The Fries Are Really Done

Fast food workers join nationwide strike in Los Angeles

Despite the enormous amount of health, wellness and nutrition advice available courtesy of my colleagues here at Personal Liberty, I must admit: I eat more McDonald’s than I should. Given the quality of Ronald McDonald’s culinary expertise, eating any McDonald’s qualifies as “more than I should.” Nonetheless, I happen to like McDonald’s; and it’s not as if the restaurant is lying to me about its fare. It’s fast food: quick, cheap and filling.

Nutrition has nothing to do with the success of McDonald’s. We know it; and the company knows it. People do not go to McDonald’s in search of haute cuisine, and McDonald’s doesn’t offer it. The restaurants maintain their low prices by keeping their costs even lower. And they keep their costs low by selling their low-nutrition food and paying their low-skill employees low wages.

Apparently, the Democrats — who spend an inordinate amount of time telling us to avoid places like McDonald’s — think the people who work at McDonald’s should be paid more to serve us the food they don’t think we should be eating. Last week, the Service Employees International Union and the usual coterie of left-wing lunatics and layabouts organized another of their work stoppages, as McDonald’s employees across the Nation walked away from their Quarter Pounders (*pre-cooked weight) to protest against the $7.25 per hour minimum wage. Their demand: $15 per hour. Fifteen. Dollars. Per. Hour. Pardon me, Mister and Miss Fry Cook, but I didn’t catch the news about McDonald’s adding a McKobe Beef Burger.

According to the left-wing group National Employment Law Project, McDonald’s and the fast-food industry actually pay front-line workers an average of $8.94 per hour. They pay that wage because that’s what they can pay and still sell whatever those Chicken McNuggets are (my guess: beaks and tailfeathers) for $4.99 with a medium soda and fries. If McDonald’s starts paying Big Mac makers $15 per hour, they’ll have to make up the hike in labor costs somewhere. That means either the restaurants start charging $12 for that McBeaknFeathers Value Meal or they hand pink slips to about half their workforce. Obviously, the former idea would represent a fatal mistake akin to throwing the company’s business out with the used fry oil. That unfortunate “McDLT” business aside, McDonald’s hasn’t put Golden Arches from here to Tiananmen Square and back by overestimating customers’ palates and what they’re willing to pay to satisfy them.

McDonald’s workers earn $8.94 per hour because McDonald’s workers earn only $8.94 per hour. If they wish to earn twice that, they should apply at Morton’s. When I was just a lad, I got McDonald’s only if my mother was out of town. Mom can really put groceries on the table, whereas the old man… Well, if he can’t grill it, it’s being delivered. But even though I thought of “Mickey D’s” as a bit of a treat, I certainly didn’t dream of a career in the exciting world of fast food. While I never worked at McDonald’s, I did learn the value of my work. Stacking sand and concrete mix bags behind the old True Value was worth minimum wage, $3.35 per hour at the time. The skill required to flip a burger isn’t much different. The various managerial levels do offer better pay, but no one is ever going to buy a summer home in the Hamptons on a fast food manager’s salary.

If you want to earn more than $7.25 per hour, then make your labor worth more than $7.25 per hour. It’s a harsh reality of life that there are jobs to which no one really aspires, yet they have to be done. But it’s a fine reality of American life that you don’t have to do those jobs. You can aspire to more. But marching around outside the McDonald’s with a sign that reads “I’m lovin’ a living wage” is not going to make your aspirations come to fruition. If you want more money, you might want to think about getting back to work.

–Ben Crystal

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.