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Gary Wolfram: Minimum wage means you have to do your own menial labor

by: Eric B.

Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:25:40 PM EDT


Update! ... Apologies for unfairy maligning Lenawee County, where I actually once lived for six months. For some reason, I had it in me that Wolfram was an Adrian College guy, which means I maligned Adrian College mentally. Actually, it was all Hillsdale County, where a very long time ago I had friends and a girlfriend. I think that might also be the home county to the Devil's Lake Drive-In, the Christian drive-in whose biggest annual event was the screening of the End Times film trilogy.

Very recently, Gary Wolfram drove from one part of Lenawee Hillsdale County to another part of Lenawee Hillsdale County. As the drive progressed, he became increasingly enraged that the pump wouldn't take his credit card, and it appaently placed a great deal of strain on the relationship he has with his wife and child. The culprit? Minimum Rage.

Finally, I was able to get gas at a third station (by this time my wife and son were threatening to walk the rest of the way home).  Now this is not a story of stubbornness in the face of obstacles, but a story of minimum wage.

Why was I struggling to pump my own gas in below -freezing temperatures, rather than be able to have an attendant pump the gas, ask me for my discount card and credit card and make sure everything went smoothly?  Because those jobs don’t exist anymore due to minimum wage.

The minimum wage, you see, has taken your life of leisure and turned it into a flaming Hell on Earth. He has more examples.

Notice how the minimum wage has made your life more difficult.  Many of you may have pumped your own gas on a cold and windy night.  But notice also that no one gets your drinks for you anymore at fast food restaurants.  They hand you a cup and you get your own.  There are fewer tellers to help you with a transaction at a bank—you are supposed to use the ATM machine and do it yourself.

The most irritating example for me is no one answers a phone anymore for a business or other organization.  A computer gives you several prompts, you struggle to figure out which one applies to you, eventually you are able to push a button that will eventually connect you to a person, you are told the wait will be interminable, but if you just go online and do it yourself, all will be better with the world.

In a world where a man has to press "1" to speak to technical support and fill his own soda cup at McDonald's, the living would envy the dead. One imagines the drive home becoming increasingly more uncomfortable for his wife and child, as he sits in the driver seat constantly muttering things like, "Lousy minimum wage, thinks it's so big," under his breath.

Eric B. :: Gary Wolfram: Minimum wage means you have to do your own menial labor
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Wolfram is an idiot. (4.00 / 2)
Stations stopped pumping gas when a)the tech for controlling the pumps from inside the building became affordable, and b)gas stations changed from being auto service centers to being convenience stores, requiring the attendant to man the counter full time. It had nothing to do with the minimum wage, it was a major change in the business model. Selling coffee and pop is more lucrative than fixing flats and changing oil. Not only that, doesn't he remember the days of full serve pumps where those who chose to do so could pay extra to have their gas pumped and windshield cleaned?

Guess what, Gary? The free market that you so frequently declare fealty to has spoken, and it says get out and pump your own gas. Oh, and the McDonald's drink thing? You can buy a small and refill it as many times as you want, if it makes you feel better.


He's an idiot in more ways than one (4.00 / 1)
What he's admitted to in this piece is that he is incapable of pumping his own gasoline and resents the idea of filling his own soft drink cup in McDonald's, and that he blames this lack of personal competence in minimum wage.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
Competence? (0.00 / 0)
Or the elitist attitude that others should serve his trivial needs, because he is above such manual labor.

[ Parent ]
So, to paraphrase: (4.00 / 1)
'Think about all the great services that we could get poor people to perform, if only the tyrannical hand of government didn't require we pay them much, or at all!'

Great Lakes, Great Times.

Gary Wolfram's "The Road" (4.00 / 2)
or "The Road Warrior". All these Hillsdale guys imagine themselves as post-apocalyptic Humungous--and come off as The Toadie.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Never get off the campus, man.


Minor correction (0.00 / 0)
Very recently, Gary Wolfram drove from one part of Lenawee County to another part of Lenawee County.

Litchfield and Hillsdale are, in fact, both in Hillsdale County, not Lenawee. My poor home county has enough to be embarrassed about without having to worry about Gary Wolfram too.


Shit, how did I get that wrong? (0.00 / 0)
When I was going to JCC, I had friends in Hillsdale and a girlfriend in Litchfield.

Of course, that was years and years and years ago.

Among the Trees


[ Parent ]
You escaped Jackson? (0.00 / 0)
Lucky you.  I used to live in the Irish Hills and my younger daughter's boyfriend when she was a junior in high school was someone who had recently moved out of there.  He still visited the place to see his friends, and I got my fill of it.  My impression was that it was a low-wage, low-cost trap.  You were fortunate to get out.

As for Wolfram, a picture is worth 1000 words.



Greetings from Detroit, Ground Zero of the post-industrial future!


[ Parent ]
Escaped in '91 when I left for CMU (0.00 / 0)
People I went to high school with can't understand why I can't even make myself go back for reunions. Nothing personal to them, but there's a reason why I call it Michigan's asshole.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
Home of the Hutaree (0.00 / 0)
Ah, Lenawee County (and Jackson County to an only slightly lesser degree), a little bit of Alabama come to Michigan.  Livingston County used to be like that before it became a Detroit exurb, though, you can still feel it residually in parts.  My dad and his friends - who were all pigmentally well endowed being from Detroit, if you catch me drift - decided to go to the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest in Howell in either the late 80's or early 90's, one year.  They made the honest mistake of staying until the evening to go have a drink at some bar in town, where they were hastily threatened with violence with some patrons making moves as if they were going back to their trucks to get something, you know.  Long story short, the group didn't stick around to find out.  

It always exasperates me when I hear people deny with no sense of irony that Howell had a problem with the Klan during this period.  It's changed a lot, but there is still so much denial about its even recent past.


[ Parent ]
So, your comment really bothers me (0.00 / 0)
I've lived in a few places in Michigan, but I grew up in Lenawee County. I've also lived in Chicago, and now life has taken me to North Carolina for a few years. (Sidebar: If you think the MDP has problems, you've got nothing on the roller coaster of drama that is the NCDP.) None of those places has had a monopoly on ignorance and intolerance, and none of them have particularly stood out to me as beacons of progressivism.

So while I would be happy to give you a long list of what I think is wrong with Lenawee County, I really am not a fan of calling it "a little bit of Alabama come to Michigan." It's not fair to Alabama and it's not fair to the people I grew up with.
Lenawee County voted 46% for Gore, 44% for Kerry, 52% for Obama (2008), and 49% for Obama (2012). That doesn't sound particularly backwards. It actually sounds a bit more Democratic and mainstream than a lot of the rest of the state. In 2012, Obama received 47% in Jackson County, 46% in Kent County; and just 38% in Livingston County, which you seem to think has improved in the last few decades. Almost all of Lenawee County was represented by the Spade brothers for 12 years. They're conservadems, sure, but they're a lot better than Tim Walberg or Nancy Jenkins.

I mean, I get it-- between Walberg and the Hutaree fiasco and the ridiculous Rev. Rick Strawcutter, there's a lot in Lenawee County that's easy to stereotype. It's absurdly white, and I heard classmates in high school saying plenty of things that would make me cringe. It's full of small towns that are slowly dying, and local governments keep shooting themselves in the foot. It's not my favorite place in the world, by a wide margin.

But when I was growing up there, most of the people I knew were transplants who would live in Ann Arbor if they could afford it. The area, on the whole, is more conservative than I would have liked. But it's a place that's in transition, where newcomers are mixing with the long-time residents reluctant to give up their "perfect little small towns," and no one is really sure where the demographics are going to take them.

I'm saying, writing off Lenawee County and making condescending remarks is counterproductive. Focus on the progress, not the idiots.


[ Parent ]
I'm sorry (0.00 / 0)
I'm sorry you're were so offended by this, honestly.  I was riffing on the rest of the commentary in this thread, and I thought that was rather light-hearteded compared to the harsh story I gave about Livingston County, which you didn't seem to mind.

It's unfortunate you didn't get the snark.  I make light-hearted ribs at my hometown all of the time.  The comment wasn't really worth all of those words, particularly given the snarky context of this particular thread.  Really, I'm disappointed in that response to my little snarky remark.


[ Parent ]
Oh, let's not get on him too much (0.00 / 0)
It was a collection of bedroom communities even when I lived in Morenci in the early 90s. But, I can't get past that, culturally speaking, there was a lot of similarities between it, Hillsdale and Jackson counties (where I grew up). Might have been true also of the county to Hillsdale's west, but I never spent much time there. In fact, I have no idea what it is.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
Automation is as old as the Industrial Revolution (4.00 / 1)
And it would have happened regardless of minimum wage laws. One would think that a college professor who purports to be an expert in economics would know things like that.

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

Keep enraged that his own impotence in pumping gas left him frustrated and angry (0.00 / 0)
In such a state, a feller is apt to lash out at everything and anything in an attempt to make it seem like everything but his own incompetence is the reason for his personal failings.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
Incompetence or arrogance? (0.00 / 0)
Teenage girls manage to pump their own gas. He was pissed because he, a college professor, had to perform manual labor in bad weather, instead of having one of the peons serve him.  

[ Parent ]
I vote arrogance. (4.00 / 1)
That is my sense.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
Goodness (0.00 / 0)
I just came across this on MLive, and this is perhaps the dumbest thing Bobby Schostak has every said, and he's said some pretty dumb stuff:

LANSING, MI -- The head of the Michigan Republican Party on Monday knocked Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Mark Schauer for failing to release a comprehensive plan for the state and blasted one of his only major policy proposals to raise the minimum wage.

"This proposal isn't responsible. It's really nothing more than a power grab," Michigan GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak said of the minimum wage hike during a conference call with reporters.

A "power grab"?  WTF?  What does that even mean?  Man, they really are more worried about Schauer than some think they are.


Well, economic power. (0.00 / 0)
The Chamber and its members, for whom Schostak truly works, need to keep the lie of economic destruction coming from paying its employees decently propped up.

If I recall correctly, the Schostak family owns quite a few Burger Kings in metropolitan Detroit.  We are all supposed to be bracing for $20.00 Big Macs and Whoppers, once the wages go up.

What. A. Whopper. I have heard it repeated by more than one non-politically engaged fellow Michigan citizen, though.


Great Lakes, Great Times.


[ Parent ]
And yet it appears (0.00 / 0)
from some of the anti-ACA restaurants that have decided to add an Obamacare surcharge to their bills, that the markup will be in the neighborhood of... wait for it... 1%.

Yeah. The economy will collapse if the price of a pizza rises by a dime. Do these guys ever step back and see what this looks like to normal humans?


[ Parent ]
I'm (0.00 / 0)
I'm a pretty smart guy, Michael.  I understand completely why he's saying this and why he's against the proposal - which hasn't even made it on the ballot, yet.  

What is galling (and non-sensical) is calling putting a vote before the entire Michigan electorate a "power grab."  That's kind of the exact opposite of what we have come to know as a power grab, which is usually done by a executive trying to short-circuit popular referenda.  

A "power grab" as understood in its negative sense is usually a legislature and/or governor sucking decision-makinng to the top (i.e. that horrible "rape insurance" law), not the electorate/public trying to pull democracy down from above so as to better reach and access it.


[ Parent ]
No, I feel you (0.00 / 0)
The motivation for my comment was that it also offers a freudian slip, of sorts, in terms of what really bothers him about raising the minimum wage.

Great Lakes, Great Times.

[ Parent ]
I went an read the article. (0.00 / 0)
Fascinating!  Unlike Rick Snyder in 2010, Mark Schauer in 2014 is taking actual, defined positions on actual, defined issues -- yet they are trotting out this line about him not having a plan.  

You are right; they clearly are pushing back early and hard against both the minimum wage and Schauer campaigns.

I see the article references the Schostak-Burger King connection.

Great Lakes, Great Times.


[ Parent ]
Republicans know (0.00 / 0)
that they can just lie, and their base voters will believe each and every word. It takes a special kind of mentality to be a Republican these days...

[ Parent ]
Wait, he says (0.00 / 0)
all this angst is because the pump wouldn't accept his credit card? He didn't try walking inside and having the minimum wage cashier--the person he feels should have been coddling him, run the card for him?

Do students really pay cash money to listen to lectures from someone this stupid?


Now Wolfram is singing the praises (0.00 / 0)
of the EAA: http://www.mlive.com/opinion/i...

Great Lakes, Great Times.


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