- McSpotlight -
Posted by: Alex Corey ( New York City, USA ) on May 16, 1999 at 23:58:03:
I applaud you guys for this web-site and the attention you brought to the exploitative measures McDonald's uses to make a buck.
I lived in London as a student during the trial. I even participated in one of many demonstrations against the company. I admire the English enormously for their ability to unite against what it deems destructive.
However, I did notice that there was a tinge of anti-Americanism in these demonstrations. No doubt the US engages in what might be called "economic imperialism", but please don't use this as a reflection of the American people. Many of us oppose such multinationals, and don't look upon such companies as symbols of "American know-how".
Having said that, here are my 2-cents:
McDonald's, like all multinational chains (Blockbuster video, Walmart) exploit in two ways. One, they are dependent upon members of what can be called the "working-class" as their employees. Not too many people with college degrees serve burger and fries. Second, they are dependent on this class (the majority of people) to also be their consumers.
It does not necessarily mean that all McDonald's employees with their meger paychecks go back and spend their money on food at McDonald's.
What it does mean is that all multinationals depend on the same class of people to be its worker and its consumer. Thus a cycle is created in which ultimately all wage money is returned to the multinational.
After all, The Gap, Exxon, McDonald's, Blockbuster video, The Body-Shop and Walmart are all one-in-the-same.
If this is still hard to swallow, allow me to use my own experience as an example.
I live in a suburb of New York City. I live in what would be deemed a "working-class" neighborhood. My neighborhood is litered with multinationals. There are McDonalds and Burger Kings (which I always assumed was British owned), Blockbusters, K-Marts, Targets, etc.
The local economy is dependent upon these multinationals, since they have pushed every "mom and pop shop" out of business. As soon as this "boom" is over in America, I imagine many people will be out of work and there will be many empty store fronts ruining the once beautiful landscape. The local economy, as you pointed out so well, is unstable as a result.
However, in more wealthy neighborhoods, these architectural monstrosities are almost non-existant. Instead of the ugly strip mall with its huge parking lots, they have boutiques and upscale stores, privately owned and one-of-a-kind.
AND, if one of these wealthy neighborhoods do need a strip mall with a supermarket and a Blockbuster, town ordinates of these areas are so strict, that they must be done "tastefully"--often lined with trees and flower-beds, and architecturally "pleasant".
"Working-class" neighborhoods don't have the luxury of setting up ordinates simply because the population is too large to unite properly, and has too little money to have real power. Plus, now that the small shop-keeper is a relic of the past, our local economy depends on these unstable multinationals.
Environmetally speaking, mass-consumerism is the worst thing to happen to this planet.
Yes it is. Please keep in mind, all you people out there in cyberland, that everything bought eventually makes its way to a landfill or garbage dump. Everything, no matter how precious, how long its kept, or who it is given away to. IT WILL FIND ITS WAY TO A DUMP.
Now, think of this in terms of not only how sophisticated mass production has become, but also in how often "things" have to be replaced due to obsolesence, or due to its low-quality and inability to last.
Mass-production is so sophisticated, and as items become less and less expensive to purchase due to this sophistication, it is now easier to replace and item (whether it be a refridgerator, toaster or electric can-opener) than to have it repaired. Think about that. I can feel the landfills growing.
As this mass-production grows, including everthing from the actual item to its cardboard wrappings, our sewer systems for capitalism's fecal-matter (from garbage cans to landfills) grows more and more inefficient.
McDonald's is like all multinations. Its power and wealth depend upon the exploitation of both its workers and its consumers. It depends on the rapid destruction of the environment to survive, and mostly, it depends on your hard earned money.
Why boycott a multinational?
Sometimes its hard not to, after all, they seem to own everything. But if you skeptical about McSpotlight, think about this:
1- Everytime a McDonald's, a Blockbuster or a Walmart opens, a small family-run operation is put out of business. It's true. And what else signifies the "American Dream" more than the small family business?
You could be the one put out of work, or forced to work a soul-crushing job for someone else.
2- These multi-national companies depend upon huge amounts of natural resourses. If you don't care about poverty or environmental damage in other far away countries, think about your backyard. The amount of land these companies need is enourmous, from the size of the store to its parking lots. Architecurally speaking, they are ugly. They destroy the landscape, and pollute the water supply. Traffic grows as a result, and there goes the air. Roadways get overcrowded, so more land is needed for more roads. There goes more land.
3- These companies have the stamp of sameness where ever you go. If you are like me and value foreign cultures, and even differences in your own country, think of this: The more these companies grow, the more places look the same. How boring is that. Every downtown area in America now looks like a carbon copy of each other. This growth has etched such a conformity, that no place really appears to be that different, and it rubs off on to the people.
Architecturally speaking, these companies have a huge influence on world culture literally teaching the world how to build "cost-effective" buildings. So now downtown Beijing no longer looks any different than downtown London or downtown NY.
I can go on, but Im afraid I may be exhausting you. If you care about the destruction set forth by multinationals such as McDonald's, put your money where your mouth is...Spend it in a privately owned or family owned establishment. Buy your books from an independent bookseller. Frequent a video-rental shop that don't censor the movies they rent (yes, a few exist--you may have to drive further, but odds are you'll save some money too)
And if you are unfortunate enough to work for any of these teen-exploitation factories, do whatever it takes to get out of them. I did. If you can't, then organize or be a proud subvert. Liter your work place with as much lefty propaganda as possible. You'll get someones attention!
PS..I meant to list only 2 ways in which multinational exploit, but obviously there are many more. I hope I got through to some people, and I would love to hear some feedback. Unfortunately, many of the people I would like to here from work for these companies, and can't afford a computer.