Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The McDonald's factor

Putin warns US against attacking Iran (Associated Press headline)

Colin Gray had a bit of fun with the notion that democracies don’t target other democracies: 'Hamburger heaven: countries with "McDonald's" do not fight each other'(Cox et al 1999, The Interregnum, p. 196). Given the testy attitude of Mr Putin with respect to nukes in Iran, pipelines in the Caspian basin, and missile defenses in eastern Europe, this notion might actually assume some importance.

We learned last year that the downfall of the Soviet Union was heralded by the opening, in January 1990, of the Micky D restaurant in Pushkin Square. Now I read (in the Wall Street Journal, where else?) that the company’s Russian stores—there are now 180 of them—are its busiest, with each location serving 850,000 customers annually, more than double the company’s average.

There is evidence that opening a McDonald’s does not equate to developing a liberal democracy: getting permission for a new store can take up to 200 signatures from local officials. (I wonder how that compares to France, say?) Russia poses other problems as well. Real estate prices have gone up tenfold in urban areas in the past ten years; there are no so few unemployed in Moscow and St Petersburg that it’s difficult to find qualified workers (by contrast, 27,000 Muscovites applied for 630 jobs at opening of the Pushkin Square restaurant); and Russian food supplies proved so dodgy that Micky D had to build a $45 million plant to process its own hamburger patties, buns, and potato slivers. There is also some cultural massaging to be done: opening its first drive-through counter in 1996, the company discovered that customers were buying their meals at the drive-through, parking their automobiles, and going inside to eat. (WSJ 16 Oct 2007 p. 1+)


At 3:27 PM, Blogger Pcasso said...

This is an interesting site. I'm curious as to how you found my blog. Usually only people I know comment on it.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Dan Ford said...

Flying Tigers, most likely. I have a Google Alert on the American Volunteer Group that fought in Burma and China in 1941-1942, so every morning I get a feed on what's being said about Tigers (including the Lakeland FL team!). Blue skies! -- Dan Ford


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