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pages: 304 words: 96,930

Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture by Taylor Clark


Berlin Wall, commoditize, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, deskilling, Edmond Halley, fear of failure, Honoré de Balzac, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, McJob, McMansion, Naomi Klein, Ray Oldenburg, Ronald Reagan, The Great Good Place, trade route

That word was McJob. Defined as “a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement,” the slang term had been in common use for more than a decade. But by the time the Merriam-Webster editors elected to legitimize the term, the proliferation of McJobs had become a national issue, bemoaned in bestsellers like Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation; the general contention was that they were dehumanizing, tedious, dead-end posts that did no favors to the tens of millions of people who worked them. Realizing it had to protest or risk admitting its culpability in the trend, McDonald’s executives lashed out at Merriam-Webster, calling the inclusion a “slap in the face” to the nation’s service workers and claiming that “a more appropriate definition of a ‘McJob’ might be ‘teaches responsibility.’ ” (In the 1991 novel Generation X, Douglas Coupland quipped that a McJob is “frequently considered a satisfying career choice by those who have never held one.”)

Realizing it had to protest or risk admitting its culpability in the trend, McDonald’s executives lashed out at Merriam-Webster, calling the inclusion a “slap in the face” to the nation’s service workers and claiming that “a more appropriate definition of a ‘McJob’ might be ‘teaches responsibility.’ ” (In the 1991 novel Generation X, Douglas Coupland quipped that a McJob is “frequently considered a satisfying career choice by those who have never held one.”) The editors, apparently convinced that the companies that created the McJobs were the ones doing the face slapping, kept the word. While the Starbucks baristas of times past needed considerable coffee expertise to perform their work, today’s company baristas must carry out a series of tasks that are as simple and deskilled as possible; the chain emphasizes speed and efficiency above all else. “It is absolutely mindless labor,” one former Starbucks employee told me. “They’ve made it so that anyone can do it.” In other words, the position is now a textbook McJob. As if to underline this point, one source recently overheard a disgruntled barista at a Manhattan Starbucks complaining to a coworker, “You know, we’re just glorified McDonald’s employees.”

As if to underline this point, one source recently overheard a disgruntled barista at a Manhattan Starbucks complaining to a coworker, “You know, we’re just glorified McDonald’s employees.” Calling the post a McJob in no way implies that Starbucks baristas ought to resign themselves to feeling ill-treated and disposable or that they don’t deserve union protection. But one unavoidable fact makes unions at Starbucks all but impossible: as long as the work remains so unfulfilling, very few people will want to keep the job for long, no matter what Schultz says to keep them inspired. Recent events bear this point out. As it turns out, the Wobblies’ New York crusade actually wasn’t the first time baristas moved to unionize under Schultz. In 1996, 116 Starbucks employees from ten stores in British Columbia joined the Canadian Auto Workers Union and succeeded in negotiating several concessions from the company, like higher wages and more rights for long-tenured workers.

pages: 236 words: 67,953

Brave New World of Work by Ulrich Beck


affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, full employment, future of work, Gunnar Myrdal, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, job automation, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, McJob, means of production, mini-job, postnationalism / post nation state, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, working poor, working-age population, zero-sum game

Besides, their objective is much more likely to be the moulding of a life of one's own than conquest of the world market. If it is successful, so much the better. But in case of doubt, a badly paid service job may also be accepted as a meaningful part of an individual's history of paid work. Such a history would then, in the nature of things, be full of breaks and contradictions; education would be interrupted and resumed, McJobs would often rank equally with starting up in a business of one's own, and everything would be woven together into a quite individual web of activities and employ-ment situations. One thing, however, is common to all these life-constructions: they lie outside the classical employee's biography, outside union agreements and statutory salary scales, outside collective bargaining and home mortgage contracts.32 And they are the basis for a precarious new culture of independence: ‘business men and women in their own affairs’.

An ill person is an anti-capitalist and a nuisance to the company. A very ill person is a terrorist and a menace to jobs. A very very ill person abuses the social safety-net and the employer's goodwill. To continue paying wages during sickness leads to socialism. It has to stop! … Since we became younger, we have been more productive. Hardly a single one of us does not have the strength for five McJobs! Everyone delivers five newspapers at five in the morning, then takes five dogs for a walk, then fries burgers for half the day, then helps out for the other half in a health-food shop or a dry-cleaner's, and finally goes to work in a bar for the evening. The service society does indeed keep us all youthful. Anyone who is not flexible and does not have four legs has simply not understood the dollar sign of the age.

Initially conceived as a temporary measure, this provides the legal basis for deregulation of the labour market (fixed-term contracts, job-sharing, labour available on call, casual labour), and hence for the individualization of paid work. The downsizing of both skilled and unskilled labour also takes place on the basis of the ‘50/50’ rule in the contemporary US economy, according to which people over 50 years of age and earning less than $50,000 a year are the first to be hit when jobs are divided or eliminated. McJobs What does it actually mean when someone earns so little that two or more jobs are needed to make a living? Ursula Münch has a long day ahead of her: two jobs (one for eight hours, one for two); four bus journeys, involving twelve transfers and a total of three hours' travel; plus shopping, cleaning and cooking for the children. She is always in a hurry, and usually ends up running to the bus stop.

pages: 454 words: 122,612

In-N-Out Burger by Stacy Perman


anti-communist, British Empire, commoditize, corporate raider, El Camino Real, estate planning, forensic accounting, Haight Ashbury, Maui Hawaii, McJob, McMansion, new economy, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Upton Sinclair

After that, the numbers decrease substantially: 53 percent remain one year, 25 percent stay two years, and only 12 percent remain three years or longer. In the case of In-N-Out Burger, its managers maintained an average tenure of fourteen years, while its part-time associates remained, on average, two years. The result was a corporate culture operating in stark contrast to the competition’s systems of burger flippers and vat fryers, floor moppers and cashiers who put on their paper hats and grease-stained aprons in what society calls McJobs and economists refer to as the requisite churn of capitalism. It was a place where people genuinely enjoyed getting up in the morning and going to work. Rich explained it this way: “We try and maintain the highest quality level possible, and to do that you need good training and good people. That’s why we pay the highest wages in the industry.” He added, “It means we tend to keep our employees longer than at other places, and the reduced turnover helps us maintain consistency in our products.”

Southern California Country, an Island in the Land. New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1946. Mariani, John. America Eats Out: An Illustrated History of Restaurants, Taverns, Coffee Shops, Speakeasies, and Other Establishments that Have Fed Us for 350 Years. New York: Morrow, 1991. Moon, Youngme, et al. “In-N-Out Burger,” Case Study 9–503–096. Harvard Business Review, June 30, 2003. Newman, Jerry. My Secret Life on the McJob: Lessons from Behind the Counter Guaranteed to Supersize Any Management Style. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. Pinheiro, Aileen, comp. The Heritage of Baldwin Park, 2 vols. Dallas, Tex.: Taylor Publishing Co., 1981; Covina, Ca.: Nielson Press Inc., 1999. Roderick, Kevin. The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Times Books, 2001. Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal.

See drag racing Hot Rod magazine, 77 hot rods, Guy and Rich’s love of, 50, 122 Howard, Margaret, memories of In-N-Out, 43 How to Win Friends and Influence People, 81 Hungerford, Analisa, memories of Johnie’s Broiler, 50-51 Igloo Drive-In, 40 implosion, small companies and, 285–86 In & Go, 253–54 Initial Public Offering (IPO), 245, 285 denying rumor of, 128–29, 189 for fast-food giants, 99 wish list, 7 In-N-Out Burger All Stars and, 4 corporate culture v. McJobs, 140 cost-effectiveness and high volume, 47 as cultural institution, 13–14 fortieth anniversary, 165, 166 mystique of, 92, 146–48, 168–69, 287 In-N-Out Burger Foundation, 205 In-N-Out Burger logo, 2, 13, 121, 288 as advertising, 149 on store in Westwood, 224–25 In-N-Out Burger University, 133–36, 172 In-N-Out Urge, 150 innovation, 40–42 double drive-through, 62–63 open kitchen, 45 Insta-Burger-King.

pages: 244 words: 70,369

Tough Sh*t: Life Advice From a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good by Kevin Smith


glass ceiling, McJob, Saturday Night Live, short selling, zero-sum game

I entered the dream factory in 1994, and by Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back in 2001, I was making movies about making movies. I was eating my own tail. There’s a lot of tail-eating going on in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, since it’s really just the story of how we made Clerks, projected through a wet-dream prism, with Scott Mosier conveniently recast as a girl I fuck on camera in the back room of a McJob and fall in love with by the final reel. I tried to capitalize on someone else’s success and forgot what got me invited to the party in the first place: the fact that my shit used to be different. Suddenly, I felt dirty, realizing I’d gone into career-management mode, just treading water, not saying anything new. I was making movies for the sake of making movies, saying funny shit, but nothing new.

The Economic Singularity: Artificial intelligence and the death of capitalism by Calum Chace


3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk,, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, ImageNet competition, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lifelogging, lump of labour, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Milgram experiment, Narrative Science, natural language processing, new economy, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, post scarcity, post-industrial society, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, working-age population, Y Combinator, young professional

Cattle are entirely content to be milked by robots, so the declining population of farm workers no longer has to get up before daybreak every day. 4. Retail. The shift towards purchasing goods and services online continues, and there is growing automation within shops. In some supermarkets, shoppers no longer have to unload and re-load their trolleys: the goods are scanned while still inside their baskets. Fewer attendants are required in the checkout area. In fast food outlets, so-called “McJobs” are disappearing as burgers and sandwiches are assembled and presented to customers without being handled by a human. 5. Construction. Although some developers are experimenting with pre-fabricated units, most of the cost of a construction project is generated by the variability of conditions on-site, including the foundations. Robots which can handle this unpredictability are still too expensive to replace human construction workers.

pages: 364 words: 104,697

Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? by Thomas Geoghegan


Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, collective bargaining, corporate governance, cross-subsidies, dark matter, David Brooks, declining real wages, deindustrialization, ending welfare as we know it, facts on the ground, Gini coefficient, haute cuisine, income inequality, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, McJob, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, pensions crisis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, purchasing power parity, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, union organizing, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce

Now, the surprising thing is that the hunter/nomad societies had a better diet, a higher quality of life, and the farmer societies had it worse. So why did people move from the hunter/nomad model to the farmer? Simple: the farmer model could sustain a larger population, though at a lower standard of living. Unlike the hunter/nomad model, which produced high-skilled “hunter” jobs but not enough of them, the agrarian model produced a lot of low-skilled jobs, jobs, jobs, or what some would now call “McJobs.” In a sense, while the higher-skilled hunter model led to a better way of life, the farmer model was better at—well, giving people work to do but not with very high rewards. That seemed to echo the U.S./Europe debate. The European model, like the hunter model, may produce better types of jobs, but the U.S. model, like the farmer model, could produce far more jobs. As a result, it could support more people, though some would have a lower standard of living.

pages: 484 words: 104,873

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford


3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, debt deflation, deskilling, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, strong AI, Stuxnet, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, very high income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce

In December 2013, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked “combined food preparation and serving workers,” a category that excludes waiters and waitresses in full-service restaurants, as one of the top employment sectors in terms of the number of job openings projected over the course of the decade leading up to 2022—with nearly half a million new jobs and another million openings to replace workers who leave the industry.16 In the wake of the Great Recession, however, the rules that used to apply to fast food employment are changing rapidly. In 2011, McDonald’s launched a high-profile initiative to hire 50,000 new workers in a single day and received over a million applications—a ratio that made landing a McJob more of a statistical long shot than getting accepted at Harvard. While fast food employment was once dominated by young people looking for a part-time income while in school, the industry now employs far more mature workers who rely on the jobs as their primary income. Nearly 90 percent of fast food workers are twenty or older, and the average age is thirty-five.17 Many of these older workers have to support families—a nearly impossible task at a median wage of just $8.69 per hour.

pages: 261 words: 86,905

How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say--And What It Really Means by John Lanchester


asset allocation, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, disintermediation, double entry bookkeeping,, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, forward guidance, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, high net worth, High speed trading, hindsight bias, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kodak vs Instagram, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, loss aversion, margin call, McJob, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Nikolai Kondratiev, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, working poor, yield curve

Australia 3. USA 4. Netherlands 5. Germany 6. New Zealand 7. Ireland 8. Sweden 9. Switzerland 10. Japan 11. Canada 12. South Korea The bottom ten, counting down to number 168, are all in sub-Saharan Africa: 159. Burundi 160. Guinea 161. Central African Republic 162. Eritrea 163. Mali 164. Burkina Faso 165. Chad 166. Mozambique 167. Democratic Republic of Congo 168. Niger McJobs Low-pay, low-status, low-security, low-prospects jobs of the sort done by workers in McDonald’s—hence the name. mean and median The mean is the average: for any group, you add whatever it is you’re measuring together, divide it by the number of people in the group, and that’s the mean. The median is the person in the middle, with 50 percent above and 50 percent below. When the mean goes up and the median stays still, that is a sign of rising inequality.

words: 49,604

The Weightless World: Strategies for Managing the Digital Economy by Diane Coyle


barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, clean water, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, cross-subsidies, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, financial deregulation, full employment, George Santayana, global village, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, lump of labour, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, McJob, microcredit, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, night-watchman state, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, pension reform, pensions crisis, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, two tier labour market, very high income, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, working-age population

It was the private sector that was creating work, about two-fifths in services. The vast majority of the new jobs were full time, it said. And, taking aim at that joke, the report said the share of workers holding multiple jobs had remained roughly constant. Joseph Stiglitz, the economist then in charge of the CEA, drew two conclusions. One, that it was a myth that most of the new jobs the economy was creating were so-called ‘McJobs’ — that is, typical of hamburger-flipping jobs in security, conditions and pay. Two, that the government needs to equip people with ‘security of employability’ rather than security of employment. In other words, they needed the kind of education, training and attitudes that would allow them to find other work quickly if unemployment befell. The Stiglitz report fell on a lot of deaf ears. It could not overcome the Fear of Flexibility 109 widespread view that new jobs are not as good as old Jobs.

pages: 513 words: 141,963

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari


Airbnb, centre right, failed state, glass ceiling, illegal immigration, mass incarceration, McJob, moral panic, Naomi Klein, placebo effect, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, Steven Pinker, traveling salesman, War on Poverty

They weren’t altering their mental states in any physical sense—but they carried on with the junkie behavior, injecting empty powders into their arms. Why? Bruce realizes that in all his months and years interviewing addicts about their lives, they had been telling him the answer all along. “People explained over and over before I got it,” Bruce tells me. Before they became junkies, these young people were sitting in a room alone, cut off from meaning. Most of them could hope at best for a McJob with a shrinking minimum wage—a lifelong burger-flip punctuated by watching TV and scrimping for minor consumer objects. “My job was basically to say—why don’t you stop taking drugs?” Bruce says. “And one guy explained to me very beautifully. He said, ‘Well, think about that for a minute. What would I do if I stopped taking drugs? Maybe I could get myself a job as a janitor or something like that.’ ” Compare that, he said, to “what I’m doing right now, which is really exciting.