By Coleen Smith, Staff Reporter

You don't deserve a break today, so get off your butt and get away from McDonald's! That is the message I get when I read this sign. Unfortunately, it is no aberration. It is part of a trend. These signs are starting to appear everywhere.

Fast food has always been a restaurant available to nearly anyone, unlike fancy restaurants where only the well-to-do can even afford an appetizer. You don't even have to dress up to go in. Taking your time to read the paper, eat and have a coffee has never been a problem before. Now, you will get the bum's rush if you have been there a moment longer than it takes to choke down a burger and fries, then run. Why is that? It is a part of growing hostility toward the poor.

In San Francisco, the dollar menu price at one location was raised across the board to a dollar fifty. Critics say this was done to drive away the kind of people that the fast food chain finds undesirable. Paying customers are undesirable? They've got enough for your lousy fast food, and that should be all that matters. When called on it, the McDonald's in question issued a standard boilerplate corporate denial.

Perhaps this kind of hostility is not unique to McDonald's, but a symptom of our society as a whole. Have we simply become compassionless, cruel and nasty? We seem to be better at dividing ourselves into hostile groups of "us" and "Them" wanting nothing but each other's undoing all the time. Food for thought.