McDonalds: Powerful Corporation or Unappreciated Societal Institution

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I never expected to read about the importance and value of McDonald’s in Peggy Noonan’s year end (2016) column which I saw online but perhaps was first published in the Wall Street Journal.

It was entitled “Shining a Light on ‘Back Row’ America” and talked about a photojournalist , Chris Arnade, who for the last year traveled through the U.S. taking pictures of regular people in challenging circumstances and writing about their lives.

Arnade often seeks out lonely, battered people hanging on by a tether and hoping that their lives can take a turn for the better. He cites two institutions that play a large role for these individuals and helps them to deal with their difficult lives.

The first one is, not so surprisingly, the small churches, often the Pentecostal and Evangelical. They tend to welcome everyone and anyone and sometimes with big hugs. The second institution he cites as a very positive influence is McDonalds.

Now that one was a surprise for me. Mr Arnade wasn’t the type of person who would be looking to a big, powerful corporate entity as a major do-gooder but he says McDonald’s “ has great value to community.” For Arnade, “McDonald’s is nonjudgmental. In fact, if you have nowhere to go all day they’ll let you stay, nurse your coffee, read your paper.” Often friendships develop between the people who work there and the regular McDonald’s customers and maybe sometimes the visit to the golden arches is the best part of the day for many.

Interesting to see McD’s in this context, don’t you think?

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