The Electric Commentary

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Radley Balko tears apart Morgan Spurlock


The consensus favorite deals with one of Spurlock's backers, ACORN. ACORN fights to raise the minimum wage. Unfortunately...

ACORN is a blatantly hypocritical activist group. For years, ACORN has tried like hell to avoid paying its own members the minimum wage required by law! This, as those same employees were working to raise minimum wages for everyone else.

In fact, ACORN actually went to court to fight for its right to pay wages below the legal minimum. What's more, ACORN made the exact same arguments its opponents make when arguing against higher minimum wages -- namely, that paying higher wages would mean the company would have to make do with fewer employees.

In a suit ACORN filed to exempt itself from California's minimum wage laws, the organization wrote in its brief:

"As acknowledged both by the trial court and California, the more that ACORN must pay each individual outreach worker--either because of minimum wage or overtime requirements--the fewer outreach workers it will be able to hire."
Straight from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce talking points! ACORN also has a history of union-busting, ducking overtime requirements, cutting late paychecks, and general anti-labor practices. In 2003, the National Labor Relations Board made the following findings about the organization:
- ACORN pays its field members $18,000 per year.
-• Field members typically work 54+ hours per week.
-• Field members are rarely given weekends off.
-• Field members are expected to canvas neighborhoods alone, sometimes at night.
-• ACORN is frequently tardy with member paychecks.
The whole thing is great.


  • I haven't seen "Super Size Me," but I saw the first two episodes of "30 Days," and I've concluded that Morgan Spurlock is a moron. It's incredibly obvious that he came to his conclusions long before he set out on his 30-day experiments. In the episode where he and his wife lived for 30 days on minimum wage, I was never convinced that they were particularly struggling. And in the episode where he followed a guy who took testosterone injections for 30 days, the "side effects" were laughable -- the guy once got mad at his wife, so that's evidence that testosterone is harmful and causes 'roid rage. (Because, as we all know, those of us who don't use steroids never get mad at our wives.)

    I don't know anything about ACORN. I do know that I spent one day as a canvasser for PIRG, and it was one of the most miserable days of my life.

    By Blogger MDS, at 1:01 PM  

  • BTW, let me make clear that I'm saying I was never convinced that Spurlock and his wife suffered during their 30 days on minimum wage. I'm not disputing that many people who try to make ends meet on minimum wage struggle. I'm saying that if you want to demonstrate that, getting a rich person to live on minimum wage for a month is a really stupid way to go about doing it.

    Also, I think McDonald's is disgusting and haven't eaten there in years. So I was predisposed to like Spurlock. Unfortunately, his show sucks.

    By Blogger MDS, at 1:21 PM  

  • I liked "supersize me." I guess I didn't even pick up that he was blaming fast food companies. I took it as an indictment of the idiots that choose to eat that trash every day.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:46 PM  

  • Spurlock's agenda has always been to blame the business in question.

    I've never seen his show, and probably never will, but it sounds terrible. He should leave this kind of thing to Eric Schlosser.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:00 PM  

  • I think the redeeming value of "Super Size Me" is that it generated some negative publicity about McDonald's and wrapped it up in an entertaining package. Until Americans start clamoring for more sensible meal options than are currently offered at fast food joints, McDonald's has very little incentive to make their food more healthy or their portions more reasonable. The more people learn about how crappy fast food is, the less likely they will be to eat it, one would hope.

    By Blogger dhodge, at 4:07 PM  

  • If you think Morgan Spurlock sucks hind titty - we agree!
    In fact, we made an entire feature movie about it!
    Check out the trailer @

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:32 AM  

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