Invisible Harmful Consequences of High Minimum Wage
It is almost, but not quite, idiot-proof. There were no cashiers up front, but a kind assistant manager came out from behind the counter and talked me through the navigation.
The big takeaway is that McDonald’s and other fast food chains are almost, but not quite, in the mercy of pandering Progressives who impose their will to enact a higher minimum wage. It appeared that no more than four or five workers were running the whole operation when we visited during the lunch rush.
Thank goodness employees have valiant Democrats protecting us from greedy companies. Unfortunately, that requires protecting some of us from employment itself.
It’s a sad story when a young person never gets that first job, never gets an opportunity to demonstrate a solid work ethic and punctuality. It corrodes their self-image, and frequently contributes to substance abuse and criminal lifestyles. It’s hard on families and relationships.
As Allie Beth Stuckey has said, work is not a necessary evil. It is a necessary good. The absence of honorable work creates a vacuum, which vacuum will be filled by something. If not crime, perhaps political extremism.
Somebody will pay for developing a class of unemployed and unemployable young people, but it will not be the cynical Progressive politicians. Unemployed, unskilled young people are not likely to diagnose the reason for their unemployment unless they have taken some upper-level economics in college, which is the genius of the Democrats’ position.
They’ll demand and get lavish praise from the beneficiaries of a higher minimum wage, but they will never be held accountable for the devastating effect of their legislation on new, unskilled workers and their families and communities. That will result from racism, underfunded public instruction or the ever-popular”greedy corporations.”
There was a 2012 fast food strike in nyc, but it got limited traction in the moment. I would say that the minimum wage groundswell started in the Progressive precincts of the Pacific Northwest a few years later. Ballot initiatives imposed some of the minimum wage increases, and some were enforced by city councils.
My job took me through Seattle frequently during this period. In the months following Seattle enacted a stout minimum wage increase, I noticed that several small family-owned restaurants had closed. Kiosks can not wash dishes and bus tables yet.
But down the shore in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, smart engineers and coders were devising the technology that would save the restaurant industry from slumping high wages. Good for them, good for the restaurant owners, catastrophic for young, inexperienced employees.
The move to automation, once made, is irreversible. Consider the benefits to an owner: no payroll, no social security contribution, no scheduling play, no instruction, no slip-and-fall or spine injuries, no embarrassing racial accusations, and no #MeToo claims of sexual harassment. The kiosk gives the employer peace of mind, not only financial benefits.
Needless to say, the rest of the back-of-the-house workers can not be replaced by a machine. Yet.
The Democratic platform advocates increasing the current $7.25 national minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Rep. Keith Ellison and Sen. Bernie Sanders have introduced legislation to automatically increase the national minimum wage from that $15, based on median national wage growth. Ellison’s measure would also outlaw the practice of paying tip workers less than the minimum wage. There are, lamentably, already kiosks at restaurant tables, eliminating opportunities for single moms and college kids.
Even President Donald Trump has said he favors an increase to $10 per hour. So the handwriting is on the wall. The fast food chain executives are not paranoid, just rational. They don’t want to go broke. They do not want to get fired by stockholders. There will be a lot more kiosks, and a lot fewer employees.