Monthly Archives: March 2017

Another Battle in the War Against Working People: Wendy’s

The Curmudgeon always gets a kick out of entrepreneurs and corporate executives who refer to themselves as “job creators,” especially when those executives and entrepreneurs run for public office and say their expertise in creating jobs qualifies them for public office.

No one goes into business with the idea that “I’m going to create jobs.”  No, the motivating force is “I’m going to make money” – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Unfortunately for these folks, many of them find that they need to employ people to make money, but if a company that makes a million dollars with 10 employees figures out a way to make that same million with nine employees, you can bet the family dog that it’s going to show one of those 10 employees to the door.  And if they aspire to make $2 million and decide they need three more people to rise to that next level, they’ll hire three more people – but to help them make more money, not so they can “create jobs.”

Say hello to Wendy’s, the fast food giant that believes even $7.25 an hour is too much money to lavish on the people who take your order and soak your potatoes in sizzling animal fat and has hatched a plan to put the least employable among us out of work by introducing self-service ordering kiosks in, you should pardon the expression, its restaurants.  The company recently announced it will place such devices in at least 1000 of its units by the end of 2017 and more in the coming years.

So times must be tough for Wendy’s, right, if it’s going to such lengths to cut costs?

Well, not so much:  same store sales have risen for 16 straight quarters, the value of the company’s stock is up 46 percent in the last year, it raised its quarterly dividend, and it has so much money it has no use for that it’s allegedly buying back $150 million worth of its own stock.  (The Curmudgeon uses “allegedly” when it comes to the stock buyback because large corporations are notorious for announcing stock buybacks, reaping the benefits of the increase in the stock value that follows such announcements, and then failing to follow through on the actual buyback.)

wendysSo what’s the problem?  Greed is the problem:  Wendy’s is making money hand over fist, but a lot is not enough and it wants more, and if it takes putting people out on the street to do it, well, then that’s just fine with the people who run Wendy’s.

People like Todd Penegor, the president and CEO who, when he was president and CFO two years ago only made $2.7 million.

And Robert Wright, who as executive vice president and chief operating officer two years ago was paid $2.1 million.

And Scott Weisberg, who as CPO – chief petty officer? – had to skate by on a measly $1.5 million a year in 2015.

Seriously, how can these guys expect to keep their families in iPhones and private schools if Wendy’s has to pay a full-time employee $10 an hour, which amounts to $1733 a month or $20,800 a year to support a family?  Why should the families of these executives and their fellow corporate executives, and the families of their shareholders, have to sacrifice the summer place on Martha’s Vineyard or the ski lodge in Aspen so the families of their minimum wage employees can enjoy the obscene luxury of, oh, heat in their apartments in the winter?

Think about this the next time you get a hankering for some fast food – and think about satisfying that hankering somewhere else instead, someplace that doesn’t have such colossal contempt for the very working people they’re in business to serve – because you know Wendy’s doesn’t make its money serving people like Penegor, Wright, Weisberg, and their families.

 

Have the Changing Times Made This Practice Obsolete?

With the day off for President’s Day a few weeks ago, The Curmudgeon visited a branch of his bank located across the parking lot from a movie theater and noticed cars in the lot surprisingly early in the day.  The teller explained that the theater was taking advantage of kids being home from school for the day to show a few kid-friendly matinees.

kidsThis led The Curmudgeon to think back to his own childhood, when his mother would drop him and his younger brother off at the movie theater and then pick them up when the movie was over.  There were two theaters where she would do this, one near our house and one near our grandparents, and when she dropped us off she would be very clear about where we should stand after the movie let out to ensure that she could find us in the crowd of kids leaving at the same time.  The Curmudgeon is pretty sure mom was doing this by the time The Curmudgeon was 11 or 12.

And that left The Curmudgeon wondering:  do moms (or dads) still drop off 11- and 12-year-olds at movie theaters and pick them up two hours later or do they now view the world as too dangerous a place to do that anymore?  Must they now choose between skipping the movies or spending two hours suffering through entertainment not created to entertain them in way just so their kids can enjoy themselves?

The CIA Unveils the Latest in Spyware

Man Wrestles…Deer

And wins!

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that when a deer crashed through the window of a supermarket in Manchester, Pennsylvania, a customer channeled his inner Hulk Hogan, said to himself “Game on,” and decided to take on the deer as it charged through the fruit and vegetables section on its way to the bakery department.

deerOkay, so any deer that skips past the vegetables and toward the bakery is clearly The Curmudgeon’s kind of deer.

As you can see from this photo, the poor deer never stood a chance.

Eventually the Macho Man helped the deer to his feet and the deer thanked him by kicking him and knocking him down, which is only an appropriate rebuke for daring to wrestle a deer. The deer, fearing that the match might be best two falls out of three and now parched from this encounter, apparently headed off in the direction of a nearby Starbucks, no doubt in search of liquid refreshment and a quick jolt of caffeine after the unexpected resistance it encountered on its way to the crumpets and scones.

Step Aside, Kellyanne

Kellyanne Conway is now famous for, among other things, her citation of “alternative facts” as part of her objection to how news organizations reported on the size of the crowd at Comrade Trump’s inauguration.

Earlier this week, new Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney launched himself into Conway’s orbit when, objecting to how the Congressional Budget Office “scored” the Republican health care bill, declared that “I don’t believe the facts are correct.”

Seriously, that’s what he said:  “I don’t believe the facts are correct.”

What’s wrong with these people?

There’s Stephen Miller, the really scary “you will not deny” guy about whom The Curmudgeon wrote a few weeks ago.

And now there’s Mulvaney on top of Conway.  (Okay, now The Curmudgeon is trying to get the image of Mulvaney on top of Conway out of his head.)

Conway, of course, didn’t really mean “alternative facts.”  She was trying to say there were additional factors that the news organizations weren’t taking into consideration when reporting on the size of the Trump audience, but instead of saying “additional facts” or “other facts” she said, in a phrase that will live in infamy, “alternative facts.”

And this Trump spokesman managed to pull his foot out of his mouth long enough for the rest of us to see that he came to work wearing different shoes on Monday. Yikes.

And Mulvaney was trying to say that he disputed the accuracy of the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate but instead said that he didn’t believe the facts are correct.  He meant that the Congressional Budget Office’s conclusions were opinions or estimates or projections and not actually facts, but instead he said he disagreed with the facts.

Facts, of course, are facts and not subject to dispute.

Also not subject to dispute:  the people Comrade Trump is trotting out there to articulate his views are astonishingly inarticulate and apparently incapable of making their case without lodging their feet deep, deep into their mouths.

A Quick Thought About the Coming Changes in Health Care

The Curmudgeon isn’t wedded to what’s become known as “Obamacare,” but he’s also not interested in scuttling it solely for scuttling’s sake. Show him something better, even if you want to call it “Trumpcare,” and he’ll hold his nose and be happy to support it.

But he had to chuckle when he read a newspaper report last week that explained that

House Republicans scored a pre-dawn triumph Thursday in their effort to scuttle former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, but it masked deeper problems as hospitals, doctors and consumer groups mounted intensifying opposition to the GOP health care drive.

So, hospitals and doctors oppose it, huh?

Just so you know: hospitals and doctors opposed Medicare.

Hospitals and doctors opposed Medicaid.

Hospitals and doctors decide what they support or oppose based on THEIR interests, mostly their personal and financial interests, and not on YOUR interests or those of the average consumer.

So the idea that hospitals and doctors oppose what Congress is currently considering should carry no weight – zero, zilch, nada – when you look at the plan and consider whether YOU should support it.

A Portrait of Paranoia

For a frightening look at one of the inmates running the asylum, The Curmudgeon presents to you Mike Kelly, a member of the United States Congress and possible candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.

Is this guy nuts or what?  See for yourself here.

Rescinding Voting Rights

That wasn’t necessarily the intention – although The Curmudgeon (and others) might reasonably argue otherwise – but that was certainly the result when the Supreme Court in 2013 overturned a provision in the Voting Rights Act that required certain states with a history of infringing on the voting rights of minorities to run any proposed changes in their election laws by the U.S. Justice Department to ensure that those proposed changes weren’t discriminatory.  The Justice Department had long had the authority to reject any such changes it felt were discriminatory and it exercised that authority more than 700 times just between 1982 and 2006.

The very (mostly) southern states that bristled under the Justice Department’s watchful eye for more than 40 years didn’t waste any time getting down to the business of making it harder for poor people, and people of color, to vote, as the November/December 2016 edition of the magazine Mother Jones explained.

After the 5-4 Shelby decision, states passed a torrent of new voting restrictions that overwhelmingly affected minorities. On the day the decision was handed down, Texas announced that the only two forms of state voter identification it would accept were a driver’s license or a gun license—a measure the DOJ had previously blocked. Georgia moved some municipal elections in predominantly minority areas from November to May, depressing turnout by nearly 20 percent in one instance. Alabama implemented a strict voter ID law—and then shut down driver’s license offices in every county where more than 75 percent of voters were African American. Perhaps the most blatant was North Carolina’s omnibus voting law. Passed shortly after the Shelby decision, the law imposed strict ID requirements, limited the registration window, and dramatically cut early voting during times traditionally used by African Americans. 

Just like before, it's 1954 once more

Just like before, it’s 1954 once more

The actions of some of these states have been so outrageous that lower courts have, in a few cases, ignored the Supreme Court’s decision and ruled some of the states’ new policies unconstitutional – even courts in states like North Carolina and Texas.

Think about it:  how bad does a law infringing on voting rights have to be for judges in North Carolina and Texas – Texas! – to throw them out?

Pretty damn bad, but then, that’s what happens when the Supreme Court, led by John Roberts, who has long had his sights set on overturning the protection poor and minority voters enjoyed in southern states – reaches the utterly ridiculous conclusion that racism is gone in the south and it’s time to free southern states to regulate their own elections without federal oversight.

And even with the resistance from a few brave southern courts, it’s probably going to get even worse now that the Justice Department is being led by a man whom Congress rejected for the federal bench 30 years ago because it decided he was too racist to be a judge.

Separated at Birth?

Legally Blonde cutie Reese Witherspoon and the equally adorable Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update” co-anchor Colin Jost.

An Unbelievably Immature Approach

There’s good reason to be skeptical about the proposal Republicans have put forth to replace Obamacare, but does anyone think it was in any way constructive for Democrats in Congress to force a committee vote on an amendment to change the name of the Republican proposal from the American Health Care Act to the “Republican Pay More For Less Care Act”?

If they’re going to act that way, then why don’t Democrats just stand up en masse, stick out their tongues at their Republican colleagues, and shout in unison “Na na na na na na”?

Because doing so would be no less childish than the stunt about changing the bill’s name.

House Democrats need to grow up and take this seriously.  The health care of millions is at stake and they’re playing games.  No wonder so many voters are fed up with them.