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Les Hypocrites Vertueux


McDonald’s holds high station in the pantheon of evil global corporations. As seen by the righteous leftoids. Not only do those tasty fries make us fat against our will, the Big Mac has soiled the sacred cuisine of France.

Against the onslaught, some Frenchmen stood up for their ideals:

On 12 August 1999, a McDonalds in Millau, south-west France was dismantled by protesters just days before it was due to open. On a sunny afternoon a crowd of farmers, activists, union members, men, women and children loaded the rubble onto trucks and tractors, drove it through town and dumped it outside the town hall.

Their motivation?

In the background there has long been unease at American corporate power and influence, as represented by McDonalds. Bové has concerns about how the food sold in McDonalds is farmed, sourced, and processed. He opposes the bland homogenisation of culinary culture as represented by a soggy Big Mac. There were community concerns about litter, and the impact of a multinational on local businesses.

The executive in charge of McDonald’s in France (a Frenchman himself) saw more than a little hypocrisy:

McDonald's France was sourcing 75 percent of its ingredients domestically, and he felt it was imperative from a PR standpoint to force French farmers, hypocritically applauding Bové, to publicly acknowledge the large volume of business that they were doing with McDo. While the gambit was undeniably bold, Hennequin understood that he was operating from a position of strength, and not only in regard to the farmers. The French public applauded Bové, too, but in the places that mattered most, the stomach and the wallet, it applauded McDonald's more.

The wallet was no minor consideration. McDonald's appealed to budget-conscious students, of course, but with France's high unemployment and sluggish economy, it attracted people of all ages. Pensioners, for instance, were among the chain's most loyal clients. The food at McDonald's was cheap [or inexpensive, to those without anti-corporate bias], and it was made cheaper still because its restaurants were officially designated as takeout joints. The value-added tax on meals at such establishments was just 5.5 percent, versus the 19.6 percent levied at "gastronomic" restaurants. This gave McDonald's an even greater competitive advantage over brasseries, bistros, and cafés.

How dare this evil American corporation was buy millions of Francs of French farm products and turn them into satisfying food affordable to the poor! And worse, McDo’s price advantage was amplified by government policy. Sacre bleu!

Perhaps those righteous hypocrties ripped down the wrong building.

H/T: Maggie’s Farm