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An Academic Diversion: Economics Professor Discusses The Benefits Of McJobs

Cashregister_1 A column by Walter Williams, an economics professor at George Mason University, discusses the trend of mocking those with McJobs, a pop culture term used to describe dead-end "jobs such as clerks at Wal-Mart, hotel workers, and food handlers and counter clerks at McDonald's."

Williams talks about the need for these jobs, which is a matter left open for discussion, and he makes a reference to our former Governor:

"How dead-end is a McDonald's job? Jim Glassman, an American Enterprise Institute scholar, wrote an article in the Institute's June 2005 On The Issues bulletin titled 'Even Workers with 'McJobs' Deserve Respect.' He listed some well-known former McDonald's workers. Among them: Andy Card, White House chief of staff; Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com; Jay Leno, "Tonight Show" host; Carl Lewis, Olympic gold medalist; Joe Kernan, former Indiana governor; and Robert Cornog, retired CEO of Snap-On Tools. According to Glassman, some 1,200 McDonald's restaurant owners began as crew members, and so did 20 of McDonald's 50 top worldwide managers. These people and millions of others hardly qualify as dead-enders."

TDW's not really taking a stand either way on the McJobs issue, but it sure is nice that Joe Kernan's still getting press.


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» Choosing the Dead End from Adam's Blog
From Townhall, there's a fascinating column by Walter Williams on "McJobs." Williams (showing more common sense than the left wing of the blogosphere) writes: Putting down so-called dead-end jobs is a destructive insult to honest work. How dead... [Read More]


The thing Mr. Glassman and Mr. Williams dont really confront is that Gov Kernan wasn't working a McDonalds when he was elected Lt. Gov. It was a High School job, not something he was doing at middle age. They fail to acknowledge that there are a lot of pitfalls for a middle age worker who has a McJob, lack of healthcare being key among them.

But more important is the fact that these people are often forced in the situation because it the only work available to them. Sometime because they lack the job skills, sometimes because it's the only job available. Too bad Mr William and Mr Glassman didn't address that. Too bad that our government doesn't seem keen on addressing that.

So people with McJobs are deserving of respect because...they just might turn out to be somebody some day? What a noble sentiment.

How 'bout "people are deserving of respect, period"? Williams and Glassman aren't defending burger flippers, they're defending giant corporations that pay substandard wages and, in the case of Wal-Mart, make it corporate policy to cheat their employees out of those if they can get away with it.

Mocking people for their jobs is despicable (though it's hardly a trend, more like a stand-up comedy convention from the Reagan era). So is defending the widening gap between rich and working-class poor by saying "one of them could grow up to host the Tonite Show".

This is why I didn't weigh in on the column itself.

I agree with everything that's been said about the lack of benefits accompanying low-wage jobs and the problems with promoting the agendas of giant corporations who cash in on the backs of those who work there and can't afford to get out.

However, I don't disagree with the notion that it's not a bad thing for kids to have these so-called McJobs because it helps them see life through a more organized framework while making a few honest bucks they can call their own. What happens next -- where these kids wind up in the future phases of their lives -- is an issue that obviously needs to be addressed.

But I'm not sure that the latter idea necessarily conflicts with the former concern.

I have no problem with people starting at the bottom of the ladder, you have to start somewhere, it is that some people are forced to finish at the bottom of that ladder we need to correct.

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