Saturday, October 3, 2015

Buffet, Burger King and Floyd Mayweather

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

We all know of Burger King. It’s one of those fast food joints that people who can afford it don’t eat at. However, millions of poor and low waged people do, and Burger King pays very low wages.

A cashier at this place would earn $8.27 an hour. A Crew Member earns $8.11 and hour. A Team Member earns $8.18 an hour although what the difference is between a crew and a team this writer does not know. Then we get to the higher ups. A shift manager, a very important position as you get your ass reamed if things don’t work our right, earns $9.87 an hour.

Now Burger King has had a few owners. These owners are called holding companies or sometimes, capital management companies.  As of today, Burger King is owned by Restaurant Brands International which is a joint US Canadian Company formed by the merger of the old Burger King and the Canadian food chain Tim Hortons.  The pervious majority owner of Burger King was 3G capital and 3G capital is now a majority owner of, yes you guessed it, Restaurant Brands International. 3G Capital is a Brazilian investment management firm co-founded founded by Alex Behring who is also a managing partner. He is also chairman of Restaurant Brands International, a director of Anheuser-Busch InBev, and chairman of Kraft Heinz Company.

I was joking of course, how could we guess any of this?

Restaurant Brands International--------Burger King plus Tim Hortons--------has its headquarters in Canada because it saves a lot of money taxes wise. The corporate Tax rate in the US is 39.1% compared to 26% in Canada.

Two of the largest shareholders in Restaurant Brands International are Bill Ackman and Warren Buffet.  Warren Buffet of course is well known and is worth $61.2 billion according to Forbes. Bill Ackman is poor by comparison and is worth a paltry $2.6bn. Ackman, bless his little heart, is founder of Pershing Square Capital Management.

Phew, it appears borders are not a problem when it comes to capital flow.

So, having settled who owns Burger King, we did settle it didn’t we?  I noticed that the company pulled a sneaky one on its competitors.  We all know how expensive TV ads are during major sporting events, millions of dollars for 30 seconds.  But Burger King got round advertising fees. Bloomberg Business Week points out in this weeks edition that Burger King, or Restaurant Brands International, or 3G Capital paid (help!) likely paid Floyd Mayweather $1,000,000, that’s one million dollars, to have the Burger King logo behind him as he walked out in the MGM Arena for his fight with Manny Pacquiao.

And this is not the first time the geniuses at Burger King have paid for a stunt like that avoiding multi-million dollar advertising slots.  At the Belmont Stakes, a month or so later BW reports, the Burger King mascot “popped up….in the private box of trainer Bob Baffert.”  Racing fans will know that Baffert is the trainer of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.  Not as many watched that event so I guess B King figured they could get an even better deal than. Baffert was paid $200,000 which he gave to charity apparently.

Shoukat Dhanani is very happy about this because he is the head of Houston Foods that owns approximately 460 Burger King restaurants. He just loves to feed people. That’s increased somewhat over the past year as his Houston Foods bought 260 Burger King’s off of Blackstone Group. Blackstone is the famous private equity group that was co-founded by Stephen A. Schwarzman who is worth about $13 billion He earned (well he made)  over $600 million last year.  He founded Blackstone with Pete Petersen, a former US government  Secretary of Commerce. All these guys are described as “self made” by Forbes.

So now we have figured out who owns Burger King I think its important to consider that this is a very important industry, it is the food industry. Food is very important to human beings and the men, they’re almost always men, here are very concerned about our health and put a lot of time in to providing society with a quick healthy food supply.

But honestly, I am a socialist. I do not believe the dominant industries in a society should be owned by individuals or a group of individuals. I do not believe the market, their precious market, can provide proper food, housing, education, transportation, health care, productive work, or a safe and healthy natural environment in other words, basic social needs, for the vast majority of the people in the US and the world. What we describe here is savagery. It is not civilization.  We have to stop it. 

We do not have the right to do anything we want in any civilized society. I believe we have to deny the people I describe here, and their class colleagues, of the right to do what they are doing, owning and controlling the very lifeblood of society for personal gain. Their food is rotten anyway, go eat at a mom and pop and see how much better the food is. They have a right to a healthy and productive life interacting with nature to provide what humanity needs. A prerequisite for them earning their billions is paying human beings less than $10 an hour. Here in California, $20 an hour is close to poverty wages. Their existence as social parasites, accumulating obscene wealth at the expense of humanity and nature is a right I am not ashamed to say I want to deny them.

So if you’re in Burger King and have a problem with your burger they’ve set it up so  you’ll have to talk to the shift manager, you know, the guy that get’s paid $9.87 an hour for his efforts. So give him or her a break.

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