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Hey, McDonald’s workers, want fries with that advice?

The U.S. Department of Labor is reporting that the nation’s employers produced 162,000 new jobs in July, generally considered a disappointing number, with average wages and the length of the work week taking a dip, too. More than half of the growth was in low-end jobs – like those at McDonald’s, for instance.

Fortunately for America, McD’s has teamed up with Visa to try to teach those making fast-food-level wages how to budget responsibly. The so-called McBudget has actually been around for a few years, but with a potential increase in the minimum wage in the news and some corporate resistance to it, some enterprising sleuths dug it up for all to see.

The budget assumes a monthly net income of $2,060 – $24,720 in take-home compensation per year – though it pretty much acknowledges that you’re not going to get that working the drive-up at McDonald’s, which prefers part-timers and insists that you get a second job somewhere else. That’s fine, a lot of Americans work two or more jobs, so long as they don’t mind toiling in excess of 70 hours a week, which is what it would take to get to McD’s after-tax magic number on a typical restaurant wage of $8.25 an hour.

Alas, this may have started out as a well-intentioned effort by McDonald’s/Visa to help people make better financial decisions, the lack of which does in fact lead to many digging a regrettably deep hole for themselves. The flip side of this equation is that many an American consumer likes his Big Macs cheap, too. Whatever, you could say all that has backfired, subjecting McD’s to derision from some quarters and putting it in the cross hairs of the nation’s economic inequality debate. We trust its marketing department is full of pretty smart people, but evidently not prescient enough to anticipate this predictable backlash.

McDonald’s new CEO has been put on the spot. Don Thompson grew up for a time in the shadow of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project, so apparently he’s seen poverty, though whatever there was of that before is behind him now, as his compensation package was reportedly $13.8 million last year. As critics have been eager to point out, you kind of forfeit the license to counsel people how to make do on $8.25 an hour when you’re earning in excess of $6,600 an hour, when your pay alone could employ more than 800 people working at that wage full-time.

There are some real disconnects today in America, where there is no such thing as earning too much for some and conversely no such thing as making too little for those who tend to toil for them. We hear a lot about class warfare these days, and how the Obama administration in particular has poured fuel on that fire for greedy personal gain. There may be something to that, but it would seem that those who no longer have to worry about whether the American Dream is within their reach have been firing a few missiles of their own in that conflict.


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