Response to The Persuaders

The Persuaders is an episode of PBS’ Frontline which focuses on how marketing firms found new and effective ways to advertise among the advertising clutter in society. Marketers face the dilemma that people are unaffected by advertising. Ads are everywhere and people no longer pay attention. This “immunity” forces advertisement firms to find unique ways to promote their products.

The first part of the Frontline episode follows Song, a subdivision of Delta Airline, in their attempt to market themselves. Frontline also investigates new marketing techniques to “break through” to new customers. Some companies employ “Branded Marketing,” in which a television or movie blends their product within a storyline. FedEx interwove itself as a “character” in the movie, Castaway. Starbucks did the same in the Sean Penn movie, I am Sam. Other companies hire linguists, anthropologists, and brain researchers to discover techniques to influence the consumers.

The second part of “The Persuaders” reports on Dr. Clotaire Rapaille and his formula for marketing success based on his theories about how the reptilian part of the human brain works. Dr. Rapaille theorizes that people’s choices are imprinted since childbirth and dictates our shopping habits. He is sought after by marketing firms to discover more effective methods of advertisement.

The last part of the Frontline episode investigates how politics are using the new marketing methods to influence voters. Using a technique called “Narrowcasting,” political strategists (like Frank Luntz) can manipulate language to either clarify or cloud issues like global warming. In fact, The Persuaders demonstrated how changing the term “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” lessens the severity of the issue to the American voter. Furthermore, Political groups can deliver poignant and customized messages to specialized demographics rather than the community. This develops a sense of self over community within a voter.

I feel that The Persuaders Frontline episode is remarkable yet extremely disturbing. In the pursuit of selling products, marketers have discovered an effective method to deliver messages subversively. This is an amazing study in how the human brain works. However, it is a double-edged sword. I believe that empowering companies to psychologically manipulate their consumers creates a culture of people who can no longer think for themselves. A person’s identity and sense of individuality help develop critical thinking skills. If we’re manipulated subconsciously then we begin to be robbed of our ability to make logical decisions. We become psychologically dependent on businesses to dictate our likes and dislikes, much like how cults control people (which was referenced in The Persuaders); except our cults become Nike or Apple.

The Persuaders reported on a data collecting company called Acxiom. The company uses computer farms to mine data so they can predict the shopping habits of every American. The data mining is the “Gold Standard” for commercial advertisers. In fact, data mining has been an effective marketing ploy for myself, despite my lack of interest in watching television and movies. Online shopping sites such as Amazon frequently recommend additional items related to my purchases. I buy tablets and phones and, when I could afford it, accessories for them. I also purchase website themes and scripts. There is no doubt that my data has been mined by algorithms created by companies like Acxiom. In fact, my wife’s devices have a completely different set of ads due to her clothing and jewelry purchases.

In today’s age of interconnectivity, I don’t believe anyone is immune to advertisements. However, I believe that we need to be aware of how modern-day marketing works so we don’t abandon our critical thinking skills. Like anything, advertisements would ideally be received in moderation.

Investing in the Chocolate Market


As with any other consumable, the price of chocolate is driven by supply and demand. According to a market business report by Son Nguyen & Nickie Coker, “The masses, enthralled with better-quality treats, have become accustomed to spending an extra $2 or $3 every day on luxury options (Nguyen).” Chocolate is the second dominating specialty product that is wanted and consumed daily, next to coffee.


Chocolate is a loved product worldwide. It is a 500-year-old sixty-billion-dollar industry, as reported by The Oxford Club’s website, Investment U ( Additionally, the demand for premium dark chocolate has risen since 2008, after the recession. Recent promising studies suggest that dark chocolate may help lower cardiovascular disease risks (Zucchi).  Not only does chocolate have a long history of sales but also has health benefits.

The Chocolate Market

Who buys chocolate? Nearly 50 percent of all chocolate is consumed by Europeans. A blog by CNN’s Freedom project titled “Who Consumes the Most Chocolate” reports that Europe makes up 49.32% of this industry. North America takes up 24.22% (with the United States at 20.19%). The third highest consumer is Asia and Oceania (which includes Australia) at 14.19%. Forbes magazine reports that within Europe’ market, the average Switzerland consumer consumes 19.8 pounds of chocolate yearly (McCarthy). Germany customers consume 17.4 pounds and Irish customers eat 16.3 pounds.

Despite stereotypes, there is no discernible difference between men and women chocolate consumers. A U.K. Study conducted found that although 91% of women admitted to consuming chocolate, 87% of men who were polled also ate chocolate (  In an article by Slate magazine, there is no scientific basis in gender bias chocolate cravings:

“Research on whether women like chocolate more than men has yielded mixed results, in part because craving—the term researchers tend to use when talking about chocolate proclivities—is an inherently subjective phenomenon (Anderson). “

Chocolate remains a supermarket impulse buy. Roy Morgan Marketing (an Australian firm) conducted a survey on where shoppers purchase their chocolate bars. The survey concluded that “4.9 million Aussies bought at least one chocolate bar from a supermarket in any given four-week period – accounting for more than three-quarters (76%) of the chocolate-bar buying public (Roy Morgan). “ reports that 90 million pounds of chocolate candy are sold for Halloween. Easter time 71 million pounds are sold and Valentine’s Day 60 million pounds (Tannenbaum). Referring to a chocolate industry report by Franchise Help, “Seasonal candy is a major driver of the confectionary industry, and in 2014 accounted for over 21% of sales – over $7 billion.”


A focus market for chocolate sales would be based on Europe, specifically Switzerland. The product would ideally be marketed to both men and women. The chocolate product would ideally be sold in grocery stores or convenience stores as an impulse purchase. Lastly, the best opportunity to increase sales of chocolate would be Halloween.


Anderson, L.V. “What’s Up with the Stereotype That Women Love Chocolate?” Slate Magazine, Amazon Associates, 13 Feb. 2012,

McCarthy, Niall. “The World’s Biggest Chocolate Consumers [Infographic].” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 22 July 2015,

Nguyen, Son, and Nickie Coker. “Gourmet Chocolate.” Gourmet Chocolate -, SBDCNet News, 2006,

Tannenbaum, Kiri. “8 Facts About Chocolate.” Delish, Hearst Communications, Inc., 28 Aug. 2017,

“Chocolate Industry Analysis 2018 – Cost & Trends.” Franchise Help, FranchiseHelp Holdings LLC, 16 May 2016,

“Vast Majority of Chocolate-Bar Buyers Get Their Fix from Supermarkets.” Roy Morgan, Roy Morgan, 7 Oct. 2015,

“Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Jan. 2012,

Zucchi, CFA Kristina. “What Drives The Price Of Chocolate?” Investopedia, Investopedia, LLC., 16 July 2015,

Chocolate Demographics by Region


Market Chosen: Chocolate

Segmentation Model: Demographics by Region

Chocolate is an 83 billion industry worldwide (“Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” 2012).


Europe: 49.32% = 40.94 Billion

North America: 24.22% = 20.10 Billion

Asia and Oceania: 14.49% = 12.03 Billion

South America: 8.68% = 7.20 Billion

Africa:  3.28% = 2.72 Billion


Chocolate is the most popular where it is the rarest and the country with the most wealth. In an article by Slate Magazine, the writer reports on why Switzerland consumes and produces the most chocolate products. “Few cocoa-producing countries are big chocolate consumers because chocolate is a luxury,” notes Brian Palmer, “wealthy Western Europe constitutes 6 percent of the world’s population, but eats 45 percent of its chocolate.” Africa, which produces 2/3’s of the world’s chocolate (Maverick), only consumes 3.28% of the product. Many South American countries such as Peru and Mexico are the top exporters of cocoa, which explains why South America is the second least consumer of chocolate.


Mattyasovszky, Miklos. “Top 10 Cocoa Producing Countries.” WorldAtlas, WorldAtlas, 22 Apr. 2015,

Maverick, J.B. “The 4 Countries That Produce the Most Chocolate.” Investopedia, Investopedia, LLC., 30 Sept. 2015,

Palmer, Brian. “Switzerland Is the Last Place on Earth Where You’d Grow Cocoa. So Why Do the Swiss Eat So Much Chocolate?” Slate Magazine, The Slate Group, 11 Oct. 2012,

“Who Consumes the Most Chocolate?” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Jan. 2012,

Summary of “If a Story Is Viral, Truth May Be Taking a Beating”

by Illya King

This is a summary of the article “If a Story Is Viral, Truth May Be Taking a Beating” by Ravi Somaiya and Leslie Kafugman of the New York Times.

In the article, the writers are discussing three viral news stories that were revealed to be hoaxes. The hoax stories were reported as factual on several news sites before a retraction was published. When the news sites apologized for the errors, there was little to no consequences for the false reporting. The writers are making a statement that truth has no relevance to online journalism.

The writers interviewed news editors of popular news sites like Gawker and The Huffington Post. They interviewed educated college professionals as well as the creators of the popular hoax stories. The purpose of these interviews is to discover why the fake news stories became popular and why little to no fact-checking was done before publishing them.

Fake News or un-verified news is published because readers want the news as a distraction. The news people are reading is a form of entertainment. They want news that makes statements about the culture they are living in. Facts are no longer as important, and the line is blurred for viewership.

The writers point out that instant news reporting is helpful, like Toronto mayor’s, Rob Ford, cocaine use. However, news organizations do not see conflict with posting factual news along with fiction. As the writers learn, there is a trade-off with hyper news reporting… it is impossible to fact-check fast information. Most online news sites rely on third-parties to validate the truth of their content. In an age of hyper-connectivity, online news sites struggle to balance between factual reporting and viewership. Readers are more concerned with reading news for entertainment and have little care for facts. 

grayscale photo of river between mountains

Response to “Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like'”

Response essay to-

The essay we were given to read was “Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like It’ by Molly Worthen of the New York Times. The essay was about the phrase “I Feel Like” and the non-verbal meaning behind the phrase. The author discusses the brief linguistic history as well as why people use it. It concludes is that “I Feel Like” is a non-logical and lazy way of absolving ones’ self of the consequences of their words. I agree with Ms. Worthen’s point in that the phrase “I Feel Like” is a control and non-rational statement.

Ms. Worthen wrote about the history of how “I Feel Like” came into our common syntax. The phrase came to fruition due to the ever-evolving and polarizing diversity in our society. The phrase is a “safe word” design to structure a point of view to be non-confrontational and digestible. The words are meant to protect the audience from being offended. However, as Ms. Chai (a college senior interviewed) pointed out, “you can’t really refute them with logic, because that would imply they didn’t have that experience, or their experience is less valid.”  “I feel like” is a passive statement designed to control the results of the conversation.  It’s a linguistic trap which sub-consciously forces the opponent of a debate to accept a point of view without a fight.

“Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’” goes further into how damaging the phrase is. In the article, sociologist Richard Sennett points out that, “the more a person concentrates on feeling genuinely, … the less expressive he can be.” Additionally, Ms. Worthen interviewed Dr. Lash-Quinn who surmised that “I feel like” hinders our society from making “real gains in racial and economic equality.” By debating with emotions rather than with logic, more than issues and facts are in debate. Issues evolve into potentially emotionally harmful conversations.  People then create safe spaces to protect themselves from trigger warnings of emotional fueled dialogue. Rational conversation is what adults do. Responsible adults act and make decisions based on facts and reason. By engaging in emotionally charged conversations, our ability to respond rationally is compromised.

In conclusions, I believe “Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’” is an excellent article about how to create rational conversation. It points out the fallacies in engaging in passive language. It also points out the importance of rational and responsible dialogue.

burger with fries

In support of high calories in homeless handouts

Note- I wrote this blog in January of 2012. All links and references may not be relevant.

Most cities are instituting Anti-Sit laws which prohibit people to sit on sidewalks and streets. Anti sit laws are design to prohibit individuals from obstructing commerce. In a report by, the study found 30 percent of the major cities in the United States have criminalized sitting or lying on the sidewalk ( Homeless people have very little places to go and therefore must be on the move to avoid criminal charges.

It is a documented fact that the human body burns up to 2000 calories a day, depending on body weight. The estimated 2000 calorie count does not include calories a person burns up in physical activity. A person can burn an additional 100 calories per mile to increase their calorie burn ( If a homeless person is on the move, carrying their possessions, how much calories are being burned in the process? And are those calories being replaced?

Link: How Many Calories Am I Burning When I Exercise?-

People who I have worked with in the past have given out bottled water and granola bars when outreaching to the homeless. The consensus among my former peers is that health should be the primary concern when helping people in need. Additional, former colleges of mine have given out vitamins to help replenish lost vitamins and nutrients. Granola bars typically have about 118 calories ( which might replenished 1 mile of walking. Water contains no vitamins. Vitamins are a poor substitute for vegetables, but at least do provide some kind of nutrition. So the person who is forced to walk on the streets because of anti sit law are not getting the calories the human body needs.

When a person is deprived of calories, several things happen. Calorie deprivation causes-

  • Thin or hair loss
  • Reduced vision
  • Tongue splitting
  • Gingival hemorrhage
  • Decreased sense of taste
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Anemic
  • Slower reflexes
  • And the inability to feel warm


Link: What causes fatigue headaches?

Link:Diet Myths — What Your Doctor Hasn’t Told You- homeless outreach is about providing temporary relief to those in need. Relief comes in different forms, such as communication, providing clothing, or even providing temporary shelter. But addressing calorie intake needs to be considered when providing a meal. By providing high calorie food, a person can help replenish calories burned by the activity of the street person. I have found that purchasing fast food, chips and soda can help alleviate temporary hunger for one meal. The foodstuff is not a source of nutrition. However, nutrition is the least of concern to a person on the street. Homeless people have more issues to deal with than whether or not the food they are eating is health. In my experience, providing comfort foodstuff helps to restore the sense of humanity that consumers take for granted. Providing brand name foods or fast foods is a luxury that street people cannot afford on their own.

Personal outreach is a very difficult thing to do, especially when a person is limited to their own finances. But when considering what to buy, think about the activity level of people who do not have a place to sit. Providing foods that are luxuries help in reminding homeless people that they are still people. And by restoring a person’s sense of self, that person may decide to seek out better solutions to their situation rather than remaining where they are at.

man in t-shirt and pants sitting on concrete floor in grayscale photography

The different groups of homelessness outside of economic hardships

Note 1- I wrote this college essay in December of 2011. All links and references may not be relevant.

Note 2- (I had misplace my original copy of my research project. Page numbers are not included in citation).

A lot of people attribute homelessness to the current economic hardships. A majority of people and families are homeless because of the decline of the job market. Homelessness is a sad reality in our current society. There are resources out there that can help homeless people like Section 8 housing or Welfare. Congress last year implemented a plan called “Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness,” which is a 5 year plan to end homelessness (United States). Programs designed to help homelessness have significantly improved over the years, some of which have started to yield results by addressing the root causes of homelessness. However, there are still people who stay homeless despite public assistance. In a brief Q and A section in a college English class, the students listed their opinions on the topic of homelessness. Most of the students wrote theory reports about the people begging on the streets having to do with job loss; some reports were inquiring about why housing isn’t better; a few people wrote reports theorizing about the work ethic of those on the streets. Some people are not able emotionally, physically, nor mentally to handle traumatic situations in their life, such as physical or sexual abuse or schizophrenia. Research shows that there are some people who are homeless because it is a self-destructive symptom of a much deeper issue. Most homelessness is linked to a poor economy, but there are other people who are on the streets due to a myriad of mental and physical issues beyond their control. It is important to find key groups of homeless people and the issues that the homeless face which may prevent the ability to fully address homelessness.

The first type of homeless, which makes up about 20 percent of the overall homeless population, is people who are chronically homeless. People who experience chronic homelessness are usually middle aged men and they typically live on the streets or in places unfit for human habitation. Due to different federal programs and initiatives, the rate of people who are chronically homeless have declined by 28 percent since 2005. However, despite the increase in programs and initiatives, there are still 124,000 people who qualify as chronically homeless (National).

The chronically homeless suffer from different mental issues such as schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorders. Mental issues are intensified by co-occurring substance abuse. At least 38% of the chronically homeless abuse alcohol, 26% abuse drugs, and an extra 30% abuse both types of substances. Because the chronically homeless have both disabling mental issues and drug abuse, they may not qualify for housing and services that will give proper care to homelessness (Rickards). Programs that provide housing and care should address substance abuse and dependency before addressing mental issues so that the disabled chronically homeless person can qualify for services.

Individuals experiencing chronic homelessness may suffer from chronic and acute medical conditions that are exasperated by living on the street. Besides the common medical issues like colds, flu, and muscle aches, there are different disorders like lung diseases, cardiovascular issues, and even sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS/HIV. It was found that 43% of the mentally disabled homeless have co-occurring devastating medical issues [lung, heart, brain and STDs] as well (Rickards).

Paradoxes exist to those who are chronically homeless. Some may carve out an income by panhandling in locations that may “tolerate” their presence. A person who has found a safe location to panhandle may develop a sense of attachment or ownership (Farrell). By claiming stake to key locations, a panhandler has a place that remains constant. Some of the chronically homeless may receive disability checks, which could be used to buy drugs, alcohol, sex, or even gamble, then afterwards, people receiving the checks wait in anticipation for the new check (Farrell). These attachment and cycles create a sense of familiarity. Living in a state of constant upheaval, people seek a form of structure in a chaotic environment. The cycles may, at times, prove difficult to break for both the chronic homeless person and services who seek to help the needy. Panhandling or collection of welfare checks are used to fuel a habit, but the habit is a co-dependency on a negative lifestyle (Farrell). The co-dependency is similar to abused people depending on their abusers and choosing not to leave abusive situations.

The chronically homeless typically use more charitable resources than other types of homelessness. In a journal by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a study in one shelter found that “chronically homeless people account for about 10 percent of shelter users but consumed about 50 percent of shelter resources (National).” However, studies further show that permanent supportive housing with supportive services emphasizing health, mental, and substance abuse care have proven effective in recovery of the chronically homeless and decreases resources funded by the public.

People who are homeless for over a year or have had four episodes of homelessness during 3 years is classed as chronically homeless (Rickards). There are other groups of people that fall under the umbrella of chronically homeless, highest statistically being Veterans, Juveniles, and Women.

Veterans make up 26% of the homeless population. Nearly 200,000 veterans do not have places to go. The veterans who are at most high risk for homelessness are usually those who lived in poverty are either of Hispanic or African-American heritages. Homeless veterans are usually single men who are between the ages of 31 to 50. A small number of homeless veteran are younger minority women who are not disabled. Veterans from poor areas that do not have family or friends, and do not have a homestead end up on the streets. Additionally, homeless veterans who are alone are more socially isolated than the rest of the homeless (National Center). Veterans who have disabilities may not be able to enter into the workforce and a stipend from the Government is not enough to cover the cost of rent or housing. Combat or high stress crisis can create mental issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which disables a person’s ability to cope with past traumatic events (Appelt). Not every veteran with PTSD becomes homeless, but it is a factor that contributes to a person’s mental well-being in relation to being homeless.

Much like the chronically homeless, vets are susceptible to the same pitfalls like substance abuse and mental issues. However, homeless veterans were more likely to use shelter-based clinics or outreach programs than community clinics or other publicly supported resources (O’Toole). Because veterans are not using publically supported program, it becomes difficult to track or follow up with additional care. The other issue that separates the chronically homeless from homeless veterans is that veterans may receive help from Veterans Affairs, but VA services might not be enough to care for Veterans. In a brief report by Dr. Thomas P. O’Toole titled “Health Care of the Homeless Veterans: Why are some people failing though the safety net,” Dr. O’Toole theorized that VA services may need to expand and coordinate its efforts to maximize their effect in reducing the number of homeless vets.

Veterans face the additional issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD) is an anxiety disorder where a psychological trauma to a person’s physical, sexual, or psychological self has exceeded their ability to cope. In an article titled “Comorbidity between Psychiatric and General Medical Disorders in Homeless Veterans,” the study pointed out that there is “a relatively large proportion of people with combat related disorders, and numerous individuals having PTSD.” The people that have co-occurring issues combined with PTSD disables the homeless veteran’s ability to function. Sometimes, veterans who had medical and mental issues often sought self-medication in the form of narcotics, although substance addiction is much higher in younger veterans than older veterans. (Appelt). Much like the chronically homeless, veterans are susceptible to the same mental and medical issues with physically traumatizing events such as brain injuries or loss of appendages; in fact, the Veteran Affairs report that many of the returning soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders and traumatic brain injuries. (Vogal).

Similar to veterans, another group who has the same type of issues is older inmates now released. Older prisoners who are released have to finance their own medical and mental care. This puts older prisoners at high risk for homelessness. Much like veterans, older prisoners need medical and psychiatric services for their issues. And prisoners, due to their record, may have trouble with applying for housing or even employment (Kushel). Veterans and prisoners may share the same struggles with reintegration into society, but there are more resources for vets than there are for former inmates (Kushel). Much like the chronically homeless, studies has shown that mental help and substance addiction recovery is an effective way of dealing with homeless vets and inmates.

Unlike chronically homeless adults or veterans, homeless youth’s upbringing, or “foundation,” are skewed because of the dangers and issues that come with life on the streets. It has been difficult to measure youth homelessness, but researchers estimate over 1 million to 1.6 million of the youth in America has experienced homelessness. Youth homelessness has many causes, but the underlining theme to the causes tend to revolve around social issues such as a dysfunctional family dynamic (including sexual or physical abuse), a breakdown in social services (such as foster care), and at times, social rejection. Unaccompanied youth are at higher risk for different illnesses as well as anxiety and other mental disorders. Furthermore, homeless youth are more likely to choose dangerous activities such as prostitution or drug abuse and distribution (National Alliance). Veterans may not be as much drawn to illegal activities to supplement income as would homeless juveniles.

A factor that separates homeless youth from veterans or the chronically homeless is the lack of self-sustainability. Homeless Youth haven’t had a history of living independently and may not have the skills needed for survival. Homeless youth may not have marketable legal skills and the jobs available for homeless youth that do exist may not cover necessities such as housing, food, clothing, or even health care. In many communities, resources for homeless outreach are designed for adults, but youths may not qualify for the same resources due to their age (Corliss). It becomes important for programs to understand that teaching self-sustaining skills is as important as mental and physical care for homeless youth.

Much like veterans and the chronically homeless, the homeless juveniles are susceptible to abusing drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. Homeless youth suffer from anxiety as well as anger and may seek negative methods to manage the distress they feel. Homeless youth are a higher suicide risk and tend to have trust issues in relationships (Corliss).Homeless juveniles, as studies show, stay on the streets to become homeless adults. The longer a homeless youth is on the streets, the more likely the person will develop “deep-seated social and personal realities” (Corliss).

About 20,000 to 25,000 sixteen and older youths transition from foster care to age out or qualify for legal emancipation. The young adults enter into a system with fewer resources and a limited job market. In addition, homeless youth are arrested for “status offenses” such as breaking curfew or running away. Reentry into society, at times, proves difficult without the resources like a family support system or work opportunities (Coats and McHkenzie).

Another factor that affect youth is physical or sexual abuse. In a journal article titled “Out of the Fraying Pan, Into the Fire: Trauma in the Lives of Homeless Youth Prior to and During Homelessness”, one of the major reasons for youths to become homeless is to escape physical or sexual assault. The study reported that a higher amount of young girls ran away due to sexual and physical abuse by a non-family member than a family member. However, young men who were sexually abused by a family member are more likely to run away. The study points out that young adults escaping an abusive home believe that the homeless youth felt safer on the streets than at home. However, the study reports that the physical and psychological risk and trauma exceeded that of the trauma in the home. The study theorizes that with youths escaping an abusive homestead, it “more correctly is understood as a coping strategy (Coats and McHkenzie).” Youths on the street compound their traumatic abuse issues with risk factors like poverty, further physical and sexual abuse, crime, and violence.

Domestic violence happens at many social economic levels, but studies show that the trend is more severe in women in poor areas. In a research project by Deden Rukamana titled “Gender Differences in the Residential Origins of the Homeless: Identification of Areas with High Risk of Homeless,” Dr. Rukamana researched the difference between homelessness among men and women. Women are also more likely to cite domestic issues for homelessness as oppose to men who might attribute homelessness to job loss and occurrence of mental or substance abuse issues. The study recorded a sample of 110 Atlanta women who are victims of domestic violence. 50% of the women left the home after separating from their partners. 78% of those women became homeless afterwards. The housing problem for women were not related to if they stayed or left; rather the factors for women being homeless were money, credit, job, community resource access or even the ability to get housing in their name. Women have more social contacts (and theoretically more resources) than the other types of homelessness, but women struggle with the same issues of self-sustainment similar to homeless juveniles (Rukmana).

The issues that affect homeless youth are issues that have affected women who are homeless. Homeless women are a classification on their own because of the rise of the demographic in the United States. A study featured in the Journal of Mental Health titled “The Health Circumstances of Homeless Women in the United States,” recorded that on a national level “60 percent of homeless women had minor children with 39 percent that had at least one of those children living with them.” As similar to other types of homelessness, women are prone to mental, physical, and substance abuse issues. Similar to homeless juveniles, sexual and physical abuse is a cited reason for living on the streets. Also similar to the homeless youth, domestic violence seems is a larger factor in homelessness. Assistance needed for homeless women is similar to assistance that should be provided to homeless youth. Homeless abused women need additional training to obtain job skills. If an abused, homeless woman has children, then care and resources should be provided for the kids too, including psychological care for all (Arangua).

For some women, homelessness is a downward spiral that starts at childhood. Young girls whose lifestyles included substance abuse, parental mental issues, neglect, and physical or sexual abuse may adapt those living patterns. At times, assuming the negative habits or behavior of adults can lead and sustain homelessness. Although homeless women come from dysfunctional families, many have a history of being supported by or living with family or friends. When the situation becomes unsafe or non-adaptive, homeless women will leave because the women do not want to be a burden or involve themselves in other people’s problems. However, with the circumstantial landslide to homelessness, the event is often abrupt and the women who chose a life on the streets cannot easily reverse their decision (Finfgeld). Homeless women may differ from other types of homelessness because the symptom of being homeless may come from a lifelong habit or a learned behavior.

Homeless women, due to a lifetime of abuse and neglect, have abandonment and rejection issues. Oftentimes, feelings of resentment, anger, and fear become common and may lead to a self-destructive behavior [3]. Much like other groups of homelessness, homeless women are susceptible to the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Like most groups of homeless people, women have the same issues with mental and physical health. However, in women, a form of false self-confidence or independence is a type of a coping mechanism to deal with life on the streets. “They may deny their homelessness, reject help, and be extremely self-reliant and highly vigilant (Finfgeld).” At times, women would continue this sense of hyper vigilance about people and places they believe “dangerous.” Unfortunately, these behaviors might be perceived as characteristic paranoia or schizophrenia, but more often than not, the sense of hyper vigilance is because of a counterproductive defense mechanism developed for street survival.

Homelessness is one of many serious issues in America. 3.5 million Adults and children experience homelessness every year. On the surface, homeless people are stereotyped as drug addicts or drunks who were lazy and irresponsible in their lives, but people on the street abusing drugs or alcohol may be using because of other issues outside their control. Some homeless have deeper issues which contributed to their inability to take care of themselves. It is important to become educated about the real issues of homelessness because people can make better choices in their decisions about welfare and social programs. Furthermore, by understanding why some people stay homeless, we can develop better outreach programs to reduce and one-day end homelessness in America. By serving the needs of our fellow American citizens and creating self-sufficient, productive members of society, we as a country will be in a better place to serve the needs of the rest of the world.


Appelt, Cathleen, et al. “Comorbidity between Psychiatric and General Medical Disorders in Homeless Veterans.” Psychiatric Quarterly 80.4 (2009): 199–212. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

Arangua, Lisa, Ronald Andersen, and Lillian Gelberg. “The Health Circumstances of Homeless Women in the United States.” International Journal 0f Mental Health 34.2 (2005): 62–92. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

Coats, John, and Sue McKenzie-Mohr. “Out Of The Frying Pan, Into The Fire: Trauma in the Lives of Homeless Youth Prior To and During Homelessness.” Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare 37.4 (2010): 65–96. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

Corliss, Heather. et al, “High Burden of Homelessness Among Sexual-Minority Adolescents: Findings From a Representative Massachusetts High School Sample.” American Journal of Public Health 101.9 (2011): 1683–1689.

Farrell, Daniel C. “The Paradox Of Chronic Homelessness: The Conscious Desire To Leave Homelessness And The Unconscious Familiarity Of The Street Life.” Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment 20.2 (2010): 239–254. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

Finfgeld-Connett, Deborah. “Becoming Homeless, Being Homeless, And Resolving Homelessness Among Women.” Issues In Mental Health Nursing 31.7 (2010): 461–469. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.

Kushel, Margot, et al. “Coming Home: Health Status and Homelessness Risk Of Older Pre-Release Prisoners.” JGIM: Journal of General Internal Medicine 25.10 (2010): 1038–1044. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Chronic Homelessness.” Chronic Homeless Brief. National Alliance to End Homelessness , March 2010. Web. 20 November 2011

National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Fundamental Issues to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness.” Youth Homelessness Series. National Alliance to End Homelessness, May 2006. Web. 20 November.

O’Toole, Thomas P., et al. “BRIEF REPORTS Health Care Of Homeless Veterans Why Are Some Individuals Falling Through the Safety Net?” JGIM: Journal of General Internal Medicine 18.11 (2003): 929–933. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2011

Rickards, L, McGraw, S, Araki, L, Casey, R, High, C, Hombs, M, & Raysor, R, ‘Collaborative Initiative to Help End Chronic Homelessness: Introduction’, Journal Of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 37. 2 (2010)149–166, Academic Search Premier, Web. 20 November 2011.

Rukmana, Deden. “Gender Differences in the Residential Origins of the Homeless: Identification of Areas with High Risk of Homelessness.” Planning Practice & Research 25.1 (2010): 95–116. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.

The National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans. “Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress” (2009).

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End homelessness. (2010).

Vogal, Steve. “Face of homelessness is often vet’s.” Seattle Times. The Seattle Times. 9 Nov. 2007. Web. 2o November 2011.

black and white cow on green grass field during daytime

What are we compromising on?

Note- I wrote this college essay in July of 2011. All links and references may not be relevant.

People may experience a sense of compromise when faced with the decision to eat fast food. Many Americans are most often in a hurry to drive to important places. Because of time constraints, there might not be enough time sit down and eat a freshly cooked meal. Consumers are given an alternative in the form of the Quick Service Restaurants. Corporate QSR has become popular because of their ability to produce quick food at low prices. Even though films such as “Supersize Me” and “McLibel” have revealed to the public the dangers of QSR’s, particularly McDonald’s, billions of people still patronize these establishments. When hunger pains and sense of urgency arises, what ethical compromises do consumers make by buying the “Big Macs” or “Whoppers?” When consumers purchase a sandwich with cooked beef and dripping hot cheese on a semi-moisten sesame seed bun are they quietly agreeing to the destructive methods that it took to create that burger? What harm does that $2.99 deluxe cheeseburger with ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and mayonnaise do to our livestock and our environment?

“Factory Farms” is a slang term that refers to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations farms (CAFO) or Industrial Farm Animal Production (IFAP). One of the qualifications of a CAFO farm is that the factory houses up to 125,000 animals. The intent of CAFO farms is to produce the highest amount of food at low cost (Farm Forward). Under the 125,000 livestock qualification, giant farms like Perdue Farms Inc, Tyson’s Foods, or Lopez Foods would be considered CAFOs. Sanders farm is another CAFO farm. Sanders Farm supplies SYSCO (a major food redistribution company) with chicken. In a study by the Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, 2% of the national average income is spent on meat, whereas 4.5 % was spent during the 1970’s (The Pew Charitable Trust and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health). Americans are spending less for food. How can meat be cheaper for the financial needs of the country? Factory Farms can reduce the amount of space to hold animals and reduce the amount of care for livestock.

Factory Farming is an unethical method of obtaining food. From the 1930s to 2002, the number of farms has dwindled down to a few major food-processing companies. The few CAFOs that provide the United States with livestock raise said animals in inhumane conditions in order for speedy processing into food. “Pigs live in crowded hog confinement bins. Most of a sow’s life is in a 2 foot by 7 foot “gestation crate,” in which the animal is only able to sit or lie down, but not turn around. Piglets are fed physically separated from her in “farrowing [sic] crates. (Kennel)”

Factory Farms force overgrowth of muscle tissue in the 9 billion “broiler” chickens with the use of chemicals. The chemically injected chickens develop issues such as severe lameness to gastrointestinal and blood diseases as well as respiratory infections. Furthermore, chickens are exposed to toxic ammonia fumes from their own waste by being crowded with thousands of other birds. Hens are debunked and crammed into cages 8 or 9 at a time. Cows are fattened for slaughter while standing among their own waste and mud. Livestock constitutes 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Factory farms use various pesticides, antibiotics,  and chemicals found in wells and streams in the U.S. (Kennel).

As of 2008, America’s workforce numbered 16.6 million. There are over 7.7 million jobs in food and beverage serving. 2,701,700 of these jobs are in the fast food industry with an estimate of 3,096,000 by 2018(United States Department of Labor). The Bureau of Labor Statistics also stated that in 2008 17% of Americans were employed by QSRs. Within 17% of the QSR workforce, five of the largest employers were Subway, McDonalds, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Burger King. Fast Food industry provides both jobs and inexpensive food (Elsenpeter).

Subway was ranked the #1 franchise in America. The Subway QSR prides itself on constantly becoming more environmentally and socially responsible. The franchise works on sustainable initiatives of energy efficiency, water and resource conservation, and waste reduction, as well as continuing to focus on food quality and food safety (Subway). Subway uses its own food purchasing system called “Independent Purchasing Cooperative.” Franchise owners are required to purchase their ingredients through IPC. According to The Packer (a news source for fresh fruit and vegetable industry), Subway purchases its vegetables through SYSCO (a bulk food distribution company). In a 2005 report by the Food Safety and Inspection Services, Subway had to recall chicken strips in cases coded “09365” and “09222.” The chicken strips purchased by Subway were distributed by Perdue Farms, Inc., (United States Department of Agriculture).

In a 2010 press release, McDonald’s owns 14,000 restaurants in the United States (McDonalds USA). In a report by USA Today, McDonald’s beef is tested 10 times more than the USDA test for beef for schools (Eisler). McDonald’s sponsors the Ronald McDonald House, whose mission is “to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children (McDonald’s Corporation). McDonald’s buys its chicken from CAFOs like Tyson Foods and Keystone Foods. McDonald’s beef is purchased from Lopez Foods, another CAFO. However, a small percentage of McDonald’s beef is imported from Australia and New Zealand (McDonald’s).

Pizza Hut maintains over 6,000 QSR restaurants in the US with 94 additional locations across the world. Pizza Hut is a subsidiary of “Yum! Brands, Inc”, which boasts to have over 37,000 locations in more than 120 countries (Pizza Hut, Inc.). Pizza Hut, as well as Taco Bell, purchases its ingredients from SYSCO Foods (SYSCO Corporation).

Burger King, like McDonald’s, purchases its chicken from Tyson’s foods. Recently, Burger King has sought to improve the quality of its food. “Burger King plans to more than double its cage-free purchases by the end of this year [2007], to 5 percent of the total, and will also double its purchases of pork from producers who do not use crates, to 20 percent. (Martin).” However, Burger King’s initiative to decrease animal cruelty does not extend to cows. In 2008, Burger King was locked into a labor dispute with Florida farmers over a one-cent increase on tomatoes according to an article posted by NPR on May 8, 2008. In a 2009 annual report, Burger King “owned or franchised a total of 11,925 restaurants” in which “7,233 or 61% were located in the United States (Wells).”

Starbucks prides itself on being globally responsible. Starbucks attests to ethically trading with Non-U.S. country farmers by establishing “Farmer Support Centers in Costa Rica and Rwanda to provide local farmers with resources and expertise to help lower the cost of production, reduce fungus infections, improve coffee quality and increase the production of premium coffee (Starbucks, Inc.).” However, Starbucks has yet to purchase coffee from fair trade farmers. The fair trade certification offers coffee farmers fair prices and other benefits to produce high-quality products and compete in the global market. Fair Trade helps small-holder coffee farmers find less destructive ways of producing coffee for a sustainable environment (Anonymous). In 2007, Starbucks had been in a media battle with Oxfam America over Oxfam’s fair trade initiatives (Westhoff).

There is a political principle that refers to choosing between two bad choices, which is known as “lesser of the two evils” principle. Despite the fact that QSR’s are contributing to society, the franchises are still allowing horrific methods for livestock processing. Other franchises that do not deal with CAFOs purchase food from distributors like SYSCO. Even non-sandwich related franchises such as Starbucks makes ethical compromises. QSR does not offer living wages to their employees; minimum wage employees cannot invest in the local economy in a way that living wage workers can. Each time people buy a value meal or a happy meal, they are contributing to an inhumane and destructive engine that is slowly destroying both animal life and the ecosystem.


Anonymous. “Green Mountain Coffee, and Fair Trade USA Biodiversity Initiative Supports Economic and Social Development for Brazilian Coffee Farmers.” Ecology, environment & Conservation 4 March 2010, Fair Trade USA ed.: 3331.

Eisler, Peter. Fast-food standards for meat top those for school lunches. 9 December 2009. Gannett Co. Inc.

Elsenpeter, Robber. As Economy Shrinks, Fast Food Grows. 19 April 2009.

Farm Forward. Factory Farming. 24 February 2011.

Kennel, David. “Factory farming: a cruel and destructive industry.” People’s Weekly World 10–16 November 2007: 2.

Martin, Andrew. Burger King Shifts Policy on Animals . 28 March 2007.

McDonald’s Corporation. Mission and Vision. 30 November 2008.

McDonald’s. Meats. 2 May 2010.

McDonald’s USA. McDonald’s® USA Voluntarily Recalls Shrek Forever After™ Glassware. 4 June 2010. Hut, Inc. About Us. 3 August 2010.

Starbucks, Inc. Being a Responsible Company. 12 April 2010.

Subway. “Be part of a winning team with the #1 franchise.” Be part of a winning team with the #1 franchise. Milford: Subway, 2010. 10.

SYSCO Corporation. News Release. 11 August 2004.

The Pew Charitable Trust and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Products in America.” Research Report. n.d.

United States Department of Agriculture. Recall Notification Report 011–2005. 17 March 2005.

United States Department of Labor. “Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers.” 17 December 2009. Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States Department of Labor.

Wells, Ben K. “2009 Form 10-K Annual Report.” 27 August 2009. Burger King Holdings, Inc. Burger King Holdings, Inc. Westhoff, Julia. “Oxfam vs. Starbucks: The Battle Over Fair Trade.” Essay. 2007.

1 U.S. dollar banknote on white surface

Minimum Wages contribute to an unhealthy America

Note- I wrote this college essay in June of 2011. All links and references may not be relevant.

In English class my teacher, Ms. Sullivan, wanted us to do a paper that compared a minimum wage to a living wage. Obviously, the teacher wanted us to learn the importance of a living wage and the social benefits, but I had no idea how I would approach this paper.

Stumped, I decided to go visit Burgerville, a locally owned fast food place which serves food from local farms and food companies. I ended up paying $12.59 for my order. I would have paid half that amount had I gone to a worldwide chain like McDonalds or Burger King. Unlike other businesses, Burgerville prides itself on community involvement and being “green”; trash bins are set up so the waste is mostly recyclable. Even the receipts have the amount of calories of printed on it. The service was fantastic and the food was excellent but the price was high. I believe this is an example of a restaurant that thrives on Living Wage consumers. But sadly there were not a lot of customers who patronized this establishment. My visit inspired me; the lack of business at Burgerville had clearly shown that not everyone could afford it. The more popular restaurants are places with cheaper prices but with lower standards in food and lacking in local ingredients (which funds local economy). One of the main problems in America is obesity. Is it possible that American’s are overweight due to the Minimum Wage?

What is the Minimum Wage? The Minimum Wage is the lowest hourly, daily, or monthly wage that an employer may legally pay workers. It is also the minimum amount that workers are to sell their labor (Filion). The United states passed the federal minimum wage law in 1938 under the Fair Labor Standards Act- “ To provide for the establishment of fair labor standards in employment in and affecting interstate commerce, and for other purposes” (United States of America). Some of the results of the law was the banning of child labor and setting work hour limits (Longley). Another reason for the establishment of a Minimum Wage was to combat sweatshops owners who hired their workers at unfair wages. Over the years, the minimum wage has risen and not all states have their Minimum Wage set at the Federal level ($7.25).

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, studies started to be conducted about the level of obesity in America. Simultaneously, there was an issue with the influx of sugar being imported to the United States. The need for sugar came to a head in the 1970s, where inflation, the energy crisis, and commodity shortages taxed the import of Sugar. Consequentially, the prices rose and several acts and tariffs were created (Polopolus). Since the demand of sugar grew, food companies started to look elsewhere for sweetener sources. Inexpensive cooking oil sources were also researched. One of the primary crops in America is corn and soy, which vegetable oils and corn syrup are a by-product. Using cheap by-products and preservatives, the food industry (especially those specializing in “junk food”) were able to produce cheaper food (Muller). In a report by the Institute of Agriculture and Trade, they noted that:

“One example is the substitution of HFCS for table sugar. High fructose corn syrup was introduced to the American market in 1967, and ever since, its consumption has exploded. By 1984, Coca-Cola had transitioned to sweetening its sodas sold in the United States with HFCS instead of table sugar (sucrose); other beverage companies quickly followed suit. Today, HFCS is found in a stunning array of processed foods: breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurt, soups and condiments, among many others. It‘s a cheap staple of the industry” (David Walling).

So who is eating this food? Perhaps the Minimum Wage earners who are unable to afford to eat well? Other than U.S. government jobs, Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Home Depot Inc. are within the top 20 largest business in America (Transnationale & Co.). Another chart by the New York Job Source lists Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Sears Holding, Target, Kroger, Albertson’s and Safeway in their top 20 national largest employers (NYJobSource). Most of these employers hire workers at the Minimum Wage.

Wal-Mart is the leading employer in both surveys and can serve as an example of Minimum Wage job force to State wealth and health. listed the number of Wal-marts by State in which the top 3 states with the most Walmarts are Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama ( ). In a 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi citizens on average have a body weight mass index of 34.4%, Tennessee at 32.3%. , Alabama at 31%, and Arkansas at 30.5% (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). In a census conducted by the Federal Government, the top three poorest states were Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Mexico. Arkansas ranked at 4, Alabama ranked at 6, and Tennessee at a 10 (U.S. Census Bureau).

A Living Wage, defined by Webster’s Dictionary online, is “a wage sufficient to provide the necessities and comforts essential to an acceptable standard of living (Merriam-Webster).” But a Minimum Wage is not the same as a Living Wage for Minimum Wage earners are unable to afford the essentials for proper nutrition. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average family size is 3.14 members (U.S. Census Bureau). The average Minimum Wage is $7.25 (United States Department of Labor). According to The United States Social Security website, the national average wage for 2009 was $40,711 (The Social Security Administration). On a 40 hour Minimum Wage job, a person would make $15,080 a year. In order to acquire the national average wage, a person would have to work over double the amount of time (80+ hours) even with overtime accounted for at a rate of $10.88. Or an alternative way to meet the national average, two people in a household of 3.14 would have to work the 40 hours a week plus 9 extra hours of overtime. How much time left over would a household be able to focus on health and nutrition, let alone afford it? This is assuming that two out of three American citizens of a household are working; the U.S. Labor board states that the national average unemployment rate is at 9% (United States Department of Labor).

Good fats that the human body needs contain monounsaturated fats. lists the different foods that contain different fats. Certain nuts, avocados, canola, and olive oils contain those fats. polyunsaturated fats lower cholesterol, found in salmon and fish oil as well as corn and soy (not manufactured to corn syrup or vegetable oil). Saturated fats raise cholesterol and are found in meats, dairy , eggs, and seafood (Gloria Tsang). also lists foods that contain trans fats. Companies use trans fats because they are easy to produce and have extended the shelf life of food. (American Heart Association). America harvests over 72.7 million acres of corn (United States Enviromental Protection Agency). Food and beverages are made and preserved using trans fats like corn syrup and vegetable oil. Trans fats are cheaper to produce, which is cheaper than importing healthy saturated fats like Olive Oil or even plain sugar.

The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services published a study in September 2010. The title of this study was “A Heavy Burden: The individual cost of being overweight and obese in the United States.” In this study, the authors estimated that an average morbidly obese white male needed an additional $9,961 dollars for health costs; an average morbidly obese white female needed $7,946. In March of 2009, another report by the Institute for the Study of Labor called “Overweight and the Obesity and the Demand for Primary Physician Care”. These studies theorized that being overweight costs money in the long run. Many more studies published state the dangers, both medically and financially, about being overweight. But what choice does a Minimum Wage earner have? It is very difficult to see the long-term effects when the short-term reality is that Minimum Wage earners cannot afford good foods.

Proper nutrition should be the right of every human being. A minimum wage does not provide the ability to afford nutrition and health without a Living Wage. A Minimum Wage lifestyle contributes to poor health and the inability for preventive health care. The equation of low pay plus cheap food equals poor quality of life. But in order to eat better, Minimum Wage earners have to work longer hours. But if they work longer hours, will they have time to be able to prepare or even shop for proper nutritional foods? Or will the average Minimum Wage earner settle for what is quick and what is cheap? On the other hand, If the average Minimum Wage earner saves the money from longer hours, would that gain be spent on combatting health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure? The Minimum Wage must be looked at as one of many contributing factors in the growing weight gain of the American people.


American Heart Association. Trans Fats. 29 October 2010. 5 February 2011

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Obesity Trends. 1 September 2010. 5 February 2011

David Wallinga, M.D., Janelle Sorensen, Pooja Mottl, Brian Yablon, M.D. “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup.” 2009. The Business INtelligence System of Glbalisation and 21st Century Mutations’ Trend. 5 February 2011

Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Online. living wage. 2011. 5 February 2011 wagec.

Farr, Christain. Wal-Mart Offers $8.75 Minimum Wage. 21 June 2010. 5 February 2011

Filion, Kai. EPI’s Minimum Wage Issue Guide. 21 July 2009. 5 February 2011

Gloria Tsang, RD. Good Fats and Bad Fats. 2 2004 August. 5 February 2011

Longley, Robert. The Federal minimum Wage. 11 January 2001. 5 February 2010

Muller, Heather Schoonover and Mark. “Food without Thought.” November 2006. institute for AGriculture and Trade Policy. February 2 2011

NYJobSource. Nation’s Largest Employers. 7 April 2006. 5 February 2011 . Polopolus, Jose Alvarez and Leo C. “The History of U.S. Sugar Protection.” 2003. University of Florida IFAS Extension. 5 February 2011 Lifestyle Statistics > Walmart Stores > Number of Supercenters (per capita) (most recent) by state. 13 June 2006. 5 February 2011

The Social Security Administration. National Average Wage Index. 29 October 2010. 5 Febuary 2011 Transnationale & Co. Largest companies from: United States of America. 15 May 2005. 5 February 2011

U.S. Census Bureau. Census 2000 Demographic Profile Highlights:. 31 March 2005. 5 February 2011 — . PERSONS BELOW POVERTY LEVEL, 2007. 1 Feb 2007. 5 Febuary 2011

United States Department of Labor. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. 8 February 2011. 5 February 2011 — . Minimum Wage Laws in the States — January 1, 2011. 1 January 2011. 5 February 2011

United States Enviromental Protection Agency. Major Crops Grown in the United States. 20 January 2004. 5 February 2011

United States of America. “Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.” 1938. United States Department of Labor. 5 February 2011

spilled coins from the jar

The fight for income inequality on the battlefield of retail

Note- I wrote this college essay in June of 2011. All links and references may not be relevant.

Peterson’s is a local 24-hour convenience store chain in Portland, Oregon. 27 years ago, Doug Peterson opened a News-stand/Tobacco store at the height of the MAX Light Rail construction. Since 1984, Peterson’s has expanded its goods to include postcards, snack foods and adult magazines. Peterson’s also has two other locations, on 5th avenue and Morrison (also on the MAX Line). Peterson’s remains a fixture in Downtown Portland. If a person is waiting to hop on the MAX to go home, even at 2 am when the bars are closing, Peterson’s incandescent lights call out like a bug zapper to a fly. The prices are a bit steep but it is worth it to shop at Peterson’s, if only to take in an environment that is uniquely Portland.

Across from Peterson’s is a Naito Family owned building called The Galleria. For years the Galleria has struggled to maintain businesses within its walls. The Galleria has been in the market for revitalization for years (Brenneman). In 2003, the Gallery became the home of the Western Culinary Institute. The Galleria Mall also contains a Made in Oregon Store as well as a few other local business retail stores. The Naito family has a long history of successfully establishing businesses and improving Portland. However, the Galleria will now host a Target Store (Cohen). Target is a discount retail store that offers trendy merchandise at affordable prices (Target Brands, Inc). In an effort to revitalize downtown and remove the stigma of Portland being “too expensive, bureaucratic, and antagonist to business,” Mayor Sam Adams approved of Target Brands, Inc creating a store in the Galleria. Best Buy and Sports Authority have also expressed interested in setting up shop downtown (Manning). Target’s prices may force the Yamhill Peterson’s location out of business. Target is not a 24-hour store, but very few businesses thrive on after hours sales. Target stores and other big box retailers moving out local businesses is an example of income inequality; the wealthy become wealthier by shutting out smaller businesses thereby creating a larger lower class to exploit.

Paul Krugman, an economics teacher, wrote an essay about income inequality in American Warfare. In his essay Confronting Inequality, Mr. Krugman begins the piece by comparing modern economic class to the economic post civil war era. “Confronting Inequality” points out that income and social inequality exists and that wealthy families have it much easier education than that of lower class families. Mr. Krugman points out key points in which the U.S. government has played a role in distancing the economic gap between the upper class and the lower classes. The essay also points out what changes congress has been making to fix income inequality. But does discount retailing contribute to income inequality?

Target receives subsidies in order to build. An example of the amount of subsidies Target receives can be found in Brooklyn Park, a suburb of Minneapolis. Target wanted $20 million taken off its taxes and $60 million in public assistance (Mattera). Target earns $65 billion in annual revenues. Target is a non-union company and offers low-paid to minimum wage jobs (Good Jobs First). Employees of Target in Portland would receive an hourly wage of $8.50 per hour, which comes up to $340 per 40-hour workweek and $17,680 per year. According to the Living Wage Calculator for Multnomah County (Portland), a living wage is $9.38 per hour for one adult or $17.98 per hour for one adult and one child. Annually one adult would need to make $19,509 or $37,392 for one adult and one child (Poverty in America website). The minimum wage indicates a deficit of either $1,829 or $19,712 that may be supplemented by welfare and social services. However, since Target is receives subsides, welfare is being paid for by workers who do not work for Target or any other discount retailer. Peterson’s, like many other locally owned stores, contributed more to Portland because local businesses do not receive subsidies.

Peterson’s is a dingy store with really bad coffee and an over abundance of pornography magazines. Target is a retail store that is family friendly with trendy goods. However, Peterson’s and other local retailers may contribute more to Portland than Target ever will. The profits from discount stores are not invested back into local economy but to wealthy shareholders. In 2004, the city of Barnstable, Massachusetts, commissioned a study on the taxes earned from a locally owned specialty versus a big box store. The specialty stores generated $326 per 1,000 square feet where as a big-box store created a net loss of $468 per square feet. Taxpayers cost via road maintenance and police/fire protection were taken into consideration (Hansen). Since Big Box Stores tend to get subsidies and tax breaks, chain retails do not offset the cost to cities to maintain roads and protection.

Why don’t workers who do not wish to work for minimum wages or for retailers obtain jobs elsewhere? Although Mr. Krugman points out that congress has been proactive in combating income inequality, there are other factors that may blind people to the reality of their financial situation. “Class Warfare: The Final Chapter” was an essay written by Michael Pirsch, an economic refugee now living in Thailand. The essay points out that mass consumerism are a symptom of propaganda by the wealthy elite. In “Class Warfare”, Mr. Pirsch proposes that the media is a very effective tool in controlling how people think. Television distracts people with a “consumer/celebrity culture“ from the reality that the wealthy is eliminating democracy. Issues like the loss of Social Security, the Endless War, and tax cuts to the rich are not discussed in public because the media is controlled by the wealthy (Pirsch). Diana L. Hayes, a Professor of Systematic Theology in Georgetown, theorizes that television numbs people to reality. “What messages are these shows sending us? Are they simply an opiate, lulling us to the real struggles for survival going on in our country where millions have no health insurance, can’t afford to pay the increasing cost of perception medicines, even when they have insurance, and are facing foreclosures and evictions? (Hayes)” Ms. Hayes has suggested that television numbs viewers’ minds to their wellbeing and financial troubles. Ironically, consumers may find the latest model of plasma or wide screen televisions along with an array of media accessories on sale at their local discount store. Minimum wage earners may be numb to the fact that they are in a financial money-pit due to the very products they are selling.

Discount retail stores contribute to income inequality. Not only do minimum wage workers experience inequality by working at Big Box stores, but neighborhoods and cities will be weakened as well. Fighting against inequality starts with the personal choices we make in where we purchase our goods. Discount retailers like Target do offer low prices and it is very tempting to shop at Target. And personal budgets may dictate where money is spent, but the first step towards fighting income inequality is understanding what it means to shop at a chain store. Another step in fighting inequality is eliminating propaganda via the television is to limit the amount of time spent watching shows on the T.V. or to recognize that the television may have a subliminal effect to convince people to shop and consume. And, if finances permit it, shopping at stores like Peterson’s or Ray’s Ragtime (which is on the other side of the Galleria) can help. Shopping at the Goodwill on 10th across from the public library, which features many designer clothes donated by local designers, or find local businesses that sell the electronics that are desired can also help. Although shopping at stores may be both time consuming and more expensive, it is an investment into the culture and livelihood that makes up Portland (or any other city).


Brenneman, Kristina. “Naitos debate selling Galleria.” Portland Tribune 4 January 2002. Cohen, Joh. Target Looks at Downtown Portland . May 2011. 5 June 2011.

Good Jobs First. Case Study of Target Stores. 2010. Good Jobs First. 5 June 2011.

Hansen, Brian. “Big-Box Stores.” 10 September 2004. CQ Researcher. 5 June 2011.

Hayes, Diana L. “TV ‘reality’ distracts us from real struggles.” National Catholic Reporter 20 June 2003: 25.

Manning, Jeff. Retailer Target shows interest in downtown Portland location. 21 September 2010. Oregon Live LLC. 5 June 2011.

Mattera, Philp. Targeting Target. 26 May 2011. Corporate Research Project. 5 June 2011.

Pirsch, Michael. Class Warfare, the Final Chapter. 17 March 2011. 5 June 2011.

Poverty in America website. Living Wage Calculation for Multnomah County, Oregon. 2011. Living Wage Project. 6 June 2011.

Target Brands, Inc. Our Stores. 2011. Target Brands, Inc. 5 June 2011.