"Janie Jones" - The Clash
I pretty much abandoned the internets for the weekend and did old-fashioned things -- I finished reading Wolf Hall, and saw two movies: Moonrise Empire and Your Sister's Sister. I enjoyed both well enough I guess, although the former is a bit precious and mannered, and the latter perhaps too small for even a small film. You could certainly do worse though than either of them.
Now I am anxiously awaiting news on the Affordable Care Act decision -- I must say my sense of dread over it has been rising the closer we get to its issuance. My faith in this Court to have even a remote sense of the right thing is at a low point. Let's see, what else is happening?
- What is it about Apple that makes some liberals lose their minds? There was a large piece in the Sunday New York Times detailing the piss poor wages that Apple pays on average to its retail store employees - on average a little more than $11 per hour. And right on cue, there is an apologia from Matt Yglesias, basically trying to make the case that this is a pretty decent retail wage and that the world would be a better place if other retailers paid as well as Apple. To which I say bollocks. Seriously, Yglesias tries to make $25,000 a year sound like a living wage (well you do get a 401(k) -- the ultimate BFD -- and discounts on Apple products! Where the fuck do I sign up?) I have a pretty good sense of where a lot of the Apple stores are and they are generally in some of the most expensive places in the country. I know that in DC at least $25,000 is not really a living wage. Hell, it was my starting salary back in 1985 and even then it was a wage fit only for a single person on his/her way up in the world -- a wage suited for group houses and studio apartments. Christ, I work in a relatively small law firm where my compensation (and that of my partners) is directly attributable to the profits we generate and we still pay our lowest paid employee in excess of $20 an hour, plus fully paid family medical, plus 8% of salary into an individual account pension plan, plus a 401(k) match. It strikes me that the most profitable company in the world might be able to do a little better than our modest little firm. Apple should be a pace setter in terms of compensation, not applauded because it keeps its employees above the poverty line. Jesus Christ.
There is a good sense conveyed in the article of both just how exploitative Apple is and at how successful they are in selling a peculiar brand of false consciousness for the well-educated set:
This is why Apple can do something unique in the annals of retailing: pay a modest hourly wage, and no commission, to employees who typically have college degrees and who at the highest performing levels can move as much as $3 million in goods a year.
“When you’re working for Apple you feel like you’re working for this greater good,” says a former salesman who asked for anonymity because he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. “That’s why they don’t have a revolution on their hands.”
How in God's name did people ever get the idea that working for Apple was working for the greater good? It baffles me.
This is another indicia of how much damage the demise of unions does to people in these kinds of jobs. People who work as clerks and support personnel at unionized supermarkets around here actually made a living wage, one that included an hourly wage that could support a family (very modestly) and a real pension, not this 401(k) bullshit, which requires people to defer from their princely $11 an hour wage. And supermarkets were always a notoriously low margin industry. Apple, by contrast, has huge mark ups on all of its goods and faces little in the way of competition given the name brand appeal of what it sells. Shouldn't we actually expect such a company to do a little more than this? The people who work at the Apple stores are actually pretty decently skilled folks, especially the ones who staff the so-called "Genius Bars." Is it too much to ask that a genius get paid $20 an hour and the company become just a little less profitable?
I must say that I generally prefer my exploitation with a little less smug than Apple manages and their enablers, like Yglesias, let them get away with.
What else is going on with you?
Update: There will be no health care decision from SCOTUS today. Stay tuned for Thursday. Today the Court summarily upheld the Citizen's United case in striking down a Montana statute limiting corporate campaign contributions. The Court largely affirmed a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision enjoining enforcement of Arizona's infamous S.B. 1070, the "papers please" law. I have yet to read the full opinion, but it appears to me that the majority of the Court, with Justice Kennedy writing, found the Arizona law to be pre-empted by the federal government's power over immigration. Scalia dissented in what strikes me as a fairly radical state's rights opinion. Thomas and Alito also filed separate opinions, dissenting in part. I have not had the time to read those. Evidently Scalia issued some sort of statement in conjunction with the opinion noting President Obama's recent decision to suspend deportation efforts against those brought to the U.S. illegally when children. I am guessing that this (I haven't yet seen it) will prove to be another nakedly political statement from the great legal mind of the right.
So Thursday morning should be a big day. I suspect SCOTUS Blog will be crashing at about 9:59 AM that day. SCOTUS Blog seems to believe the health care opinion is being written by Roberts, with Kennedy co-authoring part of the majority. If that is the case, it may be good news -- Kennedy voting in favor of the law and Roberts deciding to control the opinion and its scope by joining in the majority. (Or that may be entirely wishful thinking.)