News, Low Wage Internet Work, Super Bowl Dips And Snacks

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A new type of work is on the rise, internet work where employers or individuals post short tasks for completion and give small money amounts or gift cards in return. Examples include one site offering 80 cents to anyone who read a restaurant review and answered a survey question. We talk about low wage internet work,the release of the Nunes memo and provide you with some great recipes for Super Bowl snacks.

Featured in this Show

  • What's Next Following The Release Of The Nunes Memo?

    House Republicans released the Nunes memo – a controversial four-page document authored by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes – earlier today with the approval of President Donald Trump. This occurred amid objections from the director of the FBI, other intelligence and law enforcement officials and many Democrats. We take a look at political implications with a political scientist and consider what’s ahead for the Russia investigation.

  • Low-Wage Internet Workers Struggle In Gig Economy

    When it comes to the so-called “gig economy,” ride sharing apps like Uber take a lot of the spotlight.

    But as Alana Semuels reported for The Atlantic, there’s another, nearly invisible group of gig workers, performing task work on the internet for extremely low wages.

    “When I first saw this and I saw people are making on average $2 to $4 an hour, I thought, that’s not legal,” Semuels told WPR’s “Central Time.” “The minimum wage, I believe federally it’s $7.25. So how are people making less than half of that? But they’re not covered by minimum wage protections, because they’re not actually employees. They’re independent contractors.”

    As Semuels explains it, workers are paid to complete five- to 10-minute surveys online through websites like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

    At first glance, this type of work seems appealing, she said. You don’t need to leave your computer and don’t need any special skills.

    But Semuels said workers are finding out that they’re not making as much money as they initially anticipated. And because they’re contractors, not employees, there aren’t as many protections in place to keep them from being abused.

    For example, each task will typically list how much it pays, a deadline, and how long it should take to complete. However, certain tasks take longer than listed and there’s also time needed looking for more work to complete, understanding the directions of each task, and bidding for the opportunity to complete the work.

    “It’s similar to someone who drives for Uber,” she said. “If they decided to drive to Milwaukee instead of where they live in rural Wisconsin, they’re not getting paid for the time that they’re driving to Milwaukee … I’d talk to people that would sit in front of the computer for 15, 16 hours a day and they’d make $20 for the whole day. That can get really frustrating.”

    Semuels interviewed a woman with an associate’s degree in nursing who started doing internet work because there wasn’t much other work in her rural Ohio town.

    The woman spent 30 hours a week doing surveys and other tasks. In a recent task, she pressed a key each time a blue triangle popped up on her computer screen.

    The work paid daily, or every other day. It was a way to make sure the bills got paid. Until it wasn’t. She often wasn’t paid when the company told her she hadn’t correctly completed tasks.

    “I think it was really frustrating for her because she thought it was going to be a great way to make some extra money, and she found out pretty quickly it was a lot harder,” Semuels said.

    There’s no internet gig workers union, and Semuels said that may because of the physical distance between the workers. They never see each other, and they’re working from all over the world.

    Workers will sometimes band together on forums like Reddit to give each other advice on which tasks pay well and which tasks are worthwhile.

    But, Semuels said, the stigma behind internet work keeps it invisible, which puts a lid on both public sympathy and camaraderie.

    “If you’re working at a McDonalds or you’re working for Uber you’re much more visible to people,” Semuels said. “Whereas if you’re doing stuff on the internet, people think, ‘Oh, you’re just doing that to earn extra cash, you must have another job.’”

  • The Internet's Hidden, Low-Wage Work

    Thousands of Americans are performing menial tasks for online companies and getting paid well below minimum wage. The jobs include filling out surveys and leaving reviews, but pay comes just a few pennies at a time. A reporter shares the details of this unseen industry with us and explains how companies get away with paying such low wages.

  • Queso: From Mexico To Texas And Beyond

    If you grew up in Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas or even the Midwest, you know queso as a brick of Velveeta cheese melted with a can of tomatoes and green chilies.

    Lisa Fain, a proud seventh-generation Texan, grew up eating the dish. She joined WPR’s “Central Time” to talk about about her book, “QUESO!: Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip.”

    “It’s delicious, it’s simple. It carries well, (and) it’s a great potluck dish,” she said.

    When Fain turned 25 she moved to New York City. Much to her surprise, there was no Velveeta to be found.

    “I had to relearn what queso is and learn other ways to make it,” she said.

    Queso — or chili con queso — is anything that has cheese and chilis, Fain said. But she wanted to know more to understand how it’s eaten around the country and how it became the processed cheese dip it is in the United States today.

    So she set out on an epic journey to understand the true nature of the cheese and chili dip, eating it every day for four months in a row.

    “I ate a few other things — I’d eat salad or beans to get some other nutrients in my body,” she said.

    Still, Fain tasted about 10 quesos a day every day in New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and other places.

    She found that the dish was different everywhere she went, ranging from a thick, hearty queso in Houston named for the Mexican-American activist and restaurateur Felix Tijerina, to a classic white-cheese dip in El Paso that, for reasons Fain couldn’t discern, everyone referred to as huevos rancheros. (Huevos rancheros typically refers to a Mexican breakfast egg dish.)

    Fain was also hoping to find the origins of queso as we know it today. The result of her search was a recipe from the early 1900s for something called “Mexican rarebit.” It called for American cheese, tomatoes, chili peppers, aromatics and beer.

    Welsh rarebit — a dish consisting of a savory cheese sauce poured over toast — was really popular in the early 1900s in the U.S., Fain explained.

    She made the Mexican rarebit recipe and it tasted like the queso we know and love today. She pinpoints that recipe as a moment in time when queso went from being just chili peppers and white cheese to the processed cheese dip it is today.

    Perhaps the biggest surprise of Fain’s quest, though?

    “At the end, I ended up losing 10 pounds,” she said.

  • Food Friday: Queso!

    In Wisconsin, we take our cheese-centric dishes very seriously. On this week’s Food Friday, we kindly let a Texan tell us about cheese. We head south for a deep dive into the gooey world of queso: the Southwestern chili cheese dip with Mexican roots.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Breann Schossow Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • Karl Christenson Producer
  • Chris Edelson Guest
  • Alana Semuels Guest
  • Lisa Fain Guest

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