Susan J. Demas: Conservatives mocking fast-food workers losing jobs to robots may find they're next

There's little that inspires conservative derision like fast-food workers demanding a fair wage.

For more than a year, there's been a union-backed campaign to pay these employees $15 an hour. That's double the federal minimum wage ($7.25). But when you consider that there's no state in the country where a full-time minimum wage job will get you a one-bedroom apartment -- you'd have to work 58 hours in Michigan -- that doesn't seem terribly unreasonable.

Fast-food CEOs also make 1,200 times what their average worker does. And this isn't necessarily reward for a job well done -- McDonald's sales have slumped considerably.

But conservatives have mocked the workers as lazy and lacking marketable skills. They deserve what they get. (These are probably the folks who go ballistic at the clerk for depositing two Splendas, not three, into their morning coffee, as the world's saddest ego trip).

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Susan J. Demas: The American Dream dims for children trapped in cycle of poverty

We spend a lot of time debating if those on welfare, unemployment and food assistance have really tried hard enough. Isn't it just that they don't want to find good jobs because it's easier to be on government assistance?

Some of this has to do with our own fragile situations. Many of us live paycheck to paycheck. We could slip into poverty if we lost our jobs. We're one serious illness away from bankruptcy.

We can tell ourselves that we're just smarter and more hardworking than those collecting welfare. But the truth is many of us were lucky.

We were lucky enough to be born to parents who were middle-class or well-off. Or we were lucky enough to have poor or working-class parents who valued education and sacrificed to send us to good private schools or live in more expensive areas with good public schools. Later on, our parents sacrificed more to get us through college.

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Susan J. Demas: Welcome to Pure Michigan, the Land of Dickens

In the hallowed halls of the Michigan state Capitol this week, one of the biggest debates has been over slashing a program that gives clothes to orphans.


About 160,000 kids wouldn't receive their back-to-school clothing allowance under the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget passed by a House subcommittee. That saves $9.9 million (which will go a long way to pay for the $1.2 billion tax break we're handing businesses).


Chair Dave Agema (R-Grandville) -- best known for skipping the crucial 2007 tax hike votes to obliterate sheep with a shotgun in Siberia -- suggested that the money isn't being spent on clothes anyway by those greedy urchins.


"I think the hardship is negligible," he shrugged.


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