Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Big Wages, Small Wages, and the Price of Fast Food

If you're a working stiff the news isn't good. An online post by MSN cites figures compiled by Michael B. Sauter, Thomas C. Frohlich, and Alexander E.M. Hess for 24/7 Wall St.

Included are these tidbits: The CEO of Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell makes $14.1 million a year in compensation. The corporate revenue is $13.6 billion and the net take is listed at $1.6 billion. However, if you're the one frying the chicken, making the pies, or stuffing the taco you make a little less than $8 per hour.

The Target stores CEO drags in 20.6 million a year while the average wage for a cashier, or sales person working the floor is under $9 per hour. Target netted $3 billion in profits last year and had a total revenue of $73.3 billion.

Over at Walmart the current CEO pockets $20.7 million a year. The revenue stream rolls in at around $469 billion and the net profit last year was $17 billion. Walmart is a bit touchy about employee wages and benefits because they are so anti union and labor that everyone likes to jump their ass. The corporation claims the average full time employee makes, $12.83 per hour. That sounds, not bad, I suppose, but unfortunately the figure includes local management personnel and ignores the fact most Walmart sales associates aren't full time. The vast majority of associates make less than $9 per hour. The horrible truth is the wages Walmart pays it's employees in some parts of the country are so out of touch with reality a few of the stores hold food drives for their own workers during the holidays.

At least McDonald's is up front about screwing the person who slaps your Big Mac together. According to the report, the Mickey D's CEO makes $13.8 million per year and the company pulls in a net $5.5 billion. It also actively encourages it's employees to apply for food stamps  and welfare programs. You know, those government entitlements the republicans are so hot to slash from the federal budget.

Right now, someone reading this is saying to him, or herself something along the lines of, "So what? Fuck 'em. It isn't any skin off my nose. Besides I like my fries and cargo pants cheap."

Oops. Actually it isn't that simple. Unfortunately there is some skin off everyones noses.

24/7 Wall St. also put up these figures which were compiled by the National Employment Law Project, or NELP. First, the study noted 90% of all fast food workers have no health benefits. Then it went on to point out employees at Domino's Pizza cost taxpayers $126 million per year. That is how much money it takes to pay for the food stamps and government sponsored medicaid plans they must rely in order to keep their heads barely above water.

In addition the NELP's numbers show employees of the Oklahoma City based Sonic Drive-In company cost taxpayers $164 million per year--Dunkin' Donuts, $274 million, Wendy's, $278 million, Burger King $365 million, Yum Brands, $648 million, and Ronald McDonald's rank and file, a breath taking, $1.2 billion. Yes, that was a billion with a "B".

I'm not a whiz at math, but after some simple addition I believe those seven, highly profitable corporations, have just cost you and I a little over $3 billion per year because they refuse to pay their employees a living wage, or provide them with even a hint of health benefits.

Well why should they? After all, they have us, their customers, subsidizing the medical care and basic food needs of hundreds of thousands of their employees--all while their favorite politicians are howling about the lazy poor and mythical welfare queens who demand something for nothing. At the same time the guys at the top of these enterprises have compensation packages that, when combined, equal $52.7 million per annum.

None of us are communists here, but you don't have to be Karl--by God--Marx to see something is wrong with this picture.

Indeed, the right wing can scream all day about individuals who abuse the safety net which was put in place by the democrats. However, in the end, the biggest and most ruthless welfare scams are perpetrated, not by some dudes living in the projects, but by giant corporations who see the system as just another way to increase their bottom lines.

Hey, the food may come fast, but it certainly isn't cheap--for any of us.

No wonder The American Dream has gone the way of the Stegosaurus.

I want a beer.

sic vita est


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