People don’t kill people. Computer programs that monitor labor hours do…

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Dave

Dave is a part-time blogger that writes about whatever suits him at the time.

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156 Responses

  1. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
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    says:

    Unless McD corporate is networked into the franchise systems & can see restaurants behaving badly, & then…something?Report

  2. Avatar morat20
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    says:

    Probably. I think the key point is how much influence corporate has over individual franchises work practices. HOW they get that influence is less important than whether they have that control.

    I have no idea if the lawsuit will go anywhere, and certainly know jack about the rules regarding franchises versus branches of a corporation and labor law. Although I would suspect that if blurring the lines helped the bottom line, line blurring is inevitable and should be pushed back on. (or the law altered to remove the line, depending on what exactly the line is, why it’s there, etc)Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to morat20
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      This. Whoever it is that gets to exercise control over not just what the worker does but how the worker does it is an “employer.”

      There can be more than one employer, and then you have a “co-employment” situation in which one employer is the one on the payroll checks, but the other becomes effectively a guarantor that the amount on that check and the way it’s computed are factually accurate and legally correct. Usually I see co-employer situations when a third-party payroll company is used as the nominal employer because the “real” employer has a sky-high experience modifier on its workers’ compensation insurance policy thanks to cruddy physical-plant risk management. But this is a pretty logical extension of the logic behind that legal doctrine. So the franchisee is still in the picture because the franchisee still has the primary duty of paying the employee correctly, but if the franchisor exercises atomic-level control over how things are done then the franchisor is on the hook for every payroll mistake the franchisee makes, as well as the associated penalties, interest, and (let’s not lose sight of what’s important here) attorney’s fees.

      IOW, attorneys like me all got pup tents in their gabardines when this news broke; the employer’s attorneys got them because they suddenly had a whole new level of clients to represent and protect, and the employee’s attorneys got them because now it looks like there’s going to be a rich new source of funds to pay for often-uninsured claims. (Mutatis mutandis for the ladies.)

      But I didn’t think it’d be of the least bit of interest to people who aren’t immersed in the law of wage-hour litigation and I’ve been posting a lot on other stuff recently, so I let it go.

      Alsotoo, the NRLB district ruling will not be the last word on this subject. There get to be appeals to the full NRLB and after that to the courts.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Would we be having this conversation if the labor monitoring software was provided by a third-party software vendor?

    If McDonald’s is mandating both the use of the software and the response to its output, they’re going far beyond being a third-party vendor.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Mike Schilling
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      What if they’re mandating the use of the software, but not response to the software’s output? I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case here.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Alan Scott
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        They may not mandate the response, but if they have a big stick or carrot that they use to encourage desired responses, I could see them being in a spot of trouble.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Alan Scott
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        says:

        Exactly. This is a lot like the Comcast customer service debacle. Sure, they don’t train their employees to behave that way, but they give them every incentive to do so and every disincentive not to. If this is a situation where one party can drive policy and then not be responsible for the results of the policy pressure, that’s a problem.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Alan Scott
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        says:

        Except that the story excerpts we have been given to work from seem to say that McDonald’s uses this software in its corporate and franchise operations, and that the response to the labor number is the same in both kinds of stores. IF that’s indeed the case, then McDonald’s is directing the response across the board. Even if it isn’t, I can a case being made on coercive grounds since McDonald’s most certainly dictates the response in corporately owned restaurants.Report

  4. Avatar Maribou
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    says:

    Also, the part that raised my hackles was “an instance in which McDonald’s even told a franchise owner that it was paying its employees too much”. That suggests that McDonald’s is monitoring the software and/or the budgets, and at least implies that they issue directives. If they are that bossy, they deserve to be held liable.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Maribou
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      says:

      I think this matters; it certainly indicates the reports using the software are going back to McDonalds HQ. Also, it raises questions about franchise fees — are they simply on product sold or royalties on overall franchise profits? If the latter, there’s some incentive to force wages down from the cooperate office; so it also raises a lot of questions about how employee benefits are handled — only from the franchise or MacD — if health insurance, retirement, etc. are provided via the larger corporation, there’s some concerns beyond wage to examine.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Maribou
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      says:

      This is the part that I would like to know more about as well. If corporate McDonald’s is conspiring to suppress wages, that is a problem. Of course, that sentence as it is written could mean lots of things. If it is a case of the software automatically alerting management when the cost of labor goes above a certain ratio, that is somewhat less interesting.

      This is a pretty common problem that I have with the NYTimes. I often read its articles and I can clearly understand the impression that the writer wants me to take away (for instance, the sentence about paying employees too much followed by a sentence about the average wage of $8.90), but the information that I need to make up my own mind is missing.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Also, the states of Washington and Colorado are closely monitoring any changes to the status of joint employers.Report

  6. Avatar Damon
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    Is MD getting a percentage of the net profits or are they just getting fees for franchising and such?

    If they aren’t participating in bottom line profit sharing, they really aren’t the “employer”. Franchise legal beagles feel free to chime in…Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Damon
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      says:

      I think that’s a good question. If McD’s gets part of the net, they have a vested interest in the labor costs. But according to this, in addition to a franchise fee franchisees pay 4% of gross sales, so they don’t, it appears, lose by franchisees’ excess labor costs.

      I can readily see McDonald’s giving out this software as a means to assist their franchisees run profitably. I can even readily see them requiring it, because ensuring franchise profitability helps them keep franchise fees higher, and because failed locations are bad fir the brand name. With that, I can see them monitoring the data to ensure they’re not caught unaware by a franchisee that’s suddenly in trouble.

      And none of that sounds to me like being a co-employer. But if they go beyond that to manage, via requirement, just how many people per shift, or something more interventionistic like that, then co-employment might be a reasonable claim.Report

  7. Avatar LWA
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    McDonald’s isn’t a very, very large single proprietorship- it is a creation that can only exist because of an artificial environment of corporate laws and regulations.

    For instance, as a brand, McDonald’s strives very hard to create the illusion that it is one enormous homogeneous entity- that the look and feel and experience of a McDonald’s in Tokyo is identical to one in Des Moines or Moscow.

    Yet when the topic comes to how its employees are treated, it insists it is merely a loose collection of individual proprietors.

    This is a reflection of that artificial system of gates and switches, that allow a massive group of investors to be treated as a single entity here, yet separate there; profitable on a stockholders report, yet unprofitable on a tax return.

    It is this artificiality, this contrived constructed edifice that makes it difficult for me to discern any natural rights here.Report

  8. Avatar Dave
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    says:

    I’m going to try to cover everyone’s points right here.

    Starting here: http://www.aboutmcdonalds.com/mcd/franchising/us_franchising/aquiring_a_franchise.html

    From what I gather, McDonalds corporate generates fees from franchises two ways. The first is a franchise fee that is based on a percent of monthly sales and the second is rent paid by franchisees for use of the McDonalds location (the company owns the bricks and mortar), also a percentage of sales. Since fees are based on sales and not operating income, labor costs don’t factor into the equation.

    If a store generates $1,000,000 a year in sales and the franchise fee is 4%, McDonald’s gets paid a $40,000 franchise fee. Cashiers can make minimum wage or $20.00 an hour and the franchise fee is the same. Therefore, McDonald’s gets no immediate financial gain from interfering or exerting control over the labor costs of individual franchises. The downside risk, as we’ve seen with this ruling, is enormous.

    I suppose there may be a counterargument to this – that as both a franchisor and landlord, McDonald’s corporate has an interest in making sure that it’s franchisees are not only profitable but also operate in accordance with McDonald’s standards with respect to how stores are laid out, how food is served, how to prepare food, etc. I don’t need to confirm of verify the point @barry made because to me, it’s common sense (to me at least) for a franchise to make sure that a Big Mac is prepared and served in the exact same way in each and every franchisee location. It would require a level of control that involves serious micromanagement of certain aspects of the business.

    While this is true, I would argue:

    1) If a franchise exercises too much control, especially control over variable costs that are best understood and adjusted at a more localized level, then that will scare away potential future franchisees. We’ll never see McDonald’s go on record saying that they should pay X wages to employees, especially if X is substantially above the market level (i.e. wages at similar fast food restaurants). If I’m a potential franchisee and someone is telling me to pay $20/hr when the market is $10/hr and it all comes off my bottom line, I’m not taking that deal.

    2) While McDonald’s does monitor the franchisees (as every franchise should) and has a vested interest in their profitability, so do the franchisees. The individual franchisees are required to put up substantial sums of their own capital (I think $750,000 per location) to get a franchise location off the ground. While McDonald’s gets a % of sales, the franchisees are motivated by getting a return on their invested capital, and they bear the risk of higher labor costs. Heck, it seems like labor-related issues are one of the few things that franchisees can control so they’re going to control the hell out of it and do what they can to maximize their own returns.

    To the extent McDonald’s corporate has capital at risk, it’s in the investment the company made in the land and the construction of the restaurant. That’s not a lot of risk considering that if a franchisee folds or decides to shut its doors, the company will replace the franchisee and continue to operate.

    Again, I don’t understand what McDonald’s has to gain from attempting to exert any kind of control over labor costs. The franchisees are already profit-motivated enough to control that as tightly as they can. I’d also like to think that McDonald’s corporate counsel would be all over them if they even thought of attempting something like this. Why would they expose themselves to potentially billions of dollars of additional liability for no gain? It makes absolutely no sense to me.

    @burt-likko
    But I didn’t think it’d be of the least bit of interest to people who aren’t immersed in the law of wage-hour litigation and I’ve been posting a lot on other stuff recently, so I let it go.

    The business press has jumped all over this, which it usually does if organized labor scores a significant victory over business interests, To business interests, it completely flies in the face of established law (that and the standard applied to this case appears to be the old “significant control” standard not the recent “direct control”). I can’t comment on that point directly, but as a layperson, all I see is a situation where individual franchisees are using something the corporation provided to screw over workers.

    IOW, attorneys like me all got pup tents in their gabardines when this news broke; the employer’s attorneys got them because they suddenly had a whole new level of clients to represent and protect, and the employee’s attorneys got them because now it looks like there’s going to be a rich new source of funds to pay for often-uninsured claims.

    And the SEIU can attempt to unionize fast food workers by organizing and dealing directly with the corporate parent rather than organizing on a franchise-by-franchise basis. Instead of 50-60 workers at a time, they can organize tens of thousands. If I had to guess, I’d also say that the SEIU would have an easier time with McDonald’s employees than with Wal-Mart employees given that McDonald’s probably doesn’t have the same level of resources and firepower to deal with organizing efforts. It’s a smart tactic on their part.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Dave
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      says:

      While McDonald’s gets a % of sales, the franchisees are motivated by getting a return on their invested capital, and they bear the risk of higher labor costs.

      This is one of the largest criticisms of Seattle’s new Minimum Wage law, in that it exempts small restaurants (one or two locations), but treats franchise locations as part of the corporate chain. So the guy running a Subway or McDs has to pay the increased minimum wage, while the non-franchise eatery next door doesn’t.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        So if McDonalds et al. want to keep their franchises in Seattle healthy they’ll have to give them some kind of subsidy (e.g. a break on supplies).Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        Or franchisees keep labor costs at their total dollar amount and adjust hours accordingly.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        Resulting in worse service and longer lines.Report

      • Or utilize kiosks, automation, etc…Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        And push the employees that are already there to work harder.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        And they weren’t already pushing their employees to be as productive as possible, because ….?

        I’ve never quite got the knack of when it’s OK to argue that markets always optimize things, and when it’s OK to argue that some change will cause problems because it’ll remove previous excessive generosity.Report

      • When my wife scaled back her hours in Arapaho, I took a look around at expenses we could cut. The most obvious thing was our land-line, which was costing us about $40 a month and for which we could replace for about $4 a month using Ooma. That option for $34 free dollars a month was there the whole time. Sometimes it takes a trigger for people and companies to act on something.

        Anyway, here are some anecdotes. Why didn’t they do all of these things before the minimum wage hike?Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        @mike-schilling

        And they weren’t already pushing their employees to be as productive as possible, because ….?

        Who says they aren’t? I’ll try an example based on my past experiences working fast food all those years ago.

        Let’s assume you order a burger, fries and drink and it takes five people 1 minute to complete it from start to finish (one at the register, one makes the burger, one makes the fries, one pours the drink and one bags it and hands it to the customer).

        If each person is doing their job and the orders go out as planned, I’d say each employee is being as productive as they can be given their assigned jobs.

        What happens when one employee is removed from the equation and the expected time to complete the order is still 1 minute? One of those four employees is going to have to take on an additional task, hence my assumption of an increase in employee productivity. Someone is going to have to do more work and it’s not going to be the store manager.

        I’ve never quite got the knack of when it’s OK to argue that markets always optimize things, and when it’s OK to argue that some change will cause problems because it’ll remove previous excessive generosity.

        It’s your nature. I won’t judge you.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        Why didn’t they do all of these things before the minimum wage hike?

        Because before the hike they weren’t motivated to take out their anger by punishing their employees.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        Dave,
        until the fryer demands its tithe of flesh. and then you have burnt human smell all over the restaurant. Really tends to freak people out, that.Report

      • Avatar Lyle in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        Re Dave’s comments. If you order inside they just give you a cup and let you fill it. Only on a drive thru is employee time taken to pour drinks any more. At least at most fast food places I have been to recently.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        I’ve never quite got the knack of when it’s OK to argue that markets always optimize things, and when it’s OK to argue that some change will cause problems because it’ll remove previous excessive generosity

        I’m skeptical that there’s actual interest in a serious answer, but here’s a partial serious answer (really the same as Dave’s, just more generalized).

        deal markets are maximized and therefore static, but that’s a construct, the basic model. Real world markets are always responding to changing conditions. Most businesses–successful ones, at least–are trying to do optimize (or at least satisfice), given the current constraints they face. If you change their constraints, you change the problem they face, and they have to figure out their optimal response to the new constraints. If they have a target profit of X, then if you change a factor, y in the equation, some other factor, z, has to change also to keep X as the output of the equation.

        So we might ask, why not just change that factor z in the first place, and get more than X? In part because Herbert Simon was probably right that people tend to “satisfice” rather than maximize. X is the profit that makes me happy, and while I could put in some extra effort trying to get X+, the law of increasing marginal cost (of my effort) and decreasing marginal returns (on my effort) tell me to stop at that point.

        But when the constraints change, profit may drop to X-, which isn’t satisfactory. So that’s when the incentive to make the extra effort to change z becomes more pressing.

        Also, changing z in the absence of a change in y could cause another value in the equation to change. E.g., if I’m paying my employees $8/hour, and I eliminate one and make the others work harder, they may think that $8/hour was acceptable pay for the prior amount of work, but not for the new amount of work. If the price I pay them goes up to $10, and I eliminate one, they may think that for the higher pay the extra work is worthwhile.

        When someone says “be careful about changing y because the market’s optimized things under the y status quo,” they could just be a bone-headed market ideologue. Or at least as probably, they could be saying that businesses are trying to do the best they can under that condition, and if you change it you’ve thrown another challenge that they’re going to have to adapt to, and their adaptations may undermine the goal behind changing y.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        I agree with @james-hanley , up to a point, there are all kinds of unpredictable effects when you poke a complex, running system. Think about changing a single line of code in a large, kinda-buggy program. The program is flawed, so the code needs to be changed. But where does it need to be changed? No single person knows the entire program and all the interactions. So you change the line you think you need to, and then you run the test suite, and then everything blows up everywhere, ’cause you could not see how X affected Y, and how Y affects Z, and Z affects everything.

        With economic policy we test our changes in production.

        =====

        Where I disagree with the libertarians is this: I think market failure is commonplace and deeply problematic, so much so that I do not tend to see markets as automatically better than democratic or other political approaches. None are perfect. All are broken and can cause great injustice. All are locations of struggle.

        (Heh. And my software analogy is based on lived experience at my new job.)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        @veronica-d

        I thought of code as an example, but damned if I know enough to state it intelligently.

        I, too, think market failures are common. But I think the overwhelming majority of market failures are minor, the price we pay for living socially, rather than major problems in need of government intervention. But a small percentage of them are big, and some of them big enough to readily make it look like markets are full of big failures. Those justify government intervention.

        Unfortunately, justifying intervention and the intervention actually making things better are two very different beasts. The mistake many liberals tend to make is the nirvana fallacy, comparing an ideal intervention to a flawed market (libertarians, of course, tend to make the equal but opposite nirvana fallacy).Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        @veronica-d

        Yes markets fail, it happens, sometimes because of government interference, sometimes because government failed to act. It’s a dance between two partners who are listening to different music. Sometimes they are in synch, sometimes not.

        I do like your analogy, & I have one question for you.

        If the code is broken, how would you rather it be fixed: with the developers working together to find the root cause while management directs the effort & keeps it on track; or should management just say, “Fix this like this” & hope for the best? Because given our current politics, the second option seems to be how the job is going to be done, if the political value of being seen doing something is high enough.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        MRS,
        Yeah, they apparently wrote the EXACT rules for calculating risk on bank assets. Like, the banks aren’t allowed to monkey with them, at ALL.

        OTOH, the health companies are basically writing the rules for EMRs and stuff.

        Vagueness out of government can be really, really horrid. Even when you’ve got money to try and get gov’t money (Meaningful Use!), trying to figure out what they meant when they said XYZ is insane. “Will this idea work? Will the regulators like it? Will we get paid for this investment?”Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        @james-hanley @veronica-d – a long time ago someone asked why libertarianish types seemed to be more common in IT than in the general population, and I speculated that lived on-the-job IT experience might incline some people towards (perhaps excessive) reluctance to mess with complex systems unnecessarily – everyone’s been that guy (or gal) who made a seemingly-simple change that they thought would help, but that turned out to have unforeseen negative ripple effects, sometimes far exceeding the benefit they were trying to gain.

        So they may tend to have a higher “if it ain’t broke…” bar than most.

        As veronica says, in IT you can somewhat mitigate the risks with testing (and issues STILL happen anyway, because people are imperfect and can’t consider everything, and in any case, no test is actual reality) but IRL you just do your homework, make the change, and hope for the best.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        @glyph I wonder about why libertarianish types end up in IT but i dont’ think its for the reason you state. Engineers, doctors and most scientists all deal with complex systems that are often F’d up with one minor change. IT isn’t that special in having massively complex systems that are hard to tweak and easy to mess up which would lead to being skeptical of changes.

        I would guess that IT is fertile ground for libertarian types because computer stuff in general has been teh world changing tech of the last few decades so if you think you are a new master of the Uni who can change the world IT is often the place to be and there can be big effects in IT by very small groups of people with little infrastructure investment. It seems more like IT is the place you can create big changes and affect a lot of people.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        @greginak

        My time in IT management showed me the awful truth that political philosophies are discarded by users when it comes to IT.

        Clamp down on the lab computer policies for the sake of functionality & suddenly I’m restricting all those idealistic liberal students freedom & rights.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        @greginak Engineers, doctors and most scientists all deal with complex systems that are often F’d up with one minor change. IT isn’t that special in having massively complex systems that are hard to tweak and easy to mess up which would lead to being skeptical of changes.

        I’d argue IT is *somewhat* special in two respects: one is that depending on where you sit in IT, you are dealing not with just one complex system, but with the interactions of multiple such complex systems.

        A doctor generally deals with one patient at a time, or an engineer one bridge at a time (a failure of one bridge does not cause a cascading failure in another; a heart attack in one patient doesn’t give another a stroke).

        By no means am I trying to imply that IT people are smarter or their jobs harder, but more that the effects of mistakes made in IT can easily be, by the interconnected nature of systems, the proverbial butterfly wings in Brazil that cause a hurricane in Manila. Less localized.

        The second sort of follows from the first, which is that in IT there is a “visibility” into their systems’ workings that even doctors and engineers don’t always have. Doctors didn’t write DNA code; engineers didn’t write the laws of physics. So in both cases they are still, even today, learning the rules, and devising diagnostic tools to “read” the rules or their implementations.

        In contrast, IT people wrote the code (even if it’s badly-documented/old/spaghetti) and so, at least post-facto, it’s at least theoretically “easy” to pinpoint which butterfly wings caused the hurricane.

        While on the one hand this is reassuring, on the other hand its ease makes it very plainly obvious just how often the root problem was something stupid, trivial, and simple.

        Which might in turn reinforce an overabundance of caution to make changes. They know how easy the mistakes are to make, even the guy who wrote this code effed up, and he was the genius who created it from scratch and knew it inside and out.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        I think I may have posted my list of possible reasons for the libertarian leanings of tech workers, but here it is:

        *) Working in a vibrant field characterized by huge improvements in product quality driven by private innovation may lead to a utopian view of the set of problems that individual innovation can solve.
        *) It’s a field where the gap in understanding of the “details on the ground” is very large between the workers and management, so top down solutions are always feared and frequently result in very predicable disaster.
        *) Hard work and cleverness tend to pay off financially with pretty high reliability. Unemployment is low and being seriously unemployed through simple bad luck is pretty uncommon.
        *) Tech people often have an affinity for elegant solutions, and libertarian theory is elegant, internally consistent, and comes appealingly close to “solving every problem” if you take the 10,000 foot view. Like every philosophy, it’s full of problematic corner cases, but it’s pretty low on epicycles, which adds to the appeal of any model.
        *) Being socially on the outskirts of things during your formative years and then being told that you’re part of a big happy society that you should “give back to” only now that you have money seems to leave a bad taste in certain peoples’ mouths.
        *) Laws are like code that never gets refactored. Adding to such a codebase should be terrifying to anybody.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        @troublesome-frog – that is an excellent list that I will be bookmarking/stealing (with attribution).Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        And they weren’t already pushing their employees to be as productive as possible, because ….?

        Because people don’t like working as hard as possible. The amount workers are willing to put up with for $15/hour is more than they’re willing to put up with for $9/hour.

        Businesses do optimize, but the optimal solution changes when the constraints change.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        tf,
        Ya missed one:
        Ausbergers. Lotta Aspies in tech, and a lot of them don’t grok people so well.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        Unemployment is low and being seriously unemployed through simple bad luck is pretty uncommon.

        This is a big one. It’s why many people I knew who were very libertarian changed their views in 2008/2009. (Unemployment and their “retire at 40” plans turning to shit.)Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        To be clear, it’s very unlikely that they will just be able to push the workers harder and continue earning the same profits as before. Depending on elasticities, it’s likely that things will give a little bit in all directions. They’ll push workers harder. They may cut back on perks. Prices will go up. People will buy less. Profits will go down. Some marginally profitable restaurants will go out of business.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        The amount workers are willing to put up with for $15/hour is more than they’re willing to put up with for $9/hour.

        Fascinating. When I’ve said in the past that “pay people better and treat them better and they’ll work harder” is a viable alternative to “pay them crap and treat them like crap so it doesn’t matter if they work like crap”, the response has been that that only works in places like Costco because they cherrypick the top employees.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        @glyph I can see that up to a point. While i don’t’ want to go far into analyzing the personality of people based on their professions, i’ll do just that for the sake of conversation. An IT person can make a change in code to see what happens. They may learn caution but so would an aeronautical engineer or FAA type. Except when and FAA or Aero type makes a mistake a pressurized tube of people plummets to earth. They tend to be really cautious people. If an IT person makes a mistake the pixels may hit the fan but people usually don’t die. In fact, lets say if you work for Microsoft, it you churn out some crap, the worst that happens is you reboot the machine and the problem is solved.

        Slightly more seriously, i don’t’ doubt there are some general differences between people based on profession and training. I’m not so sure how easy it is to figure out and also there is a lot of tribal feelings in people based on profession that clouds it.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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        says:

        Mike,
        some people are not going to be able to work harder, some people are just idiots or lazy. We still need to find them something to do.

        But most people are willing to work for a decent wage.

        Twenty years have passed, and the salary for a grocery store worker hasn’t gone up a jot.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        @greginak – yeah, if it wasn’t clear, it’s just a bunch of baseless speculation / breeze-shooting I was doing.

        It could just as easily go the other direction – rather than believing what you believe because of the job you do, you may have chosen the job you do because of what you believe (or, the job just fits your general temperament, as coincidentally does a particular political philosophy).Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Except when and FAA or Aero type makes a mistake a pressurized tube of people plummets to earth.

        I just want to say, this is very much the edge case. Usually, when an FAA or Aero Engineer makes a boo-boo, no one dies, but hundreds of millions of dollars are pissed away fixing it.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        I would guess that IT is fertile ground for libertarian types because computer stuff in general has been teh world changing tech of the last few decades so if you think you are a new master of the Uni who can change the world IT is often the place to be and there can be big effects in IT by very small groups of people with little infrastructure investment. It seems more like IT is the place you can create big changes and affect a lot of people.

        The idea that libertarians fancy themselves masters of the universe is an image that exists much more in the minds of progressives than in real life. Peter Thiel notwithstanding, libertarians trend more towards the aspy than the bombastic.

        If libertarians are over-represented in coding (I don’t know if they are or not), it is perhaps because coding is a mostly solitary activity that people first pursue within loose, spontaneous social networks. The libertarian conceit is not that the logic of computer programming can conquer the world, but that the world follows the same sort of hyper-rational logic, devoid of social context.

        Also, the idea that libertarians want to affect a lot of people strikes me as a case of projection. It may be true for some, but most libertarians kind of just want to be left alone.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        When I’ve said in the past that “pay people better and treat them better and they’ll work harder” is a viable alternative to “pay them crap and treat them like crap so it doesn’t matter if they work like crap”, the response has been that that only works in places like Costco because they cherrypick the top employees.

        As I said in my follow-up comment, it’s very unlikely that this would allow them to make up the losses from increased wages entirely. Pushing workers harder is one way they could potentially mitigate the losses from an increased minimum wage, not a way to profit from it.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        “Ausbergers. Lotta Aspies in tech, and a lot of them don’t grok people so well.”

        Yeah, I doubt it……

        Every “Aspie” I’ve seen in tech got that way by answering all the questions on a personality test in consistent accordance with their libertarian philosophy. They’re not actually on the autistic spectrum. They’re just egotists\narcissists who don’t concern themselves with the feelings of other people.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist Well yeah of course, if you want to be all realistic about it.
        @j-r Yes i know the aspy stereotype. I don’t’ know how true it is though. In general though libertarians, mostly the strongly ideological kind, very definitely want to affect people. In fact anybody with a strong ideology wants to change and affect people even if that ideology is based on libertarian principles. There is no insult in saying someone wants to affect culture and people, that is what ideologies are based on; creating the good world people envision.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        most libertarians kind of just want to be left alone.

        Yeah, this is the bias/temperament (not just the desire to be left alone, but to in turn leave others alone) that makes me describe myself as “libertarianish” (=too squishy for the real libertarians, and too libertarian for the real liberals).

        Looks like it’s time for this again (I think Wardsmith was the one who first posted this here):

        libertariansReport

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        James,
        All due respect, but you’ve not worked with freaks.
        Never seen someone tar and feather a server (and then set off the sprinklers).
        Never seen someone Freak the Fuck out because someone says Kirk is better than Picard.
        Never seen a building evacuated because a goldfish died.

        Be thankful.

        (and I’m not even getting started…)Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Tech these days has way more brogrammers than neuro-divergent folks. And I have seen nothing to connect neuro-divergence and libertarianism. Sounds like bad stereotypes to me.

        Why so many libertarians in tech? I dunno. Are there? If so, I suppose lots of reasons. Don’t discount the high population of young, middle-class white guys.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Ohh great pic. In general most people want to be left alone to live their lives as they see fit.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        v,
        Libertarianism does appeal to aspies, as far as I’ve noticed. They tend to be the hidebound, kinda overboard type of libertarians.

        I’m not sure I’d call brogrammers neurotypical. Just broken differently.
        when they get arrested for indecent exposure in a Chucky Cheese (while they were supposed to be working, naturally) — and then expect their boss to bail them out… ROFL. Boss’s response: “I don’t know you”

        [My job is not fixing these problems. But I do know someone who’s job it is to fix problems.]Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        @kim

        Oh, I’ve worked with plenty of freaks. Just because they’re an asshole doesn’t mean they’re autistic.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        James,
        normal people do not evacuate a building (a server farm) when the goldfish dies — and refuse to let people back in until a new black goldfish is found.
        Normal people do not go ballistic when you decrease the size of their office by a centimeter at a time (they got to four before he noticed).

        Art tends to attract the sexually perverse, Tech tends to attract apies. No need to say that everyone in each is that way, but… Trends exist.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        In general most people want to be left alone to live their lives as they see fit.

        What makes Libertarians different is that they follow up “I’d like to be left alone to live life as I see fit” with “and you should be left alone too”.

        It’s far too easy to find people who want to be left alone who think that you, on the other hand, need some serious adult supervision.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        yeah jay i know. Liberals do spend all their time devilishly trying to control other people. It really is that simple and clear. The stereotype you have of us is true.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        @greginak,

        You do remember that this exchange began with you offering your stereotype of libertarians? Odd to get prickly that someone offered one of progressives.

        Anyway, words have meanings, so its best that we use them. Generally, libertarians want to be left alone and are happy to leave others alone as well. Depending on how you see it, that makes them enlightened or it makes them callous. In either case, it is accurate. Likewise, it is accurate to say that progressives want to involve themselves in other people’s lives to a much greater extent. As with the former case, whether this is good or bad depends on your perspective. It is accurate though.

        If someone were to say that libertarians are callous, I could respond with something like, “No! Libertarians are not callous. Libertarians care deeply about their fellow man. Libertarians care so deeply that they refuse to aggress against or violate the rights of their fellow man. That is real caring.”

        I could say that, but I would not, because saying that would be twisting the meaning of the word callous to suit my ideology. Instead I admit that there is a trade off to be made between actively involving yourself in the affairs of other people at the risk of becoming paternalist versus maintaining a relatively standoffish position in regards to other people’s affairs at the risk of being callous.

        Anyway, I did not mean to hijack this thread. I only wanted to point out that your characterization of libertarians as the tech version of Gordon Gekko isn’t particularly accurate.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        @jr What stereotype did i accuse L’s of? I did use the phrase master of uni to suggest some L’s want to work in a field that is the big up and coming tech that has a huge effect on the world. They want to be where the action is and it is really common to hear IT/tech people, of all stripes, to talk about how transformtive everything they do is going to be. I also said it is mostly highly ideological L’s that look towards changing the world and people but that is a function of being highly idealogical. Every ideology wants to change the world. I avoided the apsy stereotype and didn’t say, because it isn’t true, that L’s are callous Gecko monsters.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Kim,

        “normal people do not evacuate a building (a server farm) when the goldfish dies”

        Who said anything about “normal?” I just think their behavior can be explained by other factors besides if/where they sit on the autism spectrum. Maybe your goldfish guy is genuine. I don’t know.

        But all the “aspies” I’ve known have been very logical and smart people who are book-smart but street-dumb. If they weren’t so devoted to libertarianism, no one would suspect them of having autism in the first place.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        James,
        Yeah, well, I’m listening to the folks who get paid to analyze people’s brains, pick ’em apart. (and my friend has Degas classified as ‘on the spectrum’ — something about how he paints…). It’s one thing to listen to folks’ self diagnoses (which are always weird, anyhow). It’s another to find people going seriously over the edge, from minor little changes (a prank is nothing to get fired over).Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        @kim — I’ve worked in tech a long time, including at some companies you’ve heard of, and I’ve never seen what you describe. So, perhaps this may be some local phenomena in the Kim-verse. (Which resembles the real world in only the most most subtle ways.)

        Neuro-diversity is very real. But it seldom looks like the stereotypes.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        v,
        or you might realize that companies that experience this level of pathology are ones that you generally haven’t heard of, and for good reason.

        I suspect that places like Google and IBM are a bit better at screening for people with problems than my current employer (note: none of the examples above are from my employment). On the project I’m working on, at least three people have gone crazy (note: some may have been crazy before starting on it), and one committed suicide. [That’s… maybe, 1 in 4 people on the project, fwiw.]Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Liberals do spend all their time devilishly trying to control other people.

        Don’t sell yourself short! Social Conservatives do a great job with this as well.

        Just imagine a group of people who are in charge of determining what popular culture is bad past a particular point and who take it upon themselves to tell you that you shouldn’t enjoy it because it’s X… what is X? Sinful? Racist? Wicked? Sexist? Blasphemous? Homophobic?

        This is a game that both Evangelical Christians *AND* Progressives can enjoy.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        @greginak

        Apologies if I mischaracterized what you said. Sure, highly ideological libertarians want to go out into the world and do ideologically libertarian things. I do, however, think that has more to do with the highly ideological part than the libertarian part.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Dave
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m picturing this conversation:

      Franchise Owner: I don’t know what’s wrong. The restaurant’s busy all day, but I’m hardly taking anything home.

      Corporate Guy: Odd. Do you mind if I look at your books?

      FO: No, please do.

      CG: Let’s see… You are doing a nice amount of business. You’re paying the usual for rent and supplies, utilities looks reasonable, I don’t know if you need those radio ads, but they’re not costing you much, … oh, there it is. Your labor costs are way out of line. There’s ways to deal with that.

      That may be dumb and out of policy, but it still happens.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m not sure why it would be dumb. It all depends on what “ways to deal with that” are suggested, no?Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        If it is being suggested, then how is the corporate parent exercising significant or direct control? Influence is not enough to meet that threshold, no?Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        @mike-schilling

        I’m sure it happens all the time.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        I believe Mike was referring to the specific “way” described in the post.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        If it can be shown that a large percentage of the franchises use identical labor policies, all designed by the corporate parent and enabled by software the parent provides, it becomes difficult to argue that labor is purely a franchisee issue.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        @mike-schilling

        If it can be shown that a large percentage of the franchises use identical labor policies, all designed by the corporate parent and enabled by software the parent provides, it becomes difficult to argue that labor is purely a franchisee issue.

        The labor policies aren’t the issue here. The labor practices are. McDonald’s will argue that whatever labor policies they design for their franchisees, they do so with the insistence that franchisees operate in accordance with local, state and federal labor laws. If they’re not doing this, they need to fire their lawyers.

        The fact that lawyers for the workers are fixated on the computer software is because they have no other direct evidence of bad behavior. That may have worked for the NLRB but the second this gets into the courts, lawyers for the workers better have a better smoking gun or this goes nowhere.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        Gets into the courts? Man, the vast left-wing conspiracy is doing their usual sloppy job of taking away corporations’ due process rights.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Dave
      Ignored
      says:

      There doesn’t need to be a rational explanation for the McDonald’s corporation to care about labor costs at various franchises even though it doesn’t effect their fees from this. The McDonald’s corporation is made up of people and these people might have particularly ideas on how the world should work. They could want to keep labor costs at various McDonald’s franchises down for ideological reasons even if their bottom line from franchise fees aren’t really changed by one franchise paying more than another.Report

    • Avatar switters in reply to Dave
      Ignored
      says:

      “Again, I don’t understand what McDonald’s has to gain from attempting to exert any kind of control over labor costs”

      In my limited experience with franchising, some franchisors refuse to show financial statements to prospective franchisees. But many use them as a marketing tool. E.g., you can run a business with revenue x while only incurring expense y, which leaves you to make Z every month. Therefore, you initial outlay of A is warranted.

      If that was the case (and I have no idea if it is), then Mcdonalds would want to have company financial statements that reflect maximum margins, as it makes their franchise offering more valuable and/or more likely to attract competent franchisees.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to switters
        Ignored
        says:

        @switters

        If that was the case (and I have no idea if it is), then Mcdonalds would want to have company financial statements that reflect maximum margins, as it makes their franchise offering more valuable and/or more likely to attract competent franchisees.

        As a general principle, I agree with this, especially given the capital requirements, but it’s just marketing. Showing someone what money can be made and controlling the operations so the money can actually be made that way are two separate things.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to switters
        Ignored
        says:

        some franchisors refuse to show financial statements to prospective franchisees.

        I’m no businessman, but wouldn’t that be a red flag to a potential franshisee?Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to switters
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        I’m no businessman, but wouldn’t that be a red flag to a potential franshisee?

        I wouldn’t be concerned about this if I was able to get an idea of the operating metrics or get ranges (i.e. margins). Actual financial performance will vary based on location.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Dave
      Ignored
      says:

      SEIU can attempt to unionize fast food workers by organizing and dealing directly with the corporate parent rather than organizing on a franchise-by-franchise basis. Instead of 50-60 workers at a time, they can organize tens of thousands.

      Yeah, I bet SEIU’s folks got pup tents (or their equivalents) too. But something tells me they don’t favor gabardine trousers.Report

  9. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    I generally think this is good for labor and imagine the conversation that Schilling laid out above.

    There is a certain corporate mentality that seems to think wages for the lowest level employees are always a good way to increase profits and these must be suppressed by all means necessary.

    An interesting counter drama is happening with the Market Basket grocery stores in New England. Grocery Basket is a closely-held corporation with about 4.3 billion dollars in profit. They also had very generous wages with cashiers being able to earn up to 40,000 a year and managers getting six-figures. There was also a very generous profit-sharing/pension plan at 15 percent of profits. The CEO who helped create this plan was very popular with employees. Yet one of his cousins and several other family/board members thought the plan was too generous and ousted him as CEO. Now the workers and consumers are rebelling against this coup and supporting the ousted CEO. Interestingly the rivalry is between two cousins with very similar names.

    I don’t understand the rage at paying the workers well because the company was still highly profitable. Greed and psychic wages are the only logical explanations.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      One of the ways we know that Star Trek is fiction is that transporters were used to enable spaceflight rather than the outsourcing of fast-food jobsReport

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        I imagine that replicators would have done a bigger number on fast food jobs than transporters.

        Transporters wrecked the real estate market.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        Jay,
        Transporters break TONS of stuff. Make casual theft pretty easy, for one thing.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        Replicators probably wreaked havoc on the casual theft market, now that I think about it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        Did you ever read any of the slow glass” stories? The conceit was a material that light took years to travel through. So people who lived in the middle of a city could drive to some beautiful location, buy slow glass that had been set out there to soak up the light, put it in their windows, and then for years they’d have spectacular views.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        A cute conceit, written prior to the thinkability of 4000k televisions.

        What’s better than looking out on Scotland? Deciding to look out on Scotland after comparing to the Alps, Saint Petersburg, Tokyo, Honolulu, San Francisco Bay…Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        Star Trek really never thought too much about transporters.

        Especially in terms of ‘medicine’. Like “you have a molecular level map of my entire body” and can dissemble and reassemble it at will. You can create matter in any form you design, at any point you designate.

        Why does Picard have an artificial heart? Why didn’t they beam him somewhere, take a copy of the information, take the molecular-level copy of his heart and basically run it through a medical version of autocad? Then replace it with a single transport? Or transport the bad one out and the new one in, microseconds apart?

        Heck, why is anyone OLD? Keep a digital copy of their 19-year old body, and every thirty years beam their freaking brain into a new copy. Or just their consciousness, since apparently they randomly swap that around.

        You have matter-to-energy transmission, molecular level assembly, and the ability to store and manipulate the sum total of “a person” they way a guy with a 3D printer and open-source software can make himself a clothespin.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        Slow glass is a better luxury good than a TV. It’s a “real” view that nobody else has.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        I figure that that’s what the medical tricorders did. “Oh, you have cancer cells? Let’s just teleport them into the raw materials bin of the closest replicator.”Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        Heck, why is anyone OLD? Keep a digital copy of their 19-year old body…

        IIRC, the contents of the transporter pattern buffer begin to degrade after ~500 seconds. The only instance of someone lasting longer than that is Scotty, and it took what were essentially the resources of a starship to preserve that single pattern for longer. However, there are instances of creating two copies from a single pattern buffer, and they do seem to have either stasis fields or suspended animation, so you could keep an analog copy until you needed it.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        …so you could keep an analog copy until you needed it.

        Although there are some fascinating civil rights questions inherent there.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        IIRC, the contents of the transporter pattern buffer begin to degrade after ~500 seconds. The only instance of someone lasting longer than…

        I’m just going to leave this here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a_sx3ozoXIReport

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      @saul-degraw

      That the company was able to do what it did for as long as it did given the dynamics of that family is a miracle.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        I will grant this point. The dynamics seem quite dramatic.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        @saul-degraw

        In turn, I will concede to the point that the business model appeared to be working quite well prior to the management shake up. The company was generating a 5% profit margin, not a bad number for the low-margin grocery business.

        With a different set of circumstances, it is a sustainable business model.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        If your employees are used to a certain treatment for many years and it isn’t harming business profits, it seems to be a really dumb idea to change the deal you worked out with them because you want to make even more money in profits. Very few employees are ever going to take to reduced pay and benefits well, espeically if the only reason for this is in the name of corporate profits. Did the new management really think that employees would humbly accept a much worse pay and benefit package without a fight?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        On the face of it, I agree with Lee here. It’s amazing how often some people will look at something that is successful and think that it is despite rather than because of the way that it deviates from industry orthodoxy.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        @leeesq

        There is a reason many people on the left suspect management has a L’etat c’est moi attitude.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        @leeesq

        If your employees are used to a certain treatment for many years and it isn’t harming business profits, it seems to be a really dumb idea to change the deal you worked out with them because you want to make even more money in profits.

        If I felt that profits were sufficient, I’d agree with you. However, the dissenting shareholders believed that profits were lower due to the company’s practices under the previous CEO. They sought to make up for that by pulling a substantial amount of cash out of the company ($250 million). The only way to recover that in as quick a time as possible was to push profits higher.

        Very few employees are ever going to take to reduced pay and benefits well, espeically if the only reason for this is in the name of corporate profits.

        Probably, but without leverage, what can they do?

        Did the new management really think that employees would humbly accept a much worse pay and benefit package without a fight?

        If I had to guess, they thought that cashiers and people that stock shelves are easily replaced so if the employees don’t like it and quit, they can hire more people at a lower cost.

        The motivation is cash and profits. I doubt they cared enough about the employees to consider their feelings.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        @will-truman

        On the face of it, I agree with Lee here. It’s amazing how often some people will look at something that is successful and think that it is despite rather than because of the way that it deviates from industry orthodoxy.

        Are you referring to my comments or to the dissident shareholders?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        To quote Morris:
        “The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave the rest. They always did…they always will. They will have the same effect here as elsewhere, if we do not, by the power of government, keep them in their proper spheres.”

        Innit the elegance of olde writing fun?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        Dave, I think its clear that Will is referring to the dissident shareholders. I understand that shareholders want to maximize their value but these quick, short ways of doing this by skimming from labor costs usually ends up biting them in the ass. The company in question is now losing a lot of cash and value because of the strike. Management doesn’t remember that their employees have needs of their own and will work to protect them if pushed to. They had a deal with employees that made employees very satisfied and happy. It didn’t seem to hurt the business at all. You shouldn’t fix something that isn’t broken.

        In sole proprietorships and closely held corporations, management isn’t exactly wrong to believe L’e French word for commercial enterprise c’est moi attitudes. I suspect that one psychic benefit to owning your own business is the degree of control you have over it compared to other jobs. The risks might be higher but at least you know that you made the decisions.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        @dave

        Do you think they foresaw that consumers would join in rallying in support with the workers?
        This seems to be a horrible PR and fiscal nightmare for the dissenting shareholders.

        @will-truman

        People just seem to think of themselves as the voice of reason. Some friends were debating why businesses would be cash only in 2014. I pointed out

        1. Cash only can be a great tax dodge.

        2. Small businesses might think that the fees with accepting credit and debit cards is too high and cuts into their profit margins too much especially when you are selling items that cost a few dollars more. Starbucks can use scale to cover the fees, your local coffeeshop or pizza place not as much.

        Instead of saying “Oh yeah, I can see that”, my friends just waxed indignant and thought that there were more people like them who refused to shop at X because of the cash only policy.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        Saul,
        if they had, they’d have been out the door well before.
        You burn the place to the ground, then leave someone else to sell the land.

        Rule 1: There’s always a bag holder.
        Rule 2: Don’t let it be you.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Dave
        Ignored
        says:

        @saul-degraw

        Well human nature being what it is, people generally don’t think of themselves as being unreasonable.Report

  10. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s important for us to keep in mind that McDonald’s is a large, publicly traded corporation, not an individual, and thus has no due-process rights.Report

  11. Avatar ScarletNumbers
    Ignored
    says:

    It seems to me that companies like McDonald’s are trying to have it both ways. When it is convenient for them, they are simply a franchisor. When it benefits them to act like all one company, that’s what they do.

    Therefore, I have little to no sympathy for them.Report

  12. Avatar Road Scholar
    Ignored
    says:

    What I’m wondering is whether (and/or to what degree) the franchisees control the prices on the menu. I’m thinking of Subway when they had five dollar foot-longs everywhere at the same time.

    It seems to me that you have all these costs that are either fixed or only minimally controllable like utilities and then mandated prices then that leaves only labor to play with. Doesn’t an equation with a single variable pretty much have a single answer?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Road Scholar
      Ignored
      says:

      McDonald’s prices are the same everywhere, at least within one country. Same with other fast food restaurants.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        This is not a true statement.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, I eat entirely too much fast food and I do so from coast to coast. If the prices are allowed to vary it isn’t by much. Denny’s has a $2/4/6/8 menu section that’s the same everywhere, although they’re not fast food and I don’t know if they’re franchised.

        If anyone here ought to know from experience, it should be me. But I simply haven’t been paying enough attention to say. I have a favorite meal I order quite frequently at Arby’s and it seems to cost very close to the same everywhere. One issue is that sales taxes can vary dramatically from place to place so the actual cash I have to dig up can differ even if the prices are identical.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @road-scholar

        I will concede that the prices are “very close to the same”. However, @leeesq didn’t say “very close”.

        Next time you go to a fast food restaurant, take note of a representatve cross-section of prices, then compare them to a different one in the same chain. I would be surprised if they all matched up.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Near my office, there are 2 McDs, both within 2 miles of me. I’ve eaten at both, and the difference is probably $1-$2 a meal, depending on what I get and the specials they are running at the time.

        So not a huge difference, but most certainly not the same.

        Makes me wonder if Corporate doesn’t have recommended pricing ranges for given areas?Report

  13. Avatar Dave
    Ignored
    says:

    @james-pearce

    Every “Aspie” I’ve seen in tech got that way by answering all the questions on a personality test in consistent accordance with their libertarian philosophy. They’re not actually on the autistic spectrum. They’re just egotists\narcissists who don’t concern themselves with the feelings of other people.

    I’ll take this as your attempt to be a comedian because some of the biggest egotists/narcissists I know were the assholes I worked with during my three-year stint at Goldman Sachs. Would you like to know the best part? A lot of them, especially the younger crowd, were liberal Democrats!!! Gasp!!!

    This whole liberal-libertarian conversation is just sooooo appropriate in a post about labor law. Seriously, pollute some else’s comments section with this bullshit. That goes for all of you.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Dave
      Ignored
      says:

      You might have run into some folks I know, then, if you ran into any…. contractors.
      Grade-A asshole IS the job description.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        @kim

        I didn’t run into any contractors per se, but for the most part, while I technically was not considered a junior banker, I lived that life for the better part of three years. When you work in an environment stacked to the gills with Super Type-A assholes, it rubs off.

        The worst part about that world wasn’t the fact that I treated people like complete shit on occasion (sometimes for good reason and other times not so much). The worst part was that after a while, I had no feelings about doing it. That says a lot seeing as I tend to feel guilty after yelling at someone. Go figure.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Dave
      Ignored
      says:

      But it’s libertarian techies that are the real assholes because they’re wedded to their libertarian ideology.

      Some people really need to get out more…or perhaps grow up.Report

    • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Dave
      Ignored
      says:

      @dave
      It would be really cool if you made some effort to understand what I was trying to say instead of A) getting defensive about libertarianism and B) going to the old “But liberals are worse” standby.

      My basic point was that all the so-called aspies in tech are more likely to be libertarians than they are to be actually autistic. It’s hardly the kind of thing that should inspire such a hostile response.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Pearce
        Ignored
        says:

        And in that you’re kinda right. Libertarian techies outnumber Aspie techies by miles. (I’m not so sure that most libertarian techies think they’re aspies, but people selfdiagnose way too much for my taste).

        Aspies are attracted by libertarianism, but it is SUPER easy to tell which libertarians are aspies because they are so… intellectually Rigid.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Pearce
        Ignored
        says:

        Kim,

        Have you gleaned yet that I’m skeptical that there are very many genuine “aspies” in tech? It’s a pretty debilitating thing, you know.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to James Pearce
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-pearce

        1. I never defended libertarianism nor got defensive about it. Frankly, your feelings about the philosophy mean absolutely nothing to me so I have no reason to defend anything.

        2. I have too much respect for most of the liberals around here to play the “liberals are worse” game. All I said was that the worst assholes I ever ran into happened to be political liberals. Nothing more…nothing less. You’re putting words in my mouth.

        My basic point was that all the so-called aspies in tech are more likely to be libertarians than they are to be actually autistic. It’s hardly the kind of thing that should inspire such a hostile response.

        My basic point is that personality traits have nothing to do with political views.

        And what’s this supposed to mean:

        But all the “aspies” I’ve known have been very logical and smart people who are book-smart but street-dumb. If they weren’t so devoted to libertarianism, no one would suspect them of having autism in the first place.

        As the father of an autistic son, should I warn him about the dangers of being asked whether or not he’s a libertarian?

        And it’s not “having autism” like it’s some kind of fucking illness. It’s called “being on the autism spectrum”. If you are going to speak of people like my son, show some fucking respect.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Pearce
        Ignored
        says:

        @dave

        Again with the hostile responses.

        “If you are going to speak of people like my son, show some fucking respect.”

        I said nothing about your son, Dave, so you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t take lessons on “fucking respect” from someone who apparently has none.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to James Pearce
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-pearce

        I don’t recall offering to give you any kind of assistance, but I get it. I think we’re finished here unless there’s anything else I didn’t say that you’d like to attribute to me.

        Good day sir.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to James Pearce
        Ignored
        says:

        @dave

        I think you really went overboard in your response to @james-pearce .Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Pearce
        Ignored
        says:

        @dave

        I’m having a GREAT day, Dave, and I hope yours improves.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Dave
      Ignored
      says:

      I know this, few things will make me dismiss a person’s opinion faster than if they say ignorant things about neuro-divergent people, which pretty much includes using the term “aspie” to refer to smart, socially awkward nerds.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, I’m sure that the opinion of @veronica-d means the world to them.

        *Note for aspies: that was sarcastic

        As an aside, your closed-mindedness regarding people like this shows an ugly, bigoted side of you. Don’t be a bigot.Report

  14. Avatar LWA
    Ignored
    says:

    @j-r
    “most libertarians kind of just want to be left alone.”

    Sidestepping the entire Asperger/ tech issue, this statement needs a bit of analysis.

    The mantra of “everybody leave each other alone” is powerfully attractive, for the very reason it is a platitude that doesn’t do any work.

    “Leave me alone”, but please do come to my defense when my property and rights are threatened?
    “Leave me alone to make any contract I want”, but please do adjudicate it and enforce it, when it is breached?

    For example-
    It doesn’t allow us to resolve difficult problems such as abortion- is legal abortion a case of leaving women alone, or is it a case of refusing to defend the right of an innocent person?

    For that matter, the weak sister of “I refuse to impose my moral norms on you” doesn’t help either- by not recognizing the right of a fetus to live, we have made a moral decision, and enforced it; for example, its illegal to “come to the aid” of a fetus. Men with guns, cages, and all that.

    Please note that I am pro-choice; I use this as an example, only to show how weak and insubstantial the “leave alone” argument is. By their very definition, defending rights requires intense engagement and interaction with our fellow citizens- the exact opposite of being “left alone”.Report

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