May 15, 2014 5 Comments
Last time I looked the Federal minimum wage was $7.25 an hour. In some localities it’s higher. Federally, the Democrats want to raise it to $10.10 and in Seattle they’d like to raise it to $15.00 and hour. You’re not going to do a decent job of raising a family on any of those numbers.
But then, in the real world, minimum wage jobs are either for kids learning about having a job, both the good and bad, or for people who are losers for one reason or another (no judgement implied here, it really isn’t always their fault).
In this economy there are also a lot of people with real world skills working at 1, 2, or 3 of these jobs trying to keep their heads above water. But as long as Washington goes ahead with their plans for Obamacare, overregulation of industry, green energy boondoggles, lying about inflation and all the rest, we’re going to stay stagnant at best. Welcome to Great Depression 2.0.
But that first paragraph is also a lie. Why? the minimum wage cannot be set by government fiat. The minimum wage is and always has been $0.00. That’s what you get paid when you don’t have a job. And that category has grown since the recession of 2007, it’s higher now than it ever has been
The primary supplier of those minimum wage jobs for the last half century has been fast food, McDonald’s and the like. They’ve trained entire generations of workers in the basics of having a job, and done it well. But that’s ending.
Why? Very simple, the government meddling is pricing entry-level employees out of the market. In France, where the minimum wage is $12.22 and hour (and it’s nearly impossible to fire people) every single McDonald’s has a kiosk taking the place of the cashiers. Where is the point where in America it become more economical to replace cashiers with machines? I don’t know but I’d bet McDonald’s does. They aren’t successful because of the gourmet food, they’re successful because they’re efficient.
And it not just cashiers either. Take a look at this: From the manufacturer’s website:
Our alpha machine frees up all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant
It slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.
Our next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem.
Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.
It’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.
The labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.
What they don’t say is that it doesn’t take sick days, doesn’t come to work stoned, or not show up, doesn’t need health care, and is perfectly happy to work 24/7/365, or at least close. No, I don’t know what it costs but I’d bet the payback is less than 5 years now, and if you raise wages, it gets shorter.
I didn’t look around but I’m betting somebody has a machine that does french fries too.
At that point we have an unmanned open 24 hours a day hamburger joint. Think about that. Send somebody around every day or so to refill the machines, and maybe do a little cleaning, and that’s it.
Where I come from it’s called pricing yourself out of the market, and it is nearly always fatal. Ask a buggy whip manufacture, if you can find one.
Think going to college will fix your (un)employment problem? It might, although your doctorate in gender studies isn’t going to help much. The easy days of surplus money all over the place are gone. America is going to go back to basics or starve, that means you need to be able to do something that will both earn your salary (+ benefits, if any and taxes) and return a profit on the investment your employer is making in hiring and training you. If you can’t do it, those of us who are productive, aren’t going to feel very sorry for you.
Why? Simply because we warned you.