christmas is about the baby Jesus, I enjoy the spirit of the season and I’m definitely not offended if you want to wish me a Merry Christmas.

First of all, Christmas is about Christ. End of story.

Christians celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. The holiday has, over time, come to represent the spirit of charity and giving so essential to those who practice authentic Christian principles.

Merry Christmas is a warm greeting intended only to express compassion in the true spirit of the season.

If you’re offended by any of that, just don’t be.

Next- there is no constitutional basis to prohibit Christmas displays or celebrations in public places.

The separation of church and state as a constitutional issue is a myth. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, the United States was founded primarily by a group of Christian men who instilled the values and principles of their various sects in nearly every area of law and government.

Being extremely intelligent and farsighted individuals, they also, in order to protect their own religious freedom, codified the free expression of religion for all American citizens.

The 101 version of the separation of church and state comes from a series of debates and letters, largely credited to Thomas Jefferson, who advocated for a strong “wall of separation” between any church and the federal government to avoid the establishment of a state religion- something the founders knew about and feared greatly.

The modern expansion of the idea of a wall of separation started with a lawsuit (Everson vs. Board of Education) over the state of New Jersey using tax money to pay for school bus rides for kids going to private, and particularly parochial schools. At that time, the SCOTUS ruled that the 1st Amendment had not been violated- because transportation was paid for all kids regardless of religious affiliation and because state, not federal funding was involved.

Putting up a Christmas tree, or even a nativity display, doesn’t violate the 1st Amendment in any way shape or form. It would be a violation if Congress ordered you to put up a Christmas tree.

Here’s an interesting viewpoint from Penn Jillette…

I find it particularly interesting that so many groups want to put up purposely offensive displays in public places simply to make a statement in what they perceive as the interest of fairness. This is why we now have Wiccan holiday displays alongside Jewish and Christian symbols of the season.

Frankly- I don’t give a damn if the Wiccans or the Church of Satan want to put up holiday displays, but to do so simply as an attack on their Christian neighbors is, well…

…just plain stupid.

There is no traditional Wiccan observation of the birth of Christ and I could not find any particular Satanic holiday centered on gift giving and acts of charity. If those of you who worship goats, Pagan gods or Old Scratch himself want to join the party, so be it.

If you’re just trying to ruin someone else’s fun- get a life! (And your own holiday! Maybe we’ll enjoy that one too!)

To Christians…if you’re offended that someone doesn’t believe what you believe…KNOCK IT OFF!

You’re preaching tolerance, love extended to all mankind, etc., etc. Well then, get on with it!

I’m not saying you shouldn’t defend yourself against direct attacks, but nobody is throwing you into the Coliseum with a bunch of lions here. If some atheist wants to spend his own money on a billboard that proclaims Christmas is a myth, just get over it! (I was going to say put up your own billboards- but you’ve been doing that for quite a while!)

You’re not going to persuade that guy to believe any more than he’s going to persuade you not to. You’ve got better things to do.

If you believe…then believe.

And finally to the Atheists (capitalization intentional in the spirit of fairness)…

If there is no God- what the hell is the big problem?

Atheism has become to some a cult as fervent as some of the most extreme examples of fundamentalist Christianity or radicalized Islam. Your rights to not-believe are secured by the 1st Amendment; why can’t you just leave the God fearing peoples be?

I’m the first one to get aggravated, though not necessarily offended, by someone proselytizing. My personal beliefs are, well, personal- and I don’t appreciate anyone stuffing their own beliefs in my face.

Having said that, I welcome and embrace any expression of positivity, respect, love and charity in this difficult and challenging world. I appreciate and support the good work of people of faith in many areas of society- as long as they’re respectful and tolerant of others.

Christmas is about love, family- if you’re lucky enough to have one, hope, renewal and kindness. If you don’t want to celebrate- don’t!

But- the next time you want to get your undies in a bunch because there’s a Christmas tree in your town square or someone wishes you a heartfelt “Merry Christmas…”

…KNOCK IT OFF!

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Jim Bouchard is a nationally recognized speaker, media guest and author of THINK Like a BLACK BELT.

Learn more about Jim at these sites:

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The Duck Dynasty Debacle: It’s NOT a “free speech” issue…KNOCK IT OFF!

By Jim Bouchard

“CONGRESS (emphasis mine) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”

CONGRESS!

Free speech is not free and the 1st Amendment does not give you the right to say whatever you want…without consequences.

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame ruffled some feathers when he was quoted in a GQ interview fundamentally condemning what is, in his view, the sinful act of homosexuality and male prostitution. Putting aside any references to incest or any other redneck allusions I might be tempted to make…

…Phil exercised his right to free speech. It was published. A&E fired him. End of story.

The 1st Amendment is there to protect against the government gagging us. There are plenty of legitimate challenges to freedom we can debate on that front.

For those waving the “free speech” banner- here’s my attempt to enlighten you:

Let’s say someone pitches a tent on your front yard and proclaims they have the right to live anywhere they’d like. Are you violating that person’s rights when you tell them to get lost?

 Wouldn’t it be a violation of your rights if a government agency intervened and commanded you to allow the squatter to occupy your private land?

A&E is a private company. They own the time and space on their network. They’re free to choose who they’ll air on their network- or not.

Phil Robertson is free to express himself. He did. Now he owns the consequences.

A&E is exercising their rights as well…and they’ll face consequences too. They’d likely face far worse consequences if they didn’t boot the duck man given their audience. You might choose never to watch them again in response to their treatment of Robertson. You might applaud their decision to turn their backs on profit in support of the gay and lesbian population.

Legally- nobody is in the wrong here.

You can agree with Duck Man Phil or not- as of this writing, you’re still free to hold your own ideas. You might think he’s a champion of true Christian values…you might think he’s an intolerant, ignorant redneck asshole…

…but you if you think this is a free speech issue- you’re just plain wrong.

Knock It Off!

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