An open letter to Governor Tom Ridge (R, Pennsylvania, USA)...
Most, but not all, fast food restaurants I've known are chronically understaffed. This is the underlying cause of most customer complaints (slow service, disinterested staff, lousy food, etc.). Let's face it; it's a disposable job, one I regret keeping for eight years. For those that apply for work, it tends to be employment as a last resort. For those that stay, they end up doing the jobs of several people, become embittered, and quit, perpetuating the cycle. As long as other companies keep creating better jobs than slinging grease for the fast feeders, the situation is unlikely to improve.
On the other hand, not everyone is getting the benefits of today's good economic times in the US. These people tend to commit petty property crimes, and become fodder for the overburdened state prison system. Add in our state's Draconian drug laws, reactionary "three strikes, you're out" sentencing policies, and a high recidivism rate, and it's a recipe for prisons full of potentially useful, productive laborers bunking with murderers, at a tremendous cost to taxpayers.
Mr. Governor, these problems can be solved with one stroke of your gilded pen, when you sign the McPrison Act into law. The details can be worked out into committee, but the key points of the Act are these:
1. Inmates/Employees are selected from the pool of non-violent offenders locked up in our state's facilities, in exchange for a shorter sentence. The terms "inmate" and "employee" are used interchangably. Any misdemeanor offender is eligible, provided they can stand for eight hours at a time, have full use of all limbs and extremities, eyes and ears, and can wash their hands when directed.
2. McDonald's, of course, will be paid for housing the state's inmates for eight or more hours each day. This will go to offset the costs of remodeling their restaurants into McPrisons. Namely, security cameras will have every inch of the restaurant covered, preventing the inmates that run the cash registers from pilfering. The buidings will be equipped with alarm systems that lock the doors and windows, as well as sounding a piercing, wailing, siren when activated. Drive-thru windows will be converted to the type that don't actually open. Customer orders will be passed through the window in a basket or pneumatic tube, like in a bank, lest an employee jump into the bed of a passing truck. McDonald's will be responsible for hiring "screws" (prison guards), to monitor the security cameras, and enforce McDonald's "hustle" policy. A sniper could be stationed on the roof of the McPrison, in case an employee tries to leave before the end of his shift. As an added benefit, anyone in the area hoping to rob $80 from the cash register to buy drugs had better look elsewhere.
3. Inmates will be paid by McDonald's, and McDonald's will determine the wages. Restitution to crime victims, unpaid child support, legal fees, etc., can be deducted until the debt is paid off.
4. The day-to-day administration of McPrison's employees is much like the current probation system, with McDonald's managers assuming the role of probation officers during work hours. Away from the McPrison, employees' movements will be tracked with commonly used ankle bracelets. Competition for job openings in the McPrison system is sure to be tough, so standards for inmates conduct will be high. Miss work one day, and it's back to the clink! Anyone caught stealing Happy Meal toys or tampering with food will be beaten into submission by the screws.
5. Sentences will generally be six months or less, which is about the duration of most employees at McDonald's before the McPrison system starts. You can bet the recidivism rate will be significantly lower for McPrison employees than for the general prison population.
In the end, Mr. Governor, the thousands of registered voters that eat at Mcdonald's outlets across the state every day will receive better service without having to pay for it, and will have you to thank for it. Proposed prison construction projects across the state can be tabled, since the existing prisons will be suddenly less crowded. More McDonald's outlets can be built, at McDonald's expense, as they are needed. The program can even be expanded to McDonald's competitors easily. The national media will call our state's McPrison system "a great example of public-private partnership solving society's problems" and "a model for other states to follow." All this will come in time for you to be named as a Vice Presidential running mate when George W. Bush is named as your party's candidate for President. You won't need to thank me, though, as I have no political aspirations. Seeing the McPrison system successful will be thanks enough.