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Unformatted text preview: can capitalism at the start of the twenty-first century — its constant stream of new products and innovations, its widening
gulf between rich and poor. The industrialization of the restaurant kitchen has enabled the fast food chains to rely upon a low-paid and
unskilled workforce. While a handful of workers manage to rise up the corporate ladder, the vast majority lack full-time employment,
receive no benefits, learn few skills, exercise little control over their workplace, quit after a few months, and float from job to job. The
restaurant industry is now America’s largest private employer, and it pays some of the lowest wages. During the economic boom of the
1990s, when many American workers enjoyed their first pay raises in a generation, the real value of wages in the restaurant industry
continued to fall. The roughly 3.5 million fast food workers are by far the largest group of minimum wage earners in the United States. The
only Americans who consistently earn a lower hourly wage are migrant farm workers.
A hamburger and french fries became the quintessential American meal in the 1950s, thanks to the promotional efforts of the fast food
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- Spring '08