McDonald's Budget Advice Insults Poor Workers

"If there is one thing poor people do not need, it is lessons in how to be poor," writes Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr., referring to McDonald's budget advice, ostensibly aimed at helping minimum-wage workers. 

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Fast-food worker rally for higher wages in Harlem. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. tackles what he calls McDonald's insulting budget advice, ostensibly aimed at helping minimum-wage workers, who have been fighting for higher pay. "If there is one thing poor people do not need, it is lessons in how to be poor," he says.

Perhaps you've heard of it. As fast food workers around the country protest for higher wages, we learn that McDonald's offers advice to help them live on the wages they make which, while not technically bupkes, do amount to a paycheck you can pretty much have the driver cash for you on the bus ride home. In December, for example, Bloomberg profiled a Chicago man who, after 20 years with the burger giant, earns $8.25 an hour — and doesn't get 40 hours a week. This, as McDonald's CEO Don Thompson pulled down, according to the Wall Street Journal, a compensation package worth $13.8 million last year.

Anyway, Mickey D's isn't blind to the difficulties of french fry makers and drive-through order takers getting by on not quite bupkes. It partnered with Visa on a website —http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/mcdonalds/budgetJournal/budgetJournal.php — which includes a sample budget showing how to live reasonably well on next to nothing.

The impossibility of doing so has been attested to by everyone from writer Barbara Ehrenreich in her book Nickel and Dimed to noted obstetrician Cliff Huxtable, in that episode of The Cosby Show where he uses Monopoly money to teach young Theo the value of a good income. It has also been attested to by the people trying to do it. But all that notwithstanding, the McBudget insists it can be done ...

The most vexing thing about that budget is its condescension. Take it from this welfare mother's son: If there's one thing poor people do not need, it is lessons in how to be poor. To the contrary, you will never meet anyone who can wring more value from a dollar.

Read Leonard Pitts Jr.'s entire column at the Miami Herald.

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