This was an increase of 25.79 percent
These numbers represent a decrease in purchasing power for fast-food cooks of 1.81 percent (almost 2%) over 10 years. When individuals are already at or near subsistence level, 2% isn't giving up your annual travel vacation. At these wage levels 2% is giving up, for example, a gallon of milk each week that your children should have.
Clearly, the standard of living for America's fast-food cooks has declined by almost by 2% in the 10 years from 2002 to 2012. Clearly, wages did not increase enough for employees to maintain their standard of living. The question is whether or not this decrease in purchasing power was the result of non-machinated free-market forces or the result of the amoral, unethical, and/or unlawful machinations?
Now it would be easy to jump into that false left/right two-party-dogma paradigm and declare US business (for our purposes McDonald's) the bad guys and McDonald's employees as the victims, and proceed to vote in the next election accordingly. But is McDonald's really the consummate bad guy in this free-market play?
While this writer is not going to try to place the mantle of sainthood upon the founders, owners, managers, and shareholders of McDonald's neither does this writer believe these just-identified folks bear the majority of the responsibility for the declining standard of living of McDonald's hourly wage employees.
Let us begin with this empirical observation and fundamental premise:
All Value Comes From Labor!
If the hole isn't dug, the bricks aren't laid, the plumbing isn't plumbed, the wiring isn't installed, the wheat is not sown, the cows are not fed, the product is not delivered, the burgers are not fried, and the fries are not salted; the founders, owners, and shareholders of McDonald's have nothing and get nothing. It is that simple. All value comes from labor.
In our society, the US dollar is the form and measure of value. And McDonald's founders, owners, and shareholders use the value they receive in the form of dollars to pay their employees, pay their vendors, pay their taxes, and what is left over is theirs to keep.
In a true free-market system, the founders, owners, shareholders, and investors in McDonald's are entitled to their profit. Why? Because they hazarded the risk of beginning the business, they are entitled to the reward. While McDonald's is now clearly profitable, when first founded it could have just as likely failed as succeeded. Before the age of dubious bank bailouts, in the event of financial failure the founders of McDonald's (any business) would have lost their investment in time and money, period.
The reward of profit is the incentive for entrepreneurs to take risks. And those that hazard the risk are entitled to the rewards of success. [For those of you who refuse to free yourselves from the false left/right two-party dogma and believe the founders of McDonald's are not entitled to their profit this writer puts the following to you--"How happy would you be if you did not have a job because the founders of McDonald's never hazarded the risk of starting the McDonald's franchise?"]
Taking Value from Labor