This post is simply an acknowledgement. I am a capitalist. I’m a student of capitalism – I enjoy capitalism and appreciate its results. And today is the 50th birthday of the single most important, most recognisable and most authentic example of the success of capitalism – a restaurant called McDonald’s.

50 years ago, a man called Ray Kroc (who had developed a milkshake machine) persuaded the McDonald brothers (who had a burger stand) to open a restaurant with him. He never could have imagined the success of the California restaurant, nor the chain of restaurants that followed, nor the franchise which followed that. It is a model that many others would follow, not only fast food chains but every kind of business imaginable. Even the idea of a franchise must have sounded strange at the time: “You pay me $200,000 and I’ll show you how to flip a burger.” But, half a century later, McDonald’s is serving almost 50,000,000 people EVERY SINGLE DAY in its 31,000 restaurants. It worked, and is a wonderful illustration of the effects of freedom.

And what were McDonalds’ effects? To feed families who couldn’t afford to eat out anywhere else. To provide jobs for young people who couldn’t get work anywhere else. To delight kids around the world with McDonalds birthdays and the Happy Meal. To become a cultural icon, symbolising prosperity and freedom. To bring charity to hundreds of thousands of impoverished children. And above all, to create wealth, bringing that wealth to its millions of employees in almost 120 countries with all political climates.

But some people are so blinded by prejudice that they can’t see it. Left-wing amateur filmmaker Morgan Spurlock dispensed the most recent example of anti-McDonald’s propaganda with his ridiculous ‘Super-Size Me’, in which he shocked his digestive system against doctors advice by suddenly switching to a 100% fast-food diet and claimed that his sudden health problems were McDonald’s fault. He ignored the following facts: a) most importantly, that McDonald’s has never even hinted that their food should constitute someone’s entire fricking bodily intake, b) that when a McDonald’s employee asks, “Do you want to go super-size?” you are not obliged to say yes, and c) that McDonald’s has never forced anyone to eat at its restaurants – people do so by choice because they are happy to exchange money for its products.

An earlier propaganda campaign by an equally ludicrous couple of activists (these people always want to call themselves ‘concerned citizens’ and ‘ordinary people’ – they are in fact left-wing activists, in this case formerly of wacko-left Greenpeace) was a 1980s leaflet which McDonald’s later sued over, constituting the longest-running lawsuit in UK legal history, commonly known as McLibel. For more information on this case, see my post of February 15th, 2005 in this blog. A 1997 film, shown this week on BBC Four (surprise?) followed the activists in their battle to defend their libellous leaflet. The film is directed by Franny Armstrong, the strongly left-wing daughter of a London filmmaker, who was interested in “healthy foods, advertising to kids, environmental destruction and so on.” Needless to say, the film portrayed Helen Steel and Dave Morris as ‘Davids’, and McDonald’s as ‘Goliath’; the brave fight of the underdogs, a “postman and gardener” who took on the giant. The media love a story like this. But there’s one word for this interpretation of the case: bullshit. McDonald’s had every right to sue Steel and Morris – their leaflet was shaky propaganda composed of nothing more substantial than the usual socialist rhetoric that accompanies so much such ‘activism’.

And so McDonald’s finds itself in a world not so welcoming as it was 50 years ago. Yet it seems to have gotten over the hump – it is back to reporting worldwide profits again since introducing salads, yoghurts and fruit. Nothing like a classic though – to celebrate their 50th birthday today, I thoroughly enjoyed a Big Mac Meal followed by a chocolate fudge sundae. And I hope that McDonald’s is not deterred by people like Spurlock, Steel, Morris or Armstrong. They do not represent public opinion – McDonald’s sales do that. In case I’m not being clear enough; the Left is LOSING. And their opposition to McDonald’s is not from any particular hate for Ronald McDonald – it is from a minority who actually hate our way of life, our freedom, the capitalist system.

So congratulations on 50 years, McDonald’s – you’re a symbol of our success.

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John Wright

johnwright@softhome.net