Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Hypocrisy of McDonald's

The other day my wife and I were watching television, and we saw a commercial - promoting health in children - only to find out that this commercial was for The Ronald McDonald House.

For those of you that do not know, in 1984, the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) was official established in the memory of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc - who is said to have been a strong advocate for children. And since 1984, McDonald's has continued to support the charity through donations (boxes at all McDonald's restaurants) and ads geared towards donations for the fund.

This is all fine and well. It's great that McDonald's is reaching out to children in need and children with health problems. In fact, the mission statement from the RMHC website states:

"The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children."

Excuse me? Improving the health and well being of children? I have thus, dug a bit deeper.

On the American Heart Association's website - this table shows daily averages of what children should consume - as far as their food intake. It shows that between the ages of 4 and 8 (the typical age where those children will consume a McDonald's Happy Meal) for females, the daily intake should be 1,200 calories, and for males - 1,400 calories. Also, the Baylor Medical Center estimates that total sodium intake for a child ages 4-8 as being 1,200-1,900 mg, 19 g of protein, and total fat of an equivalent of 39-62 g (which seems rather high to me, but who am I to argue with the Baylor Medical Center?).

So, how is McDonald's being a hypocrite? Well, it's simple, if the RMHC wants to promote healthy living in children, then how can the McDonald's restaurants continue to sell their Happy Meals? Allow me to elaborate:

On the nutrition center of the McDonald's website, they list the Cheeseburger Happy Meal with a Sprite (not "soda" but specified as Sprite) as having 640 calories, 940 mg of sodium, 35 g of protein, and 24 g of fat (of which, 7 g are saturated - i.e. "bad" fat).

Assuming this Happy Meal is the meal eaten for dinner, that leaves the child with only about 500-700 calories to fill the remainder of their day (both breakfast and lunch), with only 260-900 mg of sodium, protein enough to consume two days for children in only their dinner portion (and any excess protein, we all know, can turn to fat just as easily as excess calories), and 15-48 g of fat.

So, half of a child's caloric intake can be consumed EASILY in one sitting at a McDonald's restaurant (and the sodium, protein, and fat are off the chart), yet, they support the RMHC who seeks to "improve the health and well-being of children"? Which is it? Either you are trying to make a buck, or you truly wish to support the health and well-being of children.

I don't think it's any surprise to many Americans that our children are becoming obese and lethargic, and while McDonald's cannot be held fully responsible, it still raises the question, are they being hypocritical in their choice of charity versus their product sold to the children of America?

Which brings me back to the ad - not a single McDonald's product showed up in the ad for the RMHC, in fact, the children in the ad were eating salads and fruit - and I'm sure this was not done by accident, yet McDonald's continues to feed the children of America utter garbage, that can only help lead to obesity issues in the United States.

Sure, the parents may be more to blame than the restaurant, but if the restaurant truly wishes to promote the charity, which, in turn, promotes "health and well-being in children" then shouldn't the restaurant actually provide a product that does, in fact, promote that same desire for health and well-being?

I personally think so and I see the hypocrisy in their actions. I don't condemn the charity, but at the same time, I don't see how McDonald's can boast, "billions and billions of hamburgers served," and still latch onto a charity that seems to express the opposite of everything that is wrong with their restaurant. It just seems sad, almost like they feel as if they support the charity (and the fact it was established, in part, thanks to their founder), that they will get a reprieve in the eyes of the public.

I for one, am not blinded by their attempts to show support for health while over feeding everyone (not only the children) that enters into their establishment. The all-mighty dollar is a hard thing to forgo - especially when it's someone else's health at stake - keeping the health of the corporation running strong.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Saving, SAVING is Killing the Economy?

There is an article on CNN today titled "Why Saving is Killing the Economy", and I can't help but think, are they serious?

Never mind that greed started this entire "recession" but now you want to lay the blame on the American people that are watching out for themselves as to why it endures?

Okay, fine, I get the thought behind the article - as more people save, they ultimately spend less, which means, the economy continues to decline, but how can you blame the individual?

Let's think about this - and I'm sure many of you have - if you don't save, and you lose your job, you lose everything. Therefore, in these "uncertain times" people are going to save, and save every little bit they can. Sure, it might "kill the economy," but honestly, you can't tell me that those unemployment numbers aren't doing a whole heck of a lot more to kill the economy than the individual saver!

Currently, my job has been threatening to cut overtime - fair enough, I guess be happy you still have a job, correct? Fine, and I will be happy with that, but if you cut my overtime, I lose about $1,000 of monthly income that I could otherwise SPEND in this economy.

And what about the people that have lost ALL their income by way of pink slip? Are they to be "blamed" as well for "killing the economy"?

However, when the business "saves" - i.e. SLASHES JOBS!!!! - it's deemed okay, because that's "good business practice," but when an individual cuts back to only the bare essentials to living, they are deemed as "killing the economy."

Let's make up our minds people, we can't have it BOTH ways! One way can't be "good for business" while on the individual level they are "killing the economy."

Seriously, the individual would easily spend, spend, spend if they didn't have to worry about the company looking to save some dough by way of cutting salaries and jobs! If these companies truly wanted to save the economy they'd start hiring, they'd reduce their firing, and they'd stop cutting back on the employee benefits!

Yes, the individual makes the economy tick, but with such fear in the air due to the "great saving strategies" in place at the corporate level then yes, the individual is going to do what is best for them, and that is save every dime they can for that day when their job becomes extinct.

Blaming the individual for saving is ludicrous, when the real culprits in this travesty are the bank CEO's - who get BILLIONS in bailout money and "save it" - not turning any of that money over by way of loans, or even by way of increased savings rates - which would help the individual in that they can have more to actually SPEND, rather than save.

But the media, and even the government, want to ignore the savings at the corporate level and only attack the individuals. Individuals that have a responsibility to themselves and their families to make sure that, if times get too rough, that they can make ends meet. Indeed, it's the individuals fault for "killing the economy."

How could I have been so naive?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Is It Just Me?

So, I don't know if it's just me, or if people are just growing increasingly rude. Now, I know, I've wrote about this before, but, well, I was just thinking about three instances recently that - when thought about - I come to the same conclusion.

I realize, I can be rude. I realize I can seek blood with my words. However, I typically only am rude once I have been wronged first. Perhaps I am too quick to judge, maybe those I encounter often times are just "having a bad day," but at the same time, why does their bad day have to be transferred through their actions to me? Especially when those being extremely rude are employees of an establishment I am frequenting - since when does the employee think they have so much power over the customer? All three of these instances refer to places I am going as the customer - and two of them are the same establishment.

As I said, it could "just be me," and if it is, then so be it, but I just feel it's an accumulation of everything anymore - those on the streets can't bother to watch their mirrors or the surrounding traffic, those that are too busy on their phones that they linger and stand in your way, those that are just plain rude, as if the world is owed to them. Like I said, I don't like being rude myself; I prefer to be pleasant, but increasingly, every one's stupidity is driving me quicker to temper.

The first instance took place at an eatery - Maggiano's Little Italy. Some of you may have been to this establishment previously, and may have had very pleasant experiences - I know I used to when this establishment was concerned. I am speaking of the Maggiano's in Oak Brook, Illinois, and it was a night my wife and I were planning on spending upwards of $150 in food and drink - such a special occasion for us that we decided to make reservations for 7 PM. At 6:45 that evening we arrived and checked in (even valeting our vehicle, which we have done exactly one other time, on my wife's boss' dime, in our life). The hostess told me "it will be a few minutes while we get a table set up for you," which is all fine and dandy, we were, after all, early. 5 minutes pass, and people are being sat all around us - some, seemingly having just arrived and checked in themselves - and then 10 minutes, and then 20 minutes. At 7:05 I approach the hostess stand and ask how that table is coming along (and I was very polite in my actions). I was told then, that it would be "another 10-15 minutes" because "we seat people 15 minutes after they check in, and since your reservation was for 7, we will sit you at 7:15-7:20." I was floored, but I held my tongue. I wanted to outright tell her "that's bullshit," but I did refrain. I go to my wife and tell her we still have to "wait" meanwhile, we are still watching people check in and promptly be sat - was it just us? My wife, who could see the hostess stand, said that the hostess "must have been talking about me" because she kept whispering to people and pointing at the back of my head, but what can I say and do, they require 15 minutes worth of "check in time," but what happened to the fact that I checked in at 6:45? Finally, at 7:15 we were called to be sat - not only did we no longer feel like having our special occasion after waiting 30 minutes to sit on a reservation, but we spent far less than planned, and will never go back to that establishment. We have been known to drop $150 at this restaurant previously, and were not opposed to doing it again, however, after this experience, we will never even go back - I'm sure there are plenty of other restaurants that will happily accept my business and my cash.

The other two instances occured at the Jewel Osco grocery store in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Now, in order to fully comprehend these issues, the set up of the entrance needs to be understood. There are two, single automatic doors set up side-by-side. Once you enter one of those two doors, directly in front of you, about 5 feet, is another set of side-by-side automatic doors. Between the doors is an "atrium" that houses the carts to the left - and to the extreme left is another "entrance" that employees use and carts should be brought from outside through, since the two, single double-door entrance is not wide enough for an employee to bring multiple carts from the outside into - especially, considering customers enter and exit through this area.

So the first instance at the Jewel Osco, my wife and I enter the left door from the outside air into the atrium. I turn left to get us a cart, in front of my wife is an employee (one I thought was the manager at the time). This employee walks in front of my wife a good 3 or 4 times - merely moving a sign around (why? I don't know). So my wife finally moves to the right door to enter into it, the door begins to open slowly, then stops, so she pushes it open and says a few words under her breathe about the ridiculousness of the situation. Meanwhile, I am now behind this employee with my cart. The employee enters the right "automatic" door and flips a switch - a switch I am sure makes the door actually automatic (they had been open for like 3 hours at this point, the door should have been "open" long before this moment). The employee (who again, I felt was the manager) then STARES at my wife as she walks halfway into the store. So I walk past him, watching him stare - and so I say simply, "you don't have to stare." That was it, I was calm, but just letting him know, that his staring was not appreciated (didn't your parents teach you not to stare and/or point? This isn't a new concept). So he says, and I quote, "I'm just trying to figure out what her problem is." There was no word of "I'm sorry, sir," or, "my mistake," instead, he was "trying to figure out what her problem is." Is he psychic? I didn't know he could read her thoughts by staring at her! Must be a rough life having ESP, of course, had he actually BEEN psychic, then he could have known I was merely looking for a word of apology at him STARING DOWN my WIFE! So I repeat my point, "you still don't have to stare," and again, he had the same response of, "I'm trying to figure out what her problem is." So finally, I tell him, "it's RUDE to stare, and if you hadn't been RUDE and in her way, then this wouldn't be an issue. If you are the manager, then you should definitely know to treat your customers with more respect" and I walked away, leaving him dumbfounded that he could be so stupid. Point of the matter is/was, he KNEW what her "problem was" because he flipped the switch that would make the door work properly, and besides that, how did he NOT know she and I had not just had a huge argument in the parking lot? Would it then be his business to "figure out what her problem is" through telekinesis? I think not. He was just being rude, because he felt he had a RIGHT to be rude, and thus, I gave him two chances to apologize before finally telling him, that as the manager, he is extremely rude. I thought I expected more from managers than from "regular employees," however, maybe due to this instance, the next one irked me as well, even though it was just a "regular employee," and only slightly lived.

This time, the same thing happened, my wife entered the store, and I turned left to get a cart. I turn back around to take my cart into the store, when what do I see? A cart man, coming for me! Yes, the employee that was getting carts off the lot was attempting to bring in about 6 carts through the aforementioned narrow passageway that should be used for customers (remember, to the extreme left is a wide open, employee only entrance where carts SHOULD enter via employee at). So I stop, as does the employee, so I decide, that's my cue to hustle past him. I begin to move, as does the employee - we again both stop, so I start to go again, and the employee says, "hurry up and move." I, of course, don't take kindly to such words, and I say, "you work here, I'm the customer, you don't have to be rude to me," and I walk into the store never looking back.

I know I am "quick to temper" about these things, but my thoughts are, if they "get away" with being rude, by not having a consequence from me (I am the wrong guy to mess with on this issue), then they will only continue in their ways. So, I guess it's up to me to change the world, one rude person at a time! If I can do that, then I feel my time on earth has not been wasted!

Okay, seriously, I don't know if it's just me. I don't know if I should ignore the utter disrespect people have these days, but I just don't know if I can. Like I said, I am pleasant most of the time, and I go out of my way to be nice (when is the last time you slowed down to hold the door open for that little old lady that is 5 steps behind you entering a store? Well, I am the one that DOES hold that door, because I'm never in such a hurry that I think the door just needs to be closed rudely in her face), however, it seems anymore, people are quick to "tell you what to do" without them thinking of their own repercussions, and that attitude irks me to no end.

It might just be me, but even if it is, I deserve to be treated with at least minimal respect, especially when I am the customer. In these economic times, shouldn't the businesses be held to a higher standard in an attempt to keep their customers? Okay, maybe not, but at the very least, I can expect to not be disrespected to the point where I wait 30 minutes to be sat for a reservation when everyone else is walking in, being sat promptly, or I have a right that my wife does not have to be stared down, or I have the right to not be disrespected by a bag-boy doing cart duty, and coming in the wrong door to boot.

It might just be me, but I guess I expect more of people!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bait and Switch

So I was reading today about how President Barack Obama wants to "limit executive's pay" for those executives that have accepted bailout funds, but my question is, how can you do that?

Okay, I've made it clear, "bailout" and I do not go well together. I was never for it, I thought the idea of it was inane, and I thought stipulations should have been in place BEFORE handing the money out so willfully. But, even with that said, I do not think NOW is the time to add stipulations to companies that have already taken their funds. It's the classic bait and switch, and it smells.

Recently, at my job, I was offered a new position. During the preliminary discussions, I was told this was a "salaried position" - which is something I had been hoping for since the day I started. I was also told, it was an eight hour position (I currently work 10 hour days). So in thinking about if I wanted to accept the position or not, I took these things I was told into consideration - so I finally told my boss (after discussing the situation with my wife) that I would accept. I then, mentioned briefly, "of course, assuming all we had talked about" - so far, those eight words have saved me from suffering.

In those eight words, my boss then looked dejected, and his response to me was . . . and I kid you not, "really?" Honestly, his reaction was to ask me, "really?" OF COURSE, "really," you dimwit! Why would I accept based on what you told me in good faith, if that good faith wasn't even that good, or of faith based? Why would I accept, less hours - when I'm HOURLY - thus losing the overtime?

Anyway, I digress. I am currently still in negotiations with my work, but what about those who, in good faith, accepted bailout funds - when there was no stipulations placed upon those funds - who may now not be able to do anything about the bait and switch they are enduring? Is it fair to them, that, in good faith, they accepted these funds sans stipulation, only to have the carpet yanked out from underneath them?

I, at least, could still technically deny the new position (if it hurts me financial, it doesn't make sense to accept) - but what can the banks do? What can the executives do? Give the money back that they likely already spent for their executive Las Vegas trip (of which, has since been canceled)?

I am 100% against bailing out the free market - but stipulations were not in place in a timely fashion (i.e. BEFORE the funds were given) and I don't believe now is the time to add those stipulations. If the U.S. government couldn't foresee the greed of the banks (how could they not, isn't their greed EXACTLY what got us into this mess to begin with?), then that is on THEM, and not the executives to have to now accept the stipulations that were not in place when they should have been.

If Obama wants to add stipulations to new money, that's fine, but on past funds, I hope he would see the error in attempting to add clauses to what has already been given too freely. After all, could the banks foresee the language changing in the future of what they accepted so readily? And, if they did, should they have said the simple little phrase like I did, "that is assuming what we talked about will remain true" . . . of course it assumes what was discussed is true - otherwise, why did we even discuss it at all - just give freely, then take away - it's what you want to do anyway.

Bait and switch - it's classic.