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Jul 27 2013

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McFinancial planning: When McDonald’s attempted to help its underpaid workers stick to a budget, the fast food giant exposed

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At last, a fast food giant that gives a damn about the economic hardships low-wage workers face. Not only does McDonald’s care, but, by golly, the good executives who sit atop the Golden Arches are goosing-up the meager $8.25 an hour that their workers have been getting paid. As you can imagine, hair-netted hamburger-flippers everywhere would be very grateful to see their hourly wage boosted to $10.

Well, yes, but McDonald’s didn’t become a giant by paying fair wages, so actually raising the $8.25 wage isn’t the goose the executives are giving to their workers’ paychecks. Instead, the burger chain has launched a website that instructs employees on how to stretch that eight-and-a-quarter by better budgeting.

“Plan ahead and save,” exclaims this Mc-Credibly helpful website, adding that if each hourly McDonald’s worker would just organize personal financial records properly, he or she would “become a better decision-maker.”

Wow — low pay and a moral lecture. How great is that? Unfortunately, the website’s suggested budget seems to have been written by Scrooge. Initially, the bean-counters forgot to include a few essentials in the “Practical Money Skills” budget they drew up for low-wage folks. Like clothes. Or child care. Or food.

Yes, McDonald’s budget-planning tool allotted a fat zero for eating. Embarrassed, the clueless budgeteers threw in a little something for chow, but wait — their suggested monthly expenses total nearly $1,000 more than McDonald’s pays its typical workers.

Not to worry, though, for this McBudget helpfully assumes that each employee will have a second job to cover that shortfall in pay. Meanwhile, McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson takes home $13.8 million in yearly compensation, a haul that renders budgeting for the bare necessities unnecessary. His hourly employees could make that much too — if they worked only 760 years under the Golden Arches.

By Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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