Our Jobs As Teenagers

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My 17 y/o daughter and I had an interesting conversation over the holiday break which sparked my daughter’s interest into looking at what other teens make per hour at their part-time jobs. I tried to explain to her that she was very lucky making $10 per hour as well as only having to work 20 hours a week. She is actually pretty damn lucky because her part-time job is working at the church daycare as a teacher’s aide. She has had this job for a little over a year and half. She has never had to work at a fast food place or a place of retail so she knows nothing about how it actually is in a real marketplace for employment. She is lucky in other ways as well, like every bit of the money she earns is only earmarked for things she wishes to spend it on. She has no bills with the exception of putting fuel in her truck. In my opinion, knowing how I grew up, she is extremely lucky she can spend her paychecks as she pleases. She is smart with her money to a degree, she always puts some away in her saving account. She has a hard time comprehending that “most” teens her age with a part-time job are only making $7.25 per hour and work in less than ideal conditions sometimes.

She says I was lucky as I explained to her what I did for money when I was a teen. I made what I thought was decent money at the time back in 1983 because that is when I really started getting paid. I worked with my dad who was a concrete contractor for many years before for basically spending money but never anything to save. I learned many skills working with him that I still value to this day. I was never afraid to bust my ass working in the Houston heat & humidity and not see a dime for my efforts. When I needed money all I had to do is ask, well, most of the time. As the summer between 8th and 9th grade approached I had already obtained my driver’s license, I already had a truck (rebuilt from parts from the junkyard where I found it), I was dating, and all I needed was a part-time job to pay for all the things I wanted to do. Back in 1983 the state minimum wage was $3.35 or something like that per hour. Where I lived teens had a limited choice to part-time employment like working at a fast food place, the theatre (an old singleplex), the car wash, a grocery store, or out on the farms and ranches. My dad offered up $700.00 per month cash (over the summer) to keep working with him and when school started back up it was going to be $350.00 a month cash. Doesn’t seem like much by todays prices, but back then the money would last me a long time. So, no, I never had to go get a minimum wage job while in high school.

The conversation evolved back to today and the struggles over the minimum wages at fast food places. This is where I was told my asshole side came out to play. My daughter wanted to agree with the fight, the fight to change paying employees at least $15.00 to flip burgers, get my order wrong, and waste my damn time. Oh, wait, the money paid isn’t supposed to reflect the quality of service you receive now is it. More money does not mean the skill level and caring just went up. I think it’s a joke. And, no, I don’t know the struggles of the people working in that industry or any other for that matter. Plus, I’m not a fast food eater, mostly because I hate paying for shitty service, shitty attitude, and shitty food. No, you may not argue that everything would be better if these poor mistreated people made more money. You’ll never be able to convince me that paying $15.00 per hour will make the fast food experience better for the customer, and if you believe that bullshit it might be time to re-evaluate your past dining experiences. People, in general, want everything handed to them while they provide little or no effort. Why no, right? Society has been moving in this direction for many years, right? We are victims of our own bullshit, right? Wrong! Get a job, work your ass off, work your way up, try harder than the next person, and stamp out your place in this fucking society as a person that has something to offer back besides an open hand waiting for something to dropped into it. What ever happened to “earning a living” or “working hard” or “getting a job”? They don’t exist, people just sit on the couch and wait for the government check.

I sound a little bitter don’t I? Or do I? Don’t mistake my honesty about all of this for being bitter, just consider that I’m real tired of all the people who complain but are not willing to get a damn job and when they get a job for unskilled labor they complain that they are not paid enough. I can speak for where I live locally and the teens don’t want to work. The ones that do are not doing it for weekend cash they are doing it to help support their household. Those who aren’t teens, what should they be paid? Good question since working at a fast food place is still considered being unskilled labor. I don’t know anymore, it seems, at least on the surface, that the debate will continue about minimum wage, especially in the fast food industry. I guess people are no longer happy with the opportunity to merely have a job and unfortunately in our society there is an actual need for an unskilled labor force. If people want better for themselves then they need to better prepare themselves to be in a different job market that earns more money, not ask it to be handed to them like it is today in the here and now.

So, what should be the wages, the limitations, and the requirements? Hell, I’m in my mid-40s and had to have a second full-time job to make ends meet, and that is with a wife who is employed full-time. I didn’t know all I needed to do was whine a little and it would all be handed to me with no effort on my part. This is the world we live in, everything isn’t equal and nor should it be equal because we all don’t offer equal qualifications and/or work ethics. Be assured that the government will be forced to increase the minimum wage because of all the political pressure that is currently being applied. And, sadly, when the enablers get their way, we as a society, will once again take a few steps backwards. Where does the extra money come from? The consumer will be having the wage increase passed on to him/her through everything they purchase which is soon going to mean that what I make an hour won’t be enough, according to the same standards. Yea, I know, I can speak until I’m blue in the face and still get told I have absolutely no argument. Well, this has been my opinion and I think it will be a giant mistake and the people being served at the local fast food restaurant and at other places which use unskilled labor will soon be seeing a cost increase because the labor still has to be paid for by employers.

Where do we go from here? In my personal opinion, I think that this will just be another nail in the coffin for any business, large or small, here in the United States. Many places already operate on a shoestring budget just to keep the doors open and make some profit after paying the bills. Your right, fuck ’em. Why should I care what people are getting paid. Part of me thinks about the amount of blood, sweat, and tears it took me to get where I am at today. Part of me dislikes it when anything is just handed over to those who are not willing to earn it. I was raised different from that, I was raised in a manner that made me realize I needed to be able to provide something in exchange for compensation. I raise my own children the same way and not look for the free ride. Hopefully I’m alone in the way I raise my kids because if so then this next generation of people entering the workforce are truly fucked. I wonder what would be dropped in my open hand being a white male, 45, skilled, educated, and currently employed. Anything extra for me? I didn’t think so. But I already knew this fact. Anyway, as a society in the United States, we keep throwing money into the burning caldron, before long the people like myself that actually have to earn a living will be out of money and there will be no help, there will be only dust in the bankrupt coffers. Too melodramatic?

I never wanted to be a millionaire, I still don’t want to be a millionaire, and I doubt I will ever want to be a millionaire. Why? I like my life and the people in it. We work hard for what we earn and live a lifestyle which has been great for all of us, all too much money will do is corrupt what we consider to be perfect. Y’all may think one’s life revolves around money, I used to think the same way, but when you have nothing it always brings a smile to your face when you can put a little aside for a rainy day. I’m not saying the minimum wage is accurate, but I’m not the judge of that either, and it is called “minimum” for a reason. The only place people can go when they are on the bottom is up, many people acknowledge that the journey will be long and hard, others prefer to demand something without offering anything more in return. As much as we would all like to think we are worth our weight in gold, the reality is that if we were then we would no longer have value. I’ll leave it up to y’all because y’all should make your own decisions based on your individual opinions. The minimum wage is out of the hands of the “people” and will always be decided by politicians who take only their status into consideration. Fuck it, roll the dice. I hope everyone gets what they are expecting.

holdingMoney

Your Tax Dollars Are Hard At Work

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I have been holding this discussion on the back burning for a few months now, but it is time the see how fucked up the spending of the United States Government actually is and how it would appear there is no stopping the irrational spending anytime in the near future. I’m fairly confident when I say I do not think I will see reductions in idiotic spending in my lifetime. For decades, people have heard tales of the crazy government-funded scientific research that our tax dollars get spent on. Seemingly insane studies are often conducted in these research situations and, to the naked eye, they seem like useless wastes of money. But just how useless are these crazy research situations? While a study may look silly or useless on the surface, it’s always a good idea to take a further look at the impacts of the study and its results. In our ever-changing social, physical and technological world, there is so much left to explore that it might just take a few seemingly unorthodox measures to get us to a place of understanding. Listed below (in red) are four (4) of (out of 100,000+) my personal favorites for idiotic government funded research paid for by my tax dollars. Information was grabbed from a few lists that show only partial lists with an average assumed cost of $2,000,000,000,000 and were continuously funded during the recent government shutdown.

  • How long can a shrimp run on a treadmill?
    Really? Do we need to spend $3 million just to watch shrimps run on a treadmill? Actually, yes, if we want to begin to understand the effects of bacteria on mobility, according to National Science Foundation spokeswoman Maria Zacharias. The National Science Foundation’s page on the study explains that these tests help us better understand the effects of pollution and a crustacean’s natural immune defense system have on the survival of the species. Since the survival of the species can not only affect the environment but also the fishing and seafood industry, the study of a shrimp’s ability to run away from predators and survive when its health is compromised by human influence through pollution, is pretty important.
  • Does playing FarmVille on Facebook help people to make friends and keep them?
    FarmVille is a simulation game on Facebook that allows users to create a virtual farm, grow and harvest crops, trade and exchange seeds with other farmers. At first glance it seems ludicrous that $315,000 would be spent on attempting to study the real social aspects of an online game, but is it really? With more and more time being spent online with friends, the impact of these activities on our health, happiness and attitudes is an important concept to explore. This study happened to show that relationships that would otherwise have been “left stale” were actually built up through the game. Imagine how this information can transform the lives of people with physical and mental disabilities preventing them from taking part in real-life interaction.
  • How do you ride a bike?
    According to the Senator’s report, $300,000 was spent in 2009 helping scientists study how humans ride bicycles. Since the velocipede has been around in many forms for well over 100 years, you might think this a completely useless study. But, how often has the design of the bicycle changed over the course of that 150 or so years? The NSF report on the study notes that spending the time to study how humans ride and handle bicycles will give designers insight into ways they may improve bicycle design. This could result in bicycles that are more comfortable, encouraging increased usage, and more accessible, allowing a wider variety of individuals (including those with certain physical disabilities) the ability to utilize this healthier form of transportation. The future impact this could have on life spans, health and healthcare costs as more and more people are able to ride and get the benefits of exercise from improved bicycle engineering, can have a powerful affect on many industries and socio-economic classes.
  • Can Twitter predict the stock market?
    Twitter, an online social networking and micro blogging site allowing users to converse in 140 character blocks, has almost become a household name. Its trending topics are discussed on CNN and famous actors like Ashton Kutcher have been known to use the site to reach out to fans and spread the word about upcoming projects and events. Recently, the air maneuvers that were part of the attack which resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden were narrated live on the Twitter account of an individual who had no idea what he was witnessing. Since market movement is all about public perception of economic and news events, it makes sense then that the tweets of this vast network of relatively connected individuals might give some insight into market movement. The NSF spent $25,000 to find that in fact, “measuring the collective public mood by analyzing millions of tweets can predict the rise and fall of the stock market up to a week in advance with up to 90% accuracy.” It’s hard to argue the value in that statement.

But the money isn’t just thrown at stupid research, they spread your wealth everywhere as if it were fertilizer to promote and stimulate growth in areas which are otherwise meant to remain barren. If you want to get paid for doing something stupid, just turn to the U.S. government.  The U.S. government is paying researchers to play video games, it is paying researchers to study the effects of cocaine on Japanese quail and it has spent millions of dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly.  The amount of money that the government wastes is absolutely horrifying.  Do you remember all of that political wrangling over the debt ceiling deal?  Do you remember how our politicians told us that there were cutting spending as much as they possibly could?  Well, it was all a giant lie.  As you will see below, the U.S. government is spending money on some of the most stupid things imaginable.  What makes all of this even worse is that we are going into enormous amounts of debt in order to pay for all of this.  We are borrowing billions of dollars a day in order to pay for stupid stuff that no government on earth should ever be paying for.  Trust me, you are going to find it hard to believe some of the stuff in this list.  It is almost inconceivable what our politicians are doing with our tax dollars. This list isn’t in a particular order of importance, it is, however, a cross-section of how the U.S. Government pisses my money facing into the wind. Follow the imbedded links to the entire event of spending our money.

  1. The U.S. government is spent $750,000 on a new soccer field for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.
  2.  The Obama administration plans to spend between 16 and 20 million dollars helping students from Indonesia get master’s degrees.
  3.  If you can believe it, the U.S. government has spent $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”.
  4.  The U.S. government spent $200,000 on “a tattoo removal program” in Mission Hills, California.
  5.  The federal government has shelled out $3 million to researchers at the University of California at Irvine to fund their research on video games such as World of Warcraft.  Wouldn’t we all love to have a “research job” like that?
  6. Fannie Mae is about to ask the federal government for another $4.6 billion bailout, and it will almost certainly get it.
  7. The U.S. Department of Agriculture once gave researchers at the University of New Hampshire $700,000 to study methane gas emissions from dairy cows.
  8. According to USA Today, 13 different government agencies “fund 209 different science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs — and 173 of those programs overlap with at least one other program.”
  9. A total of $615,000 was given to the University of California at Santa Cruz to digitize photos, T-shirts and concert tickets belonging to the Grateful Dead.
  10. China lends us more money than any other foreign nation, but that didn’t stop our government from spending 17.8 million dollars on social and environmental programs for China.
  11. The U.S. government once spent 2.6 million dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly.
  12. One professor at Stanford University was given $239,100 to study how Americans use the Internet to find love.
  13. The U.S. Postal Service spent $13,500 on a single dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
  14. The National Science Foundation once spent $216,000 to study whether or not politicians “gain or lose support by taking ambiguous positions”.
  15. A total of $1.8 million was spent on a “museum of neon signs” in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  16. The federal government spends 25 billion dollars a year maintaining federal buildings that are either unused or totally vacant.
  17. U.S. farmers are given a total of $2 billion each year for not farming their land.
  18. The U.S. government handed one Tennessee library $5,000 for the purpose of hosting a series of video game parties.
  19. One professor at Dartmouth University was given $137,530 to create a “recession-themed” video game entitled “Layoff”.
  20. According to the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. military spent “$998,798 shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida”.
  21. The U.S. Department of Agriculture once shelled out $30,000 to a group of farmers to develop a tourist-friendly database of farms that host guests for overnight “haycations”.
  22. The National Institutes of Health paid researchers $400,000 to find out why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when they are drunk.
  23. The National Institutes of Health also once spent $442,340 to study the behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam.
  24. The National Institutes of Health loves to spend our tax money on really bizarre things.  The NIH once spent $800,000 in “stimulus funds” to study the impact of a “genital-washing program” on men in South Africa.
  25. The U.S. government spent $100,000 on a “Celebrity Chef Fruit Promotion Road Show in Indonesia”.

Any politician, government employee, or any other ass-hat that claims that there is not a lot of irrisponsible spending that can be cut out of the federal budget is lying to you. But this shouldn’t alarm the American public since we already know that the U.S. Government thinks the people of the United States of America or too stupid to see through all the deceit. The U.S. Government has accumulated the biggest debt in the history of the world and they are adding to it at a rate of about 150 million dollars an hour. Our politicians strut around as if they are the smartest and wisest leaders in the history of the world, but the truth is that someday people will look back in horror at the decline of our once great society. The federal government needs to stop spending so much money on stupid things and needs to stop pushing our national debt to nightmarish new levels. Unfortunately, the corruption in Washington D.C. is so deep and so pervasive that it is going to be almost impossible to turn it around.

Need more to digest? In 2012 a top 10 list of ways the U.S. Government wastes money, here is a regurgitation of that insightful list of waste.

  • 1. There’s an app for that 
    So many wasteful programs, I hardly know where to begin! How about with $100,000 in prizes offered by the Department of Energy to develop an energy app that would help users track their energy usage in their home. It’s a novel idea as our energy resources are finite and the DOE has pushed both consumers and businesses to utilize the available green energy subsidies available to them. However, there’s just one slight problem with the DOE contest: Apps that do this already exist — at least five of them to be exact. Perhaps someone should invest in an app that tracks apps for the DOE?
  • 2. Alms for the rich 
    Just because you made $66 billion in net revenue doesn’t mean you won’t take a handout when one is offered… right PepsiCo.  (NYSE: PEP  ) ? According to Coburn’s report, Pepsi and Theo Muller Group are teaming up to open a yogurt manufacturing facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in New York. Unable to use the supplied municipal water in the yogurt-making process, or the $4.2 billion in cash on its balance sheet, Pepsi gladly accepted slightly more than $1.3 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce to build a new aquifer-direct water supply system, a new road leading to the plant, and to improve the parks’ wastewater capacity.
  • 3. RoboSquirrel 
    Researchers at San Diego State University and the University of California Davis spent a portion of a $325,000 National Science Foundation grant to construct a robot squirrel to answer the question of why rattlesnakes rarely attack squirrels that wag their tails. Using a taxidermied squirrel that is housed with other squirrels so as to smell realistic, and coupled with heating wires in its tail and body, researches marched RoboSquirrel into the lion’s den, or should I say snakes’ garden, and determined that a heated and wagging tail does indeed play into their defense mechanism. According to researchers, RoboSquirrel 2.0 and RoboKangaroo are in the works. As for me, I can’t wait for RobotChicken!
  • 4. From arts and crafts to World of Warcraft 
    For those of you that thought your grandparents spent the entire day quilting or quietly reading, think again. A research team in North Carolina used $1.2 million from a National Science Foundation grant to study 39 individuals, aged 60 to 77, to see how their cognitive function responded after playing Activision Blizzard‘s  (Nasdaq: ATVI  World of Warcraft for two hours every day for two straight weeks. The results showed no improvement for those who tested with high levels of cognitive function prior to the test, however some improvement was noted for those who tested with lower cognitive function. I guess we can tell Eli Lilly  (NYSE: LLY  )  to move over as we no longer will be needing solanezumab or any of its other Alzheimer’s treatments for further testing as long as we have World of Warcraft.
  • 5. Red planet pâté  
    Don’t let the small fact that NASA has absolutely no manned fleet at the moment stop you from thinking that it isn’t actively spending money on potentially fruitless programs. Take for instance the nearly $1 million spent annually on developing a so-called “Mars menu.” In order to stave off food monotony, researchers spend roughly $1 million each year to have test subjects simulate space conditions and rate the food being tested based on taste, their overall health, and the mood it puts them in. The only problem is that the first manned mission to Mars is likely two decades away at the earliest.
  • 6. Because I’m the wiz! 
    Michigan State Police, in an effort to deter drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel of a car, apportioned $10,000 in federal funds to purchase 400 talking urinal cakes from a Maryland-based company called Wizmark. The urinal cakes, when activated by a motion sensor, would encourage users at local bars to consider getting a cab if intoxicated and, of course, remind them to wash their hands! As Sen. Coburn’s report points out, for around $100 on Amazon.com  (Nasdaq: AMZN  )  Michigan State Police could have acquired breathalyzers that they could have instead passed out to local bar owners instead of the urinal cakes. When will people learn that everything is cheaper on Amazon?
  • 7. Shoot first and ask questions later 
    The Missile Defense Agency really, really likes to build things. According to Waste Book, the MDA has not once, but twice, begun the build-out of interceptor missiles without first finishing the research and testing that should have been completed prior to their construction. Not surprisingly, delays, failures, and system upgrades were needed to both generations of missiles, which have cost taxpayers at least $1 billion and caused costs on the project to soar fourfold.
  • 8. Miniature golf yields a maximum confidence boost 
    Not to be outdone by RoboSquirrel, researchers at Purdue University in Indiana used part of a $350,000 National Science Foundation grant to examine the benefit golfers might gain if they used their imagination better. Researchers placed 36 participants in front of two different-sized golf holes and used optical illusions to make them appear bigger or smaller than they actually were. The findings showed that those who putted toward the smaller hole but perceived it to be bigger were more successful than those who perceived it to be smaller than its actual size.
  • 9. Ship mates? 
    It’s a great thing that our Navy is manned by some fantastic men and women overseas, because its leaders in Washington aren’t making it easy for future generations. In late 2010, the U.S. Navy split what could amount to $37 billion in contracts to build 55 new littoral (near-shore) combat ships between two companies, Lockheed Martin  (NYSE: LMT  )  and Austal USA. While the thinking here is that two companies could build these ships twice as fast, they somehow failed to grasp that the defense systems, design, and software used on each ship would be different; meaning that crewmembers can’t simply be transferred from one ship to another without being retrained. This “boo-boo” is slated to cost taxpayers a minimum of $148 million.
  • 10. What’s the buzz about? 
    Let’s end on a strong note, like a $939,771 experiment funded by the National Institutes of Health in Michigan and Texas that tested fruit flies to discover that male fruit flies are more attracted to younger female fruit flies than older ones. According to researchers, a hormone that female fruit flies produce wanes over time, which makes male fruit flies less attracted to them despite researchers’ countless efforts to test this theory even in the dark. The scary news is that this testing may soon be expanded beyond just fruit flies.

So, there y’all go. And, I only scratched the surface here. Makes me want to look into other public information for other countries in the world. I wonder where the United States ranks in wasting taxpayer money. It’s easy to find defense budget spending but I am wondering if there is a comparative list globally on frivelless spending. For fun, visit U,S, Debt Clock to see how out of control the pending is.

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