The troubles of American life

Maximo Cortez has worked part time for Starbucks in Houston, Texas on and off over the last eight years, first while in school and now to save up some money. Cortez, a transgender man, is trying to accumulate enough to afford top surgery, something that will cost him $10,000. Meanwhile, he also needs to pay back student loans, pay his car expenses, and try to afford his apartment.

“Giving everyone a 5 percent wage increase, from barista to management, that’s a great step forward,” he said. But for him, currently making $8 an hour, that increase won’t mean much. “It won’t even be a dollar,” he noted.

That degree was useful then, yes?

29 thoughts on “The troubles of American life”

  1. And Cortez isn’t the only idiot in that report. Matt:

    but 5 percent for somebody struggling to pay their rent every month is nothing

    It isn’t “nothing”. It’s 5% whether you need it desperately or not.

  2. 10k for top surgery in the US? Is another barista performing it in the Starbucks bogs?

    What is top surgery anyway – taking her/his female tits off?

  3. ‘That degree was useful then, yes?’

    Yes, he . . . uhh . . . it? . . . will go through life as an educated . . . something.

    Though the education is not showing through at the moment.

  4. Mac jobs are not necessarily bad: if you work hard, go full-time, rise up the ladder etc.

    But how in hell do you want a full life working as a barista part-time? It is the sort of job you do part-time when at Uni, in the holidays.

    Full-time at $8/hour is $1,280 gross per month, after tax depends on the country. You can survive, sharing an apartment being frugal (remember what frugal means?) etc. but not much more.

    High expectations in a low-reality world?

  5. At a guess: e may be part time because that’s the deal Starbucks offers so that it avoids having to pay for his Obamacare.

  6. The Inimitable Steve

    Maximo Cortez is this person.

    Can’t blame shim for wanting xer boobs removed, because xe would be a hellaciously fugly womyn.

    Apparently xim has a Bachelor of Business Administration, and specialises in “Community Organizing” and “Diversity Training”, as well as technical writing.

    Can’t imagine why employers aren’t lining up to throw money at zer.

  7. I used to have a number of friends in Houston that had invested far more than $10k in body enhancement surgery. They were fun girls. If you want to finance a certain sort of lifestyle, Starbucks isn’t the place to be; a weekend in Aspen with a couple of Senators pays better.

  8. ‘He noted that Race Together, a campaign Schultz started last year to get employees to talk to customers about race, “was a difficult conversation…but he wanted baristas to have a conversation aobut race. And now baristas want to have a conversation about labor.”’

    Christ. All I wanted was a cappuccino. Looks like they got exactly the staff they are looking for, so busy campaigning and signalling that they forget that they have to make some money, too.

  9. On the matter of Starbucks, I collect a bacon roll and a latte from Greggs every morning for breakfast at my desk and both the roll and the coffee are good. Cost is £2. I can’t imagine ever wanting to go to Starbucks again, except maybe in an airport.

  10. $1,280 gross per month, waggling a finger in the air, would be £8500 net UK income, noting that that UK £8500 also includes free-at-use healthcare and pension, etc. As a student I could eaily live on £8K, and didn’t pass £8K until my late 20s in about 1999.

    But as I’ve said elsewhere, if you want to /earn/ more, you have to /do/ more. If you want more than £8500 a year and pouring coffee isn’t going to do it, do something else.

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    What is a Bachelor’s in Business Administration? Is it learning how to ask where they keep the spare toner cartridges?

  12. Yeah, let’s all laugh at people who are on minimum wage and maybe chose the wrong degree course when they were 17, leaving them several thousand in debt.

    I mean, we’re all right aren’t we? Me, I got my degree paid for in full by the state and they gave me a maintenance grant too.

    So starve, you wretched burger-flipping fuckers. And try and stay quiet while you do it.

  13. He picks a degree in some leftist shite that wouldn’t make good toilet paper never mind start him on a fine career.

    17 or not that is fucking stupid. The scum of the state are exploiting juvo-dumbs by offering them loans at that age.

    As for being alright –it seems you are. So offer the mixed-up Mr Cortez a helping hand and salve your bleeding heart.

  14. @spiro, I realised I was in the wrong course after 3months of university, and promptly changed. You don’t need to wait several years to find out, unless you are a moron and should not be there in the 1st place. It’s not that I’m laughing at such people, it’s just that I have had enough of those retards who we pay for eventually and in all sorts of ways. And the state hasn’t paid anything for your education or maintenance grant, neither has the magic money tree.

    The funny thing is that I am a Bachelor of Arts in….business administration!

    I’ve never needed to work at Starbucks.


    Appears to be doing several jobs not just a barista. Did his(?) degree at the University of Houston Downtown.

    A BBA is hardly leftist – it’s a business degree – I’d guess this person did a marketing major.

    Perhaps not a great investment. But given qualification inflation in the US, you really need a grad degree to earn more – or go to a top US school for undergrad.

    UHD doesnt have a 20 year RoI by payscale, which is the organisation that provided the economist report, but it does have a terrible graduation rate of 19%;

  16. @ Spiro Ozer
    Maximo Cortez’s problem is less his/her choice of a degree course, more that he/she is expecting to receive an income large enough to pay for his/her lifestyle, repay student loans and save up for cosmetic surgery while spending so much time on political activism instead of working.

  17. Bloke wot didn't go to uni

    spiro gyro

    When I was 17, nearly fifty years ago, I was at a further education college doing ‘Business Studies’, which I hated and which I was quite obviously going to fail with distinction. So I packed it in and went off to dig roads for the council, probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I was neither suited to or bright enough for higher education and in those days most people of my level of abilities or lack of them didn’t get anywhere near it. Now of course it’s different and every dumbo can get a life crippling loan and go off and do some useless arts or fake politics degree, whilst acquiring various neuroses and senses of entitlement along the way. I’m glad I’m not young anymore.

  18. @spiro, let’s assume the local job market has tanked since this guy did his degree, and Starbucks is the only place hiring.

    You’re still looking at a guy campaigning for the government to force Starbucks to raise the cost of a cup of coffee, for everyone, to the point where Starbucks can afford to pay a guy $15/hr for making that coffee. That is ludicrous, and perfectly fair to to the piss out of.
    The fact that the guy ‘needs’ the money to save up for elective surgery is just the entitled cherry on top.

  19. Nemo, we ran one in the old days as our chauffeured office runabout for visitors. It was a half-decent machine.

  20. Business administration . . . the first year, you study the law of supply and demand. The second year, you review the law of supply and demand.

    I switched my major in 1969 from biology to BA. A friend of mine – an Ivy Leaguer – made the above comment to me. A semester repaired my problem grade average, and I switched back to biology.

  21. Yeah, let’s all laugh at people who are on minimum wage and maybe chose the wrong degree course when they were 17, leaving them several thousand in debt.

    I went off to college 25 years ago. My family had to fill out a Financial Aid Form, stating how much the family made and expenses like putting siblings through college. The college then determined how much the family could pay toward the cost of education, and presented a package of aid and loans to cover the rest.

    I quickly realized that if the government made more money in the form of aid, the college would still say we could afford to pay the same amount out-of-pocket each year, and they’d just wind up with more money. No wonder the cost of college keeps going up so ridiculously fast in the US.

  22. bilbaoboy

    “But how in hell do you want a full life working as a barista part-time? It is the sort of job you do part-time when at Uni, in the holidays.”

    This is the major problem with this living wage nonsense, it seems to totally discount entry level jobs as entry level jobs and expect anyone to be able to raise a family of 9, have long holidays, a new car and house, all on a part time food service job income.

  23. Ted S., you are correct. Many things are priced based on affordability.

    I first noticed it in the 1960s. It cost five dollars to get a car towed. Insurance companies added towing to their coverage. The price of towing went to $10 virtually over night.

    My state, South Carolina, introduced an “Education Lottery” to help finance college. The colleges responded immediately by raising their tuition sharply. Colleges are the only beneficiary of the education lottery. Not students.

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