A Nation Struggles to Find Common Ground

I can do nothing more than share this with you and pray that saner minds will prevail. This is beyond right and wrong; it’s about the principles we hold dear in this democracy. Recently a “friend” — whose face I’ve obscured to protect his privacy and right to free speech, however vile — posted this on Facebook:

in-n-out-hate-speech-2

This is real, people, and it’s happening inside America right now. If we don’t speak up, who will?

Now read these #longreads about the fast food industry’s greatest burger:

1. In-N-Out’s Burger Queen (Patrick J. Kiger, Orange Coast Magazine, 2014)

A profile of Lynsi Snyder, In-N-Out Burger’s president who drag races on the side.

“From the consumer standpoint, she hasn’t done dramatic things. But she hasn’t changed what they like, and that’s a good thing. She doesn’t have any [public] shareholders, so she’s really accountable to her customers, and thousands of employees. But she’s got both believing in the business model. If you get to the core, everyone believes that the In‑N‑Out concept produces a high-quality burger.”

2. Fat Burgers (Stacy Perman, Los Angeles magazine, 2004)

Long ago, In-N-Out Burger ceased to be just another fast-food chain. It is a cultural institution, a feisty family-run enterprise that inspires devotion from its customers and envy from its competitors. In-N-Out’s power lies in its iconoclasm—it defies nearly every tenet of the industry—and in its decidedly simple values. The basic menu of grilled hamburgers, fries, sodas, and milk shakes made with real ice cream has stayed the same since Harry and Esther Snyder opened their first store in Baldwin Park in 1948.

See also: In-N-Out: Professionalizing Fast Food (Perman, Bloomberg Businessweek)

3. Home of the Whopper (Thomas Frank, Harper’s, 2013)

Now, everyone knows how poorly fast-food jobs pay. They also know why this is supposed to be okay: fast-food workers are teenagers, they don’t have kids or college degrees, and it’s an entry-level job. Hell, it’s virtually a form of national service, the economic boot camp that has replaced the two years our fathers had to give to the armed forces.

Every one of these soothing shibboleths was contradicted by what I saw in North Carolina. These days, fast-food workers are often adults, they often do have children, and I met at least one college grad among the protesters in Raleigh. Why are things like this? Because a job is a job, and in times as lean as ours, the Golden Arches may be the only game in town, regardless of qualifications and degrees.

What people who repeat these things also don’t know is how much effort has gone into keeping fast-food pay so low, despite the enormous profits raked in by the chains.