By Tesha Miller
The Golden Age of the American working class is over and McDonald’s Golden Arches provides a glimpse of what lay directly ahead for many working Americans. McDonald’s will be adding as many as 50,000 new hires on April 19. The newly disenfranchised who were unfortunate enough to be swept away by the housing bubble collapse had to penny pinch on shoestring budgets. Those no longer able to afford Starbucks coffee, instead sipped on the newly developed McDonald’s McCafe line and the restaurant chain financially exploded despite the tanked economy. While the entrepreneurial spirit of McDonald’s is certainly noteworthy, there is a more important element to this story to be considered. The poor substitute for coffee is symbolic of a far greater crisis to the American people than just a preference for coffee beans.
The average wage for McDonald’s employees in 2011 are exactly what one might expect for a chain that can offer $1 menu items; about $7.50 -$10 an hour. During the peak of the economic recession nearly 700,000 jobs were being lost monthly by US workers and with it an entire way of life. Millions of homes were abandoned and foreclosed upon while small businesses ended and community banks closed doors for the final time. Some of the worst hit metropolitan areas suffered job losses ranging from 9.8% to 17% according to a Brookings Institution report in 2010. Entire communities were devastated from the severity of the economic blow and this in turn lead to deficit increases and budgetary shortfalls.
Would you like that supersized?
Those exact same mega banks and Wall Street speculators, who were responsible for the financial meltdown, are also responsible for up to $1 trillion in tax revenue lost every decade. This lost revenue directly influences budgets and deep cuts to important domestic spending programs are the results: layoffs of school teachers and police officers, public library closures, public education and head start programs slashed and vulnerable groups like the elderly have been targeted with a reduction of allocated funds for home heating.
Meanwhile, war expenditures are expected to increase and corporate subsidizes will continue to flow unhampered, to large multinational corporations; several of whom are demanding our workforce to accept further reductions in wages and benefits or have recently cut US jobs.
“The United States is running huge deficits, yes, but the economy and this mission in Libya are two separate issues.”
~ Christine Romans, CNN, March 31, 2011
Speaker of the House John Boehner in a recent interview with Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone perhaps best exemplifies the contemptuous attitude with which the financial elite hold for the working class. Boehner, accused the unemployed of being lazy and along with the poor, held them responsible for America’s economic decline. Those who practice revisionist history are already hard at work, manufacturing consent for their shameless attack on the middle class programs, insisting that our current recession was never due to the reckless banking practices of a few banks and Wall Street or the government which deregulated it, but instead it was all due to a sense of entitlement from the average American.
Today, 1 in 6 workers still remain jobless and millions have lost their homes and millions more are expected to be foreclosed upon. Students who want to continue their education will find it more difficult than ever to secure the loans necessary to give them an employment advantage in a highly competitive job market but, don’t fret over the details because McDonald’s will soon be hiring and they’re going to save us all with their free market strategies…and we should thank our lucky stars for it!