The Exploited Laborers of the Liberal Media: Interns
Editor’s note: For years, VICE has used part-time unpaid interns—a practice that we recently halted. Our current policy is to pay interns $10 an hour and limit them to 20 hours a week during the school year and 25 hours a week during the summer.
I was 21 years old when I took out my earring, combed my hair, and tried concealing my distaste for power and Washington, DC, in order to ask questions at press conferences. It was the summer of 2006, and I had just left college to go work for a small, do-gooding nonprofit that covered Capitol Hill for public radio.
I went through the whole experience of being a journalist in the nation’s capital: attending deadly boring policy luncheons, interviewing near-dead lawmakers and dead-inside lobbyists, and dying a little inside myself every time I saw my work “edited”—turned into shameful garbage—before going on air.
Like any other reporter, I pitched stories at morning meetings and then did the legwork to put them together, in the process learning the job. While my gut impulse at first was to righteously confront the powerful with strident questions highlighting their logical inconsistencies and factual errors, I soon found it was often smarter to affect an earnest demeanor just a hair shy of sarcastic. You need to let the person being interviewed explain why he is terrible, which is more easily done when he thinks you are stupid or on his side.
Fast Food Workers Fight for $15 an Hour
The numbers speak for themselves. If today’s minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would be $10.52 instead of $7.25. For many Americans, this difference is the cost of rent or a car payment plus groceries and utilities. Had the minimum wage rose along with worker productivity during that same period, it would be $21.72, almost three times the present minimum.
Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren and her ilk cite this data in their campaign for a $9 federal minimum wage, but they are of course not demanding anything approaching $21.72, or even $10.52. The reason is, as every wage laborer knows, the faster and more efficiently one is able to work, the less that labor is actually worth. And there’s no better example of this than the fast food industry, where some of the most exploited workers in the country toil away feeding millions each day at a breakneck pace. And they are rewarded with the absolute lowest pay allowable by law.
On Monday, answering a call from a national group called Fast Food Forward (FFF), about 200 fast food workers from all over New York City bravely walked off the job, risking firing, to demand more control over their work and their lives. FFF called a press conference and demonstration in Union Square, demanding a $15-dollar minimum wage and a union for fast food workers.
Hanging Out with the Desperate People at Watford Jobs Fair Was Really Depressing
Conveniently for those who like to understand things through false dichotomies, and frustratingly for everyone else, the UK government has come up with a narrative that differentiates between the “strivers” and “shirkers” in British society. “Strivers” are those who struggle to provide for themselves by working like slaves and “shirkers” are those who struggle to provide for themselves because they’re too busy wanking on the couch, cackling as they drag the rest of us down into their mire of jobless largesse.
However, this idea is revealed as fallacy when you look at the figures, which show that even if every unemployed person in the country spent their every waking hour looking for a job, they wouldn’t be able to find one. There simply aren’t enough to go around. There’s no hidden well of endless jobs that someone has been sneakily hiding from us. The latest Labor Market Survey showed that while there are nearly half a million vacant positions, there are 2.5 million unemployed who want them. Not to mention the 7 million underemployed making the stats look a bit nicer as they wallow in a personal purgatory.
Filthy Lucre – by Molly Crabapple
When you fly Virgin Upper Class out of Heathrow, you go through a separate set of airport security.
With a ticket that costs $4,000 round-trip, you swipe your boarding pass, go up a sleek private elevator, and pass through security and passport control that is delighted to see you. “Lovely suitcase,” they coo. You’re whisked away to the Virgin Clubhouse, with its free facials and single-malt scotch. Except briefly, you never interact with the airport’s general population.
Some months ago, I got to fly first-class from London. Until then, I’d never realized it wasn’t just a recliner in the plane and some cheap bubbly, but rather a separate sphere of being. In first-class, you weren’t groped or barked at or treated like a combination of a terrorist and a cow. Instead, paid servants pretended your presence was a gift.
After years of work trips crammed in coach, being forced to show my underwear to the TSA, I felt like a guttersnipe in a palace. I loved it, but it was also deeply strange. “These people don’t really like me,” I thought, no matter how skillfully they acted like they did.
Until you see it, you never realize how separate the sphere of the rich is from that of everyone else.
I came from a middle-class, divorced home. As is typical, the upper-middle-class end of the split went to my dad, and the lower-middle-class to my mom. Like most people trying to make it in an impractical profession, I spent years living in rat-infested tenements with roommates who threatened to kill me in my sleep.
Unlike most artists, I started to make money. Not 1 percent money, but more than my mom ever dreamed of. Once I did, I started to realize how broken the idea of American meritocracy was.
Meritocracy is America’s foundational myth. If you work hard, society tells us, you’ll earn your place in the middle class. But any strawberry picker knows hard work alone is a fast road to nowhere. Similarly, we place our faith in education. Study, and the upper-middle class will be yours. Except the average student graduates $35,000 in debt.
The $wiftest Pigeon
What is the sound of 1 million yuan flapping?
While most nouveau riche happily spend their new money on shit the old money has already deemed acceptable, China’s spoiled young princelings aren’t content with horses, sports cars, and insanely tacky watches alone. In tribute to the intrepid bootleggers who’ve propped up their country’s market economy, China’s rich have taken arguably the worst bird of all time, the pigeon, and slapped a Louis Vuitton logo on it. Racing pigeons are the new thoroughbreds here, with birds auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece and races netting millions for the championship flock. Which sucks for the old timers, whose balcony-bred birds don’t stand a chance against these million-dollar superflocks. And which just sucks in general because, well, pigeons. Fucking pigeons.
Watch the documentary
International Cyber Thieves Stole $40 Million from a Bank in 10 Hours
In December 2012, and again in February of this year, a couple of highly coordinated cyberattacks targeted two Middle Eastern banks—Oman’s Bank of Muscat and the United Arab Emirates’ Bank of Ras Al Khaimah—in a $45-million heist that evidently surprised the shit out of authorities and "impressed" cybercrime expertsworldwide. It was only announced late last week that the heist occurred, and it’s believed that operations in 27 countries led to the grand total of $45 million stolen. That said, arrests have only been made in the United States (one of the suspects was caught with an iPhone full of cash-filled selfies) and Germany—which is extra crazy because the authorities believe the ringleaders were working outside of the United States. So, where are the rest of these digital bank robbers and their ringleaders?
To make matters even more intense, news broke on Saturday morning that the man believed to be leading the American wing of this global-bank-robbing scheme was executed in the Dominican Republic in late April. It doesn’t take a massive stretch of the imagination to conclude that someone is trying to prevent the information that was swirling around in that man’s head—i.e., how these cyberbank robbers were able to steal so much money from the banking system, without causing any alarms that would freeze the tampered accounts they were using—from being spilled out into the hands of the authorities. When his body was found, there was $100,000 of cash in his residence, along with an assault rifle, telescopic sight, and three pistols.According to Reuters, the American operation alone, allegedly led by this dead man, netted $2.4 million in stolen cash, taken from over 3,000 ATMs, within ten hours. This part of the story alone can now be referred to simply as the second-largest bank robbery in New York’s history.
You Will Never Be as Rich as These Pets
When you’re about to be kicked out of your squat and are scanning the sidewalk for enough change to buy some ramen noodles, you always dream that someday you’ll somehow land in a fat pile of dough. Maybe it’ll be the lottery, or a personal-injury lawsuit, or a trust fund your parents forgot to tell you about. Hate to break it to you, but it’s never going to happen. You’re going to die a poor, sad schmuck.
But do you know who is richer than you? Yes, a bunch of fat right-wing white guys, pasty tech geniuses in hoodies, and shady Russian oligarchs, but also a lot of animals. Yes, animals! The following pets are all millionaires, and you’re still trying to use that expired student ID to get two bucks off at the movies on Tuesday night. And you know what? That’s just the way the world works. Might as well accept it and move on.
Gunther IV: Worth $373 million
This German shepherd—the world’s richest dog—inherited his money from his father, who was left $80 million in 1991 by his owner, German countess Karlotta Liebenstein. The other $300 million came from money his trustees made in investments. Yeah, he has people who work for him. He also owns Madonna’s old Miami mansion. How many of you are wondering if you can marry a dog?
Toby Rimes: Worth $80 million
The rich keep getting richer. Toby’s great-great-great-dogfather, the original Toby, was the pampered poodle of crazy rich lady Ella Wendel, who left him all her money when she died in 1931. The endowment, passed from dog to dog ever since, has been growing as your chances of getting a job dwindle.
Luke, Layla, Sunny, Lauren, and Sadie: Worth $30 million
Oprah Winfrey won’t even give us one of her favorite things, but her will reportedly provides a fortune for whatever dogs she leaves behind when she dies. That is, if Oprah is not immortal, which I find hard to believe.
How to Pay Your Student Loans Without Actually Paying Them
There are two rhetorical positions commonly adopted when addressing the topic of student loans, one held by those with robust monthly incomes, the other championed by magical thinkers whose earning powers border on the anemic. Try to guess which is which:
1) “You shouldn’t have gotten into so much debt in the first place if you didn’t have a responsible plan to pay it off. Quit complaining and get to work.”
2) “Student loans exploit children by luring them with the promise of non-existent careers into borrowing inconceivable sums. The system is broken; defaulting counts as civil disobedience.”
If you’re partial to the first of these arguments, then you should stop reading this immediately and go hang out in your bathtub full of gold-plated caviar (or whatever it is you people do), but if you’re listing towards the latter position, then it only stands to reason that you should get out of your student loan debt as quickly and painlessly as possible. And there are actually ways to do that. Check it out