Thursday, March 1, 2018

Get The Door, It's Right-Wing Extremism!

If you are a liberal and eat fast food, you are probably a hypocrite.

In a recent article  (slideshow, really) in The Street regarding boycotts of corporations, the authors made the point, again and again, that fast food companies tend to be run by right-wing individuals and corporations.   Both Domino's Pizza and Papa John's have been taken to task for harboring right-wing views and funding far-right causes.    Papa John's found themselves in the embarrassing position of being endorsed as the "official pizza of the alt.right" - which they tried to distance themselves from.   And let's not even talk about Chik-Fil-A.  Regardless, the owners of these companies are quick to point out that their right-wing views are only their personal beliefs, and not that of company - although the money given to the company ends up in their hands, eventually.  Some carefully placed articles online and in the newspapers argue that it is "OK" to buy food from these companies, even if they are funding (directly or indirectly) political views opposed to your own.  I don't buy it - quite literally.

But it is an interesting connection - fast food and right-wing thinking.  And this is probably because if you start your own business you tend to move more to the right in your thinking as you start to deal with government agencies and tax jurisdictions.  It doesn't take long before you start to believe that the government is spending way too much time interfering with your business and not enough time trying to help you out.  If you harbor wishy-washy ideas about fairness in the workplace and whatnot, chances are you will fail as a businessman, as you need to be hard-nosed with employees, suppliers, government agencies, and even customers.  "Successful Liberal Businessman" is largely an oxymoron.

Of course, the fundamental problem with fast food is that it preys upon the weaknesses of the average American.  It sells unhealthy food at relatively high prices (compared to eating at home) to people who can least afford to buy it.  And yet many Americans use fast food restaurants as their kitchens, eating there three meals a day, and wondering where all their money went - and why they have intractable credit card debt.

These businesses make a lot of money for the owners of the company as well as the franchisees.  So you can imagine why they would be upset when government agencies argue that their food is unhealthy, or stipulate that employees should be paid a certain minimum wage, or that the fat, salt, and calorie content be displayed on the packaging.  Unnecessary government interference!  It's unfair!

Of course, this is not to say that all fast food chains are run by right-wing people - just most of them. However, people do change their minds over time.  Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's was a fairly conservative guy, as you would expect from someone who founded major corporation.  However, after he died he left the bulk of his estate to his wife who in turn left a generous endowment to National Public Radio - which offers left-wing radio programming.  So there is a bit of irony there.

But I think the point is valid - if you are self-professed "Liberal" and are ordering take-out pizza or eating in a fast-food (or even casual) chain restaurant, you are enabling some of the most right-wing people on the planet, in both terms of economics and politics.