Big Macs vs Occupy Wall Street

My friend Paul recently sent me an article titled, “15 facts about McDonald’s that will blow your mind.” Included was the revelation that the restaurant chain’s $24 billion in revenue makes it the 90th largest economy in the world. You’d think this alone would make the “occupiers” abandon Wall Street to storm the Golden Arches. And you’d be right. But not to denounce unconscionable corporate profits, but rather to devour Big Macs, Quarter Pounders and the best damn French fries in the civilized world. As it turns out, McDonald’s feeds 1 percent of the world’s population every day. Suddenly being a “1 percenter” is cool.

More than anything, McDonald’s illustrates the beautiful simplicity of capitalism. It provides a product that people want at a reasonable price. As a direct result, each McDonald’s franchise is financially successful, and the eateries collectively hire one million workers in the United States each year. McDonald’s estimates that it has employed one in every eight American workers at one time or another.

Despite the service McDonald’s provides, it’s routinely under attack, whether from PETA for serving meat, Michelle Obama for not serving broccoli or consumer groups for including toys in “Happy Meals.” The fact is, if “Mickey-D’s” were to heed the advice of any of these “experts,” it wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is, and it wouldn’t hire nearly the number of people it does.

Wal-Mart is another success story under siege. Unions try to organize its employees, and local citizens’ groups often try to keep these discount stores out of their neighborhoods. Nevertheless, it continues to plug along, earning profits and offering jobs and contributing to the local economy. Wal-Mart works for the same reason McDonald’s does — it understands capitalism and plays according to its rules.

Although we may want to buy our next flat-screen television from a boutique electronics store, the fact remains that we’ll more likely go to a Wal-Mart and save a few hundred bucks in the process. And as much as Mom may want to outfit her kids for school in Ralph Lauren, chances are she’ll opt for the more practical Wal-Mart Wrangler jeans. As for organizing, most Wal-Mart employees aren’t willing to part with a portion of their hard-earned pay to contribute to a union whose sole function is to “bite” the hand that feeds it.

Then there’s Boeing Corp., the aviation giant that the Obama administration is doing its level best to bring to its knees. The National Labor Relations Board sued Boeing for building a new plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. The NLRB brought its suit despite the fact that Boeing hadn’t laid off a single union worker at any of its other facilities. Also, the NLRB waited until Boeing had invested $750 million on its new plant before filing suit. Boeing contributes not just to the local economy, but to the national one as well. It’s our nation’s largest exporter of goods, and it was recently voted one of 10 corporations that will save the U.S. economy. In a supreme case of governmental multiple personality disorder, Boeing also is awarded for excellence each year by the federal government.

If the “Occupy” crowd wants a target for its frustration, it shouldn’t be successful corporations like McDonald’s, Wal-Mart or Boeing. These companies do just fine on their own without help from anyone, and in the process, create both wealth and jobs. No, if the “Occupy” movement wants to protest, it should set its sights on unsuccessful corporations like Solyndra, SunPower and the entire ethanol industry. They can’t exist without public funds, because they haven’t learned that fundamental rule of capitalism: to provide a good or service that people want at a price they can afford. Instead of creating wealth, these companies destroy it; instead of providing jobs, they purchase them – and they do so with our money.

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