Fmr. McDonald’s USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour

English: A Quarter Pounder w/Cheese from McDonald's, as sold in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon to be made by a robot near you!

Well, of course, it is. That’s simple common sense, and government can try, but the market wins every time. Look I wrote about this a bit over two years ago, here, and if anything has changed, it’s not for the better.

Here’s the takeaway quote for you:

“I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries — it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe,” said former McDonald’s (MCD) USA CEO Ed Rensi during an interview on the FOX Business Network’s Mornings with Maria.

He also said this, which is also true, although in truth we’d be better off if we simply left it to the market.

“I think we ought to have a multi-faceted wage program in this country. If you’re a high school kid, you ought to have a student wage. If you’re an entry level worker you ought to have a separate wage. The states ought to manage this because they know more [about] what’s going on the ground than anybody in Washington D.C.,” he said.

Here’s the link along with the warning that it’s got an autoplay video on it. It’s a good video, though.

via Fmr. McDonald’s USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour | Fox Business

Look none of this is rocket science done with a slide rule, it’s simple common sense. I realize that politicians with common sense are an endangered species, but this will harm those who are already hurting the most, especially our minorities. Strange, I’m a conservative white guy, how come I care more about those young black guys than all the liberal Democrats (and Bernie Sanders) put together?

Why, Indeed?

 

Then and now

Directors_of_the_Union_Pacific_Railroad_on_the_100th_meridian_approximately_250_miles_west_of_Omaha,_Nebr._Terr._The_tra_-_NARA_-_530892Well, we’ve all seen the movies and TV shows about building railroads in the nineteenth century, the armies of men, the towns, usually called “Hell on Wheels’ for good reason. and all the rest. The picture above is from my neighborhood, and without that railroad, there wasn’t any purpose for anybody to live out here, except maybe to hunt buffalo.

But we don’t build railroads like that anymore, Here’s how it’s done now

But if you were paying attention, you noticed those rails weren’t drilled to bolt together. That’s because there is a better way.

And, by the way, those armies of men, and the women who followed them, had to find other ways to make a living over the years, just like is happening now to many of our low skilled laborers, a few highly skilled and paid men, with the proper machinery, can do a better job, and do it cheaper than a horde of unskilled employees. And that means lower prices for us all.

How (Real) Capitalism Works

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of interesting things here, relating to capitalism, and just how very far we’ve come in the last few hundred years.

First off Deidre McClosky is in the process of explaining how we got so rich. From the Spectator, UK.

Deirdre McCloskey has been at work for many years on a huge project: to explain why the world has become so much richer in the past two centuries, and at an accelerating rate since 1945. This is the third and final volume in the series. In it she argues that ‘our riches were not made by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea’. The Great Enrichment, which she dates from 1800 to the present, depends on the spread of ideas of liberty, seeded in a series of ‘egalitarian accidents’ in European politics between 1517 and 1789.

The liberalism she describes operates in a very narrow free zone, hemmed in by what she calls the ‘clerisy’ — critics on left and right alike who do not accept a full version of liberalism — and roughly a third of the text sees McCloskey, vorpal sword in hand, slaying the dragons of the state. But she’s fighting enemies from the past: her side has won the battle. Globalisation, neo-liberalism, the expansion of monetary assets and instant internet communication have spawned a new world order without any state powerful enough to contain it.

A couple of notes here, unless I’m mistaken, she’s referring here to classical liberalism, not the socialistic nonsense we hear now on both sides of the Atlantic. And she has much right, although I find the adjective European, misleading at best because it has little to do with Europe, it is the classical form of the British and American ‘rule of law’ that has made it so. There’s a reason why the industrial revolution happened first in that ‘nation of shopkeepers’ and then why they financed it here. More later on that.

[…] The world today produces 70 times more goods and services worldwide than in 1800. McCloskey gives imaginative examples of the improved standard of living by looking at the products in one’s room, starting with ‘the 20 ballpoint pens stuffed into a mass-produced coffee cup, pens and cups greatly cheapened after the second world war’. I have just that on my desk. Citizens of the most prosperous half of the world are hundreds of times better off than they were even in 1900 or 1945, and that standard of living is spreading quickly to the poorer places on the planet. A small refrigerator at Home Depot today costs 15 hours of work: at Sears in 1956 it cost 116 hours.

The history of western capitalism does owe a great deal to the onward march of ideas of liberty. But it’s not the whole story. The greatest expansion of capitalism, the Chinese economic miracle, has taken place under a very restrictive communist regime.

Except the Chinese form of capitalism bears about as much resemblance to real capitalism as does that of Mussolini. I wonder what the Chinese could do if the government got out of their way. And finally:

Unbridled liberalism on a global scale today has little in common with its portrait in this book. It has exploded its limiting conditions to make the whole world economy a giant speculative game. It looks, to this member of the clerisy, to be a threat to the society that spawned it.

All from: How capitalism really works

And that’s one problem with the British, and increasingly, with us as well. We’ve forgotten how we got rich, and now we’re getting poorer because we aren’t doing those things anymore. Instead, we’re copying the Chinese, God help us!


You’ve likely heard that Beyoncé’s clothing line is produced in Sri Lankan sweatshops. Well, that’s a shame, It’s also what happens in every single industrializing country, not excluding the UK and the US. When labor is plentiful and jobs are few labor gets paid less, always. And by the way, if Trump gets his tariffs, those jobs won’t be coming back, but the prices will be going up probably far more than the tariff rate, and a good many of those sweated seamstresses (who in actuality make far more than most of their neighbors) will revert to the real minimum wage, which is $0. And there is this.

In 2001, Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman Paul Krugman, whose written some of the most effective defenses of so-called sweatshops — “bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all” — explained why these efforts were insanity:

In 1993, child workers in Bangladesh were found to be producing clothing for Wal-Mart, and Senator Tom Harkin proposed legislation banning imports from countries employing underage workers. The direct result was that Bangladeshi textile factories stopped employing children. But did the children go back to school? Did they return to happy homes? Not according to Oxfam, which found that the displaced child workers ended up in even worse jobs, or on the streets — and that a significant number were forced into prostitution.

When VICE reached out to a Sri Lanka labor expert, no doubt expecting him to describe some soul-crushing hellhole, it got a pretty tepid response. “MAS [the factory] are essentially top of the range in terms of labour conditions in Sri Lanka,” Dr. Kanchana Ruwanpura of the University of Edinburgh told VICE. “They’re brilliant factories in terms of the build space and the attention they usually pay to the codes they work with. However, I would say that when it comes to wages and freedom of association, MAS don’t do a very good job.”

So, after having to grapple with two inconvenient facts — 1) that salaries at MAS are better than prevailing wages in Sri Lanka, and 2) that the factory is probably a relatively modern and safe place to work[…]

Lots more on this at: Beyonce’s ‘Sweatshops’ Do More For The Poor Than You Ever Will

And that is the pure and unvarnished truth. It’s not optimum but it’s better for these people than it ever has been. So why would we not want to help them? As Daniel Harsanyi says in the article:

In fact, if you want to help the world’s impoverished, you should probably buy her products. The more demand there is for tight-fitting, overpriced celebrity clothing lines, the more factories Sri Lankans will have to work in. As those workers have more choices, salaries will rise and so will the quality of life. This competition will impel employers to increase productivity and, if Sri Lanka doesn’t revert to its old ways, the economy will grow. The children of these workers will turn to white-collar professions. And before you know it, factories will be taken over by automatons and the Sri Lankan middle class will grumble about how the Indonesians are stealing their jobs.

This process might not sit will with the empathetic American liberal, and it might not happen as quickly as we’d like, but it’s how the world works.

 

How The New E-Cig Rules Hurt Americans

Some Kills

Some Kills (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may have noticed that the FDA recently decided that E-cig should be regulated (by themselves, natch) as tobacco products. Frankly, it doesn’t make much sense to me, maybe because I expect tobacco products to contain, well, I don’t know, tobacco, maybe.

Jared Meyer wrote about this the other day in The Federalist, here’s some of it.

Most people agree minors should not have access to products that contain substantial levels of nicotine (and “substantial” is used because many foods contain trace amounts of nicotine). But, in focusing on this move, commentators are missing how the FDA’s new regulations will destroy 99 percent of an industry that offers an option the Royal College of Physicians finds is 95 percent safer than cigarettes.

We Don’t Care About Your Health

The FDA’s regulations will force all e-cigarette products to go through the costly and time-consuming premarket tobacco product application process, a step that all but the big tobacco companies will not be able to comply with. (For more on how the FDA’s approval process will harm innovation and consumers, see my previous E21 article).

The fundamental reason FDA placed the public at greater risk of the health problems that come with smoking traditional cigarette was that it cannot pass up on a chance to expand its power. As the tortured language of the regulation shows, the FDA recognizes that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, but refuses to admit their potential positive consequences. Instead, the agency twists congressional intent in its deadly power grab.

The FDA recognizes that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, but refuses to admit their potential positive consequences.

Last week Nicopure Labs, an e-cigarette company, filed a lawsuit against the FDA that argued the agency’s dictates violate free speech by prohibiting e-cigarette makers from advertising that their products are smoke-free or safer than cigarettes. When addressing public comments on page 248 of the regulation, the FDA preemptively brought up this legal challenge by writing, “A few comments expressed concern that imposition of section 911 of the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act] will force e-cigarette manufacturers to implicitly lie by not permitting them to tell consumers that their products are safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes, to advertise that they do not contain tobacco, and to state that they are ‘smoke free.’”

The FDA replied to the objection by stating, “Section 911 is one of the provisions of the statute that applies automatically to deemed products. It was included in the FD&C Act to protect consumers from manufacturers making invalid or unsubstantiated claims, as many had done with respect to their designation of cigarettes as ‘light,’ ‘low,’ or ‘mild.’”

via How The New E-Cig Rules Hurt Americans

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that while government talks a good game about wanting us to quit smoking, they don’t really, smokers pay for a good bit of the FDA, and they provide a lot of money to both the local and federal government. Do you really think the cost of a pack of Marlboros is all that much greater now when they cost at least $5.00 than when the cost about 35¢? Nope, almost all of that difference goes to the government(s). If everybody quit smoking today, they’d be broke beyond fixing next month.

In full disclosure, I’ve been a smoker since the 60s, when all the cool kids smoked, probably averaging about 2-2½ packs a day, a good part of the time on non-filtered Pall-Malls. I always enjoyed it, and in fact, still do occasionally, although now I’m more likely to indulge in a fairly decent cigar. How did I get to that point? Easy answer, E-cigarettes. It’s very true, they allowed me to very easily quit smoking, and yes, my health has improved a lot. My stamina isn’t what it was when I was 20, but it’s a reasonable comparison to what it was at 45. I rarely cough anymore, where it was constant before, and in general, I just feel much better. And you know what else? When I was smoking, I spent around $20 a day on the habit, now I spend roughly $50 a month on its replacement. To me, that’s quite a product, that can do so much for me. And yes, I tried all the (very expensive) replacement programs too, I likely spent something like $1000 on trying (unsuccessfully) to quit smoking.

Not a good thing for either the FDA or ‘Big Tobacco’. So in true crony-capitalist fashion, it looks to me like they decided to destroy something, by taxing it out of existence, that has the usefulness to destroy one, and damage the other. And the Health of the Public, be damned, our money is much more important.

About those health benefits, the Royal College of Physicians had some things to say, these are just the ones that caught my eye, the paper is linked below.

  • Smoking is the biggest avoidable cause of death and disability, and social inequality in health, in the UK.
  • Quitting smoking is very difficult and most adults who smoke today will continue to smoke for many years.
  • NRT is most effective in helping people to stop smoking when used together with health professional input and support, but much less so when used on its own.
  • E-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking.
  • However, the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.
  • Rather, the available evidence to date indicates that e-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively as safer alternatives to smoked tobacco, by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.
  • A regulatory strategy should, therefore, take a balanced approach in seeking to ensure product safety, enable and encourage smokers to use the product instead of tobacco, and detect and prevent effects that counter the overall goals of tobacco control policy.
  • The tobacco industry has become involved in the e-cigarette market and can be expected to try to exploit these products to market tobacco cigarettes, and to undermine wider tobacco control work.
  • However, in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK.

From Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction

The FDA’s approach is very suspect because it goes against the best available evidence, which I think is brought out by the RCP paper. The FDA’s approach in collusion with the tobacco companies is, in fact, against the best interests of the taxpayers, and will cause more smokers to die of tobacco-related diseases.

The Rising of 16

pizapcom146219386145812Jessica and I are both rather taken with Ruth Davidson, the leader of the conservative opposition in the Scottish Parliament. Jess wrote about her, here, and she just keeps sounding better and better. For instance, last Sunday, writing on one of my favorite British blogs, A Conservative Woman, Tom Gallager said this.

The SNP’s [Scotish National Party] membership swelled during the referendum which David Cameron carelessly gifted to Alex Salmond when he was First Minister, on terms that suited the SNP. Militant activists from post-industrial west-central Scotland now dominate the party. The new party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, sought to appease them by talking up the chances of another vote on Scotland’s constitutional future in an otherwise lacklustre campaign.

The Scottish Tories have got a capable team who often sound authentic because many can relate to the farmers, housewives, small business people, owner occupiers and aspirational young people overlooked by the SNP in favour of urban activist groups.

Months on the stump under a massively popular young leader, Ruth Davidson, have persuaded a lot of Scots to take a fresh look at the Tories and not dismiss them as class-ridden, out-of-touch and anti-Scottish.

Like Labour before it, a mediocre SNP has ramped up the anti-Tory rhetoric to make up for its glaring deficiencies during 9 years in office. But outside some Clydeside areas, this opportunistic tactic has obtained diminishing returns.  Six Tories have been elected for single constituencies instead of relying on salvation by getting a place on the list system which makes voting in Scotland roughly proportional. They include Davidson herself in Edinburgh, Adam Tomkins in Glasgow, an academic who played a formidable role in the 2014 referendum, and a swathe of new MSPs right across southern Scotland.

via Tom Gallagher: The SNP is obsessed with social engineering – The Conservative Woman

Yep, and you know, part of what I detest about politics here, and in Britain as well, is all the negativity and campaigning by running down your opponent. Since Jess moved to Edinburgh (and had the pleasure of voting for Ms. Davidson, which I envy) I’ve been watching the Scottish news fairly regularly, and if anything Ms. Sturgeon comes off worse to me than Tom says above.

Not much of that with Ms. Davidson. She seems to be all about responsible government, improvements, especially in education, Britain’s educational system is in almost as bad shape as ours, and for the same reasons, mostly. Tom also made this point.

The SNP is dominated by lawyers and managerial types who along with mobilised minorities have sought to turn Scotland into a laboratory for  ever more radical forms of equality laws, which are a screen for heavy state control of society by ‘experts’ and overseers.

It is well-known that Ruth Davidson is a lesbian, less well-known that she is a practising Christian who has boosted the appeal of her party by offering common sense answers to problems rather than ideological prescriptions. She is committed to making government more transparent and less centralised and arbitrary. With this approach she struck a chord with numerous Scots throrougly fed up with SNP autocracy.

The Scottish Tories are stronger in terms of brains, experience and broad appeal than any of their competitors. This is quite a turn around for a political force written off by academics and media commentators as moribund or from another age. They will make their presence felt in the committee system of parliament where the SNP has been able to ram through civil service blueprints for turning Scotland into a thoroughly state-controlled entity.

As I said to Jess recently, Davidson portrays conservative parties as they should be, both here and there. What I said was this, “The party of productive people at all levels, and all (how do I say this) lifestyles.” because as conservatives, we know that what you do at home isn’t our business, it’s yours, and likely something for you to take up with God, not the politicos. That to me is the worst part of the very leftist SNP, they really do want to stick their nose in your bedroom.

But let Ruth Davidson speak for herself.

Too often, our parliament has focused on the powers it hasn’t got and on endless debates about the constitution.

The time for that is over.

Whatever else Nicola Sturgeon has, she doesn’t have a mandate to drag independence back to the forefront of political debate.

This is one area where I will be uncompromising. There can be no excuse for the SNP to continually hold our country to ransom.

We’ve had enough of the grievance. Enough of the dog-whistle politics which always seeks to lay the blame at Westminster. Enough of the clumsy attempts to claim that whatever the problem in Scotland is, the answer is independence.

The SNP were sent a clear message last week.

The people of Scotland asked them to govern for five more years.

In denying them an overall majority, the voters put them on a shorter leash.

The SNP need to focus on the day job. Making sure they do will be my guiding mission for the next five years.

via: Ruth Davidson: I will work with the SNP as opposition leader – But there will be NO second referendum on my watch

My sort of conservative, she is!

The title? Well, if you know your history, you’ll know that in 1715, there was a rebellion in Scotland against King George I, attempting to restore to the Throne King James II, after King George had purged the Tories from government, and amongst other things, imprisoned in the Tower Robert Harley, for supposed financial mismanagement. The rebellion succeeded for a time in Scotland under the earl of Mar but ultimately failed, almost everyone was pardoned, except for Rob Roy MacGregor, eventually, the entire Clan Gregor was mostly suppressed, many coming to America. In fact, MacGregor, Iowa is named for the clan. The rebellion has come down to us as ‘The Rising of 15’.

And that made me think of a few line from Walter Scott’s poem Glenfinlas

Not so, by high Dunlathmon’s fire,
Thy heart was froze to love and joy,
When gaily rung thy raptured lyre
To wanton Morna’s melting eye.

Angry and afraid, Moy replies,

And thou! when by the blazing oak
I lay, to her and love resign’d,
Say, rode ye on the eddying smoke,
Or sail’d ye on the midnight wind?

Not thine a race of mortal blood
Nor old Glengyle’s pretended line;
Thy dame, the Lady of the Flood—
Thy sire, the Monarch of the Mine.

Spring Cleaning

woman_spring_cleaning1Time to do a bit of spring cleaning. I keep finding far more things that would make good posts than I ever have time to write about, so here are some of them.

You and your monkey brain.

Our friend, and our enemy: Time, itself.

Why is productivity so low?

Why Apple is so annoying.

Do we want high-paying manufacturing job? Maybe we should learn from Indiana.

How the way we teach American History got so screwed up, and how to fix it.

What made Ronald Reagan great.

Mr. Lincoln goes to London, or does he?

David Cameron loses the plot, or did he ever know it?

Love Game of Thrones? Then you must love history whether you know it or not.

Suzannah Lipscomb tells you how it is recycled British history, mostly!

And the Irish, sensible folk that they are, are building a statue of the Duke, and Maureen O’Hara, as they appeared in our favorite movie: The Quiet Man.

And finally, quit whining, nobody owes you a job or anything else!

 

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