Why $15/hr for fast food workers just doesn’t make sense

I haven’t paid attention to this “news story” where fast food workers in the US are demanding $15/hr for the work they do, but an opinion piece from Matt Walsh (Fast Food Workers: You Don’t Deserve $15 an Hour to Flip Burgers, and That’s OK) caught my eye on Facebook and I proceeded to read through his thought process.

Matt’s thoughtfully crafted article is an excellent rebuttal to the orders of fast food workers. Jobs are paid commensurate with their implicit value and as Matt elegantly puts it:

So, real talk: Your job isn’t worth 15 bucks an hour. Sure, as a human being, you’re priceless. As a child of God, you’re precious, a work of art, a freaking miracle. But your job wrapping hamburgers in foil and putting them in paper bags — that has a price tag, and the price tag ain’t anywhere close to the one our economy and society puts on teachers and mechanics.

The importance of a contingency

My wife loves her some HGTV. Home & Garden TV makes home makeovers, renovations and purchasing look easier than putting up a shelf in the garage.

As an engineer, I’m used to putting cost opinions for large construction projects together. It would be considered foolish to not include a contingency in your cost opinion: you may start off with a 30-40% contingency during preliminary design and reduce it to 10-15% when design is complete.

The contingency accounts for the unknowns. It’s not a safety net if something goes wrong; it’s a fund to cover the things that will come up that aren’t specifically accounted for in the design.

The burden of debt

It all started when I went to university. During Freshers’ Week, several events are put on to acclimatise you to life at your university and student life in general and some of the many vendors at the events included banks and credit card companies trying to sell you on student bank accounts and student credit cards.

It’s a little too tempting. A credit card / loan designed just for me and my needs as a student? It can’t hurt to sign up. I’ll just pay off the balance every month.

It really is a slippery slope. When I went to university my fees were paid for because my family had a low income so I only needed money to live. Given that I was living at home and had a job, I didn’t really need the student loan that was available to me, but again, everyone else was doing it and who would turn down a loan that doesn’t accrue interest until you leave university, has an interest rate equivalent to the inflation rate (a few percent) and only gets paid back once you’re earning a moderate wage?

Take your email privacy back

Don’t know much about Internet privacy? Think your email is private and secure?

Andy Chen’s brief TED talk explains how email works, why it’s not as secure as you think and discusses his team’s alternative: ProtonMail.

Using a VPN to protect your online activity

There was a time when the Internet was used by just academics, governments and a few major corporations as a way of sharing information. The data was very intentionally public and was intended for consumption by all.

Now of course the picture is much different. Few may have foreseen just how quickly the Internet would be adopted in our homes and businesses and just what we’d be doing with it. The ways in which we use the Internet has changed drastically. We now use it for all manner of transactions, like banking, shopping and entertainment. Many of these activities are no longer things that we would like to be public.

Adding security to the Internet has long been an option but only recently is it becoming more of a standard. Web addresses used to run over HTTP, which means that information is transmitted unsecured, allowing anyone to intercept it between its source and its destination. More and more, site owners are switching to HTTPS, which encrypts the data between the users offering another level of security.

HTTPS is somewhat effective, but still won’t do much good to those who are really intent on seeing what you’re doing online, especially those with unlimited resources behind them, like governments and large corporations.

Reflecting back on the last 30 years (I’m 30)

30 years ago today, aside from the first ever episode of the most popular British soap Eastenders airing, I was born.

I absolutely couldn’t care less that I’m 30. I haven’t been dreading this day, nor do I attribute any sort of aging to it, any more so than any other day. However, a “n0” birthday is a milestone that only comes along once a decade so it seems like a perfect time for some reflection.

The last 10 years

Since February 2010 (the last 5 years), quite a number of things have changed in my life. I became a professional engineer, I became a father, I have another child on the way, I started my own business which is now thriving and I moved house 3 times.

In the last 10 years, even more has changed. In February 2005, I was in my second year at university, was single, living with my Mum in the UK and I was working for the NHS. Over the next 5 years, I would meet and fall in love with Marti, graduate from university, become a Christian, move to the States to be with her, get married 60 days later, battle 8 months of being unable to work before getting my green card, a job, my driver’s license, a car and our first apartment in the space of about 4 weeks.

Reflection on who I am

Me in December 2005 - the first time I ever visited Marti
Me in a decidedly emo pose in December 2005 – the first time I ever visited Marti

As I think about the man I am today, where I’ve come from and the boy I used to be, I’ve noticed quite a few specific observations about how I’ve changed in particular and more general observations about how we as humans mature (or don’t).

The first thing is that nothing is given. Not only is nothing guaranteed but you’ll change in ways and do things that you would have never believed, conceived or thought possible.

Ricardo Semler’s take on corporate democracy

Ricardo Semler, the former CEO of a large Brazilian company took a dramatic new approach to employment, education and living that rewards wisdom and improves work-life balance.

For example, at his company, employees do not report their vacation days and if they meet their quotas, they’re encouraged to go to the beach instead of working the rest of the week.

Dollar Shave Club epitomises the power of marketing

Ever since I first saw Dollar Shave Club’s first ad, I was in love. Their marketing is genius. I was so in love with their ad that they really got my attention and made me wonder what their service was about, building on the introduction that they gave in the video.

Had I just seen the name “Dollar Shave Club” online, I almost certainly would have ignored it and passed on it, but DSC’s branding genius used the power of humour and social media to deliver their message.

The video above has been viewed over 18 million times and their follow-up, about their “One Wipe Charlies” has been seen nearly 3 million times and is equally representative of how powerful their brand is.

The cost of doing business – my price is my price

I’m a business owner. As such, I incur costs from providing services to my clients, from banking fees for every transaction I process, to hosting fees for backing up my client’s sites before and during development.

An extremely important way that I build trust with my clients is that when I tell them a price, that’s the price they should pay. Sometimes less, but never more.

We’ve all experienced something similar to this situation: you sign up for a $40/month cell phone contract, but by the time they’ve added on line rental, roaming, credit card fees, voicemail, fees and taxes, your original “deal” isn’t quite the bargain that it sounded like.

Magical pony

Last week I got a rather obscure but very endearing compliment from one of my best clients. She’s the kind of client that you dream of working with, both in how she values what you do, and how her personality and working style match mine so well that has caused us to become friends through our working relationship.

You are, as I have stated multiple times in the past, a magical pony.

This compliment is one of several that I’ve had from her and I love it so much that I might start referring to myself as “the magical pony”.