SEIUper-Size Me!

As fast food walkouts are staged around the country, a possible solution exists that wouldn’t inconvenience franchise owners and would highlight the hypocrisy of the left.

I’m not sure if it's a result of a simple union recruitment drive or the fact that the Obama economy has more people supporting families on minimum wage jobs, but the $15/hour protests are gaining traction nationwide. Whatever the reason, it seems to have captivated the left. The talking point is "it would only lead to a nominal 25% increase in food prices"—which is ridiculous. 25% inflation hasn’t been nominal since the Carter Administration.

In Australia, the place often suggested as a model for the fast food "living wage," stores rely on self-ordering and child labor, using kiosks and the lower minimum wage of school children to keep costs down. That probably won’t work in America, since kids here find jobs at McDonald's conflict with their soccer schedules.

There is no way the owner of a fast food franchise could raise pay rates without raising prices. Most franchises have a minimal markup on their food, and their payroll is often more than three times the money they make for themselves. Very few owners are going to invest the capital it takes to open a franchise, on top of working 70 hours a week, to bring home a low six-figure income. Despite the image of Ronald McDonald as a multibillion-dollar global corporate interest, most store owners are just regular middle-class Americans.

Well, it may be news to living wage advocate Michael Moore, but 25% happens to be a fairly good tip. So the obvious solution would be for Fast Food restaurants to put out a tip jar and let customers volunteer to pick up the slack. It’s not unheard of. Starbucks has been proudly placing tip jars next to the cash registers since their inception (for those who think $5 is just not enough to pay for a cup of coffee). I always throw in a couple bucks, hoping that my barista could put the money towards face tattoo removal and someday get a job that doesn't require a name tag.

If every single fast food establishment put out a tip jar and Americans were encouraged to tip 25% on their orders, the problem would be solved—well, sort of. Because the truth is, Americans don’t want to pay extra for their hamburgers. The reason most of them are eating off the dollar menu is because they don't have an extra quarter.

It also would be up to Middle America to pay for the living wage demands made by the left, because leftists wouldn’t be caught dead in a McDonald's. It’s one of those red state traditions that goes directly against their whole grain. There is a greater chance of finding Tom Cruise at a therapist than finding a liberal in McDonald's, so taking the kids out for a Happy Meal is a task most often relegated to the Au Pair. Further: next to Europeans, leftists and government employees are the worst tippers in the world. Their reputation is so bad that business lunches often run late while the waitresses argue over who has to wait on them.

If these protests continue much longer, the strikers will walk themselves out of a job. You can only open short-staffed a few times before store owners start thinking about ordering kiosks. And then, right alongside ATMs, the President will have a new scapegoat for the poor economy.

However, I really don’t think the protests are serious. I think the unions are just recruiting Occupiers for the 2014 election. Because when all the walk-outs get fired, hopping on an SEIU bus for 60 bucks will look like a pretty good deal.

They're not raising minimum wage; they're lowing the cost of Astroturf.


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