The Mcdonald’s corporation has over 35,000 restaurants in 118 countries around the world. It is owned by the wealthy Kroc family, who make billions of dollars each year from their fast food empire.
Across the United States, low wage fast food workers are demanding better pay and working conditions with fast food strikes and actions of civil disobedience. The government of Bolivia, led by a political party called “Movement Toward Socialism”, has banned Mcdonalds from the country. The Palestinians have called for boycotts of Mcdonalds due to its collaboration with Jewish United Fund that promotes illegal Israeli settlements.
Mcdonalds, with its golden arches, impoverished employees, and extremely unhealthy culinary innovations, is very much the symbol of Wall Street’s new low wage economic order. It has become the target many sections of the global uprising. The Chinese Communist Party has now joined the fight against this hated corporation.
Six Arrests for “Rotten Meat”
The meat served in Mcdonalds various dishes has a widespread reputation for its poor quality. Urban legends, tall tales, and undisputedly true but forgotten news items all highlight the universal understanding of Mcdonalds meat as being particularly unhealthy.
The meat supplier of Mcdonalds, known as OSI, was caught red-handed in the People’s Republic of China. Video recordings show that expired, rotten meat was being intentionally sold. It was investigative journalists from government owned television in Shanghai that brought this story to light. The Chinese public is full of anger, and sales are dropping.
OSI, which also supplies meat for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and other fast food chains, has been subject to a string of surprise inspections from government officials. Six leaders of the OSI corporation, which is based in the US state of Illinois, have been arrested by the Chinese government. Mcdonalds has lost millions of dollars, as they were unable to serve meat products in China for several days.
The Wall Street Journal has bemoaned the action taken against Mcdonalds and OSI saying it is “under unprecedented scrutiny by regulators and state media.” The article goes on to quote the local Chinese Communist Party leader as saying “all companies that break the law will be punished.”
With six business executives in handcuffs, the OSI corporation in the on defensive, desperately trying to avoid harsh punishment. New cameras are being installed, new safety regulations are being created. One statement from an OSI official asks for “a second chance.” Mcdonalds officials have announced that they are going to “transition to other suppliers.”
In the United States, in hundreds, if not thousands, of instances, wealthy corporations have endangered the public. The recent GM ignition switch scandal is just one example.
While in the United States a matter like serving rotten food and risking the health of millions of people would probably result in a small fine, that is not the case in China. In China, Lui Han, a billionaire and owner of huge mining corporation, was sentenced to death in May. In 2007, after the infamous “lead in toys” scandal, the safety inspector who helped cover up the danger to the public was executed.
In the United States, corporations run the government. Candidates require millions of dollars to get elected. Decisions about government policy are made in back rooms with corporate executives. Wars are waged to secure the control of markets for various oil and natural gas cartels.
While modern China may have lots of corruption and injustice, it’s government is far different from the government of the United States. The Chinese Communist Party is not like the Democratic and Republican parties in the US. In the United States, government officials fear the wrath of corporations, who they depend on to get elected. In China, the corporations fear the government.
Politics in Command
Despite the extreme presence of private enterprise, it is clear to everyone that the capitalism that is so prevalent in China today is not like capitalism elsewhere. The capitalists have no “privacy rights”, and at any moment, the government can step in and destroy them. Because Chinese business is so tightly controlled, it is not subject the economic laws that classically define production.
During the 2008-2009 financial crisis, China was almost completely immune. World economic research institutions like those at the Peterson Institution for International Economics were astonished. The world economy was crashing and burning, but in China wages were going up, jobs were being created, entire new cities were being built, and high speed rails were being constructed. The state created jobs to make up for layoffs in the private sector. Financial institutions were grasped firmly by the bureaucracy, and held under close control, in order to ensure their cooperation keeping the economy moving.
In China, it is the millions of politicians and activists in Chinese Communist Party that define economic activity, not the “anarchy of production.” As economists during the Mao error once put it “politics is in command.”
China is at the center of the emerging anti-imperialist bloc of countries. The natural gas pipeline connecting Russia and China, the increased economic presence in Latin America, the Chinese development of African nations, all point toward a new way forward for the global economy.
Mcdonalds, and the global order of Wall Street neo-liberalism that it symbolizes, is under great threat. Six decades after the 1949 revolution, China is still standing up, and there is a huge global bloc of opposition that is standing with it.
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”