mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Unintended Consequences
War on McDonald’s Harms the Poor

The Guardian has a fascinating report, worth reading in full, on the way that McDonald’s, for all the ridicule and condescension it faces from bien pensants, actually serves a vital function in low-income American communities, serving as a gathering place and a source of community at a time of social dislocation and anomie:

Few understand celebrating at a McDonald’s, but for Omar and Betty it made sense. They don’t have a lot of money, and McDonald’s is part of their life. It is that way in many poor and middle-income neighborhoods, where McDonald’s have become de-facto community centers and reflections of the surrounding neighborhood.

When many lower-income Americans are feeling isolated by the deadening uniformity of things, by the emptiness of many jobs, by the media, they still yearn for physical social networks. They are not doing this by going to government-run community service centers. They are not always doing this by utilizing the endless array of well-intentioned not-for-profit outreach programs. They are doing this on their own, organically across the country, in McDonald’s.

Much has been written about how new liberal economic initiatives targeting fast-food companies—from the $15 minimum wage crusade, to the Obama administration’s new overtime rules, to the National Labor Relation Board’s unprecedented regulations on franchises—will harm low-skilled workers, by replacing their jobs with robots and shutting them out of the labor market, blocking their chance to develop the skills they need to earn a better living. And all of that is probably true.

But it’s also the case that such measures will likely force companies like McDonald’s, which operate on a razor-thin profit margin, and which are already facing serious headwinds, to cut back on their businesses altogether, in addition to raising prices and laying off employees. The Democratic Party’s offensive against franchises won’t just destroy opportunities for workers—it will hollow out the communities where these restaurants are actually an important source of social capital.

Features Icon
show comments
  • seattleoutcast

    As usual, those bien pensants with excessive hubris decide the fate of neighborhoods without actually living in those neighborhoods. It’s mind boggling to me the amount of time and energy some people give towards interfering in the lives of others.

    • Jim__L

      They grew up on god-complex computer games like Civilization and Sim City. No wonder they believe unquestioningly in global warming and eminent domain.

  • Dale Fayda

    Truly, liberalism is a mental disorder.

  • Jmaci

    Great story. We see the same disdain among our friends for Walmart, which has been an economic blessing for lower-income shoppers…and for older rv’ers who spend safe nights in their parking lots. Go Walmart and McDonald’s !

  • Fat_Man

    It is not an accident. The entire object of the liberal elite is to demoralize the lower classes. The model of they are seeking to acheive is the ghettos of the big cities where anomie, drug addiction, bastardy, crime, ignorance, and despair ensure that no association of persons will ever arise to challenge the continued rule of the elites. Places votes can be easily and cheaply purchased in unlimited quantities.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service