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Democracy

Australians have some wonderfully Aussie thoughts about the American minimum wage

Australians have some wonderfully Aussie thoughts about the American minimum wage
Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash, @BrettKlein/Twitter

Australia's minimum wage is an example for us all.

How great is Australia? A relaxed cultural vibe that is progressive, inclusive and seems like a literal day at the beach. They even give us some of our favorite Marvel superhero film actors. Must be tough to make a buck there though, right? Actually, they've got a significant edge on us there as well. Take a look at Australian's minimum wage and how much further it goes for the average worker than for your typical hard-working American.

Australian unions are currently pushing for a 5% increase to the minimum wage to counter inflation. Australia's minimum wage is 20.33 Australian dollars per hour, which is the equivalent of $15.23 (as of the writing of this article).

Meanwhile, Americans are still sitting on the same federal minimum wage we've had since 2009—a whopping $7.25 an hour—while we are also dealing with inflation.

Minimum wage by U.S. state varies—a lot—from $7.25 to $15.90. And most states have different minimum wages for tipped jobs such as wait staff in a restaurant, on the assumption that you'll earn enough tips to make up the base wage. Though employers can choose to pay above the minimum, they aren't required to. And the minimum tipped wage in 17 states is $2.13 per hour.

Let me repeat that. In 17 states in the United States of America in 2022, the tipped minimum wage is $2.13 per hour.


That's bonkers. And the disparity between states is, frankly, shocking. If you live in Washington state, for example, you're guaranteed to make at least $14.49 per hour in any job, whether you get tips or not. If you live in Idaho—literally the state next door—you're guaranteed $7.25 per hour for standard labor and just $3.35 per hour for tipped employment. So the base pay for a waiter on one side of an imaginary line is four times more than on the other. So weird.

Anyway, back to Australia. They're a little worried about us, and it's not hard to see why.

from antiwork

A 16-year-old Australian on Reddit was shocked to learn that the federal minimum wage here is $7.25 per hour. "There is no way someone can live off that wage even if they're working full time." Yep, nope.

Another Aussie responded to a sign for Buc-ee's, a chain of country stores and travel centers in the southern United States, announcing wages for full-time work ranging from $15 to $17 per hour for associates to $22 to $32 per hour for department leads. To American eyes, in most states, this sign is a unicorn of awesome hourly starting wages for "unskilled" labor.

To Australian eyes, these are the lowest wages they ever see in their country.

Despite Australia having a minimum wage of AU$20.33 ($15.23), most workers actually make more than that. In addition to its minimum wage, Australia has a system under its Fair Work Act called Modern Awards, which establishes base pay and benefits for workers in a variety of industries, from fast food to health and beauty to caregiving.

One caveat: Workers under age 21 can make less than minimum wage in Australia, so teenagers may make significantly lower wages than AU$20.33 per hour (though still not as low as $7.25 per hour). However, the Modern Awards system dictates higher than minimum wage earnings for most workers—even for basic fast-food jobs—for people over 21. For example, the starting pay for a Level 1 fast-food worker over age 21 is AU$22.33 ($16.72) per hour during the week, AU$27.91 ($20.90) per hour on Saturdays and Sundays, and AU$50.24 ($37.63) per hour on holidays.

Not too shabby.

Another Australian pointed out that the amount some Americans pay for a college education is bonkers, in addition to our low minimum wage.

Australians graduate with less student loan debt than Americans, on average, and their student loan payments only start over a certain income threshold (and are linked to the amount you make).

Oh and let's not forget that Australians don't have to pay for healthcare out of their own pocket, either. And they have paid maternity leave of up to 18 weeks at the national minimum wage. And they have a minimum of four weeks of paid vacation time for all employees, on top of paid national hoildays.

But don't Australians pay a much higher tax rate than Americans for these benefits, you may ask? No, not really. According to the Tax Foundation, a single worker earning an average wage in the U.S. pays an average tax rate of 28.3% while in Australia they pay an average of 28.4%—so basically the same tax burden, at least for single people with no kids.

It's not that Australia is perfect, of course. But when it comes to paying people reasonable wages and guaranteeing paid time off and providing healthcare to all, they're light years ahead of the U.S.

Rather than seeing it as a woe-is-us comparison, however, let's look at it as "Hey, look at what's possible!" We, too, could have wages people can actually live on and not go into bankruptcy over medical bills and ensure that everyone gets paid time off so they can actually relax a little. It doesn't have to be some distant pipe dream; it's a matter of collective and political will. If Australia can do it, there's really no good reason we can't, too.

Science

MIT’s trillion-frames-per-second camera can capture light as it travels

"There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

Photo from YouTube video.

Photographing the path of light.

A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second.

Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.


The actual event occurred in a nano second, but the camera has the ability to slow it down to twenty seconds.

time, science, frames per second, bounced light

The amazing camera.

Photo from YouTube video.

For some perspective, according to New York Times writer, John Markoff, "If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years."


In the video below, you'll see experimental footage of light photons traveling 600-million-miles-per-hour through water.

It's impossible to directly record light so the camera takes millions of scans to recreate each image. The process has been called femto-photography and according to Andrea Velten, a researcher involved with the project, "There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

(H/T Curiosity)


This article originally appeared on 09.08.17

Pop Culture

Woman who moved to Italy lists the most basic human needs Americans now have to pay for

Remember when these things used to be free? They still are in some places.

Representative image from Canva

If you're feeling like everything is just out of reach, you're not alone.

How many times have you, or someone in your circle, made this joke:

“I can’t seem to go outside without spending money!

But, as with many jokes, there’s some dark truth layered in. Life just feels a little hard right now for many of us when it comes to finances. And one person has hit the nail on the head as to why. Spoiler alert: it probably has nothing to do with anyone being lazy.

Amber Cimiotti, a mom of two and expat living in Italy, begins her video by noting how America has removed naturally occurring activities like “exercise, talking to friends, connecting with people, spending time with our kids,” from everyday life. And so now, Americans only have access to these very necessary things if they are able to pay for them.


For example—let’s talk about exercise. Cimiotti notes how "there's not many places, neighborhoods, and cities where it's super easy to walk everywhere, where you can get a lot of natural exercise, whether it's walking to and from your house or to the grocery stores. This just doesn't exist for most people now, so you have to wake up earlier on your lunch break or after work; you have to go to the gym so you can get in your exercise." Which means someone has to have anywhere between $40 to upwards of $300+ a month to invest in their physical health in this way.

Next up—mental health resources, primarily in the form of real conversations in a supportive community. Cimiotti says “people are meant to share their struggles, their stories, everyday, constantly. And we’re not doing that. And what do you see happening? Nowadays, everybody needs a therapist. Yes, therapy is needed for some things but most people just need to be talking to people way more. And I don’t mean like trolling on the internet.”

Also—child care. "There used to be kids running around neighborhoods all the time. Parents didn't have to pay all this extra money to do activities so their kids can be involved in things; parents didn't have to drive all over the place... But now that doesn't exist. So we do need to pay for activities,” Cimiotti says.

Lastly—food. “Eating healthy food in America is a part-time job, if not a full-time job…it would all be so much easier if we just had healthy food in general.” I don’t think Cimiotti needs to convince anyone here that quality food (food in general, really) is definitely not accessible for many folks, and high prices are at least partially to blame.

“The point is when things don’t happen naturally in your day and you need to take extra energy to achieve basic things like healthy food, exercise, talking to friends, which helps regulate emotions and things like that…when you have to build those into therapy sessions, exercise sessions, hobbies, reading 17 books…of course you’ll be tired,” Cimiotti concludes with a big sigh.

@ciaoamberc #america #culture #family #friends #parenting #society ♬ original sound - Ciao AmberC

Down in the comments, people seemed to really resonate with what Cimiotti had to say.

One reader commented, “I’m totally convinced that a lot of therapy effects could be achieved by processing time with an array of friends in different stages of life. Which isn’t possible to mutually schedule like therapy.”


And while Cimiotti’s video might be sobering, she tells Buzzfeed that her hope is it can lead to more conversations that “help lead to a change.”

Judging by some of the viewer reactions, it seems she’s succeeded, at least in helping people not blame themselves for their challenges. One person shared, “It’s so validating to hear cause I feel like I never have enough time to just live well and not be completely exhausted and have space left to do fun stuff!”

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

Tennessee state senator gives fiery speech on arming teachers

Every once in a while a state's bill will make a blip on national media that causes people to dig a little deeper into what's happening. One such bill made headlines last year for a brief time before a new bill from another state took it's place.

After a tragic school shooting in the state of Tennessee where six people were killed, including three young students, state politicians began talking about arming the teachers. The idea was if teachers were armed then they would be able to stop school shooters, but the bill was widely unpopular among teachers and many parents. That didn't stop the state legislature from drawing up the bill and putting it up for a vote April 2024.

Many parents showed up to Tennessee State Senate to protest the bill, but it was the fiery speech of State Senator London Lamar that has people talking.


The new mom held her infant son in her arms while she addressed her colleagues who saw fit to laugh after moms protesting the bill were asked to leave. Lamar did not hold back in not only expressing her disappointment in her colleagues behavior but their disregard for very real concerns that she also shares with the people asked to leave.

"We are literally talking about arming educators who took an oath to teach our kids writing and arithmetic and how they can one day contribute to Tennessee's great economy, and we're now turning them into law enforcement agents by arming them with guns. We think this piece of legislation is going to keep kids safe which is probably going to enable the next school shooter, and it's not going to be someone coming in from the outside. It's unfortunately going to be a teacher with this piece of legislation," Lamar declares.

You can watch her passionate speech below:

@iamcalledlucas/Instagram, used with permission

We need every Lucas version of Taylor's songs.

Sure, Taylor Swift did a great job at writing, performing in and directing her “Fortnitemusic video (which has only dropped a couple days ago and already at over 30 million views)…but you know what could make it even better? Having a dog perform all the parts, that’s what!

And that’s exactly the treat we received, thanks to an adorable dachshund named Lucas.

The clip (aptly titled “Fortnight (Lucas’ version)”) recreates the music video’s black-and-white typewriter scene, where the camera alternates between a moody Swift and Post Malone clacking as they lament about how much love is “ruining” their lives. you know, basic tortured poets stuff.


Only this time, Lucas plays both the roles—costumes as all! Major kudos to Lucas’ parent, who clearly has an eye for detail and camera angles. Both the original video and Lucas’ video play simultaneously so you can really see how similar they are.

“I look like @taylorswift in this light, i’m lovin’ it 🤭🤍,” the clip caption says.

Watch below. Spoiler alert: get ready to see little doggy paws in lace gloves.

Down in the comments, people were enthralled.

One person wrote, "THIS NEEDS MORE ATTENTION”

"Magical!!!!!!!" another added.

Though clearly Lucas’s is a whole ‘nother level of Swiftie, is he not the only dog to be a fan. In an experiment produced by WoofWoof, dogs were “visibly more relaxed” by her music than other artists in the study. Her songs got more tail wagging and even more “howls of approval.” That’s right, her music transcends species.

Just like Taylor Swift, Lucas has many, many more music videos where they came from, including “The Archer,” “Hoax” and “You Belong with Me.” And just like Swift, he outdoes himself with every new project.

Check out even more of his content on Instagram and TikTok.