But, I Can't Afford a Burger, Fries And a Drink - Will the Minimum Wage Bankrupt Corporations?
It is said that Henry Ford believed in giving his line workers enough in salaries so that they could afford to buy one of his cars. While there is a great difference between a car and a burger, a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal did not accept Ford's basic premise. This was but another article by a wealthy entrepreneur suggesting that an increase in the minimum wage could possibly bankrupt his enterprises, and yes, even Wal-Mart!
Incredible as it might seem, the article compared the corporate profit per employee of a fast food chain with that of all Apple employees. What was not mentioned was that Apple makes such a tremendous profit due to its continued use of cheap Chinese labor. There, workers receive merely dollars per day. No wonder there are safety nets at the foot of their housing complexes to reduce employee suicides. If retaining the profit margin is your priority, the cost of a few safety nets is just another operational cost. Hopefully, the subscribers of the WSJ can see this comparison as absurd, but obviously the editorial staff does not.
The article's op-ed also forgets to mention that one of his specialty burgers costs more than six dollars, and that's without fries and a drink. One of his employees would have to work two hours of their six hour shift just to have lunch at his restaurant. He does believe in basic corporate greed philosophy that "Highly compensated employers" (like himself) contribute more to a company's success than minimum wage employees, who are often "less experienced and entry-level workers". This coming from an individual who sold the rights to his enterprise for nearly $700 million dollars, and currently is the CEO of a corporation with some 3,450 eateries in this country alone. When was the last time he flipped a burger? Perhaps, it is time that he spent a week working undercover in one of his restaurants?
What is so distasteful about his presentation is that it reflects his distain of those who daily make his wealth possible. A business that started as a hot dog stand has become so distanced from the plight of its own employees who cannot even afford the product they produce. There is no doubt that neither he nor the Waltons will find themselves on a food bank line, but can the same be said of his employees? All this seriously reflects on our character as a nation. This is not simply a question of economics, rather it is a growing attitude that this nation, that has given birth to an entrepreneurial spirit, has also created a spirit of demeaning those struggling to simply survive. As the Pharisee in the temple once said, " Thank you God that I am not like the rest of men", certainly not like that unskilled hamburger flipper.
If this is what it means to be successful in the United States? Then, while certain citizens we may be prosperous, we as a nation are a disgrace.