A McDonald's-like tone-deafness let Washington Post blogger Timothy B. Lee in for a heavy dose of online criticism too, when he defended the McDonald's/Visa budget. Here's an excerpt:
"Gawker's Neil Casey calls $600 per month for rent a 'laughably small' figure, but Casey should spend more time outside the Northeast Corridor. When I lived in St. Louis, my roommate and I each paid $425 per month ..."
Roommate? That cliched thinking reflects one of the key misconceptions about minimum-wage workers: that they're teenagers or 21-year-olds just starting out in life. It's closely related to the myth that most fast-food workers are fresh-faced kids serving root beer floats at the local malt shop.
In fact, less than 16 percent of minimum-wage workers are teenagers. Many are parents, which makes the "roommate" suggestion especially silly. More than seven million children live in a minimum-wage home. And many minimum-wage workers live in poverty. (See Real Faces of the Minimum Wage for more.)
You deserve a break today
America is crying out to McDonald's as if with one voice: "Stuff that financial planning website in your Egg McMuffin."
The pain and anger is palpable. But it's not enough. What do we do?
For one thing, we can sign a petition supporting a bill which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 -- and then demand it be raised even further. We can back the minimum-wage campaigns being waged around the country, which build on an exciting grassroots movement of fast-food workers in cities like Detroit. (There's more information here.)
McDonald's should join the wage movement it so ably served this week, because economic misery is hurting its bottom line in the US and worldwide. And while its new and successful "dollar menu" shows that it's willing to profit from hard times, that's only a short-term fix in a declining economy.
Pay your workers what they deserve, McDonald's. But the rest of us won't wait for you. We're taking action, because we agree with you about one thing:
Every dollar makes a difference.