Stephen Colbert on McDonald’s and the minimum wage

Stephen Colbert does a brilliant take on McDonald’s new Web site that purports to help employees budget their limited income.


“McDonald’s agrees with me. Instead of raising salaries, they’re giving their workers something more valuable: a Web site.”

For example, McDonald’s budget journal assumed that employees spend zero on heating, and only $20 a month on health insurance, when McDonald’s smallest health insurance lan is nearly $60 a month.  The journal has now been updated to include some heating costs.  But, as Colbert notes, it still assumes that you have a second job.

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CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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47 Responses to “Stephen Colbert on McDonald’s and the minimum wage”

  1. karmanot says:

    That works

  2. karmanot says:

    $600.00? In California that buys temp space, two card board appliance boxes and a pee funnel under the overpass.

  3. karmanot says:

    Wal*Mart does that with their older workers by only posting part time hours.

  4. karmanot says:

    Yep, I did that too. Once when I included my hospice and In Home Care training for a job as an assistant to the hospitality director of a funeral home, I was considered too overqualified.

  5. FatRat says:

    The cable bill factors indirectly into your health plan. Watch DIY health programs and then perform your own medical procedures to garner even greater savings. Of course being mindful not to miss either your 1st shift of 8 hours or your 2nd shift of 7.5-8 hours.

  6. ArthurH says:

    Reminds me when I took a summer job at KFC while working my way through college. Three days into the job, the franchise holder brought in a new manager who just earned his MBA from University of Illinois at Champaign and was starting at the bottom with the franchise firm. And hour after he boss left he ordered us workers to a meeting and told us we were overpaid. “You think you’re worth $2.20 an hour? The only reason you’re getting $2.20 an hour is that the goddam federal government says we have to,” he frothed. I chimed in and reminded him that the federal minimum wage was $2.40 at the time and the $2.20 was the state minimum. Having shown my fellow workers what an MBA is worth, the fellow proceeded to give my all the shit jobs and berate me whenever possible. Fortunately a job at a restaurant equipment factory I earlier applied for opened up and I left (it paid $2.95 an hour too). Since then I have had no respect for MBAs. Greg Rayburn, who headed the previous Hostess company, has since renewed my faith that earning an MBA only convinces the recipients that they are smarty pants.

  7. condew says:

    I love the line “Mortgage/Rent”. Like a McD wage could let you buy a home.

    Besides, $600 rent in an urban area? Maybe with a roommate in a no-bedroom apartment.

    But they do have their priorities strait, you may only have $20 for health insurance, but you will pay that $100 cable bill.

  8. condew says:

    Even if you get hired, there’s crap like Circut City pulled a few years ago, firing all their best people because they earned too much.

  9. condew says:

    God I hate financial planners who use examples like a pack of gum or a daily can of soda to show how much more you could save. It’s like saying “You don’t even deserve little pleasures like a stick of gum; the entire purpose of your life is to send Wall Street as much money as possible.”

  10. Drew2u says:

    You make me miss the food in Germany soo much! haha
    I even tried fast food restaurants in Germany just to see what the difference is and the quality of the food, plus the offers were so much better than here in the US, it was both enlightening and frustrating.
    Plus my host families coming home in the morning from bread-shopping for breakfast was one of the best things I experienced! There’s no fresh bakeries like that around here, not mentioning “half a dozen bakeries”. Were I to be old and retired, I would love to move overseas and open up a small bread bakery.
    I’d love to return to Europe just to go on a food tour, the food is so much better there.

  11. Fortunately? I worked two different job (over nine years each) with my last employer, before they threw me away after nineteen years. So, I have severe underemployment to cover most of my résumé. At the end, I put just “Penn State Political Science”, without mentioning when I worked there nor that it was an unfinished third master’s degree. Some employers want a bachelor’s degree, but I don’t want them to wet their pants over an MBA or my first masters degree.
    I actually went back to Penn State for the recruiting, and they forced me into bankruptcy on my student loans. Two years of welfare after getting the MBA easily proved hardship. Two and a half years of campus recruiting produced nothing, so I left before I ended up homeless.
    So, I suggest that you use the fulltime job as just happened to be at a state university. During my second time at Penn State, I put down my graduate teaching assistantship, my parttime work in a lab, my campus activities, and another parttime job at radio station (for $3.70/hr!).

  12. lynchie says:

    Food stamps is now the big scam by the poor according to our Politicians. Even the military take food stamps.

    $100 million a year. They are ok to go kill civilians and children in wars without end but we can’t seem to find the money to feed them and their families. This country is run by the cruelest, most heartless people and it will get worse. On a side note Obama pronounces the other day he would be making speeches about the economy. What a leader. Lots of speeches in 5 years and no action taken by the President. Jobs-now forgotten, war in Afghanistan-who gives a shit, new Asia Pacific Trade Agreement-done in secret, reading and listening to everyones mail/phone calls-the American way. He never speaks out against companies or their policies but speaks in grand statements and nothing changes. His great speech on background checks and gun control not a thing changed but a lot of patting on backs and hugging the victims families.

  13. kardan adam says:

    Oooops, something went wrong with your edit.
    en güzel oyunlar mesela siz hiç fena değil

    yazılarınızdan öyle pepeli ama denemelisiniz.


  14. If you really wanna get yourself all worked up, watch a shift change at the Waffle House down the end of McDowell Road in Jackson MS (likely most anywhere lol). The prison van pulls up and picks up the current shift while dropping off the new one at the same time (Why make TWO trips). They got folks in jail working for peanuts to pay off back checks and the like. Dam good deal for businesses. Not so good if you have to actually compete against the slave laborers for those meager jobs. Enjoy.

  15. I’ve been around enough “real” wealth to know that these people really don’t perceive the world through the reality of those who live at the margins. They often have ZERO understanding of the actual problems faced by those struggling to make ends meet. My favorite story involving this is when my first child was born. He was in intensive care for five days (he’s fine and all grown up now) before being released to go home because of post birth breathing issues.. Even twenty odd years ago that five day stay was billed out at fifty thousand dollars. I was in my early twenties at the time mind you, but I was covered under a standard family insurance plan through work. Bottom line. The twenty percent left for me to pay amounted to TEN GRAND. TEN GRAND. I remember telling folks how broke I was because of my son’s brief stay in intensive care. I’d tell them I was ten grand in debt and they’d look at me down their nose and say “Well, you should have been responsible enough to have insurance” The look on their faces when I set them straight on the numbers EVEN WITH INSURANCE was priceless. If you get sick in America, even with insurance, and it’s something more serious than a rug burn, the doctors are gonna bleed you dry. The silver lining to my wife’s terminal cancer is that she was diagnosed here in Germany and we have German health care because we own a business. My wife went to the US late last year to get a second opinion as well as a quote for cancer services in the US. She brought back an estimate of $440,000 for the EXACT same treatment she got in Hemer. The only bill was for the 35 euro per night charged to me to stay in the guest quarters provided by the hospital. America is broken so bad it’ll never be fixed in my lifetime (I’m 55). Enjoy.

  16. I eat at McDonalds all the time. I’ve got Yelp to prove it. LOL. I stick to McDoubles at a euro fifty each and a small order of fries. You can’t get much cheaper than that. I also have the option of buying bread at a half dozen bakeries within walking distance of my house (and probably fifty within easy biking distance). Sometimes I’ll buy a roll or two and then buy just enough sliced meat (100-200 gm) to build an honest sandwich. Five euro max. Food is cheap here in Germany. It’s everything else that’s expensive as hell. Enjoy.

  17. I think that there’s a bigger issue here than just McDonalds. Here in Germany the McDonalds is pretty nice. I know they can’t legally sell a lot of the crap ingredients they pawn off on Americans and I know they pay well here, because besides protests to the contrary my comment that included my Mormon link made reference to an actual job wanted sign I photographed awhile back while my wife was in chemo/radiation therapy (terminal lung cancer) at the Hemer Lung Clinic in Germany. I could provide a link but I don’t want to get accused of self promotion (which is funny since I’ve been totally non commercial since even before the days of Blogger (when I had a Pyra Labs account)). Corporations are going to do whatever the hell they can get away within any local environment that will make them an extra two cents. That’s the nature of the game. What’s totally askew are sensible regulations ON JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING IN THE US. From fertilizer plant zoning in small town America, out of control banking hustlers, prison industrial complex leeches or acceptable healthcare and living wages. McDonalds is obviously looking pretty foolish for what they published in that sample budget, but it’s a symptom not a cause. I don’t know what to offer in the way of constructive improvements. It’ll probably take some major league Arab Spring style protests to even get the ball rolling towards reform. I’m relatively sheltered from that crap here in Germany but I still got friends and family trapped behind the New Iron Curtain. FWIW, my advice to those with the means to do so is to get the hell out of the country before the shit hits the fan. Nobody wants to be the last Jew out of the Warsaw Ghetto before they really bring the hammer down. I wish I could see a reason for more optimism. It’s true that my gay friends seems to be achieving advancements well above those I would have hoped possible only a few years ago, but I fear that is just a payoff to a specially affluent group with the power and motivation to make more of a political impact than the average Joe. A lot of politicians have gay kids and friends but I’d be surprised to find out any of them were suffering the kind of financial stresses that would lead them down a road where they would ever encounter something as bizarre as that McDonald’s budget worksheet. Enjoy.

  18. Goes to show you that a lot of those rich people didn’t get their wealth through use of their intellect because any fool knows that olive oil will break a tight budget pretty quick. Having matriculated from college at an HBCU in Jackson Mississippi (JSU), I can attest first hand to what poor people use in place of olive oil. Corn oil if they’re feeling wealthy otherwise it’s plain old lard. Enjoy.

  19. Yeah, I realized that as I was finalizing the post. My primary interest today was retrieving it and posting it for posterity in as much as I am able to do so. It definitely needs some editorial analysis. Contrary to the comment made by one of the mods here, it was not simply a redo/copy of the Times piece, something somebody who actually took the time to read my post would have realized. I had done some analysis on that doc and posted it on the Mormon website before I realized they were an apologetic outfit run by a Mormon who pulled my comments. I noticed today that there were non-redacted comments in support of plural marriage with fourteen year old girls that hardly raised an eyebrow. I would have vehemently interjected that it’s not an issue of age so much (it was the wild west) as it was COERCION, but since I’m blocked there (and they’d pull it anyway) I couldn’t set them straight. These religious folks run in a heavily cloistered environment where the truth is hard to get. I’m just doing a civic duty in trying to free America from the grips of religious oppression. Enjoy.

  20. I didn’t think to crosslink because I’m not running my blog as a commercial operation. I got nothing for sale and no ads other than what wordpress forces down your throats when you visit the blog. I did the blogpost because I hate scummy Mormons. I posted it here because I thought you guys would be interested. Ferchrissakes, lighten up. With friends like these…. Enjoy.

  21. The story on Matts was in the New York Times AS INDICATED IN MY BLOGPOST, but the PDF was not. They linked to a Mormon website in the NYTimes piece that pulled the PDF in question the day after the story ran in the NTimes. I took the time to retrieve it off the web and post it on my website. That is often referred to as journalism in blogging circles. Now you know. I will be dissecting and commenting on that rather long PDF in a future blogpost as someone here in your comment section requested of me. I will likely post that link here as well out of courtesy and shared interest. I might even refer to it as journalism even if it doesn’t qualify to your rarified sense of order. John knows me well enough that if he doesn’t want me posting relevant info on Mormon abuses he can easily reach out and touch me on Twitter. Enjoy.

  22. karmanot says:

    Quinos is a seed, but acts like a grain and makes a great substitute.

  23. Monoceros Forth says:

    I’ve tried a brown rice pasta a couple times out of curiosity: a friend had a bag of it that he said he wasn’t ever going to use so I cooked it up one day. I can’t remember the brand. Anyway, it wasn’t at all to my taste :( It seemed like it was either too chewy or too mushy, with nothing toothsome in between. But then I think gluten is a gift of the gods to a languishing world.

  24. Monoceros Forth says:

    Oh, the “^H”? That’s deliberate, an old Unixism. I occasionally use it when I wish to leave some record of the original mistake. (I suppose applying a strike-through would be better.)

  25. Monoceros Forth says:

    I’ve just been leaving off my degrees on many job applications. (Not that it works too well, I’ll be bound, considering my last full-time job was at a state university.)

  26. karmanot says:

    Like! Nothing like being told “Sorry, you are over qualified.” to put together assembly line crap food?

  27. Naja pallida says:

    Not to mention, they don’t want to risk getting someone educated in there, lest you put ideas into the heads of the people being paid a wage they can’t survive off of. Those people need to be kept in line, and not wasting time thinking about how much things would be better if only their employer considered them to be human.

  28. The really laughable part about all the fast food places is that none of them would ever consider me. Back in 1984, when I received my Penn State MBA (and still haven’t used it), I never heard back from any of them for any position. They KNOW their wages are too low.

  29. emjayay says:

    Tim, I found an endless PDF about Mormons but didn’t find the paydirt. Could you cut and paste the good stuff?

  30. emjayay says:

    And the employee in Germany gets health care already and mandated 3 week vacations (I think) and probably paid parental leave. There really oughta be a law here about companies hiring part time employees when they have full time needs, changing schedules all the time, etc. Or hiring contract or temp employees for the same reasons. It may get even worse because of avoiding paying for health insurance. We’ll see soon. And all while showing employees videos about what a happy family they are and how they don’t have anything against unions but watch out all they want is your dues.

  31. FatRat says:
    Looking at the budget I noticed the three lines for making money. 1st line, take a shift at McDonalds. 2nd line, walk across the street and take a shift at Burger King. 3rd line makes no mention of another shift. What’s the 3rd line for? If you work a third shift that would be 24 hours, many humans require sleep on occasion. Give blood for the 3rd line, open up a meth lab or maybe dumpster diving for aluminum cans? That McVisa manifesto leaves out the possibility of a McEmployee ever getting overtime. I got to give the props to the corporations; smiling and telling people to work 15-16 hour shifts (with no OT), that takes a reptilian morality to do.

  32. cecicijywop says:

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

    They’d just as soon have us all
    forget that our unhealthy fast-food is handled and prepared by people
    who might be sick because they get no sick leave, whose only vacations
    come when they quit their jobs, and many of whom are on food stamps and
    public assistance because these corporations won’t pay a living wage
    unless forced to do so.

  33. emjayay says:

    Well, not to defend the morons or anything, but I can’t eat any gluten either. The gluten free bread and pasta and cereal is available everywhere these days although the pasta and bread cost two or three as much. Best price on the bread: Food For Life at Trader Joe’s. Only one type: Brown Rice. Then I go over and stare at the Multigrain Seeded Sourdough. Sigh.

    Donny the Staffer doesn’t know any more about food than a typical five year old, not to mention any special diets.

  34. emjayay says:

    Oooops, something went wrong with your edit.

  35. karmanot says:

    Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
    Three cans of red beans and rice
    Jar of
    peanut butter
    Bottle of grape jelly
    Loaf of whole wheat bread
    Two cans of refried beans

    Republicans are what they eat……..

  36. Brianna Leigh Stefan says:

    I wonder what that staffer would say to someone who has Celiac disease or another dietary restriction, like me. I guess if I can’t afford to purchase food on my own, I deserve to be sick.

  37. Drew2u says:

    Despite all the snobby snark from commentators about McDonald’s, I know there’s a crossover between readers of this blog and those who visit McDonald’s – even infrequently.
    The Monopoly promotion is going on, right now.
    Best part, and I would urge anyone to do this, is instead of buying a meal to get those stupid stickers, spend that $3-worth instead of on a Big Mac, buy postage stamps and send in a bunch of SASEs to the contest’s headquarters and receive your stamps that way.
    Not only do you save yourself from eating McDonald’s foods, you help out the Post Office AND you get two stickers, one that is automatically from the Big-Mac-Only-$1m-Promotion.
    (seriously, this year you only get the $1m chance if you order a Big Mac).

    The food these things are on are usually always unhealthy and expensive. Get more stickers for your dollar and just mail ’em in!

  38. karmanot says:

    That last advise is particularly good.—Something we always do at adgitadiaries. We do it to drive links to AB, for which we have great affection and respect with the hope that it will add to the hits numbers and help business. Plus, it’s good manners.

  39. karmanot says:

    You are welcome. Anything that exposes the Mormons is good to know. Save that ‘stuff’ and work it into posts on the subject and all will be on topic. Like I said, interesting……Mormonism is an endless font of fantasy and interest.

  40. emjayay says:

    Not to dispute the actual point in any way, but it’s $31.50 a week, not a month. That’s $135.45 a month. Not much, but 4.3 times more than MF reported. This is the amount for the recent drastically reduced Republican proposal. The current maximum SNAP benefit for one person is $200 a month and the average is $159

    And by the way I spend less than the current maximum while buying lots of fruit and vegetables (including some organic), milk, chicken, fish, etc.

    Just to pare it down to the Republican staffer’s $27.58 purchases:

    Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
    Three cans of red beans and rice
    Jar of
    peanut butter
    Bottle of grape jelly
    Loaf of whole wheat bread
    Two cans of refried beans
    Box of spaghetti
    Large can of pasta sauce
    Two liters of root beer
    Large box of popsicles
    24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix
    Eight cups of applesauce
    Bag of pinto beans
    Bag of rice
    Bag of cookies
    Gallon milk
    Box of instant oatmeal

    Obviously the staffer is an idiot and knows nothing about food or nutrition. Just to begin with, is he planning on eating the sugar cereal in a bowl of sugar soda? Here’s what staffer Donny (!) Ferguson said:

    “I wanted to personally experience the effects of the proposed cuts to food stamps. I didn’t plan ahead or buy strategically, I just saw the publicity stunt and made a snap decision to drive down the street and try it myself,” Ferguson said in the release. “I put my money where my mouth is, and the proposed food stamp cuts are still quite filling.” Yeah, filling with junk.

    Reminds me of when Cory Booker was trying to buy food on a SNAP budget and put a bottle of olive oil in his basket. Also a bit clueless, but at least it’s healthier than popsicles.

  41. Moderator3 says:

    This was available from “The New York Times” since Saturday, so it’s really not investigative journalism. I do not know what Mr. Aravosis would say about linking to your blog, but it would have been nice for you to check with him before making the link. Adding a link to Americablog might have been a nice touch as well.

  42. I am sensitive to your observations but it isn’t 100 percent off topic, nor a subject that John’s large gay readership would be offended or put off with me posting. It has the added bonus of ACTUAL investigative journalism, something resembling actual work, something I normally avoid like the plague and involves those pesky Mormons who are busy trying to undermine the rights of my many gay friends. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my initial comment here. Enjoy.

  43. karmanot says:

    Not at all on topic, but interesting.

  44. karmanot says:

    ‘Taker’ They will ultimately understand the meaning of ‘Taker’ when the takers have no place left to go. It will be ugly and that is just fine with me.

  45. Monoceros Forth says:

    I cannot believe that some bright spark in McDonalds’ corporate headquarters thought that this was a good idea. “I know! Let’s show that if you work two McDonalds jobs it’s just barely possible to survive!” And that’s even with making the most charitable assumptions about their numbers!

    I’m reminded of that Republican congressional staffer who came up with a fictional food budget in order to prove that it’s easy to survive on $27.58 a month for food, therefore proving that $31.50 a month is just a waste of tax dollars. ( ) Of course his food budget was half junk food (popsicles! Honeycomb cereal! and not a single fresh vegetable or fruit) but that’s not even really my point. My point is…seriously, is this what we’re supposed to be proud of accomplishing as a country?

    This attitude is sick. Sick! “See, we’re paying you enough to scrape by as long as you’re happy with working your ass off and having zero left over for luxuries like gasoline or medicine. So don’t ask for a dime more, you lazy shiftless taker.” And consider this also: the same people who peddle this line of cold-hearted cruelty are undoubtedly the same sort of people who argue that Social Security and Medicare are socialistic “entitlements” that deserve to be starved to death because it’s the worker’s responsibility to save his own money for these things! Even though, by the right-wingers’ own admission, it’s impossible to save even a cent!
    Gaah, I should stop this. I’m about to explode with rage.

  46. McDonalds pays the equivalent of $11.50 an hour USD here in Germany according to a poster I saw posted for FULL TIME employees at a drive thru in Hemer Germany. Loves me some Colbert. If John will indulge a little blogwhoring from me (at the expense of the loathesome Mormon I wanted to point to a post I just did that retrieved a “web disappeared” document the Mormons would rather you never got to look at. Details here:


  47. BeccaM says:

    They’d just as soon have us all forget that our unhealthy fast-food is handled and prepared by people who might be sick because they get no sick leave, whose only vacations come when they quit their jobs, and many of whom are on food stamps and public assistance because these corporations won’t pay a living wage unless forced to do so.

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