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"I'd like to move into management, and maybe even own a franchise."
-Leika Reynolds

McDonald's Corporation announced in 2011 that it would hire 50,000 people across the country, which unleashed a stampede of desperate jobseekers. That "Hiring Day" event showed people who were hopeful and who had been unemployed for years, or who were out of school, but still not in the labor market, that waited in line for hours for an interview for a chance at being hired. No one in those lines complained about a higher minimum wage, or insisted that their salary be adjusted based on the number of children in their household.

1,000,000 Applicants
938,000 Rejected
62,000 Hired

Fast forward, three years later... we have been told that those hired on that day, and since, are being exploited and mistreated, and deserve a 106% pay raise. The same people that are in the business of dependency and dashed dreams are portraying those same people as victims of greedy capitalism.

There are many people raising families on fast food salaries, however, many of them live in households with numerous income earners. Moreover, many of the people are like Leika Reynolds; the 11th grader from Atlanta, who saw working at McDonald's as a steppingstone. She was not allowing her minimum wage job to define her, but instead she foresees a future of stepping up the economic ladder. She is a smart young lady, and her goals are not far-fetched.

In fact, that same day in Richmond, Virginia, McDonald's franchisee Sue Durlak, watched over the wave of job applicants at her 10 restaurants. Sue had a special interest, because the wave of applicants brought back memories of her filling out her application to work at McDonalds back in 1982. Working back then as a middle- school health teacher in Illinois, Sue was looking for a part-time gig to supplement her income, and she ended up with a lot more.

Fast Food Forward

McDonald's Protest
HDI Rank Country
3 United States
5 Germany
6 New Zealand
10 Japan
17 Belgium
45 Argentina
85 Brazil
136 India

The Human Development Index (HDI) measures quality of life through a variety of factors. The index was developed in Pakistan, to give a more concise evaluation of how well people truly live, taking into account things beyond basic wealth:

  • Life expectancy
  • Literacy
  • Education
  • Standard of living
  • Well-being
  • Child welfare

Today, an agitation organization is staging a global protest demanding significantly higher wages for fast food workers. Fast Food Forward will protest in 150 cities across 32 countries. The mix throws in the United States in with nations, like Morocco... talk about a farce and shameful pity-party. Morocco is 130 on the HDI scale, while America is number 3, and yet we are suggesting that somehow an entry-level job makes the nations the same.

Free markets should dictate wages based on skill-set and demand. And on that note, it will not be long before this fast food minimum wage farce is a moot debate. In 2009, McDonald's unveiled 7,000 touch-screen cashiers in Europe. Fast forward to the present, and consider all the advances made in touch-screen technology and robots. I drive through empty toll booths each morning on my way to work, and I use the self-checkout in a number of stores - it is not far off.

The fact of the matter is that America should be focused on maximum wages and the great jobs of the future. I do lament, however, the notion that there will be fewer opportunities for people to start at the bottom and eventually own the joint.

The Market

That unnerving feeling is reemerging after taking a one-day break on Tuesday. The chorus calling for a correction continues to get louder (of course, if you were looking for a correction when the Dow was at 12,000, you would certainly be looking for one here) as there continues to be large mix of news and data.

Inflation is finally emerging in official data. Yesterday, the PPI was hotter than expected and this morning, the CPI number continues to trend higher. Neither is at a level where the Fed would be forced to take action, but they're on the move, and that bothers some people.

The action in treasuries continues to be a mystery to me as on one hand, it speaks to a soft economy, but also belies the notion that money printing would spark a massive exodus into equities. It's an antsy time prone to serious overreactions to the downside.