Monday, October 28, 2013

Fast Food and Football Dads

So I was sitting in my uncomfortable lawn chair on the sidelines at our local junior high's football field one night a few weeks ago, watching my son’s practice and lamenting the cold, gray, drizzling weather with the other parental regulars. Normally our conversation is limited to football – the other dads discuss specific plays and formations and positions and I pretend to know what the hell they’re talking about although they sound like they’re speaking Latin with Caribbean accents to me – but for some reason that night two of the other dads felt like talking about politics.

These aren’t the most urbane fellows in the world, mind you, and this is not the bluest community in the nation so I wasn’t surprised that the discussion immediately turned to trashing Obamacare, ridiculing the idea of global warming, deriding gay marriage and objecting strenuously to the crazy notion that this country’s fast food workers deserve to be paid a living wage. I only made one attempt to participate – when one of the guys said, “It’s pretty stupid to decide to work at McDonald’s and expect to make a sweet paycheck,” I responded with, “Maybe they don’t have any other options” – but was quickly shot down by the others, who insisted the solution to low wages at one job is just to find a second one too.

“I saw a study,” one dad declared, “that people on welfare make an average of $30 per hour while working folks like you and me only bring home $20 per hour.”

“I’ve been in politics since 1999,” the other claimed, “and I’ve known Obama for a long time. He’s not a good dude.”

“If we pay fast-food workers $15 an hour like they want,” the first added, “pretty soon we’re gonna be paying $40 for a Big Mac.”

I started to ask for evidence or examples but decided to bite my tongue and keep my bleeding heart socialist views to myself. I didn’t want my son to pay for my opinions, either on or off the gridiron. I did tell Anita as soon as we returned home that my sitting in the rain at football practice for two hours three nights a week should from this point on be viewed as a supreme sacrifice and proof positive of my noteworthy devotion to our children.

When I checked my e-mail a few days later, I opened a message with the subject line, “The real cost of a Big Mac.” The sender claimed that “a whopping 52 percent of fast food employees’ families are forced to rely on food stamps and Medicaid to put food on the table or see a doctor because they’re paid poverty wages.” We’re all subsidizing the greed of McDonald’s, Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Subway and Papa John's to the tune of nearly $7 billion in tax dollars each year. If the franchises – which are enjoying increased revenue and profit margins – paid their workers $15 per hour, the price of a Big Mac would likely go up $1, if that.

(Click here to read, “Fast-Food Wages Come With a $7 Billion Side of Public Assistance.”)

For a lot of us, the issue is less about the hourly rate than it is about simple fairness. As the Service Employees International Union’s Mary Kay Henry told Business Week, “Unfortunately, this growth in income inequality has become acceptable. They’re not doing anything illegal, but it’s completely wrong that they are earning record profits and people are living in poverty and using taxpayer subsidies to make ends meet.”

(Click here to read “Fast Food Companies Probably Can Afford to Pay Workers More.”)

The e-mail sender closed her message with, “It's time to hold fast food CEOs accountable for a deliberately flawed business model that hurts both workers and taxpayers.” I happen to agree. It seems unwise to ignore the plight of the almost four million Americans who work in the fast food industry, especially when all of us are picking up the slack.

Let's just call this what it is: another example of class warfare, where the rich get richer at the expense of the working class. And let's find a way to get the facts out to the football dads and others whose ignorance is perpetuating the status quo.

Click here to read “Not You Too, Wendy’s and Taco Bell!,” January 10, 2013. And click here to purchase Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser’s alarming exposé of the fast food industry.

Sources:, CREDO Mobilize,


  1. Glad to see you back blogging, you're in good socialist, bleeding heart company. It will never cease to amaze me that people swallow Fox News propaganda as fact and vote against their own best interests. Keeping your mouth shut was wise indeed, you are truly a devoted dad.

  2. Yeah, why do poor white Americans defend parties that campaign against fair wages, free or subsidised healthcare and a better slice of the pie? I guess that remains a mystery to most of us Europeans. It's not even about socialism, it's just about fairness and justice. If people were paid more, they'd have more to spend, that would bolster the economy, enable them to pay more taxes, feel better and valued as an employee and able to save a little for a rainy day, cutting crime and ill will between the poorest communities. But, oh no, any mere mention of fairness and you're a socialist and so debate closes. And who are the most vociferous opponents of 'socialism' in the US? The people who would benefit the most. Well, go figure. At least we ditched that bullshit for all our many faults.