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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

watch it: “Who’s Keeping Burger King Workers Below the Poverty Line?”

Who knew Goldman Sachs owned Burger King?

I, for one, do not welcome our corporate overlords.

(from Fight the War on Greed, via Sideshow)



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  • James

    The only person responsible for keeping a Burger King worker below the poverty line is a Burger King worker. Fast food jobs are entry level jobs and any responsible, hard working American can eventually find better paying work elsewhere. Any one who keeps living below the poverty level by continuing to work at Burger King is responsible for their own choices.

    And no I’m not a corporate CEO. I put myself through college in the food services industry, making a lot less than a BK employee, and am now self-employed. Consequently, I live well above the poverty level and support my wife and children by myself.

    People need to quit blaming everyone else for their own failures in life.

  • Shaun

    James is right, if only the BK leeches would work hard enough to be born into the suburbs with a penis and white skin!

  • Bill

    James IS right. Our system is so perfect, so efficient that every responsible, hard working American can maintain an existence above the poverty line. Our economy is so stable that the only reasons one might find himself working for slave wages are laziness and irresponsibility. James has proved these points by relating his anecdote about how he rose from nothing and succeeded with absolutely no advantage of any kind. After all, if one person can do it, everyone can. That’s how I can juggle and speak french.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Those are pretty weak retorts. Not up to the standards of argumentation I’m used to seeing on this site.

    –“James is right, if only the BK leeches would work hard enough to be born into the suburbs with a penis and white skin!”

    Are you saying that the key to success is having a penis and white skin, or are you saying that nobody with a penis and white skin can do better than a job at BK? Or are you implying that BK jobs should pay better because nonwhites and females cannot aspire to better than a job at BK?

    –“That’s how I can juggle and speak french.”

    Yes, you could, if you wanted to learn.

  • Shaun

    Or are you implying that BK jobs should pay better because nonwhites and females cannot aspire to better than a job at BK

    BK should pay better period. Or at least fairer (no unpaid overtime).

    Are you saying

    I am saying that white males don’t have to climb the same hurdles as say, a single mother, or a black woman. You don’t actually believe equal opportunity exists (outside of legislation) in the workplace do you?

    Yes, you could, if you wanted to learn.

    Should the people that dont want to or can not learn french be taken advantage of by their employers (as those in the video are)?

  • bitchen frizzy

    No unpaid overtime. I agree.

    Inequalities exist, but you’re vastly oversimplifying them, to a degree that’s unintentionally condescending to broad swaths of the population. That’s what I object to.

    Unskilled labor doesn’t pay well. Another dollar an hour might help a lot, but it’s still no way to get rich, and arguably it can’t be in any workable economic system.

    –“Should the people that dont want to or can not learn french be taken advantage of by their employers (as those in the video are)?”

    My problem with Bill’s post is that he validated James’ argument by implying that getting out of the trap of low-paying jobs is as simple as learning some new skills and talents in one’s spare time. For many people in that situation, it isn’t anywhere near as simple as doing the equivalent of learning to juggle or learning French. But, yes, if a slacker is in a low-paying job because they simply won’t apply themselves, then zero sympathy.

  • Kenny

    Single mums, or others who happen to have dependents, are often trapped in the jobs they do. They got an unskilled job to help make ends meet… to feed their children, and they can’t afford to take the time out to go to college or learn the skillset required to get a better paying job with better conditions.

    Burger King is exploiting the situation these people find themselves in… they can’t leave because they can’t afford to,.. so BK pays them less than they should, because their employees have no viable alternative.

  • Bill

    “My problem with Bill’s post is that he validated James’ argument by implying that getting out of the trap of low-paying jobs is as simple as learning some new skills and talents in one’s spare time.”

    That’s definitely not what I meant to imply. My bad. I’m just annoyed by the “I did it, so everyone else should be able to do it. If they can’t, they’re lazy” argument. On one hand, James sounds proud of his accomplishments and very self-satisfied. I have no problem with that. On the other hand, he is implying that everyone should be able to replicate it. James’ abilities are such that he can succeed in school while working to pay the bills. Great. Not everyone is cut out for college. Some need to devote a lot more time to their studies than others do. This may not leave enough time in the day to put in the hours at work necessary to pay the rent. Some folks are so unprepared coming out of high school that getting a college degree might just be unrealistic, especially if they have other responsibilities like a child or an elderly parent to care for. So many people like James who are living success stories give no credit to the circumstances in their lives that have allowed them to succeed. Hard work and responsibility will get you so far, but dumb luck plays a role as well.

    Society needs unskilled laborers. No one disputes that. It would just be nice if society rewarded them a little better for filling that need. Obviously the economics and consequences of the imposition of a higher minimum wage or the bolstering of an entitlement program make for a terribly complicated problem, but arguing in favor of the status quo because it happened to suit you just fine is lazy and irresponsible.

  • So many people like James who are living success stories give no credit to the circumstances in their lives that have allowed them to succeed. Hard work and responsibility will get you so far, but dumb luck plays a role as well.

    Yes, dumb luck plays a role–but it doesn’t play that large a role or else we all might as well be investing in lottery tickets. (And btw, isn’t there a saying about chance favoring the prepared mind?)

    As for circumstances, well, the more I talk with people who were formerly poor, the more cynical I get about statements like that. For many formerly poor people I’ve spoken with have had to deal with circumstances–dead parents, bigoted employers, drug-addicted spouses–that are far worse than what most middle-class people can imagine. They just don’t always tell people about the obstacles they’ve faced unless they know the people in question very, very, very well. (Of course, as the grandson of a migrant worker and the son of a former factory worker, I tend to be a bit biased on this subject.)

    And yes, the status quo stinks. It doesn’t help that many of the circumstances that have helped people make the transition from fast food jobs in the past–decent public schools, affordable colleges, well-paid factory jobs–are fast becoming things of the past. And, of course, the many lower-level office jobs that have disappeared due to outsourcing and/or offshoring don’t help, either. I still remember one African-American co-worker once telling me a few years ago that outsourcing is affecting more and more jobs in the African-American community yet people seem to be far more inclined to made a fuss about rap music than to deal with that subject.

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