The Founder – How Greed Created McDonald’s Empire

I saw The Founder on Netflix yesterday. I was told about about it by some friends and encouraged to give it a look. I have heard the story of McDonald’s in the past, but watching it in a film was something else.

Ray Kroc was a man filled with ambition and nothing would stop him until he had what he wanted.

The original McDonald’s founders were simple men of integrity, hard-work, and valued their customers…something that was lost in the noise as American corporations have made their push forward. Ray Kroc bought the rights to McDonald’s from them after buying up the land underneath their franchisee locations and using banks and franchisees to force a sale.

The founders of McDonald’s were woefully inept and allegedly used a handshake deal for 1% of the company’s profits that never came to be. That moment reminded me all too much of the crazy events of The Social Network.

The end result was brilliant from a business point-of-view and terrible from a people point-of-view.

One of the main arguments the creators of McDonald’s experienced with Ray Kroc in the movie was Kroc’s desire to use powdered milkshakes instead of real milkshakes. This troubled the founders who wanted to serve real products to their customers.

One could argue this is where McDonald’s went down the slippery slope that they find themselves in today. The trade-off between customer health and profits has been a long-fought one with fast food companies increasingly becoming conscious of their impact on society as fast-casual restaurants and socially-responsible corporations take a bite out of their sales.

Just look at the “pink slime” scandal McDonald’s found itself in when Chef Jamie Oliver exposed their use of ammonium hydroxide in their food. The Founder ended saying that McDonald’s feeds billions of people a day so it is safe to say that plenty of people ate this until McDonald’s and other fast food giants discontinued use.

McDonald’s fries have almost 19 ingredients in them – many that you won’t find in other countries that ban chemicals in their food. Until last year, McDonald’s nuggets were made with artificial preservatives. I could go on but you get the point.

I’m not saying that I expect fast food companies to provide great quality food, but there should be a fine line between harmful chemicals and profits. The fact that McDonald’s can operate in foreign markets that ban chemicals and make a profit there suggests that it is simply out of pure convenience and greed that real products are denied to Americans.

But what about the economy? Low wages and record profits at McDonald’s continues taxpayer funded corporate welfare that is costing taxpayers almost $1.2 billion dollars a year as employees at McDonald’s find themselves unable to survive and end up on food stamps and other programs. In 2013, McDonald’s was busted trying to tell their employees how to live in poverty.

McDonald’s ranks as the #1 fast food business that has employees on public assistance.

The greed displayed in the film by Ray Kroc doesn’t seem too far from the reality. Kroc built a McDonald’s across the street from the creators and ran them out of business after trademarking their last-name in a most profound amount of petty I have never witnessed.

In response to the health impact of their food, Kroc was quoted saying: “What do all those nutritionists and college professors and those Nader types know?” he says. “How many jobs have they ever created?”.

The amount of preservatives used in McDonald’s food is well-published and has been on the public display for some time now. The Founder establishes that these roots were made from an early point in history and continue today.

Theatrically, The Founder is an excellent film and tells the story well without a real biased point-of-view. The acting is superb and the cinematography correctly matches the era it was meant to capture. What occurs during the film will have you thinking about the ethics of American corporations and greed in the United States for some time.


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