Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom

No, I’m not talking about the book of that title by nerdist writer Cory Doctorow, although there are some fascinating ideas in said book that are gradually manifesting in real life — most notably, the idea of Whuffie. I’m talking about people who spend their day smiling for children and spend their evenings struggling to find a meal or lodging. People who play princesses or wizards at Disneyland but who are powerless to break the spell of their own poverty.

The New York Times just did a piece about poverty-stricken workers at Disney’s California resort. (The link is an archive link, because fuck the Times, fuck their transparent agenda, and fuck their puppetmaster Carlos Slim.) The most damming part: “According to the report, 15 percent of employees who responded to the survey said they have received food stamps or visited a food bank.”

I’ve never personally visited Disneyland, although Danger Girl has been there many times. I’ve probably been to Disney World in Florida a dozen times, starting when I was six or seven years old and including a trip I took there with DG a while back so I could see the places she worked when she was an intern with the company. I’m not sure I’ll go back now. Disney is an obscenely profitable firm that espouses a variety of social-justice causes, up to and including rotting the Star Wars Universe from within via the mandatory inclusion of Mary Suewalkers. That’s fine — but to talk the SJW talk without walking the social justice walk seems a little too much even for me to accept.

A few weeks ago, when I was with my son in California, we looked at the cost of a ticket to Disneyland. It was $135 per day. A hundred and thirty-five dollars. To walk around in a place where young women are paid eleven bucks an hour to smile at my boy then go “home” to a car parked by the side of the road with homemade curtains drawn around the windows. It’s a hell of a business model, and it must thrill the investors, but it stinks to high heaven. Something is rotten in the Magic Kingdom.

75 Replies to “Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom”

  1. Jeff Zekas

    Disney and Walmart make big bucks, but trash their workers. In my over two years at Walmart, I had to deal with heroin addicts, tweakers, hobos, freaks and just plain violent psychos, all the while, SMILING at the customers. Our store grossed over NINETY MILLION DOLLARS a year, yet we had no health care, no retirement, no benefits. Lots of folks were on food stamps. A few live out of cars. And Walmart is not alone. This is the of the U.S.A.’s future: low paid, dead end service jobs, cos China will be building all the cars, all the steel, all the computers, everything. Americans will be serfs in their own country. We were sold out by Nixon and both parties, under the false claim of “free trade”, even though the Chinese steal our technology, subsidize their industries, and break the trade rules with impunity. If you get a chance, here’s a good article about the problem that NEITHER political party will talk about… http://www.breitbart.com/radio/2018/03/01/steven-mosher-on-trade-deficit-china-might-as-well-have-carpet-bombed-the-american-heartland/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=daily&utm_content=links&utm_campaign=20180301

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Do you realize that Walmart’s profit margin is 2.31%, so when you say your store grossed $90M that means your store earned a bit less than $2.3M in profit, which divided annual hours worked by 300+ employees in a typical Walmart store works out to less than $4 per hour extra before any payroll deductions. Thus going from $11 to $15 per hour would mean Walmart makes zero profit, which won’t do much for the stock price unless you are Tesla.

      https://www.macroaxis.com/invest/ratioCompare/WMT.MX–Operating_Margin–Profit_Margin

      Reply
      • Mopar4wd

        Well the issue to some extent with walmart was monopsony. They would move into rural markets with little to no competition and instantly become the largest employer. That allowed them to hold wages artificially low which allowed for the low prices. For a mass market retailer Walmarts margins are about what you would expect.

        Reply
  2. Tyguy

    I’ve only been to a Disney (World) Park once. My father picked me up from school in the fourth grade and asked if I had ever been to Disney. We went straight to the airport and flew to Orlando. Bought clothes and toiletries down there. In retrospect it was surely planned, but one of the few times my father surprised me.
    I’m not bothered by the female lead in the new Star Wars and I don’t think it was a feminist agenda thing. It’s a great character played by a charismatic actress. Hopefully Daisy Ridley gets a Harrison Ford career, and not that of every other Star Wars star. I do really hate how Disney politicized ESPN, prior to Colin Keapernick, sports of one few things that brought gave common ground to people across the political spectrum.
    I’m not sure it’s fair to single out Disney for not paying a wage to live in Orange County, pretty sure every convenience store, gas station, convenience store and restaurant in Orange County isn’t either. Even poor people want to live in good neighborhoods, hence the housing crisis in the Bay Area but Oakland is still a shit hole. People would rather sleep in a car than go east or live in LA County.

    Reply
  3. stingray65

    What is a living wage? Is it enough money for a single mom to support her child (or two or three) in a well kept apartment located in nice suburban neighborhood with a late model hatchback from a mainstream brand? Should she be able to afford $200 sneakers, smart phones, and summer camp for her kid(s)? Should the wage be “living” enough so that mom can provide all these things on a part-time schedule or should Disney/Walmart also provide free day care? Should the employer be able to cut back on her living wage if she or her kids are obese, because they are obviously eating too much? Should they pay a higher living wage to junkies so they don’t need to steal to get money for their fix, or the middle-aged guy with a heart condition requiring expensive medication? Should they be able to pay a lower wage to summer season teenage employee home from college and living rent-free at home, or the retiree working part-time for a little extra spending money, but mostly to avoid loneliness? Does Snow White and Mickey Mouse get the same living wage as the technicians and engineers maintaining the rides, utilities, and security systems? Is the living wage the same in San Francisco, Fresno, and Fargo? Who decides what this “fair” living wage is?

    On the other hand, are these firms that pay less than a “living” wage able to get employees of adequate quality for the wages they do pay? Does each advertised job opening get 100 or 500 or 1,000 applicants eager to start? Do they have low employee turnover with the wages they do pay? Why should companies pay way above the rate they need to fill their positions? I’ve seen credible analysis that finds that if a firm like Walmart would devote 100% of its profits to raising the pay of their hourly employees, the average worker would get about a $2 per hour raise, which is more than crumbs but wouldn’t be life changing for most people. But what happens if Walmart or Disney would channel their profits to the workers instead of shareholders or further investment in their business? Do you want your pension fund owning that stock?

    There are no easy answers to this issue, but what would be helpful is if people at least finish high school (and if you go to college don’t go into debt for a junk degree that won’t get you a good job), stay off drugs, booze, and cigarettes, get a job and get married (or at least in a stable relationship) before having kids, and work hard at their jobs. Good employees get raises and promoted into management positions that pay well. Families with two functional parents living together can raise a family on 1.5 “average” wage jobs, and if they can’t they should drive that van they are living in to a lower cost area. Iowa was recently ranked as the best place to live in the US, and someone making $11 per hour in Sioux City or Waterloo can certainly live to a much higher standard than the same wage in Anaheim. Reducing the flow of illegal immigrants would also put pressure on firms to raise wages as the supply of “cheap” labor is reduced.

    Reply
    • totitan

      Stingray65
      You are one disgusting example of a human being. You and your fellow Trump supporting republicans with your lies about poor people needing $200 tennis shoes, etc, are what is ruining the country. Believe or not a person doesn’t have to be like you to become wealthy. I am an example of that. Unlike you I am socially Progressive and fiscally conservative. I was born poor and Ive worked hard all my life. I don’t begrudge poor people because I’ve been there. Now at age 65 I am building my last new home on 10 acres in Colorado. Total cost of the project including land is 950K. You’re going to find this hard to believe but I will have no mortgage and I’m not a Republican. I donate to Charities and I don’t whine about paying taxes the way you do. I respect your first amendment of freedom of speech which in turn also gives me the right to call out fools blinded by their Dogma when I see them. Have a good day spewing hate since that seems to be what you to the best.

      Reply
        • Mopar4wd

          It’s become much harder to move for employment at the bottom end of the scale. First most people depend on family connections to make it thru tough times. Hard to do when there thousands of miles away. 2nd for low paying jobs you can almost never find employment before you move. Thanks to background checks etc gaining prevalence you are also much less likely to get a job if you randomly move somewhere and start hunting because employers prefer longterm residents. The other is the difficulty of navigating new systems and areas. You can find any number of articles showing this. The higher up the income bracket you are the easier it is to move to keep going up the poorer you are the harder it is.

          Reply
      • stingray65

        Totitan – typical leftist comment – calling names instead of pointing out errors or offering data to support your view. The problem with you lefties is you don’t like being faced with the truth because you have no facts on your side. Have you looked at the demographics for the buyers of $200 sneakers – see the link below? I run about 2,000 miles per year, and I’ve never paid more than $60 for athletic shoes. I also bet that you didn’t buy $200 sneakers when you were accumulating your wealth. You say that you worked hard to get your wealth, but unfortunately most poor don’t heed your example as 50% of the lowest 10% income earners have no job (see link below). Yet the obesity rate is also the highest among the poor (see link), so how do people without jobs get fat? The answer is welfare, paid for by tax revenues from the top 50% of the income distribution that pays virtually all the income taxes (top 1% pay 37% of federal income tax revenue – see link). So we have poor people without jobs buying a disproportionate share of expensive sneakers and buying enough food to get fat – is that poverty? Were welfare checks the secret to your success in being able to pay cash for your million dollar house? Why aren’t these legitimate questions to have a debate about without resorting to name calling?

        As for your not being a Republican – I would have never guessed such a thing (sarc). I’m glad you have pulled yourself to a level of wealth that puts you in the top 7% of people your age, and that you are sharing your wealth and love paying taxes, but if you actually do give money freely to charity and the IRS you are a somewhat unusual Democrat (see links), but hopefully more of your party will follow your example.

        https://thegrio.com/2011/12/28/air-jordans-are-more-than-a-sneaker-to-black-community/
        https://seekingalpha.com/article/189739-u-s-unemployment-varies-significantly-based-on-income-levels
        http://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/brief/why-poverty-leads-obesity-and-life-long-problems
        https://www.stlouisfed.org/on-the-economy/2017/january/federal-income-taxes-bracket
        https://patriotpost.us/articles/34973-parade-of-tax-cheats-just-happens-to-be-led-by-democrats
        http://www.latimes.com/la-oe-goldberg3-2009feb03-column.html
        https://downtrend.com/robertgehl/republicans-most-generous-people-in-the-world-democrats-not-so-much/
        http://occasionalplanet.org/2013/12/26/republicans-are-more-charitable-than-democrats-and-europeans/

        Reply
        • totitan

          stingray65
          Sorry for the name calling, but having once been so poor that we gladly accepted food stamps, your constant rants about the poor are more than a little annoying.

          FYI…. Im a centrist and an Independent, not some far left loon or Democrat. Pragmatism and logic
          are my M.O’s.
          As mentioned previously Im socially progressive and fiscally conservative.
          I do not love paying taxes but I do not whine about paying them after I have used the IRS’s
          Tax Code to my benefit as much as is legally possible
          I am a patriot with a long family history of military service from the civil war to Vietnam. My
          grandfather survived trench warfare in WWI and my dad survived 38 missions over Nazi
          Germany in B17’s and B24’s. When I tried to enlist in 1971 my 20/800 eyesight disqualified
          me but at least I tried to carry on the family tradition.

          Have a good day

          Reply
          • stingray65

            You represent the exact profile of the person that virtually no one would begrudge welfare payments, because your story suggests that you used them as a temporary safety net to get back on your feet as quickly to become a taxpaying member of society. The problem cases are the able bodied and adequately smart who become long-term dependent on government aid and waste the opportunity they are getting to better themselves. Unfortunately, the welfare industrial complex of government doesn’t help because they do not want the poor to get off welfare, because their status and position is dependent on poverty and dependence continuing. During the first 50 years of the war on poverty, the US government spent $16 trillion on poverty programs, and in recent years annual spending has been over $20,000 per poor person, yet according to official statistics poverty rates remain about the same as in 1964. If that isn’t worth criticism, I don’t know what is.

      • dejal

        How many of the products for your home have you vetted to make sure their manufacturers are paying living wages?

        Plywood, floor tile, sinks, stove, bathtub, windows, nails, shingles, siding, weatherproofing, cement, re-bar, heating and cooling, curtains, paint, carpet, doors, microwave, coffee-maker, asphalt, tyvex, tar paper, kitchen cabinets, door pulls, door locks,

        If any are made in China most likely they aren’t getting a living wage. Everything else is a crapshoot. If you aren’t vetting the items, “all hat – no cattle”. Your SJW is at arms length and you can disavow any that don’t.

        Buying at Home Depot? I have one about a mile from me. About 10 years ago, I had a new kitchen floor put in. Used Home Depot to get me their professionals for an install. 2 guys from NYC (about 150 miles away from me) show up. They didn’t even know that it was through HD. One spoke poor English the other none. I doubt the 2nd was legal and had my doubts about the 1st. Nice guys, gave them a bunch of pears from the tree in the backyard. The van they pulled up in, I wouldn’t drive it across town let alone a 300 mile round trip. Not HDs problem. They contracted out, who contracted out. As I stated, this job had a total disconnect from HD. Does HD pay living wages to their employees? Yeah. Do they care about living wages for contractors tied to HD? No.

        Since then, I don’t use HD for installs.

        Reply
        • totitan

          Nothing is coming from HD. This is a total custom being designed and built by a lifetime CO contractor who builds just one or two homes a year and has been doing so for 45 years. All materials and finishes are of top quality, and the foundation system is TeleFirma. The house is being built on a post tension slap which will be supported by 21 piers drilled twenty feet into bedrock

          Reply
      • David Florida

        I must be blinded by my own hatred, because I can’t see where he expressed hatred for poor people. Enjoy your humblebrag opportunities but do remember that the pumas and bears were there first, eh?

        Reply
        • totitan

          I was born in Alaska and lived more than half my life there. I have probably seen more bears up close than anyone on this site. Also helped build the Dalton Hwy, the Trans Alaska Pipeline, and worked on a crab boat in the Bering Sea. Ive paid my dues and now Im going to live where I want.

          Reply
      • CJinSD

        My home town and the surrounding counties are filled with people like you. They made their money somewhere else, and want to make sure that nobody for a hundred miles in any direction can ever make any money of their own. It would spoil the views.

        Reply
        • totitan

          Your comment is beyond absurd. I made my money in my home state of Alaska and in California. Now Im spending it in Colorado using Colorado labor, and buying all the materials from Colorado businesses. What may I ask is wrong with that?

          Reply
        • totitan

          Global warming is real and it is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. My new home will be powered by a combination of solar panels and wind generator. It will have an r factor of 50 in the lid and 19 in the walls. I may be an old curmudgeon but I’m not a f****** hypocrite.

          Reply
          • CJinSD

            In my hometown, it is the AGW believers that stand between the working class and home ownership. It’s never their mini-city homesteads or jet-setting lifestyles that hurt the planet. It’s people trying to make a living or build a business. I’ve got your number.

    • Mopar4wd

      Except companies have become very good at artificially repressing wages in the last 20 years. Certain jobs make more but certain ones do not. Lots of working class jobs have been paying the same for decades. I worked changing oil at a car dealership for a few months in 1999 it laid $11.50 an hour right now it pays $11.75 an hour. That kind of sucks for 20 years later. And there are lots of jobs like that. Every year at industry events for the industry I work in people complain they can’t get good staff, but the wages they are looking to hire at are the same as when I started working full time in this industry in 2001.
      Some of this repression is thru Immigration. But also
      Consolodation
      Hiring Practices
      Group think among management
      Disconnect between companies and neighborhoods
      Regulation preventing startups
      Insurance situation that greatly favors large companies.
      And there are more.
      It’s a real problem and one that is unlikely to be solved on an individual you can do better basis.

      Reply
  4. John C.

    Thanks Jack for shaming Disney for providing a less than living wage. Government allowed it to happen to their shame thinking it was better economically. I wrote my dissertation on this in 1997. At the entry level of employment, where I studied, the people charged with hiring did not have the power to pay more to a promising candidate. This means it was mot a true negotiation that economist tout. The result of this disconnect was much higher turnover. With more low skill workers off the books the problem has metastasized into bright people being under employed for longer periods. That is an advantage for Disney and it’s ilk. I am in favor of a quick rise in the minimum wage, a crack down in off the book employment and an immigration pause to tighten the entry level employment market. Higher interest rates can be used to keep the overall inflation rate in check and suck away the excess liquidity that leads to asset bubbles.

    I sometimes annoy import car fans, sorry Nate!, by cheerleading the big three and other big industry. In part I am doing this for the great wages that they paid that gave so many the opportunity to rise. Customers chose to outsource the product without consideration for the hollowing out to follow.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      John – what makes a candidate promising? What happens if the promising candidates get higher starting pay and they turn out to be disproportionately white or Asian male heterosexuals?

      If the promising candidates actually turn out to be above average/outstanding in their job, do they get raises and promotions more quickly/frequently than the below average that started at the same wage? Is there anything wrong with that?

      If a candidate is not judged very promising, will they have a better chance of getting a chance to prove HR wrong if the minimum wage they can be offered is substantially raised? Is 100% of nothing (unemployment) better than a low starting wage at a real job?

      What killed the Big 3 Market Share (95+% in 1960 to less than half currently)? Poor management? UAW wages and work rules? Better cars from foreigners? Should consumers continue to reward poorly managed firms with unproductive/overpaid workers, when better products are available elsewhere? Are American workers building Toyotas in Kentucky less American than Mexican workers building Chevrolets in Mexico?

      Reply
      • John C.

        What I found back in 1997, was that applications would come in from overqualified as well as underqualified. The overqualified would get hired but then still be on the market searching for better opportunities. The turnover at minimum wage was around 500% annually and so productivity was hampered by training time. The person tasked with the hiring was not much more highly paid. There wasn’t much in the way of advancement opportunities.

        On the domestic autos, remember Toyota with their early 4 and 6 engines being Chevy rip-offs, not to mention the Toyoglide transmission. Paying their workers 20 percent of deserved UAW salaries. Crazy to let them in. I was fine with Honda when it was a niche market Scirrocco from Japan, building on their own motorcycle technology. Less so when the same model was an Impala from Ohio with the profits still leaving the country. I think people can buy but they want but when the auto market got over 20 import, tariffs should have gone up to make sure people paid for the priviledge of the damage they were doing. Only my opinion, you don’t have to agree.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Interesting that Disney would find it cheaper to suffer the costs of 500% turnover rather than pay higher salaries that might attract and retain staff longer. Such a situation would only make financial sense if the jobs required minimal training and that there were always plenty of fresh bodies willing to take the job for a few months, OR if the jobs would likely never be seen as attractive enough to stick around even with higher pay (i.e. playing Donald Duck for more than a few months would drive a person insane).

          As for cars, Toyota was always a laggard in technology, but were early leaders in quality construction as a low price, but Datsun and Honda were very innovative. Japanese car manufacturing salaries were low by UAW standards, but not by Japanese standards as they rebuilt after the war. What hurt the Big 3 were the CAFE restrictions that prevented them from using imported small cars in their fleet average calculations, which meant they built crap like the Pinto and Vega to try to minimize their losses on small cars (and make it easy for salesman to upsell you into a more profitable Nova or Maverick). The other thing that hurt was the lack of legal restrictions on cross-franchising, so GM could not legally object to an Olds dealer also taking on the Toyota or Mercedes franchise, which made it much easier and cheaper for the imports to establish large US dealer networks. Such things were generally not allowed in Europe or Japan, which greatly slowed imports to those markets. The US did actually have a protectionist policy implemented by Reagan (Voluntary Export Restraint), which did slow the growth of Japanese imports, but it also led to the building of the mostly non-UAW assembly plants in the US and the development of the luxury brands Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura, which arguably made things worse for the Big 3 in the long run.

          Reply
          • Eric H

            Disney was and continues to be a shitty company, all of the dealings companies I worked for had with them since the early 90’s ended up with the non-Disney entity being screwed.

            The fields I’ve worked in (graphics, games, & live performance) have a hard on to work with Disney because of their historical significance. They use that desire to pay below industry norms and threaten to unleash the lawyers when they decide to change contract terms in their favor. It’s happened to three different companies I’ve worked for.

            When one of the companies moved to Orlando and needed a couple of animators in the early 90s, they got over 300 responses from Disney employees looking to get out in a single week. They all referred to the company as Mauschwitz.

            Walmart and their ilk bought their market dominance on the backs of their workers and the social safety net. They’re repugnant and I avoid them whenever possible.

        • Mopar4wd

          I worked a FIRE job which proved a bit of this out. The company I worked for hired experienced people (and a smaller percentage of new college grads) and did what we think of normally they paid more to people who deserved it and had a reasonable turnover with lots of 5-10 year employees. One of their larger competitors hired only inexperienced people at drastically lower pay ( like half) and trained them quickly and turned them out but most lasted less then 3 years. Both companies did well the margins the later company were lower but they did more volume, their customer service scores were also poor but they sold on price. The company I worked for had better margins and customer service scores but could not go as low on price. What amazed me was that both models seemed to work to some extent at least in the short term. The fact that it worked is also a bit scary for the future of low payed workers.

          Reply
  5. hank chinaski

    A TR figure would break Disney the F up.

    I’m reminded of an anonymous, both sad and amusing tell-all by a ‘Jack Sparrow’ park actor. Since memory holed but text here: http://www.yelp.com/topic/san-diego-life-of-an-ex-jack-sparrow

    On the upside, she’s not doing what an unskilled but genetically blessed young woman would be doing to survive in most of the world during most of history.

    We are doomed.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Hank, Am I correct that the TR you are referring to is trust busting Teddy Roosevelt? If so, I’m not sure that he would be busting up Disney, because there actually is competition in the entertainment business. Disneyland has Knotts Berry Farm right next door, and Six Flags LA and Universal Studios not far away. Disney World also has Universal Studies, Busch Garden, Seaworld and I’m sure several other competitors close by. Disney has lots of competitors in movie and TV production and broadcasting, and movies are not quite the essential goods that railroads and oil were when TR was breaking up the JP Morgan and Rockefeller trusts in those industries.

      Reply
      • hank chinaski

        Yes, I was referencing Teddy. They aren’t officially target for Sherman Act trust busting based on market share ( as it’s been noted that YouTube should be), but they certainly act like one. Media in particular has consolidated into what, 3 companies?

        Reply
    • everybodyhatesscott

      she’s not doing what an unskilled but genetically blessed young woman would be doing to survive in most of the world during most of history.

      Of course she could do what a genetically blessed young woman has been able to do in united states for the last 80 years and move to the mid-west and get married. Some guy would take care of her.

      Reply
      • hank chinaski

        Agree, but it looks like the guy she’s shacked up with is in the same boat. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Disney bounced both of them for the article, probably after waiting long enough to claim that it wasn’t related.

        Reply
      • Opaddington

        No way. She should keep plugging away with her career until she’s 40. Then she can offer her amazing self to all the lucky guys out there. Some handsome rich dude with a 10 inch dong will wife her up in no time. It’s a proven formula.

        Reply
  6. Bigtruckseriesreview

    Someone needs to build a more affordable mobile home.

    Maybe a vehicle the size of a Ford Transit with a twin-sized bed, a toilet with a sink built into the top (like prison), a flat screen 20′, 4G/LTE/Wifi and solar panels on the roof.

    CAMPERVAN for broke millennials.

    Reply
    • CJinSD

      Isn’t that called the tiny house movement? There are plenty of people ‘rejecting the American dream’ by living in shipping containers as it is.

      Reply
    • I COME IN PEACE

      Already happening on the west coast, but the vans are usually beaters and they end up dumping them after the charm wears off, after the phone call home to mommy and daddy has been made.

      Reply
      • -Nate

        RE: mobile home .living :

        I thought it was bad when I lived in them next to a swamp in the 1960’s, quite a few of us jammed in there .

        Now I live in Los Angeles and I pass areas with old Motor Homes parked bumper to bumper, some times for several blocks .

        It’s _awful_ .

        Many are regular Joes who worked hard & paid their dues yet still got kicked to the curb as soon as they slowed down or got old / injured .

        Scary stuff – I used my experience to make damn sure I’ll never live in a trailer again .

        Unless of course, I fuck up and _have_ to, then it’ll be on me .

        -Nate

        Reply
  7. JustPassinThru

    A hundred thirty-five, to watch some illegal alien in a Mickey Mouse costume cavort about?

    Jack, you’ll identify with this, as a fellow Native Buckeye. Cedar Point, in 1970, the first year they charged entrance fees instead of tickets to rides and attractions…it was FOUR DOLLARS.

    According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, online…that translates into $25.50 in today’s funny money. That’s a far stretch from what they want at Disneyland.

    Reply
  8. JustPassinThru

    You discuss how Disney, like Apple, mouths SJW causes, while paying peanuts – phones and other products contracted out to FOXCONN in China, where shop-floor suicide is a real issue. Or hiring personnel of dubious documentation and paying peanuts to perform in a park run by a hugely-profitable company.

    That is the Liberal Way. Warren Buffet likes to spout liberal Talking Points and memes; but the reality of it is, he gets very, very rich off the forms of industry he bashes. And he bashes with purpose: Inheritance taxes, for example, are dodged with Life Insurance. Which he has FOUR companies selling.

    The Keystone Piipeline would have cut tremendous volume off the oil shipments on the BNSF Railway. Which Buffet’s company OWNS. Outright.

    All of liberalism is a lie and a fraud; and when you have a corporation spouting SJW precepts…watch what the other hand is doing.

    Reply
    • DougD

      All of liberalism is a lie, that’s funny. Ever been to Canada? Or Europe? Or Australia, New Zealand, any G8 nation with the exception of Russia has a more liberal mindset and ranks higher on quality of life indices. Might I suggest you try living abroad for a year then get back to us. That’s why I enjoy Thomas Kreutzer’s posts so much, that man has some deep experience to draw on.

      Anyway, you always watch the other hand, no matter whose it is.

      Reply
      • JustPassinThru

        I’m not going to convince you, Doug; so I won’t try.

        While I’ve never lived abroad, I did tour the world with the Navy. I lived in Erie County, New York, for many years; and spent plenty of time in Toronto and Fort Erie.

        I’m not going to get into a flame war about whether Canada is good or Canada is bad; or what its current trajectory is. I’ll just say the proof of the pudding is the tasting. And we can taste the two, side-by-side.

        Have a good day.

        Reply
  9. Arbuckle

    If you makes you feel any better, I know a lot of non-management/non-technical workers from Disney World, Universal, Sea World, and LegoLand, and while none of them are wealthy, none of them are living in a van or starving or on food stamps either.

    Really, most people around here like the theme park jobs because they are not commission-based, they pay (slightly) better and have (slightly) more schedule flexibility over retail/food service, and they are safer that being a service station attendant.

    Reply
  10. David Florida.

    This was illuminating, Jack, in that it cleared up an interaction that’s puzzled me for a couple of years. I took my kids to the Magic Kingdom late in 2015, and while there stopped to buy a light saber-ish toy for my boy from a strolling vendor.

    Having said that my son would love the Mickey-design pommel, I accepted the change from the young woman pushing the cart and turned to walk away. Then I thought about my daughter – she would probably enjoy having the same toy as her brother – and turned back with a twenty already in my outstretched hand. Before I could say “Better give me another” the vendor had blurted out “Sorry, but we aren’t allowed to accept gratuities.” I explained that I’d decided to get one for both of my children. Subsequently we parted again but this time with more confusion and embarrassment.

    Orlando is not Orange County But now I’m thinking it should’ve been obvious to me – that young woman had money troubles on her mind.

    Reply
  11. Paul M.

    I must disagree with this article wholeheartedly.

    I feel most times you are appropriately supporting American industry causes. Yet, you are picking on one of the jewels of American industry because they pay $10-$15 an hour to some of the frontline staff.

    Do you understand that Disney is, if not the top tourism/hospitality company in the world in the handful of top five? Do you know how many tourists from around the world visit America to come to Disney? Do you know that Disney parks around the world (I believe they have European and Asian parks) are coveted and visited by millions? Is that not what being number 1 in an industry is all about? Here we have an American company that is number 1, and you are picking on it because they pay front line staff those wages mentioned above and it is not a living wage?

    Let’s take your cause for a moment. When Disney came to Orlando, and I am sure same in California, cost of living was not as high as it is now in those places. Disney brought jobs to Orlando where Florida needed them. The city and state were and are grateful for the mouse that roared. You are childish if you think Disney’s impact doesn’t go beyond those front line employees that you see at parks and resorts smiling and waving. Do you know how many engineer hours are needed to build those resorts and maintain? Those are cities. How about the rides? How about the hotels? How about all the blue collar staff that actually puts the buildings and rides together? Don’t you think those impacts are in the billions? I know southern states that kill to have auto manufacturing plants with much less economic impact than Disney. Not to mention Disney made Orlando a destination for vacationing families, which meant Universal and other parks and hotels build and more good jobs (in addition to minimum wage jobs). Since Disney decided to build in Orlando and California cost of living has skyrocketed. That should NOT be blamed on Disney which had a model built on certain positions being paid at certain rates.
    You attitude is why Midwestern states have fallen behind. Always looking for high end jobs and blaming business.
    Now you can pick on Disney for outsourcing IT jobs, but is that not a trend that is happening across the board in America?

    You say you have been to Disney or Orlando 13 times or so. Have you visited Epcot? Magic Kingdom is good for your son. If not, do the soaring ride, do the car racing experience, go have lunch or dinner at Coral reef restaurant next to all the fish and sharks and stingray and turtles. See the worlds(where various countries have their art, rides, restaurants, stuff they make). Not sure where you stay in Orlando, but next time try a Disney resort. They are expensive. I stay at the Grand Floridian (it is where the alligator ate that kid from the Oklahoma parents who were drunk and let their kid in water!). The experiences are amazing. You son will be amazed. Disney caters to all types of vacations, family, romantic, active, you name it. You can see it on their site.
    If you want an interesting insight into labor, you should checkout cruise industry. I also love cruising. On those ships that are owned by American companies or perhaps Europeans (like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian, ….), the staff is almost entirely outsourced lol. Even the captains and his mates. Only the cruise director and entertainers for shows are Americans. Staff (crew) are mostly from Philippines, Caribbean, India, Russia. No American. The ships are mostly I believe registered in other countries (that is I think how they can get around some of American labor laws). They pay less than minimum wage. The staff is on ships for months at a time (may be 5-9 months). Then they get a month or two unpaid off. Yes there are some gratuities built into your tickets, but I always tip the person who takes care of my room and my dining room lead waiter. But it is a tough life. Do you think Disney does that in Orlando or California? I doubt any Americans are willing to work under those conditions. The tourists are 90% from America and Canada. The food, the experience, the shows, the gambling, the island excursions, are fantastic. You may like snorkeling, and paragliding, and adventure rides on all purpose vehicles. Still the labor on those ships is worlds below pay for Disney resorts. Of-course, on those ships food and tight tight tight living quarters for crew is free. BTW, Disney has cruises too(similar staffing issues), but I don’t recommend because I like to gamble and lose a few hundred a night and Disney doesn’t have gambling on their ships. But their shows and food are the best (they are the most expensive cruises too). Take an Alaska cruise from Seattle, it is a life altering experience. Make sure you have a balcony 🙂

    Sorry for the rant, but you are picking on one of the jewels of American business. They are not perfect, but they are the top in what they do, which is what we want American companies to be.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve spent maybe ten nights at the Grand Floridian.

      You say that Disney can’t be held accountable for the cost of living in California. But their ticket price, which is more than twice the cost of Cedar Point in Ohio, very accurately reflects the cost of living. The price of the meals they serve reflects the cost of living. They only part of the puzzle that hasn’t been adjusted is the wage piece.

      Reply
      • JustPassinThru

        This amusement-park talk and illustration, got me remembering. I had a childhood friend who worked through college at Cedar Point – back then (late 1970s) and still today, they offered dormitory rooms to seasonal employees. I’m not sure of the cost; but since the summer kids were paying for their school, there had to be something over room and board.

        Just looked it up. One of the old Cedar Point hotels has been fully converted to employee housing. CERTAINLY this could be an option in Anaheim – IIRC, there were several semi-run-down big motels outside the gates of the Majik Kingdom. When I was working for a contractor for the AT&SF Railroad, twenty years ago, we stayed at one – the corporate rate was cheap.

        The favorable PR they would get from purchasing those hotels and converting them to employee housing would be worth more than the cost – even at California land prices.

        That, or modular manufactured dorms in a back lot. It’s not Disney’s problem, directly – but having Sleeping Beauty sleep in her car, is not a good situation for her or her employer.

        Reply
  12. James

    Every employer should pay his good employees enough that they won’t leave, and his bad employees somewhat less.

    Reply
    • Fred Lee

      This. There is a market for workers. It’s easy to find a sob story about a single mother “trapped” in a minimum wage job, but the reality is that most minimum wage jobs are staffed by teens learning how to participate in the workforce. They’ll go one to earn well over minimum wage.

      For those whose productivity never exceeds the minimum wage, a “livable wage” means they are out of a job. That’s a lose/lose situation. If as a country we decide this is an unappetizing situation then the remedy is, as a nation, to provide them with assistance. Either in handouts (food stamps, EITC, etc…) or training. That is neither Disney’s role nor Walmart’s role.

      Reply
  13. CJinSD

    The plight of Disney employees isn’t entirely the fault of Disney. There is also the piece where all those young employees don’t have anything better to do. With Blue California hell bent on flooding the labor market while strangling any area of the economy that isn’t part of its fascist grift, those young people are not going to have anything better to do in the future either.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      CJ: You might recognize this quote, which I believe very accurately describes how California has “governed” the economy over the past 20+ years:

      “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

      Reply
  14. -Nate

    A good thread here, I’ve not been to Disney in decades, I enjoyed it but will likely never go again .

    Interesting comments too, some are so clearly trolls .

    John : I have no idea where you go the thought that I don’t like the Big Three ! .

    I love American cars, just not the way they make them now now the way they do business .

    I’m a die hard GM fanboi and have always been open about it .

    Keep the good articles coming, sad that some mis use the freedoms they have to spread lies and hatred .

    -Nate

    Reply
  15. Danny

    I can’t imagine $11/hr covering even the most basic apartment anywhere in California, here in WV it’s difficult to find anything under $600 a month.. Meanwhile teachers in our state are on strike primarily because their public employee insurance is due to increase drastically in cost, based on household income rather than the teacher’s salary.. Seems the grass is no greener whether you work for a place like Disney in the private sector or in the public sector within a state that’s been historically taken advantage of either by corporations or its elected officials. (Disney seems especially vile though, a business built on the joy and magic of childhood with an underbelly of impoverished workers and manipulation – see:Saving Mr Banks)

    Trump’s steel tariff plan goes against what I was taught in economics classes, but if it actually results in a better living standard for US citizens, maybe some of my professors would have to eat their words?

    Reply
  16. Opaddington

    Disney pays what people are willing to take. If the pay was so terrible, very few people would agree to do the work. Those that did agree would be awful employees. Disrespectful to customers, drunk/stoned on the job, unreliable, etc.

    I speak from experience. I co-own a small commercial bakery. Most of the work we require is almost zero skill. I could pull anyone over the age of 12 off the street and teach them the necessary tasks in 5 minutes. We initially offered $9/hour which is slightly above minimum wage in Ohio. The people we hired at that pay were horrific. If the guy you hired to pull cases off the end of the line and stack them on pallets goes on a smoke break and never comes back, it’s a big problem. That kinda crap happened non-stop. We had to keep bumping the pay until we attracted employees that enabled us to run the business effectively. The minimum wage to run our business now starts at $12.50/hour. For reference, that’s in Cincinnati.

    Reply
    • JustPassinThru

      This, above.

      There’s two elements that go into a low or perceived-low wage. One is the employer offering it; and the other is, the employee taking it.

      IF someone is so unskilled and desperate he has to work for Minimum Wage…California is a rough place to do it. Far better he go someplace where he can meet basic needs on low wages – as with, renting a room for a few hundred dollars a month.

      There is no Right to Live In California on a wage that proposes a comfortable living. Apparently, jobs at the Magic Kingdom are competitively sought – so if one person won’t work for the low wages, others will.

      Apparently…no, obviously…it’s a bad bargain.

      The comely young woman without basic job skills needs to sit down, with pen and paper, and explore her options. Increase her marketability. Find a cheaper place. I’d assume she’s not living with parents, if she’s sleeping in her car.

      And there are plenty of high-social-aptitude, low-skill jobs. Sell real estate…that’s a field women have almost-completely taken over. Honorable work, and if it’s hard, it’s not as hard as those car seats, at night.

      She wants to live in California, sure. I get it. I’d like to live in the Cayman Islands. We’re both going to be disappointed by reality, there.

      Reply
    • stingray65

      Do you think that if a newspaper did an anonymous survey of your employees that some would say they were underpaid? That some would say they had trouble making ends meet?

      Your comment also points to the reason so many in business want to keep the borders “open”, because if the business can find illegal immigrants for their unskilled jobs that are happy to earn a tax-free $4-5 per hour, show up on-time, and don’t spend 3 hours per day on smoke breaks, it is a very tempting proposition.

      Reply
      • JustPassinThru

        There is one way, only one way, to prove you’re underpaid.

        You leave. It’s painful; but you make the choice. I did it awhile back, when I had a massive de-facto pay cut forced on me with corporate reorganization.

        As for illegal-alien employees…yes, the border needs to be secured. To protect wages, is really one of the lowest reasons for it…above it, is law and order and the cultural chaos when upwards of 15 percent of our population neither has our language nor our traditions.

        When you are in that kind of situation, you get out of it. Vote with your feet. You cannot compete with Third World new-arrivals who live twelve to a room and who cook over Sterno.

        And as for Disney: They will find, as many other employers have, that Third World fresh illegal immigrants do not have suburban American values. They have the values that they learned in their countries of origin – which may include no respect for property rights, or regarding women as chattel and as playthings. It may well involve outright hatred for those rich Anglos and their fat little kids.

        Dangerous. Both to the park patrons and to Disney’s reputation.

        Reply
      • Opaddington

        I would expect them to say they’re underpaid and struggling because the work is not fulfilling. I suspect the pay would have to be at least 3-4 times higher for them to think that doing mindless, repetitive work for 8 hours a day was a useful way to spend their life. That kind of work is meant to be a stepping stone, not a career.

        I have friends that operate local retail bakeries and they use illegals. Well, maybe that’s being overly blunt. Let’s just say they don’t ask too many questions during the hiring process (wink). Operating a retail bakery is brutal. Low margins combined with high waste makes turning a profit damn difficult. For those guys, it’s basically a necessity not a temptation. Their competitors do it so they have to follow suit to keep labor costs in check.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          I would expect upper-level managers, doctors, professors, professional athletes, and just about any fancy job you could name would have a substantial number of people saying they are underpaid – it all depends on your frame of reference as everyone but Bill Gates has someone that has more money than themselves.

          Reply
  17. Fred Lee

    I dated a gal a couple years ago who worked in Disney’s media department (website stuff). Her team referred to the company as Mauschwitz.

    It’s hard to say if the perceived abuses were reality, or were simply because she was batshit crazy. But like working for Tesla or Apple or Amazon, people derive some non-pecuniary benefits working for these companies that make them willing to put up with smaller paychecks.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Good comment Fred: Strong brands are not just for consumers, but also help in attracting and retaining employees, and for the “coolest” brands even paying them “below” market rates. After all, its much cooler to say I work for Disney than 7-11 or Wendy’s even if the job and pay are about the same.

      Reply
  18. Dirty Dingus McGee

    As a business owner, it’s not incumbent on me to pay a “living wage”. It IS my responsibility to pay an “industry competitive” wage to be able to attract competent people, and give them raises based in their merit, not because somebody outside my company thinks that a laborer deserves $15 an hour to sweep the floor, or throw trash in the dumpster. If my prices, due to labor cost’s, become to high, I will lose business resulting in employee’s being terminated for lack of work. In a competitive economy, you MUST watch all cost’s or you’re done. You have to have volume, and a diversified customer base, or you find yourself locked into a niche. In one niche of our business, we are one of the big players. It is based solely on our reputation, as we are not always the cheapest but are one of the top 5 in the country in that field. If I had to suddenly give everyone a 10% raise, that will cut my profit to the point where it would no longer be economically feasible to remain in business.

    Regulations are a whole “nother issue. We just had to spend $8,000 of air mask’s, dust vac’s and signage, just to be able to drill anchor holes in concrete. That’s a cost we will have to initially eat, but eventually it will be passed on to the customer.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Liberal US Senator from South Dakota George McGovern, after losing office in 1980 made big money on the lecture tour and invested his earnings in the purchase of conference hotel, which went bankrupt 3 years later. This is what he wrote of his experiences in the Wall Street Journal:

      “To create job opportunities we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities.

      My business associates and I … lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape? It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators.

      For example, the papers today are filled with stories about businesses dropping health coverage for employees. We provided a substantial package for our staff at the Stratford Inn. However, were we operating today, those costs would exceed $150,000 a year for health care on top of salaries and other benefits. There would have been no reasonable way for us to absorb or pass on these costs.”

      https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/13306-the-passing-of-george-mcgovern-a-liberal-who-got-mugged

      Reply
      • Dirty Dingus McGee

        Meeting any and all government regulations is a costly and time consuming affair. Often times they are in direct contradiction from regulations from a different agency. Then, in our case as we work all across the country, whats required in Wisconsin, is different than Florida. Before we can offer pricing on a job, we have to find out about the various rules and regulations so as not to be surprised and have a project stopped due to violations. We have only had that happen once, about 15 years ago, and we ended up losing a lot of money on that project.

        Then, we also have to research each location for what our cost is to find local laborer’s, It’s not cost effective to bring 2-3 laborer’s to an out of state project, given the hotel and per diem cost’s. I can get temporary laborer’s thru an agency in Ohio for around $19 per hour per person. Those same folks in coastal Connecticut cost us $26 per hour.

        Reply

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