McDonald’s found itself mired in a public-relations flap last week over a sample budget
it provided to its employees, advising them how to live on the low wages it pays
The fast-food giant meant well, but its sample budget left out useful items like food, heat
and gasoline, advancing the argument that nobody can really live on minimum wage.
There is an easy way out of this mess for Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s . It is called
leadership. Put Chief Executive Don Thompson on the McBudget. Show the world how
to live like a CEO on less than $25,000 a year.
Last year, McDonald’s gave Thompson a compensation package worth $13.8 million, or
more than 558 times what McDonald’s expects employees to make — from two jobs.
By adopting a McBudget, Thompson could end the debate over President Barack
Obama’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour. Adjusted for
inflation, the minimum wage is currently 20% less than it was in 1967—which is why so
many people still eat at McDonald’s
Good thing the McBudget guide offers astonishing financial insights, such as “expenses
are what you spend.” It also offers handy cost-cutting tips like “Borrow books and
movies from the library,” and “Consider walking or riding a bike.
A bicycle could slash McDonald’s corporate aviation costs. It would eliminate the need
for gasoline and support CEO Thompson’s weight-loss goals. In May, he boasted at an
analyst conference that he’d lost 20 pounds by getting his “butt up” and “working out
again” while still eating at McDonald’s “every single day.”
With a healthy lifestyle like that, I’m sure he can easily find health insurance for the $20
a month allotted in the sample employee budget.
I would feel more comfortable knowing that a top corporate executive can live on a
McBudget, too. Besides, if the minimum wage goes up, McDonald’s stock will go down,
and we can’t have stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA -0.33%
going down. That is just un-American.
McDonald’s put out a statement saying the sample budget is “intended to help provide a
general outline of what an individual budget may look like.” One of its best suggestions
is that employees find a second job. With his credentials, Thompson could easily land
additional work at Popeyes or Taco Bell. This would diversify his diet, too.
I should also note that while the sample budget somehow neglected to include food
expenses, it also overlooked the employee discount on McRibs. You can make it on
gelatinous pork sandwiches—at least when they’re in stock. Who needs a Happy Meal?