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McDonald’s Gets Hammered for Its Household Budget Planning Program

Written by Gary North on July 17, 2013

McDonald’s and Visa teamed up to produce a household budget plan for minimum-wage workers.

The poor saps who wanted to be helpful made a mistake. They assumed that workers need a second job to make ends meet. So, they put that into the budget. What happened next was predictable: a liberal magazine hammered the company for not knowing how a worker can live on a minimum wage.

Here’s how someone can live on a minimum wage. First, the worker is a teenager or young adult who lives at home or who shares an apartment with roommates. This is what unmarried young adults do.

When you go to McDonald’s or any fast food restaurant, are lots of the workers young? Yes?

Then there is a budget for a wife who is working. Are most fast food workers male or female? Female? There is a reason for that.

Does McDonald’s pay enough money to attract smiling, fresh-faced, courteous employees? Yes? That  must mean that the company pays enough to attract good workers. Do liberal magazines run stories with titles such as this: “McDonald’s Pays Competitive Wages”? No? I wonder why this is.

A good way for McDonald’s to avoid hatchet job articles in liberal magazines is to avoid public relations snafus like this one: teaming up with Visa to create recommended household budgets. McDonald’s is in the business of selling food to customers. It should not be in the business of helping Visa to get more publicity for its credit card business.

In any large organization, there is always some middle manager who does not know what he is doing. Someone had what he thought was a good idea. It wasn’t. Nobody in senior management intervened and said: “Scrap this project. It will backfire.”

Companies should focus on what they do best. Helping employees budget their money is not one of them.

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23 thoughts on “McDonald’s Gets Hammered for Its Household Budget Planning Program

  1. sean murry says:

    They better stick with selling hamburgers and fries.

  2. College-grad female says:

    Did did you even look at the proposed numbers? They're unrealistic at best. Even with roommates. Even assuming you get 30+ hours per week, which is particularly unrealistic.

    "'McDonald’s Pays Competitive Wages'? No? I wonder why this is." Uhhh… because they don't?

    Come on… are you really this out of touch? When was the last time you actually worked a min wage job? When was the last time you were actually at a fast food restaurant actually looking around at the workers?

    The vast majority of fast food and other min wage jobs are not teens, although many of them are 'young' they are mostly high school grads, college students and even college grads. Sometimes single parents. And there are a whole freaking lot of people over 30 working minimum wage, but you sit there with your eyes shut because it's easier to dismiss the reality.

    Is the solution to raise min wage? That doesn't make any sense to do for the teens and those "just want to make a little extra money." But it sure as hell isn't working for people trying to earn enough to keep a roof and have some food from time to time. Real jobs are scarce and 'something' is always better than nothing.

    In all other instances I'm for the free market, but something has to give. The idea that demand for low wage jobs will go down and force wages to rise is ludicrous.

    Repubs, Libs, and Tea party and other varieties of conservatives have got to get out heads out of the sand or we will never win an election again. Ever.

    "Are most fast food workers male or female? Female? There is a reason for that."

    WOW. Is it any wonder why liberals hate us when we have people on our side saying things like THIS?

  3. Nobody is forced to work at McDonald's.

    If they can get better pay elsewhere, then elsewhere they should go.

    Raising the minimum wage only creates more unemployment…we already have too much of that.

  4. Retired -grad female says:

    I totally agree with you! [I'm glad I'm not young anymore…]

  5. College-grad female says:


    OK, they could go to Burger King or Target or Starbucks or Walmart or the local grocery store. But they're all the same– minimum wage, or maybe half a dollar higher.

    That's the point. They can't go somewhere else for better wages.

    Until more good jobs are being created, this is the best people can hope for.

  6. "They can't go somewhere else for better wages."

    So contrary to your first post, you just admitted McDonald's is offering competitive wages. If they weren't offering competitive wages..then by definition people could go somewhere else and get better.

    "Until more good jobs are being created"

    Unfortunately that won't happen unless and until the US government stops crippling the free market. Right now most businesses can't afford to expand and grow with the burden of sickness(not health)care costs that Obamacare is placing on them. Ironically much of the sickness care in the USA actually makes people sicker, and young people for the most part don't need insurance against most sickness and will only end up paying for something they don't need…if they can even find a job.

    But this isn't something the free market did, just an incompetent ruler and his administration.

  7. Michael J says:

    There is no Free Market. NAFTA destroyed manufacturing in the USA. It didn't create jobs. It lost jobs. That is why people who want to work and don't have a lot of skills must take whatever they can get. Tell me of some corporations that manufacture things in the USA that will take in moderately skilled and unskilled labor, train them, and pay them $15 or more per hour. Guess what? They don't exist in almost all of the USA. Become a coal miner or work as a laborer near an oil field. Those are just a couple of places I can name. Every town doesn't have mines or oil fields.

    It's funny how free market people get angry at people not earning enough to get by. Visit Wal-Mart or fast food restaurants and you will not see many teenagers. You're delusional if you believe that. The youngest people I ever see are college students. The only jobs for high school teens are baby sitting and mowing lawns.

    I've gotten specialized training in the restaurant business and worked for a hotel from 2001-2005. Their pay hasn't gone up at all. No raises since who knows when.

    I've got a commercial drivers license. I'm a driver. Long haul truckers are the life of this nation yet a starting trucker will earn $10.25 per hour if he's lucky, and that includes living away from home 21-34 days with no per diem. Then having just three or four days home between assignments. This low pay is due to GOVERNMENT regulations keeping pay down and the highways unsafe. Most drivers earn by the mile but I did the calculation by taking the pay for a week and the time to drive the miles, and working out the hourly pay including overtime.

    Government regulations caused the service industry to be the only industry supplying enough jobs to give some people money. Don't claim government regulations are preventing the creation of good jobs. Factories that pollute or destroy our environment aren't worth having when they in turn slowly kill the population with toxins. Clean factories can be created. It's just that investors just like CEOs are stingy with their money.

    Why should any CEO earn more than 100 times what a worker earns? I can understand a small business owner earning $500,000 to a $1M per year because he does all of the work and is there daily to make things go right. No corporate CEO works any harder than a small business owner. Why should they earn tens of millions of dollars when that could go to training employees, health benefits, and raising their pay? It's just greed and ego that perpetuates that cycle, nothing else.

    I'm a Libertarian. I'm for market competition in an unfettered environment. The problem with that is that government in collaboration with large corporations have twisted the playing field so much that there isn't true competition anywhere. There hasn't been since the robber barons long ago. I'm a Libertarian with compassion. I'm not an egomaniacal scumbag who wants it all for himself at the expense of others. If I owned a business I would recognize that my profits wouldn't happen at all without the people on the floor or in the store or in the field who actually do the work. CEOs need to recognize that and so do you morons who claim it is OK to pay people slave wages just because no other jobs or companies offer more.

  8. College-grad female says:

    "Competitive" means better than elsewhere, not the same as everywhere else.

    I agree with what you're saying, except that it's not just since Obama that its been a problem.

  9. I saw a funny graduation card for new sociology grads that congratulated them and then reminded them of the important phrase that came next "Would you like fries with that?" Sick humor, but too true these days..

  10. All you leeches with no work ethic start your own business and pay high wages for low intelligence workers who played all their lives and did not study, you reap what you sow. No one owes you anything takers, you need to study your job and advance up the ranks, stop the blaming & see how hard.it is to run your own business & pay high wages & stay in business in a country that destroys it’s own citizens jobs & economy then wants to add burdens to businesses to close them down. BHO is here to destroy what’s left of America stirring race and class hatred – read if you can the 1917 Russian zBulchevek

  11. Read/Google the “1917 Russian Bulchevek Revolution” and see step by step how BHO is implinenting it, using same cry “FORWARD” (to 70 years of Russian poverty) class warfare – race warfare – income inequality – between producers of jobs and labor. Destroy job producers destroy a country. Search billionaire Soros is using 1917 step by step & communist BHO to destroy America.

  12. pappap42 says:

    I see you are a college-grad. And what did you major in, and do you have a job in your degree? Or did you study in some study course that will get you nothing but a low wage job.

  13. College-grad female says:

    Actually as a matter of fact. I have started a business for myself. When it gets to the level of being able to hire workers, I will never pay them minimum wage.

    Speaking of hard, have you started a business with no income, no savings, and no capital? I have.

  14. College-grad female says:

    And a large student debt to boot.

  15. College-grad female says:

    Yes, I'm employed in my major, which I will say is in a technology field. I'm the only one among my college friends who is employed in their field of study.

  16. College-grad female says:

    Just to clarify, since might appear in conflict with my earlier statements, I have both a job and a business. Fresh out of college, I started a home business to try to stay afloat while trying to find work. I've since then kept it as a side business to supplement my income and one day I hope to make that my full time income.

  17. "Competitive" doesn't mean being better than elsewhere, but that it can compete with the other available wages. If every other employer in the area is paying $15/hr and you offer $15/hr, you are offering a competitive wage for that area. The same is true if you and everyone else is offering minimum wage.

  18. Perry Mason says:

    You have it backwards. The numbers are unrealistic, but in the opposite direction.

    You aren't being creative enough, likely because you don't have to live off of a minimum wage salary. Gary showed some of the flaws in the budget, by pointing out that many workers have roommates.

    But I'll go futher. In Houston, for example, my maid lives with her cousin in a small, very modest, home in the large-lot wooded barrios in NW Houston. Safety is relative, but they are not Chicago or St. Louis ghettos. But, they are full of legal and illegal hispanic immigrants.

    She pays maybe $150 for rent. Utilities are not much more (the house is small). Food is purchased at Foodtown, which is cheaper than dirt cheap. Her car is old and used. She works close to home, minimizing gas costs. Items like clothes, electronics etc., are very available for essentially nothing if you know where to look (goodwill, church sales & charity offerings, gifts).

    Is it tough? Yes. But livable. Also, statistics demonstrate that historically, minimum wage living is a highly temporary state for a worker — virtually all of them (except the disabled) obtain a higher wage in a few years.

    Of course, if you are white, which I presume you are, I doubt you even considered how the humble minority adult minimum wage worker gets by, given that you would never live in such a place.

  19. Perry Mason says:

    I should also add that the large hispanic families act as a mutual aid society, far more than government programs. When unforeseen expenses come up, a large family network typically addresses the need.

    It is a very common baby boomer assumption that every man/woman must be an island and never leverage social resources in order to get by on a wage.

  20. Good for you on the business and job. I wish you the best of success.

    You are correct that these economic problems long pre-date Obama. There is much corruption and inefficiency that the government has piled on for the past 10 decades, especially in finance, real estate and medical services. But each new burden slows down the economic train even more, to the point where eventually it will grind to a halt.

  21. How about this idea, Congress? Raise the minimum wage to $22 / hr. . . . And mandate the minimum price of a hamburger be $14.50. That way all the fast food joints can pay their employees approx. $45,000 / year without going out of business. In other words: let the consumer pay for everyone’s “living wage” . . . since it’s the consumer who pays anyway.

    How does that sound, you Happy Meal fans?

  22. People are in love with the idea of suspending the laws of economics by fiat. A minimum wage (price floor for labor) only causes a labor glut. We should understand that by now, but we don't seem to.

    Here's an idea: why don't we do away with the corporation. This is a legal fiction created by government. It's not intrinsic to the economic process, like money is. It's simply a legal fiat: let there be a fictitious person which can do everything a natural person can do (except vote) and which will absorb the liability for the human operators of a business. Let all businesses be what they should be: sole proprietorships or partnerships. That would eliminate a lot of the chicanery. I've never heard it proposed by anyone, however.

  23. I've just gotta say this. I'll probably catch an immense amount of flak for it, but here goes:
    We've all been through school. And we've noticed that as we go through school, it tends to get more and more selective. A lot of the people who were there in first grade just aren't around anymore when we get to high school. And a lot of those in high school aren't around anymore when we look around in college. So where did they all go? The ones who were weeded out earliest wound up in the ranks of the lifetime minimum wage employed, I'd venture to guess. Think. We all remember the kids who were in our grade school. Mediocrity was the name of the game. If you're like me, you never even saw any kind of commitment to excellence until you were in college. Anyone committed to excellence in anything, unless it was athletics, was some kind of weirdo. But where did that lead? My first job was at age 16, for $1.10 an hour. I lived at home. Even then, you'd have to be completely crazy to think that you could actually make a living on $1.10 an hour. But it was a good job. Really. I worked several years at it, all living at home. I was in school. I didn't consider that job my life's work. I didn't expect to make a living at that job. I would've been crazy to think that. Why do people think that they should be able to support themselves–and maybe dependents too–on a minimum wage job? The idea is completely crazy. It's a product of our culture and the idea that every person is completely independent of every other person, and that everyone is owed an independent lifestyle no matter what kind of work they qualify for. We've got to get this idea out of our heads. Even at age 16, I understood that I would be crazy to think that I could earn an independent living without education or specialized training or both. Why is this idea so difficult for today's people to comprehend?

    The Asian immigrants should be our example. When they got here, they frequently didn't know a word of English or have a nickel to their name. Many were tribal people from the mountains (Hmong). They had huge adjustments to make, not only in language but in adaptation to a technological culture in a strange land. But they did have family. They rented apartments, sometimes with as many as 15 or 20 people in an apartment. It wasn't a problem for them, they were used to living this way. To tell the truth, they would've been alienated and lonely living American style with only one or two people in a two-bedroom (or larger) apartment. Several people would work minimum wage jobs–maybe half a dozen of them or more. Individually the income wasn't much, but collectively it came to quite a sum. They worked hard. They started businesses. Their kids got all A's in school. In a few years they bought houses and nice cars. Their kids went to college and did great, and got great jobs coming out. They are now established and prosperous. What did they do differently from other minimum-wage workers? Just about everything. They understood the place of a minimum wage job. They understood their place in society, as workers and learners. They understood their place in the family, as supportive members. It was all about attitude. I applaud them.