A local business has been called out on social media after towing the line of saying "Nobody wants to work," drawing cards to pick which factors they want to blame others with, without looking inward at their own problems. The article reads:
"As businesses continue to deal with staffing shortages, many are offering more money per hour in hopes of finding and retaining the much-needed help. In Medford, the beloved Donut Country is offering $17 per hour after three or four weeks of training in hopes of doing just that.
Jamie Stewart, a longtime employee for Donut Country and the daughter-in-law to owner Susan Stewart, explained the business has always offered more than what the state’s current minimum wage does, but they have never seen a lack of candidates since pandemic restrictions eased in the beginning of 2021.”
Sometimes very small, family owned and operated businesses can be uncomfortable to work for. Employee relatives can get away with a lot more bad behaviors and also receive unfair preferential treatment. Sometimes there’s just some kind of culture established within the family that leaves you feeling on the outs all the time.
Continuing with the article:
“Even with the small business offering $17 an hour, Stewart said it has been a challenge to find reliable help. 'Usually, we would get 70 plus applications per one position that we would have available. Now I have had a fryer position open for four or five months now and I have maybe got a handful of people,’ Stewart said.
She said there have been several times where people go through the hiring process, accept the position, and start working, but leave after only a few hours on the job.’
Stewart said she has tried several different avenues to advertising the open positions, including on social media and in one of the most seen locations, Donut Country’s drive-thru.
‘Since a lot of us are family, some us do come in six to seven days a week, because we want to keep business going and help,’ Stewart said.”
Now I’ll get to the community responses:
Leslie Peterson commented: “Interestingly, I actually applied here after I lost my job in healthcare. I applied for all kinds of things. Never got a call back.
I don’t know if Leslie’s qualifications were lacking somehow, but several other people also commented about not hearing anything back from this company after applying. Shayna Renae Rossi also said, “Many people on this threat have applied with 0 callback. Many I know in person have applied with no call back. Apparently, it's not a joy to work there so they keep losing people.” Yikes.
Merrylee Kruger fed into the “nobody wants to work” narrative saying, “The going wage is pretty much the same at fast food and everywhere. Let's face it. People don't want to work (sorry if this offends some of you out there).”
Thomas Richard tagged along on this, adding, “It’s not offending if it’s true. I don’t work fast food anymore, but I see ‘now hiring’ signs all the time at fast food places and the wages they offer. I never thought I would see the day anytime soon where fast food employees could make a wage like that.”
Susan Cullop also added, “You’re right. What would happen if they were told to get a job or no more benefit?”
I shake my head at this attitude, but I used to think that way too. It’s cruel and ignorant. People out there really think that other people are getting paid by the government just because they don't want to work as if we already have universal basic income.
Grayson Donnahue offered some insight:
“Many don’t want to give up HUD housing, Oregon Health Plan, Oregon Trail Card, and ACCESS pays people’s utility bills.” But another user clarified that Access only pays utilities like 1 or a few times. They don’t just keep paying it to the same family indefinitely.
So people get benefits because they are too poor and need them survive, but it’s not a great quality of life and, as far as I know, there are a lot of steps to qualify and keep these benefits. It becomes a poverty trap where people really can’t earn more because the higher earnings would disqualify benefits, but not be enough to pay their bills. It’s a big problem, but I find it offensive to just assume it’s always because people don’t want to work. Maybe some fringe cases, sure, but not the common attitude.
Alright, I’ll start sharing the comments where community members started picking apart what’s really going on.
Juanita Stovall: “Fry donuts for $17, Cook at Panda for $18-20 as advertised locally, or starting pay at bank...$22 no food flipping. The truth of the matter is folks can't afford the 14% rent rate cap increase at any of those rates.”
Bryce Flory mentioned that “Donut Country has had hiring issues WAY before the pandemic. They would often have job listings on Craigslist. They have a high turnover rate which makes you think after a while that it’s not just the employees’ fault. Seventeen dollars is great but they have to call people back who have applied and figure out how to make it a better work environment so they can keep employees longer than a few months.
Cheyenne Riggs added: “Going to be hard to find someone to work for $17 bucks an hour when others are paying $20-$24 an hour. Just saying. If it's been 5 months trying to find someone for this position, I would look within the company and see what they're lacking.”
Julia Bott commented: “What we are willing to pay for a donut is part of this equation.”
This was an interesting comment because I can understand how you can only raise the pay offered to donut shop employees so much before you’d have to raise the cost of the donuts you sell, and I know people are only willing to pay so much for a donut before it’s not worth it.
Josh Ridders touched on this a little more too adding, “There is no such thing as a living wage for a minimal skill set job. The only thing raising base wages accomplishes is making everyone that much poorer…you would think that was pretty evident...”
My response: Do the business owners live on the earnings of this shop? I assume so. In that case there IS a living wage for minimal skillset if the “minimal skillset” employees end up running the shop. The owners had the capital to open shop, but apparently actually running the shop only requires a minimal skillset if they pay low or minimum wages. Looks like they need to take a pay cut by hiring someone at higher wages if they’re not in there doing it themselves, but I don’t know. I don’t know all the facts.
I will end with Susan Farber’s comment: “When I was in my college and early twenties I rode a bike, lived with roommates (sometimes twin beds in one room to cut costs), worked at restaurants to get a shift meal for free, ate cereal for breakfast ‘til I worked up the ladder in management - to afford a reliable used car. Paid bills on time to establish good credit so a bank would loan me $600 when my engine blew up and required a rebuilt engine in my VW Bug. It takes sacrifice & responsibility.”
Good for you Susan. Hard work and sacrifices are often important to investing in improving your life later, but your profile picture looks like you also went to college when it only cost like 300 bucks. Please don’t criticize the habits of younger generations when you don’t know the economic differences faced today.
There are dozens and dozens of stories of this out there. Business owners and other people in general love to complain and blame any reason they can think of for people not wanting to work, but never look inward or apply some critical thinking to figure out what the real problems are.
I read stories like these sometimes because I'm interested in stories of people that found financial success in unusual ways, but many times these stories are dull, leaving out important facts and details, or they're boring because there's nothing that unusual. Sometimes they are dull and boring because they're missing some info that would be nice to know and because there's nothing that extraordinary.
In this one, the successful side hustle of this person that made her a millionaire before turning 30 is...photography. Katelyn Alsop didn't have an interest in or take any classes on photography through high school or college but was still "artistic and entrepreneurial." She credits her start to one of her friends in college suggesting they go take some pictures of students around campus together, so 6 months later she starts a business, running it out of her dorm, and 8 years later she all the sudden was making a million dollars in profit!? "Sweet mother of goose, Jack!" How did this happen?!
I've known many, and I mean MANY, wannabe photographers. It's usually just a girl with a camera that knows some minimal editing software. For a time I thought every 3rd girl I met claimed to be some kind of aspiring photographer with a photography business, but when they offered to take my pictures they're like, "What do you want? Where should I stand? Ok say, 'cheese.'" Snap, minor edits, done. Ok, so you're not a photographer, you're just a girl with a camera! I met REAL photographers later that knew how to do proper posing, use of lighting and background, focus centering, and great, clean editing. The REAL photographers knew what we wanted, but they knew how to really make the magic happen. They direct US, not us directing the photographer on how to do their job to make us look good, because I don't know that stuff. The difference was huge. So reading this story, I was a little offended that someone with no real training and an overwhelmingly common side hustle, somehow became a millionaire doing this!?
Ok, so how? "In Alsop's first year of business, she was still a full-time college student, but she managed to spend at least 40 hours per week growing her photography side hustle: driving to shoots, editing photos and sharing the finished albums on her blog." Who are her clients?! Who's paying some random girl with no prior background to do professional photos and how many did she have right off the bat to be spending a full 40-hours a week on this?
The article gives some attention to her blog, which became a portfolio source as well as a great marketing tool apparently. THAT's what I'm more interested in now. So she quickly got busier and was able to grow and charge more for her services, probably more selective on clients too, but the real money making business came from utilizing her blog and followers to start "selling online technical courses for photographers on her website in 2015. There are tutorials on editing, posing and lighting techniques, as well as business courses, like how to market your photography business and build an effective personal brand."
"Alsop credits much of her success to the people she's surrounded herself with since starting her side hustle: college roommates who cheered her on when she cashed her first paycheck, her family and friends within the industry."
This makes me wonder what real influence her friends and family had. Were they her first paying customers that had other connections to paying clients? Or were they only just moral support like she leads on and this business building was a miraculous lucky success? Because it was so successful, her husband quit his job (only 5 years after she started her thing in college) to help her run her business because it was already so successful, and she now has several other relatives working for her as well. Wow. This photography gig is wildly profitable!
The reason I am curious about family involvement is because family money, connections, and expertise has a huge influence behind the curtain in MANY cases. For example, I read a story about an 18-year-old in my local area that was still finishing high school, but started a company, "Reselling Secrets," which was making $100,000 PER MONTH reselling shoes! What!? Article link. He did credit his entrepreneur skills to his parents, but the article never mentioned that his parents were a successful and wealthy artist and marketer that likely had a big hand in helping to start and blow up this operation. It's still a great story about a side hustle making it big, but I want to see behind the curtains more and know what EXACTLY people did to blow up and make it big. How'd you get more customers/clients and how'd you do your marketing? These articles usually just leave it at generic “they worked hard and stayed dedicated.” There’s NO INFO in that.
So in 2022, "Katelyn James Photography brought in about $240,000 per month in revenue. A majority of that, roughly $230,000, is passive income from her online courses and trainings. The rest is from her photography business: Alsop typically shoots four weddings per year, charging at least $12,000 per event."
Ok. End of story. I am surprised that the boring photography business just exploded into making millions when there are millions of "photographers" out there. I would be interested in a deep dive dissection of what all took place to make this happen.
I have a small example of my own with my wife's experience. She works as a self-employed esthetician and was VERY LUCKY to be able to share a booth with someone else for free. There ended up being some bad drama with that, but that’s for another time to tell. She only got a few clients in her first year through friends and word of mouth. It was slow. She didn't have to go in and work very much. We also spent a ton of money to create a presence online and on ads with google, facebook/instagram, yelp, and some local sponsorships. We tweaked them a few times to be more effective, but we were blowing money on ads and not getting enough hits out of them.
At the end of the year, she had to leave and rent a space at a new location. This new location had much younger partners that also had a strong number of followers for their crafts. They referred clients to my wife because it wasn't the type of work they did themselves, but now they shared a space together and referred to each other. My wife's first month at this new place was SLAMMED! She saw her own following grow profoundly. People following the other girls were referred to her, they liked her personality and work portfolio, so they started referencing her to their circles as well. Word of mouth spread and my wife's online following grew. It's very difficult to build up a following on your own, especially if you're in a new area without a lot of friends and family. No prior starting connections. This is why I think it's worth having these articles dig a little deeper to help people understand how they REALLY made it happen, so we all can have a better chance at making a better living.
The question is asked, "How is the vast income disparity between business employees and business owners/executives not exploitation? There would be no business without the owners founding, but there would also be no thriving business if there weren't employees working the business."
People are frustrated with the cost of living, not making enough money, and offended by growing income inequality. Let's look at some responses of what people have to say about this subject, and I'll add my commentary.
1) First and foremost, many argue that it's not considered exploitation simply because you agreed to it. Nobody is being FORCED to work at whichever job or location you're frustrated with. However, there is a point I will highlight at the end where just because someone chooses a better deal in a job, doesn't mean they're not being exploited when the vast income difference and company's ability to pay is considered. You agreed to the better deal, even though the fairest deal is hidden under the table during this agreement and deal making.
People whine that it's not voluntary because you are forced to work or starve. I think this is nonsense and I don't understand how people make sense of it. Unless you are very rich to where your investments fully fund your living (which I understand people not liking this concept), you have to work SOMETHING to survive. You have to either work to build your own shelter and grow and raise your own food or work for someone that will give you money to buy those necessities.
The voluntary aspect isn't the biological needs, it's the fact that you can choose which job you work and where you live. Obviously, there are situations that can be discussed on why some people have less choice and ability to move, and that's worth a conversation, but the reality is that we still have that voluntary aspect and can increase our own market value which should lead to better jobs.
Here's a response I read online:
"If you think you're being exploited, get a different job or start your own company. If you don't have the skills to do so, acquire them.
I think this is a good response that covers all the common tropes, but let's talk about why people are upset about their situation and don't just "get a better job."
2) There's only so much someone can do. Not everyone is cut out to be a rich professional. Maybe it's too late for big career changes. Many think it's offensive to just say, "Get a better job" because it ignores the fact that this is hard to do and has a lot of barriers to make happen. Here's one response to this that I liked:
"Sure, let me just jump to a $150K salary job. Why doesn't everyone do this? Increase your market value, sure, but doing so requires a lot of time and money invested, which people don't have. These decisions are important in your early 20s when you're deciding on and building towards a career path. If you don't make it then, you are royally screwed, and this attitude insinuates that everyone DESERVES to suffer. People agree to the best they can get, and the best isn't good enough. There is a limited amount of high paying jobs. The barrier to entry is too great for the rest."
So why aren't there better alternatives? Why do people feel stuck like there is no choice? I'm going to leave this open for participants to weigh in, but I'll start with my own experience. I've thought often about changing careers to make more money, but everything I look at requires more education and time to dedicate starting out. I can't dedicate to full-time education because I have a family I still need to support. I have to keep working my current jobs. Note I said jobs with an "s." Suppose I go through with it and finish the required educational background. I now get to compete for jobs with people that have already been in the industry for years, or take a pay cut from where I’m currently at to start over in a new industry with no experience. Yikes! Yeah, there's some success stories of people that made it and that's great, but what about the people that didn't? What's their story?
You can work in the same general industry and still hop jobs doing the similar type of work, but in most cases you'll eventually be capped out unless you get superior title changes. In my personal example, I've used this to get raises and keep my options open, but I reach a cap. Nobody would be willing to pay much more than where I was for the type of work I was doing, but I also lacked the knowledge and qualifications to get a superior title position/responsibilities. That required time to get that.
So what's holding you back? Why aren’t you out there getting a better job; or maybe you did? Tell us about it!
3) "Start your own business" is the other common retort for this income disparity or low wage complaints.
Starting a business takes a tremendous amount of costs. This isn't realistic to say to people and I find it disingenuous. Even low-cost startups take a lot of time and A LOT of marketing to make it profitable enough to be better than just working a job somewhere else, unless you have some serious connections to hook you up with clients/customers. This is a distraction from the general discussion about income inequality and it sounds like, "Oh, you have a problem with something happening on Earth? Why don't you just move to Mars and do it better there than?" Come on.
4) Business owners should be given some credit when they have built success stories and people need to understand this side too. Here's where I'll go into why owners feel justified in taking a lot of the business income.
Business owners do all the work and carry the risk to set this up. Employees just come in for the job with the knowledge/skills needed for the position. Now, I welcome criticism to this list and those that wish to add to it to make sure we're all in understanding, but the above list really seems to only apply to new and small business owners. A generation later, or once the business is sold to an investor, this concept feels lost. The machine was already built, the original founder retired with their bag of money, and now the machine runs itself with employees at the helm and managers making adjustments as needed.
Corporate executives typically don't have this type of personal connection to the business. They're just appointed or hired for that management role. The children or relatives of original business owners have a little more connection, but it also usually isn't their work and risk on the line; yet, these parties still consistently take far more share of the earned profits for themselves and proponents of the income inequality argument would say they are starving out and robbing the poor and middle class.
I want to end with another interesting example I pulled from online:
"Let’s say you paint houses on your own and you charge $15 an hour. A “capitalist” comes along and says, “Work for me and I’ll pay you $20 per hour to paint houses.” You sign on and he brings you to paint your first house in a rich neighborhood. You’re the only one working the job. You find out that he’s well known and has word of mouth recommendations in this rich neighborhood and is able to charge them $200 per hour. He doesn’t do any painting; all he does is shake hands with rich people who trust him and have them sign the dotted line.
I can see how exploitation can still be found in this example. Again, the salesman business owner with connections can't paint all the houses himself, but the painter employee doesn't have those connections. Maybe they do a good job and would be hard to replace for the business to keep its integrity. The painting business needs this partnership, but one partner is taking in wildly more in income.
The very definition of exploitation is to use someone unfairly and benefiting from their work. Just because the painter is offered a little bit better deal, shouldn't mean they're not being exploited when the vast difference in pay and ability to pay is considered. The employment is agreed to, but there aren't many or any alternatives because market forces don't trend that way. Why pay more for painters when the average market value of painters in this example is $17.50/hr, even though the capacity is much higher, up to $100/hr if earnings split 50/50 between painter and manager? Maybe $60/hr if it's split 70/30.
There isn’t any mention of overhead costs in this example and I understand there is a difference between the business revenue and business profit. Maybe the owner pays $150 in business expenses like supplies and advertising, then he only keeps $30/hr. and pays the painter the remaining $20/hr. I think that's a fair deal struck then.
The biggest question underlying this concept is how to overcome the market forces to raise wages. As I just said in my example, the market wages for a painter is low compared to what companies are capable of in this case. They can get away with paying so low because they’ll keep finding capable people to agree to work for those wages and provide the quality of service required. In the post-COVID economy, many businesses struggled to hire. People were no longer willing to put up with low wages and mistreatment by employers. The “Nobody wants to work” phrase became popular. I see this as an example of people finally able to start pushing for higher wages. I also think unions can be that powerful bargaining tool for higher wages as well.
In the end, I think we'd be better off as a society and have a stronger economy if a larger share of the vast profits companies pull in was distributed to more employees as higher pay or bonuses instead of concentrating income to the top and with stock buybacks. I understand the difference between revenues and profit. Costs pay for all the overhead, investment, and WAGES. WAGES can still be different among employees for different roles, but PROFIT should be distributed and shared more fairly among all, but I don't know if there's a way to enforce this. If the boss takes all the profit themself and counts is as their own wages, then *shrug* I'm not sure how to reconcile that, but I wish they wouldn't.
So if you complain about the income inequality with income disparity between employees and employers being a problem, what are your ideas for legislation or other means that would take corrective action to the problem?
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