To the pious food elite: get the hell out of my Happy Meal
There are worse vices than McDonald's, but it's an easy target for the petty snobs
Whenever I tell people I like to eat McDonald’s every now and then, I’m treated like a class traitor.
Such is the negative reputation that the fast food chain has developed among certain powerful groups – not just traditional snobs, but a pious new elite for whom the occasional unhealthy treat is evidence of philistinism and moral slackness – that it is inconceivable to them that anyone but the poor or the uneducated would choose to buy the restaurant’s admittedly fattening food.
And so they unquestioningly support measures that would put people off eating there. The latest of these in the UK is a new 25p (R5) charge on the cups provided by fast food outlets such as McDonald’s, an extension of a proposed “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups.
The obvious objection is that the charge will push up prices for people who can ill afford it.
In thrall to single-issue pressure groups and interfering celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver, the British government appears to care little for those who will bear the cost of its petty new rules.
The “latte levy” itself is full of holes, and was originally proposed by a group of MPs who appeared to be more interested in generating column inches than anything else.
The charge being considered is completely arbitrary. It is certainly not a carefully calculated estimate of the cost of properly disposing of such items. The idea that, if it were levied on the producers of these cups, it would not be passed on to consumers is ludicrous, too.
In any case, why not, instead, reduce taxes on outlets that provide reusable alternatives? That this is evidently inconceivable, not only to the promoters of these measures but also the many people who support them, helps to show what their true purpose is: the punishment of people who do things they do not like.
Perhaps my own view of McDonald’s and its ilk is eccentric, but I cannot see why it deserves the vitriol that is heaped upon it. In fact, McDonald’s has a strong claim to being one of the most progressive restaurant chains in Britain. It is unpretentious about it, but it has long been explicit about the calorie content of its meals, pre-empting the government’s silly drive to force outlets to put this on the menu, but doing it out of choice and because it has the scale to make it cost-effective.
Its food is affordable, and its use of technology for making and paying for orders is advanced. In the US its outlets are community centres, too, providing free Wi-Fi and generally not minding people hanging around all day, so the unemployed can use the Internet to apply for jobs and local groups can hold their meetings there.
No one should eat there every day, but it is surely dangerous that we are getting into a habit of taxing, banning and regulating things largely on the basis that we don’t approve of them. Everyone needs a vice, and it’s hardly the end of the world if mine happens to be McDonald’s.
– © The Sunday Telegraph