Trying to dial back the intensity here today, so let's start with a funny moment with a funny cartoon. As I was reading today's "Between Friends," I was eating a piece of bread and the dog was looking over my shoulder wondering where his was.
Between Friends ponders self-indulgence frequently, and, while it's not unusual to see "Do as I say, not as I do" cartoons involving parents and children, using Newman as the victim of hypocrisy is a better choice, because he can't articulate his end of the situation.
For regular readers, it's also a great choice because Kim and Newman have always had a somewhat fraught relationship, and this fits into it very nicely.
I also took today's Rudy Park personally, because I'm watching my pennies as I build back up in the wake of April 15.
One of the things I know, both from being self-employed and from having had a father who was a labor negotiator, is that giving someone a $5 raise costs more than $5, because it also jacks up the costs of benefits. Employers get frustrated when someone on the other side of the table multiplies the in-pocket raise by the number of employees as if that were the total cost. It's not.
We independent contractors know that, because, when you pay all those things yourself, you not only shell out big time for Social Security and other governmental stuff, but that whole "what does a raise cost?" works the other direction: That $5 becomes less than $5 because, while employees have withholding, they don't shoulder the whole burden.
And if you earn the same as your next-door neighbor, it means you make less, because his employer is kicking in all that other stuff.
This happens to also come to mind because I got an email from my socially-conscious coffee supplier saying that they were going from FedEx to UPS, in part (he admitted) because FedEx was doing a less than admirable job, but also because working with FedEx seemed incompatible with the company's mission.
We had high hopes for FedEx, but they did not deliver on a number of their promises regarding delivery times, pricing and minor things like that.
However, the nail in the coffin was that we were made aware of their abhorrent labor practices. I am from a long line of labor union family members, and it is very difficult for me to deal with a company of FedEx’s scale that does not have unionized workers…let alone classifies most of their drivers as subcontractors instead of employees.
This means that the “subcontractors” essentially have no voice and no rights, not to mention long hours and poor pay. As an international business lawyer this reminded me too much of the structure and problems with labor practices at factories in Asia, where Nike and other large companies take no responsibility for problems because they use independent subcontractors.
By the way, poor performance and using independent contractors is not entirely unrelated. I know this from having been in the circulation department of a paper making the change.
If your delivery people are employees, you have a lot more leverage over them. If they truly are independent contractors, you are reduced to tsk-tsking, with the sword hanging over your head that, if you treat them as if they worked for you, a grievance could affirm that, in fact, they do, and cost you substantial penalties and back-pay sorts of expensive things.
Three little words of advice, Rudy: Work to Rule.
And three more: Keep a journal.
Okay, sorry ...
That got a little un-lite. I apologize. So now let's have a look at Betty, who is finally cashing in an iTunes card, and, like most of us over 40, finding it hard to relate.
I don't mind picking through the offerings at Amazon or iTunes to find "my" music, and I don't feel old or out of it not wanting to own the music of my kids or of their kids. It's not that it's bad, but it isn't mine, and that's okay.
I do, however, get annoyed with the streaming services, which certainly have the ability to see what I've played and make relevant selections, but, regardless of whether I've been playing Artie Shaw or Jefferson Airplane, will still "recommend" current pop and rap.
As for their mixes, they don't know blues from jazz from swing from Big Band, and their ability to mix music from the Sixties is equally inept. And, no, I'm not going to sit there clicking thumbs up and thumbs down to fine-tune my experience.
I wouldn't go to a cook-your-own-dinner restaurant, either. I've got a kitchen and I've got music on my hard drive. If you're going to make money, offer me something in the way of expertise.
It's not that I'm not a music snob. If I went to a literature site, I would also expect them to know the difference between Emily Bronte and Danielle Steel, and it's not just that Emily only wrote one book.
Okay, this lightening-up thing isn't working very well.
One more try ...
Oh, never mind. I know where this one is gonna take us, and it's too early for me to start slamming the gin and tonics.
Now here's your moment of irrefutable liteness