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Fearing the clown: Why it is bizarre

POSTED March 20, 2015 10:03 p.m.

McDonald’s isn’t my kind of place.

That said, let’s cut the place that Ray Kroc created some slack.

Employees say they are miserly and now — in Fast Food Forward’s drive to get pay upped to $15 an hour — contend the Golden Arches is an unsafe place to work.

Nutritionists say their food is unhealthy.

Voices of dietitians drip with disdain every time they mention McDonald’s.

Investors think the place is being run by clowns given their overall sales during the last three months of 2014 slipped 7 percent to a paltry $6.57 billion.

From the way many people act you’d think McDonald’s was restraining customers and forcing food down their throats, coercing people into slavery to fill jobs, and is on the verge of financial collapse.

McDonald’s is what it is — a place where you can get inexpensive food fairly fast, you can get a start in the employment market as they provide 440,000 entry level jobs, and is ranked 108th on the Forbes’ List of the world’s most profitable companies.

When McDonald’s opened their fifth location in Manteca the groans were louder than the kids hyped up on soda running loose in the rapidly disappearing Playlands.

Disparaging remarks ran the gamut from “no wonder why people are fat” to “nobody wants another McDonald’s.”

First of all, blaming Ronald McDonald for obesity is absurd. People have choices when they go out to eat. There are 175 options in Manteca alone counting all duplicate restaurants as well as sidewalk BBQs and supermarket delis.

If the contention is there aren’t other “bottom feeders” — restaurant options that are inexpensive — then that is a function of food economics. If you want fresh and healthy you are going to have to pay more. Rest assured Panera Bread is never going to have 35,000 locations like McDonald’s does. And there are some — including myself — who might argue that Panera Bread isn’t exactly a healthy choice either.

But it doesn’t matter. For a restaurant to be successful it must serve food that people like at a price that they can afford and in a time frame that they want it.

One does not go to a top quality venue such as Ernie’s Food & Spirits and expect to have dinner on the table three minutes after you order it and not spend more than $10 for three people. But you do expect it to be high quality and served in an impeccable manner in pleasant surroundings.

McDonald’s is McDonald’s.

It is Henry Ford’s version of the dining out experience although they have strayed from just having basic offerings as Ford did in the 1920s with just several Model-T options.

Ford revolutionized the automobile industry by producing vehicles for the masses.

McDonald’s did the same for dining out.

As for paying wages that one can’t live on, if you hired on believing you could make a head-of-household paycheck flipping formula production-line burgers and taking orders at drive-thru windows for the rest of your life, you need to stop being delusional.

There is a reason they are called entry level jobs.

And as far as work conditions being unsafe enough to warrant elevating the filing of 28 Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaints into a national scandal, get a grip. If the best an organization trying to force McDonald’s to pay their entry-level workers $15 an hour can come up with is to find only 28 employees or 0.000063 percent of 440,000 workers being “injured” from hot grease, it speaks volumes about how safe it is to work at a McDonald’s.

Another way to look at it is just 0.0008 percent of McDonald’s 35,000 locations were turned into OSHA by Fast Food Forward.

Granted there are probably more potential safety violations but here’s the rub: None of the employee “injuries” that we are being tossed about that make McDonald’s such a hell-hole to work at triggered workplace safety investigations on their own. 

There’s a reason some folks working oil rigs in North Dakota pocket more than $100,000 a year. It’s hard, grueling, and dangerous work. You can bet rig workers that have lost hands, fingers or their lives probably wished their biggest workplace danger was getting splattered with hot grease.

As for investors, they are the ones that exhibit true fast food mentality. They want to get financially fat fast.

So how horrible are the profits at Mickey D’s?

In the fourth quarter they were down 21 percent to $1.09 billion. McDonald’s cleared $11.8 million a day in profit from Oct 1. 2014 and Dec. 31, 2014. That’s $136.50 that McDonald’s pockets in profits every second of every day, 365 days a year.

And how did shareholders’ make out? They made $1.13 for every share that was valued at the time at $91.55 for the equivalent of a 5 percent annual return. Let’s see you put $91.55 in a savings account and get that kind of return.

Say what you want but McDonald’s delivers what enough people want given that 70 million customers walk through the doors or drive up to their order windows every day.

 

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.

 

 

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