Whenever one sees that Rep. Ilhan Omar has gone viral these days, the odds are better than not that it involves some sort of gaffe. And while a clip of the Minnesota Democrat decrying the wages that McDonald’s workers receive initially went viral because it made her liberal fans happy, it quickly became apparent she had no idea what she was talking about. In fact, her economics were so off that actor Dean Cain — who may have played Superman but certainly isn’t Milton Friedman when it comes to the dismal science — was able to rip it to shreds.
The clip in question came Thursday when Terrence Wise — a Missouri McDonald’s shift manager who has been active in the “Fight for $15” movement — was being questioned by Omar during congressional testimony.
“So the median pay for a McDonald’s worker was $7,000 in 2017,” she said. “And that is the pay gap between the CEO that’s making $21.8 (million) to the $7,000 that a worker who has put in 40 hours a (week) gets paid.
“To me, that just morally does not sit well.”
Omar posted the clip on Twitter along with a stronger statement: “This is a moral outrage. We need a $15 minimum wage so that no one is paid a poverty wage.”
Cain, an outspoken conservative, noticed a few problems with this proposition.
“At $11/hr. your math ain’t making any sense,” he tweeted. “Unless that dude works only 15 weeks of a year. And flipping burgers not quite the same as being CEO.”
First, a good reason those numbers don’t sound right: The median pay for a McDonald’s worker isn’t determined by the pay for a worker in the United States.
Omar likely got the statistic from a May 7, 2018, Associated Press story on the pay gap between CEOs and employees: “McDonald’s Corp. CEO Steve Easterbrook was paid almost $22 million last year, while the company’s median employee received around $7,000 annually. The fast-food company has the largest ratio in Illinois at 3,101 to 1.”
Denuded from the context was just what a “median employee” was.
“McDonald’s defines a median employee as a part-time hourly restaurant crew member in Poland, where wages are lower than in the U.S. and it didn’t use any of the exclusions allowed,” the AP story continued.
“Companies, like McDonald’s, with global workforces and that rely on part-time or temporary employees tend to have higher pay gaps. Easterbrook’s pay is also based on company performance, and the company’s value grew $36 billion last year.”
Even the AP’s wording was somewhat misleading, but Omar’s remarks went well beyond that — saying that someone working 40 hours a week at $11 an hour would end up with that $7,000. It didn’t take long for Twitter to pile on.
For the record, $11 an hour times 40 hours per week times 52 weeks in a year equals $22,880, not $7,000.
While this probably isn’t Omar’s worst gaffe thus far (I think her tweet about the poor Black Hebrew Israelites — members of a racist organization — getting harassed by Covington Catholic High School has to take the cake), this is certainly up there. Surely someone on her staff could have run the numbers?
But that’s the thing about the new Democrats. They operate by a motto that’s an inverse of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s trademark phrase: Feelings don’t care about your facts. Liberals feel for low-wage workers and don’t like CEOs, no matter how much low-wage workers are worth to a company or how much value CEOs may add.
Therefore, these numbers might be wrong, but they don’t feel wrong.
It’s the same way they know that $15 is the perfect minimum wage. This isn’t from studies, mind you (which show a $15 minimum wage kills jobs, especially given automation), but seemingly from the fact that it’s a nice, round number and the “Fight for $15” is alliterative.
With logic like that, we should get ready to see a lot of this from Omar in the coming years. More’s the pity.
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