The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Q Can't Take It Anymore

Is the below INSANE video related to the neighborhood? Really?

You bet. Not only is there a Micky D's right across from my beloved Q, the neighborhood is literally teeming with fast food joints that all pay the same. I'll let the vid speak for itself, but if this doesn't get your dander up then try Selsun Blue...


Anonymous said...

Yeah. Astounding logic at work in that video. Reminds of the brilliant thinking shown by supporters of gas pumpers.

Gas pumpers, those guys who worked in gas stations, usually after school and on weekends, earning minimum wage until Exxon and Mobil and Chevron discovered they didn't have to pay anyone to pump gas.

All it took was credit-card readers built into the gas pumps, maybe one cashier inside the convenience store, and the understanding that anyone who can drive is capable of pumping his own gas.

So ended a job that was part of life for millions of workers for decades.

Is anyone crying for the loss of a job that once employed millions of part-time workers? No. The job is gone and pretty much forgotten.

Reminds me of the job of pin-setting, the job at bowling alleys in which someone put the bowling pins back in place after the bowlers knocked them down.

My sympathies are always engaged when the subject of telegraph operators comes up. A skilled group of workers who saw their careers go up in smoke when another technology appeared. That's sad.

Lately, changes in the frozen yogurt business have concerned me. What happens at 16 Handles? Just like a gas station, you pump your own, and then you pay the cashier. One, maybe two less employees to pay at those yogurt shops.

You know other players in the fast food business will figure a way to cut out a few jobs at each site.

We need a national holiday, a national day of remembrance for all the jobs that no longer exist.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Interesting that you missed the point entirely. Of course jobs will disappear. That's the nature of increased productivity that lifted the middle class. The point is that McDonalds is essentially making the case for universal health care. It apparently expects the government to take care of ITS workers. Another form of corporate subsidy...unnecessary and short sighted. Were they paying into a national health fund, it'd make sense.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Their payroll taxes are pittance compared to what they get for their poorly payed workers.

Anonymous said...

Clarkson, nope, I didn't miss a thing. Last year McDonald's paid $2.6 billion in income taxes alone. There was, in addition, huge property tax bills, and huge utility costs. The company also purchased all the meat and potatoes needed for its products.

A lot of workers were paid along the way. And, at the end of the day, stockholders received $2.9 billion in dividends. Those dividends, in most cases, were taxed again. A significant portion of those dividends land in pension funds and retirement accounts, spreading the benefits to workers at every economic level.

That aside, McDonald's merely dispensed information about benefit programs the caller might be eligible for. Obviously anyone -- a non-employee -- could have called that phone number and gotten the same information, and it would have been just as relevant.

Just like H&R Block dispensing tax advice, however Block charges customers to prepare returns. But Block usually manages to find deductions and otherwise help its customers reduce their tax payments.

Is that wrong too?

Should employees and taxpayers stick to the path of ignorance instead of becoming informed?

Have you noticed that even people in the US military, usually those with families, are often recipients of food stamps and other benefits granted by social programs?

If the US government is underpaying its employees, who is supposed to come to their aid? All their income is derived from tax revenue, which makes them -- in your view -- the most subsidized workers of all.

At least one National Guardsman I know subsidizes his Guard paycheck by working at Spartan Gym, up Coney Island Avenue by the Kent Theater. For minimum wage.

By the way, you mentioned a universal healthcare system. McDonald's is older than Medicaid and Medicare. You can be absolutely sure neither was created for the benefit of McD's.

Meanwhile, McD's follows every employment law on the books, including the laws about healthcare coverage.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Interesting that you should note the health of stock portfolios and the banks and middle-men and yes, even pensioners (who no longer receive pensions from the companies they worked for, but rather have to hope corporations like McDonalds will squeeze a few dollars of extra profit out its employees so they might enjoy a rising 401K in order to enjoy 1/4 the retirement of their parents) choose to highlight the health of all those over the basic needs of employees. It's typical supply-side bull, and this argument that the health of the economy relies on treating workers like dogs has a long history -- all the way back before progressives and unions shook a few measly concessions out of greedy industrialists.

I suspect you'd prefer we let the corps set all the rules.

And frankly, $2.6 billion is a pittance on $27 billion in revenue. Sure they list something $6 billion in profit, but that's a joke. Everyone got paid, big time. Fat cats at the top are making plenty, and that counts as expenses. Plus profits are easily concealed overseas through loopholes. Meanwhile they're squeezing factory farms to produce beef that's unhealthy and unsustainable in order to sate an appetite for meat that is destroying the planet. Weening ourselves off the staggering amount of meat we eat is the best way to save the world. But then you probably think all scientists and environmentalists are chicken littles.

And yes, Anon, it is relevant that the advice to get food stamps and Medicaid is coming from your employer. It is an acknowledgment that you know damn well you aren't paying a living wage or taking care of your workers. There was a time, even in our own past, when taking care of one's workers was considered a good investment.

Anonymous said...


I can see from your comment that you don't know much about finance or McDonald's.

McD's, as an example is a little tricky because the parent company listed on the stock exchange runs only a portion of all the burger sites. There's a lot of revenue that only shows up on the books of the individual franchisees who pay a royalty to the parent company.

So, feel free to drop by the local McD's to tell the franchise owner he's a creep and should cough up higher wages. He's the guy you need to talk to.

As for the finances of the public McD's, well, yeah, revenue was over $27 billion. And net income was $5.5 billion.

You only pay income taxes on income. Not revenue. So McD's paid a tax rate of about 30 percent. That's a heck of a lot higher rate than is paid by most people in Brooklyn.

From where do you get this nonsense that McD's sends US profits to other countries to hide it? That's income tax evasion, and it's illegal.

Are you unaware of the fact that the IRS loves to extract revenue from any entity that appears to be chiseling the government of its due?

McD's does have restaurants in China, and those restaurants are profitable. If McD's were to bring those profits back to the US to reinvest here, it would have to pay income tax of at least 30 percent on the cash. Maybe more.

On the other hand, it can reinvest the money in China, after paying China the taxes it demands. On balance, reinvesting in China is more attractive than bringing the cash back to the US.

That's how it works with US companies doing business in other nations. We don't set their tax rates.

As for your assessment of the McD's product, well, I don't eat at McD's but, as the ads say, billions of burgers have been sold. So clearly billions of people have enjoyed a McD's burger and fries.

Is it okay for people to make their own food choices? Even when the choices are foolish?

I know there's an obesity problem in the country, especially evident among the poor. All I can say is cut way back on the sugar and flour, don't smoke and cut way back on the drinking. But no one listens to me. I've been saying the same thing for years.

As for the silliness of a "living wage", a company needs to do nothing more than to pay enough to meets its staffing requirements. McD's would gain nothing from raising wages to the Jumaane Williams level of $15 an hour.

In fact, if that were the new wage, McD's would raise the hiring requirements to include a college degree and thereby eliminate everyone it now employs.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

"From where do you get this nonsense that McD's sends US profits to other countries to hide it? That's income tax evasion, and it's illegal. "

Oy. I won't dignify that comment with a response.

On other poorly researched points, you seem to think that McDonald's choice of how much to extract from a franchisee has nothing to do with the chain that leads to full-time worker on food stamps. That McDonalds is in the business of feeding people makes that statement beyond ironic. Of course it's not the owner of the franchise one should speak to...go try it and they'll show you how they're being squeezed. They're not even allowed to choose their pricing! That's not a's extortion.

I don't know if you have a degree in economics or are just working P.R. for the Tea Party, but your straightforward reading of a balance sheet shows you have absolutely no idea how that "profit" number is derived. It's pure fiction, as it is on the vast majority of companies in the 500. That's the whole point of tax stop allowing the richest to cheat the system by hiring the best tax lawyers. Teams of them, plus offshore subsidiaries. Google "Apple" and you'll see what I mean.

(Actually Googling Apple is quite a hysterical statement in itself.)

Look, you clearly don't care that NYC costs about 10 times what it costs to live in rural Alabama, or you'd be interested in raising the minimum wage. Or I suppose you think full-time fast food workers should be required to commute from hours away. I just don't get it hit all the same sad points about barbaric capitalism used to defend the status quo, but you never think it through to the actual circumstances of real people. As a country we enact plenty of laws to protect the why not economically at the level of the worker? Because we're still living with the ghost of Milton Friedman I suppose...

Not sure what line of work you're in, sir. I do hope your employer sees fit to pay you well, give you benefits, and adjust your income upward as you show your loyalty and trustworthiness. God forbid you should one day have to face any of the very real consequences of living a life outside the comfortable classes.

Anonymous said...


Ahh, if revenue is generated in the US you can't send the dough out of the country to hide it from domestic taxation.

Maybe you've been reading some oddball imaginary accounting texts.If you have, you should switch to something reliable that addresses the tax code and is an example of actual practices.

As for your grasp of accounting practices as they apply to companies in the S&P 500, well, as someone with a professional background in analysis of financial statements, I can tell you your perspective is way off. Fictional.

Apple has subsidiaries in other countries. Yes. Are any set up to exploit tax rules? Yes. Big deal. None of the actions are illegal.

Ireland created tax incentives that Apple has chosen to utilize. If you don't like the tax rule, blame Ireland. Apple didn't order Ireland to change policies as a tribute to Steve Jobs.

And McD's doesn't set the payments for food stamps, Medicaid, rent subsidies or any other social program in any state. It merely responds to the programs politicians have enacted on behalf of voters. So, if you don't like the social programs, take it up with our elected officials.

By the way, Apple paid $14 billion in income taxes in fiscal 2012. Fiscal 2013 ended Sept 30th. Results will be out soon, and it's expected the company will report a huge quarter.

For 2012, Apple paid out $10 billion for Selling, General and Administrative expenses (in other words, salaries). Not much for a company with almost $160 billion in revenue.

Yes, it's a highly profitable company that pays its Apple Store employees very little -- because they keep showing up for the pay they're offered.

Anyway, you seem unable to respond to the fact that even the US government cheaps out on military pay that often falls short for married troops who then turn to food stamps.

Where are these good guys you're dreaming about? At the Park Slope Food Co-op? The place that probably knocked out the demand for at least two supermarkets that would, if they existed, compensate their workers with cash?

Clarkson FlatBed said...


You're both deeply cynical (taking on a cooperative?) and incredibly gullible. You claim to understand balance sheets, but you seemingly have no idea how profits are manipulated. Sure it's technically legal, but certainly not fair by any stretch. Let me give you but one example.

McDonalds owns a lot of intellectual property, the Big Mac for instance, and the various machines and techniques it uses to create its haute cuisine. Franchisees pay fees on those things. Guess where those trademarks originate and are therefore counted as foreign profits? You guessed it. Anywhere but here. One of the reasons are rates are high is because we have the best tax evaders in the world. Fine you say, but I say fix the code.

Plenty of pedigreed economists believe that a sound economy can function BETTER with worker's living wage rules. According to your cruel analysis, whatever's legal by loophole is also apparently ethical. Progressives typically search for a more equitable law. Laissez-faire generally favors the rich and powerful.

Absurd income inequality does not a sound economy make. Nor a just society. Nor a politically stable one. Most important of all, achieving equality of opportunity disappears rapidly when the lower classes are stuck in neutral or retreating relative to GDP.

There's nothing visionary or progressive in your logic. You regurgitate facts you've heard elsewhere. You can say the same of me if you want. Let's leave it there.

I'm not even sure how we got here. The low-wage earner in this City is screwed with a capital S, and you offer nothing new, nothing constructive. Next thing you'll be telling me they're poor because of their DNA, and thus doomed to suffer.

I even doubt your background in accounting practices. Sounds highly dubious, since you cite obvious examples from the headlines and seem to be unable to comprehend that anything sneaky is happening anywhere. You also cite big sounding numbers (ooooh. billions!) that are meaningless without context.

I'm enjoying this immensely and I consider you too smart to dismiss out of hand. You deftly explain your partisan perspective and reel off the talking points. But I'm tired, and I'll let you have the last word if you must.

Were I a politician and you were on the other side, I'd gladly look for compromise rather than shut down the government. But don't look for me to do so here. It is my blog after all.

Anonymous said...


McD's has very little "intellectual property." Most of it consists of trademarks, like "McDonald's" and the Golden Arches logo. Those two have considerable, though unquantifiable value. But patents on food machinery? No money there. You're flailing.

If you were to look at McD's 10-k, you'd find that expenses for Research & Development are a drop in the bucket, which means there's not a lot of high intellectual complexity behind the development of McD's operations. It's not a pharmaceutical or bio-tech company.

As for franchisees, well, they willingly pay the freight that McD's corporate demands. Most of the time things work out, though occasionally McD's franchises run into trouble.

But the company and the franchisee consider all the angles before plunging ahead. Every operating reality is considered -- the foot traffic, car traffic, the presence of competition, local taxes, and the local labor, etc. Again, McD's reacts to the environment in which each site operates. It doesn't create the environment.

However, you seem to believe the company orders the government to create a special subsidized labor market for it. In fact, that's what you want. You want the government to impose wage laws on it. But the government already does that. And in addition, the government has also created massive social spending programs

That aside, the failure of the tax code is obvious enough. However, blocking any improvements is the unyielding belief that corporations are the actual source of tax revenue.

Moreover, there's an equally rigid view that hiring experts to perform necessary tasks is cheating. However, one way to reduce the need for some experts is to eliminate the thing that creates their value, which you find so disturbing. The complex tax code leads to the demand for tax experts.

If US corporate tax rates were zero percent, then the need for corporate tax experts would diminish, though not disappear, because other countries levy taxes. income statements would show top-line revenue, cost of goods sold, interest expenses, a few other expenses, but NO depreciation allowance, because without a tax on income, there'd be no reason to offset revenue with the decline in value of purchased equipment, etc -- capital expenditures.

And a lot of that cash kept offshore would return to an environment where it would be well treated, rather than confiscated. Would that lead to an increase in the number of McD's? More employment at McD's? Higher wages? Probably. Especially if the economy were expanding at a faster rate and approaching a state of full employment.

It's also believed that people can't move up the economic ladder in this country. Of course, if someone can only work the register at McD's their options are limited. But even restaurant work has its hierarchy. Waiters and waitresses all over NY City make some pretty good money. Excellent money, in fact. However, they derive their earnings from tips. Not hourly wages. Thus, there's always a better working environment waiting for everyone who looks.

Regarding my current activities in the financial world, well, I'm tied into another hot button industry -- oil & gas, with a focus on hydraulic fracturing.