In what appears to have been a gesture of goodwill gone haywire, McDonald's recently teamed up with Visa to create a financial planning site for its low-pay workforce. Unfortunately, whoever wrote the thing seems to have been literally incapable of imagining of how a fast food employee could survive on a minimum wage income."Gesture of goodwill" my foot. Companies subject workers to this kind of condescending "training" all the time. Department cutbacks having a negative impact on morale? Better schedule some customer service training to make sure everybody knows they're being held accountable for that bad attitude. Health insurance premiums going up? Put together a "fitness team" to remind your fat-ass employees just how much risk they add to the group plan. There are countless examples of this. It's always a means of transferring blame from the employer to the individual.
McDonald's is a multi-national mulit-billion dollar business built on paying people less than a living wage. Because our minimum wage laws are as weak as they are, what this ultimately means is government services subsidize these exact business practices.
Of course, minimum wage workers aren't really entirely on their own, especially if they have children. There are programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and the earned income tax credit to help them along. But that's sort of the point. When large companies make profits by paying their workers unlivable wages, we end up subsidizing their bottom lines.And we know that doesn't sit very well politically as Krugman pointed out earlier today.
What is it about, then? Somehow, one of our nation’s two great parties has become infected by an almost pathological meanspiritedness, a contempt for what CNBC’s Rick Santelli, in the famous rant that launched the Tea Party, called “losers.” If you’re an American, and you’re down on your luck, these people don’t want to help; they want to give you an extra kick. I don’t fully understand it, but it’s a terrible thing to behold.
So McDonald's blames these hapless minimum wage workers. The message is, "Look, we tried to teach these losers financial planning but they're all sponging off of the taxpayer anyway! Tsk tsk."