The Final Word
By Jeff Girod
Fast food employees staged protests last week in seven cities including Chicago, New York and Detroit, demanding that the federal minimum wage be raised from $7.25 to $15. (In California, minimum wage is actually $8, but that’s still barely enough to afford a rectangle of cheese-like, orange byproduct on your Egg McMuffin.)
“We work hard for companies that are making millions,” said one of the protesters, Terrance Wise, who works two jobs and more than 50 hours per week at a Pizza Hut and Burger King in Kansas City, according to The Associated Press. “We’re not asking for the world. We want to make enough to make a decent living. We deserve better.”
President Obama thinks the lower class deserves better, too. That’s why he’s called for an increase in the minimum wage to $9 per hour. But not everyone is ready to start handing out extra zeroes like onion rings in paychecks.
Successful companies didn’t get that way by giving away the farm, or, in this case, Happy Meals. Of course McDonald’s should pay its employees more. So should Wendy’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Del Taco, KFC, Chick-fil-A, Baker’s, Subway, Five Guys, Farmer Boy’s, Carl’s Jr., Wienerschntizel and Dairy Queen.
And Apple and Nike should stop making their products in third-world sweatshops. And I should stop swearing. And you should stop speeding. And we could all probably stop doing that other thing so much. C’mon, you know what I’m fucking talking about.
Some have argued that raising the price of minimum wage is going to raise costs elsewhere and ruin nature’s delicate balance of always screwing the littlest guy.
“The dollar menu is going to be the $5 menu and (restaurants) are going to lose sales, or they’re going to have to find a way to provide the same product with less service,” said Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policies Institute.
Oh perish the thought of doing anything to harm the almighty dollar menu. Where will I go for my 2am cost-efficient bouts of diarrhea?
What “experts” such as Saltsman fail to point out is that McDonald’s reported a profit of $8.5 billion last year. And according to Business Insider, McDonald’s could double the wages of its restaurants employees and still report a profit of $5.5 billion.
Then again, why should McDonald’s or any other corporation have to take a loss? Why should anybody do anything as long as people are willing to wear paper hats and sling fast food for $7.25?
Big corporations are greedy, heartless bastards who would kick your grandma down the stairs for a greasy nickel. But on some level are they really any different than you or I am?
We’re all out to get and take as much as we can wherever we can. And if McDonald’s can still find people to work for minimum wage, if Congress will allow it, and billions and billions are still being served, then why should McDonald’s do anything differently?
In a perfect world, everyone would be taken care of and there would be no crime and lost puppies. But we live in a society based on competition and part of that is taking advantage of the weak and the powerless. Is it heartless? Yes. But you’re contributing to it every time you pull into a drive through and say “McRib.”
Everything you eat, wear, are entertained by, consume, or even believe and love probably falls short of the ideal. Everyone makes compromises. But even more than that: Everyone is out for their own. And yeah, that even goes for big faceless corporations.
I’m not against a higher minimum wage. I believe everyone should get everything they can. For all I care, make every McDonald’s employee an honorary Mayor McCheese.
Am I going to stop eating at McDonald’s? I probably should. And it has nothing to do with what they pay their fry cooks. I cut my finger the other day and what seeped out looked like a cross between barbecue sauce and ranch dressing.
It wasn’t half bad on my fries.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org