I shouldn’t be surprised by Kevin Drum defending the McDonald’s budget for its workers, but it’s pretty irritating. Moreover, his defense is awful weak, as is that of Tim Lee at the Wonkblog, who also defended the corporation. Drum believes that McDonald’s is not telling its workers to work two jobs but is rather assuming two incomes. Not only is there no actual evidence of this, but even if true, who cares? The average McDonald’s employee has to work two jobs to survive if they are not with an employed partner. And if they are and have kids, they still probably have to work two jobs.
Both Drum and Lee also focus on the fact that these wages are a reality for many workers. So what? That’s true, but it’s a terrible thing. Lee is really the worst on this, since he extrapolates from his own life to say this is a fine budget to plan around. That a Washington Post writer thinks his experience as a 21-year-old sharing an apartment with a friend in St. Louis or whatever has any relevance at all to the vast underclass of service workers struggling along without higher education or the ability to make more than minimum wage says a whole lot about the problems with the Beltway elite. What neither seem to get is that such a budget can be both realistic and cruel.
You’d think the real focus here would be to tell enormously profitable and gigantic corporations like McDonald’s that they should pay their workers more money. But for Drum and Lee, defending McDonald’s current business practices and naturalizing the low wages of the nation’s service workers is evidently more important.