looking for answers to life's little mysteries

Discussion in 'The Late Night Cafe (off-topic)' started by coolj, Oct 4, 2001.

  1. coolj

    coolj

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    Hi, I just wanted to ask a couple of questions. I know that traditionally when fall comes around and everyone goes back to school, restaurant sales drop, but why as soon as the sales drop, do employers always start with cutting employees to save money ?.
    Also next saturday, Oct 13, there is going to be a referendum vote on whether or not the city should install water meters, and whether the flouride should be taken out of the tap water. Do any of you have water meters ?, and are they economical, or just a cash cow for the city hall ?. I think, but sitll to be decided, that I am going to vote to keep the flouride in the water. I'm really more interested in info on water meters though.
    Any replies are greatly appreciated.
     
  2. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Dear coolj

    Do you have time to come in Greece and stay for a week?
    You will feel better about everything later!

    :)
     
  3. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Dear coolj

    Do you have time to come in Greece and stay for a week?
    You will have the opportunity to appreciate you everyday life after this trip to my wonderful but crazy country!
    You will have fun also by learning what do they mean here by the word Chef, water meters, catering, pollution meters etc. etc. etc.


    :)
     
  4. bdwillms

    bdwillms

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    Water meters are in my opionion are a cash cow for local governments.Having said that I do believe that houses with one toilet per bedroom and sometimes a bath and a shower in the same bathroom should be metered.High use of water needs to be metered and excessive useage charged.
    In the lower mainland of Vancouver we are moving to a user pay system :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
     
  5. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Unless I'm confused, my water is metered. The bill certainly varies according to my use and I think that's fair and right. Why should my neighboors pay for something I use more than them, or visa versa?
     
  6. suzanne

    suzanne

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    CoolJ: to go back to your original question about why do employers fire people when business starts to slow down?:

    First, I must state that I still have difficulties with the whole capitalist system. Not that I like communism, but just that I can't understand the all-the-profit-for-me mentality.

    That said: Maybe the employers are just very unimaginative and cannot figure out how to bring business back, be it through promotions, good will events, or how to make sure that the kitchen is running as efficiently as possible (how many times have you seen good ingredients wasted?), and so on. So many owners think that payroll is the problem, when it could really be purchasing, or management, or advertising, or poor planning, or a ton of other things. I'm sure that many people who work BOH or FOH could make good, practical suggestions about how to manage better in less-than-great times, but we so rarely get asked.
     
  7. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, payroll represents the largest, or next to largest part of restaurant expenses, and a small percentage drop in payroll can add up to a large amount of $$$. It's also the quickest way to trim expenses because the effects are almost immediate. For most of us who have ever had our hours cut, it's a bit disheartening to think that "they" could be so heartless, but we cope with it the best we can. I've been through it a hundred times; all the time wondering how a restaurant could be losing money while the owner is driving a $50,000 car. :confused:

    It's difficult to understand capitalism because of the way the word has been butchered and used in various negative ways by some high profile groups who aren't anti-capitalists but use it as a model for greed and all that's bad in mankind, therefore making it almost a forbidden word in some circles. In fact, nobody ever came around to defending capitalism before Ayn Rand surfaced. I'm no Rand fan, and I disagree with her epistemology, but I feel that "Atlas Shrugged" was a pivotal point in society's change of heart about capitalism. Our capitalistic system, it is argued, allows us the standard of living to which we are accustomed. In simple, but definitely not complete terms, it is a method of producing large scale profits, encouraged by a structure which supports this endeavour, and bolstered by individuals who want to share in this wealth. Capitalism also relies on (believe it or not) some Marxist principles which separate ethics, theology, and religion from the production of wealth. It defines the worker by the product and measures their worth in terms of productivity, and workers receive a wage instead of product in return. The worker is part of the product just like sugar is part of the cake. It's an expense, a commodity, and the cost of labor can be negotiated, controlled, or bid for. In a sense, capitalism is a focused, calculated, rational approach toward a better standard of living.

    So far, I've had one cancellation due to the trickle down effect of layoffs and downsizing and possibly another coming up soon. I guess I'll go visit my sister early this X'mas.

    Kuan
     
  8. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Ah, but do we here in the US and in other "highly developed" nations really NEED the standard of living to which we are told we should aspire? Do we need to pollute the entire Earth's air, water, and land just so that we can get to and from work in the anti-social, solitary luxury of a private car, instead of making sure that there is clean, efficient public transportation available for all? I won't deny that I enjoy many of the perks of capitalism (and thank you, my prefered writers on the subject are Robert L. Heilbroner, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Michael Harrington), but I also have a conscience. I do not believe that the few should profit so mightily from the toil of the many.

    All I was trying to get at was that cutting labor hours is the laziest and most short-term way for employers to save money. It is much harder to make your total operation efficient than it is to just decrease you payroll. The long-term effects of that decrease, though, will cost you more, because it will increase stress-related reactions and turnover while still allowing inefficient methods of operation to persist.
     
  9. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't pretend to be a sage on this topic, but I already see many downfalls of relying on big business. The major pitfall I see is that the economy lacks diversification. I have always believed that the lifeblood of a town's economy is in its small business. Being a small business means you can react to market conditions a lot faster than say a Nordstroms or Target. If something happens to go real far south for Target, approximately 50,000 people here in Minneapolis will be affected to a certain degree. Some might lose their homes our local welfare system might collapse under the burden of mega layoffs. This in fact affects mortgage companies, banks, which affects the, well, I could go on and on. It spirals downward rather rapidly and all of a sudden you find that your town has no money for fixing the roads and letting the sewer system go without maintanence for just a few days longer.

    BUT, there is hope for us all, and it's called resilience. Even with all that's seemingly going on around us, I believe that our situation is not as bleak as it seems. First of all, I'm happy to be alive (that's a whole different story) but also, there seems to be a very optimistic attitude that the economy will rebound and be even stronger sometime in the middle of 2002. This means we all just have to be a little more fiscally conservative than what we're used to. For many, it means eating out one or two fewer times a week, keeping our old jalopy another year, or even unsubscribing to a couple of magazines.

    Back to the original point about restaurants cutting down on payroll, like I said before, it was difficult for me to understand how a restaurant could be losing money while the owner drove away in a $50,000 car. I understand now, but I don't UNDERSTAND, and when I say that, I mean that I understand from a pure rational point of view, but not from a ethical or moral point of view. If you do it for the money, then it might be more acceptable for you to have your hours cut. In this case you view yourself as a tiny one person business who is trading services for dollars. But for most line workers in the restaurant industry who have a viable skill which is, IMO, worth a LOT more, it's not a matter of doing it for the money. I think all of us will attest to that.

    I'm with you about the need for our high standard of living. Nobody needs any of these things, but the way I see it, it's all about a person's choice. The infrastructure here in America allows us to choose our standard of living, and those who choose to make that solo drive downtown during rush hour give up something which others may cherish. But this, I think, is a result of societal and familial values. We cannot fault him for wanting his privacy, after all, how many family style restaurants do you see out there? I'll order a steak and you'll order chicken and that's it.

    Anyway I've wasted enough bandwidth. But I have one last thing to say about the environment. This is one of the words which has been battered and bruised due to the political nature of the beast. Although I'm one of those who enjoys the outdoors, I find it very difficult to get behind any push for so called "environmentalist" agenda. This is because I believe that these are seldom free of self interests and ties to various special interest groups who veil themselves as non-profit organizations but are really just extensions of the corporate umbrella itself.

    I've probably made my stance on this topic a little fuzzier. It's probably time to stop now before I become someone I hate.

    Kuan

    [ October 06, 2001: Message edited by: kuan ]
     
  10. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Dear Kuan, Maybe we should take the political part of this discussion private. Don't worry -- we're all highly conflicted these days!
     
  11. mikelm

    mikelm

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    Well, Suzanne-

    At least you help me fathom how Hilary got elected to the Senate...

    Your economic heroes are all WELL to the left. Heilbroner argued for years that the developed countries should ship most of their wealth to the third world, mostly out of guilt.

    Galbraith, interestingly, said in the 1950's that wealth transfer and the technical-assistance efforts toward the third world, very popular in the 50's and 60's, wasn't going to work. He was right, it mostly didn't.

    I had some personal involvement in that effort, and wrote my honors thesis on it. I took both undergrad courses and graduate seminars in economics under Galbraith. He's a brilliant teacher and polemecist, but was always regarded as a gadfly/lightweight in professional economic circles. He continues to believe that the government - any government - can make better choices for most people than they can make for themselves. As far as I know, he still goes to Gstaad every winter to ski.

    Michael Harrington comes from a long line of Leftists; his father was editor of the New Republic for years, and boasted, in his autobiography, of having been a Soviet agent in the 1930's and 40's.

    At any rate, you know the secret those nasty capitalists have about getting filthy rich? They gotta have CUSTOMERS that can afford to buy their products. So, they have to pay their workers enough to be capable customers. Voila-- the American standard of living. Henry Ford was one of the first to make this connection and implement it.

    Best,

    Mike