Fast Food Track to Nowhere

Over 50 fast-food restaurants, mainly McDonald’s, are on strike today in favor of raising workers’ wages to $15 per hour.  The workers complain that they can’t make a living wage at $7.25 per hour.  Some have made a career of working as burger flippers.

I remember eating at McDonald’s on Rt. 46 in the early 1960’s.  We hadn’t even moved to Bloomingdale yet; we were living in a garden apartment in Lodi.  My father worked at a minimum wage job as a security guard.  Yet, through skimping and saving, my parents were able to purchase the house in Bloomingdale for $17,000 (1961).

My college-educated father’s health (he’d suffered two heart attacks in his forties before my brothers and I were even born) didn’t allow him to work at any kind of stressful career.  My maternal grandfather was furious.  But Mom was loyal and she did what she had to so we could survive.

Our meals were strictly of the hot dogs and beans and spaghetti and meatballs variety.  Mom clipped coupons, shopped all the sales, and saved her Green Stamps.  We had one car that she and my father shared.  Dad worked at night so Mom could have the car during the day.

We kids wore hand-me down clothes and watched a black-and-white television.  My Barbie doll had one suit of clothing, the dress she was bought in and that was it.  A friend had to loan my Barbie doll clothes in order to play.  Vacations were a once-a-year summer trip to the Adirondack Mountains.  We went to the Long Beach section of Seaside Heights because we couldn’t afford to go on the rides or play the arcade games.

My parents bought successive cars from my grandfather, who’d been a mechanic at the Cadillac plant.  When one car wore out, we’d buy his old car and he’d buy another.  My brother and I fondly remember the Purple Car, a relic from the 1930s that my grandfather had bought from a friend.  The car had no suspension and was always breaking down, but we loved it.  Union Avenue was an absolute joyride; in those days, the road still had all its bumps and when we hit the bumps my older brother and I would bounce up to the roof of the car.  We laughed and giggled.  Being poor had its joys.

In those days, a job at a fast-food restaurant – this was before they became huge national franchises – was for teenagers, a part-time job, not a career.  The kids were earning spending money and saving money for college.  The minimum wage made buying the hamburgers affordable for poor, minimum-wage people like us.

Once we were all in school, Mom tried various part-time jobs so she’d be there for us when we got home from school.  My older brother took on a paper route, and later worked in the local pub as a pin gatherer in the pub’s bowling alley.  As we got older, she became a school bus driver and went on to drive the big charter buses, which paid more money, and did the infamous Atlantic City runs.  The work was tough for a woman, but Mom is a tough lady.  The extra income greatly improved our circumstances.  We were finally able to get a color television and even Cablevision when it came out.

The strikers are punishing the wrong people in striking against the executives and managers at McDonald’s and Burger King.  If you want to make more money, learn to do something that pays more money.  Unfortunately, the manufacturing jobs that average people would have gone to have long since fled not only New Jersey, but the United States, thanks to the excessive taxes and regulations.  If you want a job, don’t elect anti-business, anti-Capitalist legislators, governors and Presidents.

The manufacturing jobs also disappeared when the unions made too many demands on the car companies.  The strikers may get their high wages for awhile; but the diminishing returns will eventually spell the demise of McDonald’s and Burger King.  Don’t think that will trouble the President.  The First Lady will be absolutely delighted.  Detroit is a blighted ghost town thanks to union excesses.

The fast food restaurants will shutter their doors.  What will the burger flippers do for work, then?  Why, they might have to get a real job, if they can.  The headset-set needs to get the message:  McDonald’s is neither a career nor a charity; it’s a business with a particular model for success.  Drive up the prices and you’ll drive away the customers from the drive-in window.

 

 

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Published in: on August 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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