The last half of the twentieth century witnessed the development of many fast food chains. None were as successful as McDonald’s at maximizing profit and minimizing cost. The rapid growth of McDonald’s from one small store in 1948, to its first restaurant in 1955, to its worldwide dominance and market saturation at the turn of the twenty-first century, is a story of capitalist enterprise, sometimes at its worst and (to its shareholders) sometimes at its best. The business practices of McDonald’s are, to put it kindly, slightly suspect. By keeping employee wages low and refraining from hiring full time workers, the company was able to save money on health care packages and employee benefits. In addition, McDonald’s was able to gain ground on its competitors in the 1970’s when a depression caused most other fast food chains to halt their growth. McDonald’s used its superior resources to continue to grow and expand. Now, the restaurant is perhaps the greatest symbol of contemporary American capitalism. By saturating nearly every market it has entered, McDonald’s now envisions itself as a stabilized company, not as interested in entering new markets as they are in exploiting those markets in every way available to them. The company is also more able to respond to consumer demands that, earlier in its existence, would have been impossible. But as one of the most powerful businesses in the world, McDonald’s can pretty much do as it pleases- an advantage that has come to characterize the history of the business. When it comes to the environment, McDonald’s irresponsibility toward the effects of their business practices is highly evident. These effects counter their recent efforts at cultivating a "green" image. However, they remain almost hidden behind that glossy green picture of McDonald’s. Once uncovered, it is apparent that McDonald’s is not such a friendly neighbor to the environment. They pride themselves on leading the industry in...
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