A recent Enterprise-Record editorial (10/13/13) lambasted the Chico Planning Commission for delaying the construction of another McDonald’s fast food joint to be built across the street from Pleasant Valley High School. The E-R specifically targeted Planning Commissioner John Merz, calling him and obstructionist. If the E-R is correct in accusing him of obstructionism then Mr. Merz has my full support. There are lots of good reasons for obstructing the expansion of another McDonald’s corporate franchise in our community. The usual reasons, some of which were acknowledged in the E-R article, are matters of public safety, design, landscaping, parking, traffic and costs to the city’s infrastructure, ultimately born by the city’s taxpayers. But, besides selling “food” that is notably unhealthy (see movie “Supersize Me”) perhaps the foremost reason for opposing the construction of another McDonald’s in our community is that the taxpayer ends up subsidizing the “restaurant’s” labor force.
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Democracy Now! (KZFR, 90.1, 8:00a.m., Monday – Friday) reported on 10/18/13 that “New research shows more than half of low-wage workers at fast-food restaurants rely on public assistance to survive – a rate double that of the overall workforce. According to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, low wages in the fast-food industry cost American taxpayers nearly $7 billion every year – that’s more than the entire annual budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A companion report by the National Employment Law Project found McDonalds alone costs Americans $1.2 billion annually by paying its workers insufficient wages. Last year the top 10 largest fast-food companies to reap a profit of more than $7.4 billion in profits.” http://www.democracynow.org/2013/10/18/super_sizing_welfare_costs_low_wages
In it’s editorial the E-R claimed that “When the economy is booming and people are spending money, the city has more money to do things like pay employees, clean parks, fill potholes, hire police officers and so forth.” That may be true, but no matter how many more McDonald’s are built in our town unless the poor, hard working employees are paid a living wage they won’t be able to participate in the “boom” and will continue to need the taxpayers support just to purchase their basic needs. Is this the kind of business we want for our community?