No less a capitalist than Henry Ford believed in paying his workforce enough so that the men who built his cars could buy his cars too. At McDonald’s, employees are encouraged to apply for food stamps if they aren’t making enough to eat.
French economist Thomas Piketty makes a convincing argument that the only way anyone gets ahead in the world is by being rich to start with—that “there is but one way, to get rich,” as Honoré de Balzac wrote in his 1835 novel Père Goriot. “Marry a woman who has money.” While Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century spends more than 1,000 pages proving that bit of jaded advice with economic theory, workers in the fast-food industry don’t need an academic tome to inform them of the futility of labor.[...]
If income inequality is the defining issue of our time, as President Barack Obama has said, then the so-called accommodation and food service industry, which includes fast food, is the economic sector that shows in the starkest terms the growing gap dividing society. According to a new study from the public policy group Demos, the ratio of CEO and worker pay in accommodation and food service is 543 to 1.