Admittedly, I’m a fan of the $1 menu at McDonald’s, but not because I enjoy the food (unless we’re talking McDonald’s breakfast, in which case I would eat that stuff every morning if it wouldn’t eventually kill me). I love the $1 menu for the same reason anyone loves the $1 menu – everything is $1, and I’m (relatively) poor.
Common logic suggests that the people who benefit from $1 menus, and fast food in general, are young people and poor people. The benefits include cheap food options, and for some, a “fulfilling” job that will empower them to improve their situation or to earn some extra cash on the side. However, it’s certainly not all Happy Meals and apple pies, and is probably more like this fantastic Chappelle’s show sketch I spent way more time than I’d like to admit trying to embed…
However, recent data has shown that the people who eat fast food the most are either people exactly like me (males between 18-29), and maybe weirdly, people with annual incomes over $75,000. Although the more you think about it, the more the latter one makes sense (lots of time spent working, too lazy to cook, etc. etc.).
Now, that doesn’t mean I still don’t benefit from being able to get 1800 calories for $3 (fiscally, at least). I save a few bucks, and get to fuel my young,
sculpted relatively fit, active body. Win-Win, right? Wrong.
Forget about the health concerns of eating too much fast food, and start thinking about what, and who, goes into getting you that burger. I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty details because we all know the general idea: Low-wage workers = Low-cost food. Pretty simple. But there are a lot of downsides for the people that work in those places, making your cheap, diarrhea inducing tacos.
NPR’s fantastic Boston show, On Point with Tom Ashbrook, recently talked about the fast-food workers organizing a one-day protest in order to shed some light on their wages and the minimum wage in general, which is currently at $7.25 nationally, although certain states set it higher. If you’re working 30-40 hours a week on even $8.75/hr, you’re only making $16,000 a year before taxes.
But Dan! People who make that little don’t pay taxes! Mitt Romney said so!
Income tax. They don’t pay FEDERAL INCOME TAX. They still pay plenty of other regressive taxes like the payroll tax, state and local sales and gas taxes, and excise taxes; That’s a different conversation, though.
So when you’re looking at probably $14K/year, how on earth can you be expected to support yourself? Well, McDonalds had an idea. This is an ACTUAL sample budget on the “Build Your Budget” page for Mcdonald’s.
There are so many things horribly wrong with this that I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the fact that they assume you have TWO jobs. Because god knows they won’t give you more than 30 hours a week. Then there’s a whole $20 on monthly health insurance. I don’t know where they are getting it for so cheap, considering Obamacare hasn’t kicked in yet and McDonald’s doesn’t give benefits to part-time employees. And $0/month on heating. Odd, because I’ve seen plenty of people working at McDonald’s in Boston in January.
As someone who currently works two jobs, one being a crappily-paid retail job, this “budget” is insulting in every sense of the word. It is enough to get behind raising the minimum wage alone, but just to put the M&M’s and Oreo’s on top of the metaphorical McFlurry, McDonald’s made $5.5 billion (yeah that’s a B) in PROFITS last year. And while people shouldn’t start suggesting McDonald’s doubles the salaries of it’s employees overnight, why not take the Costco approach?
Costco pays their workers a living wage, and is currently 65 spots higher on the Fortune 500 list.
So if we all just sucked it up, and stopped shoveling multiple McChickens into our moutholes every once in a while, workers at these fast food chains could start getting something they could actually live on and maybe start making their lives pretty McDonald’s…..(watch the video and you’ll get it. and also won’t be able to keep yourself from saying this).
New to D Street Politics: This post….in 6 Seconds