Marie Antoinette, meet Ronald McDonald.
A lot of people are angry about McDonald's new financial advice website for employees, an ill-conceived project which drips with "let them eat cake" insouciance. "Every dollar makes a difference," McDonald's lectures its struggling and often impoverished workers.
But it's time to ditch the resentment and offer McDonald's a word of thanks. It has just performed an invaluable service for campaigns like Raise the Minimum Wage and petitions like this one by serving up a timely and exhaustively researched brief on their behalf. This new website provides invaluable data for a living-wage "McManifesto."
You want fries with that?
Get this: The new employee website, co-created with Visa, helpfully suggests that people who work for this Fortune 500 corporation begin the financial planning process by taking a second job.
As a number of ticked-off writers have observed, McDonald's also pretty much advises its employees not to clothe themselves, heat their homes, seek educational advancement, or pay more than $600 in rent and $20 in health insurance premiums per month. (As Daniel Gross notes, that would pay for about two days of coverage.)
And, as if that's not enough, there isn't even any money for food in the McDonald's sample budget. Apparently for McDonald's employees the phrase "Happy Meal" means you're happy whenever you're lucky enough to scrounge a meal.
People were seething at the website's arch touches, which include interactive games like "Financial Football" and "Road Trip to Savings," and were thunderstruck by the lordly obliviousness behind pronouncements like "Knowing where your money goes and how to budget it is the key to your financial freedom."
(Not when there's not enough of it, Sir Ronald.)
Peter S. Goodman notes that McDonald's receives a fortune in "corporate welfare." In fact, government policies help most of the country's underpaying mega-corporations keep expanding through a series of tax breaks and other concessions.
Economically, we're super-sizing them.
Heart of the matter
Many McDonald's workers need public assistance to survive, which often includes Medicaid. That's right: The public is even subsidizing McDonald's low wages and lousy benefits when it comes to health care.
Subsidize McDonald's ? For health care? With that food it should be hit with a surcharge.
Fun fact: McDonald's says it serves nine million pounds of French fries globally every day. Since slightly more than half its franchises are in the US, that means Americans presumably consume between four and five million pounds of this lard-laden, massively space-time curving starchy mass every 24 hours.