Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

imageAs pressure mounts to raise the wages of fast food workers, advocates may want to take note that such wage increases eventually pass a threshold where it makes financial sense to simply invest in automation. As Grocery Store cashiers learned, these jobs are not a given. We are all competing not just with each other but with robots. 

One of the primary reasons that the gap between the rich and poor has increased so much in the past 20 years has been the rise in IT.  Once we purchase a computer, robot, etc. its capabilities – its output and productivity are owned by the buyer which increases the wealth generated by that person.

As people demand McDonalds pay workers $15 an hour and the government insists that they also provide health care, restaurant owners are increasingly evaluating whether to simply replace their work force with machines.  

Naturally, in 2017 when today’s “living wage advocate” is ordering their Big Mac from a friendly touch screen and having it delivered momentarily by a robot they’ll make no connection between how their beliefs resulted in more people living in poverty. Instead, they’ll blame McDonalds. They’ll blame greedy restaurant owners. But they won’t consider that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to price people out of their workforce.

More reading:

http://singularityhub.com/2013/01/22/robot-serves-up-340-hamburgers-per-hour/

http://www.thestar.com/business/2012/11/29/automatic_burger_machine_could_revolutionize_fast_food.html


Comments (Page 2)
on Aug 15, 2013

LightStar
$15.00 an hour! Hell I was making less than that as a college degree'd Computer Technician when I first started!

How about $1 per hour as an Architectural Draftsman? ....

on Aug 15, 2013

Alstein

The downside is if corporations do enough of this, the poor will revolt because it will be in their best interests, and everyone loses.  People use the hand they're dealt.   Then you get an overreaction in the other direction.  And yes, corporations can lose big- all it takes is a citizenry that is willing to throw out the rule of law because they see it as worthless.  When folks see the law as worthless, they are willing to turn to the tyranny of the majority.  (and that can be done via the ballot box as easily as it can via the traditional revolution these days)   This is the foundation of the social contract as developed by Bismarck and Teddy Roosevelt: the government promises a fair system in return for the citizenry not overthrowing the government.

 

Minimum wage laws by economic rule do reduce employment.   That said, if employment does not produce something that contibutes to a better life, what is the point of employment?   You can't starve your citizenry, and giving them food stamps is just another corporate subsidy (it allows companies like Wal-Mart/McD's to pay garbage wages)

 

The service industries are key in this because it's something that cannot be outsourced as much as manufacturing.   If we get to a point as a society where only 50% or less of the population needs to be employed- we need to reconsider the axiom that jobs produce enough to live on.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that you're acting as if "corporations" are some evil Neal Stephenson villain. Corporations will always act in the best interest of their shareholders within the rules of the system.  Any that don't should be and generally will be punished.  It's the exact same thing with individuals.  They will always act in a general self-interested manner, which isn't the same as selfish.  The rules of the system are set by the government.  If the system is out of whack for some reason (ie, stratification, above average unemployment, slower than average growth), it's the government that is ultimately to blame because they control the rules.  

Poorly thought out rules poorly implemented in perpetuity piled on top of the occasionally well thought out and well implemented rule lead to a system where no one can compete except for the big guys who know how to work the system and can absorb the costs of the system.  In fact this sort of environment ultimately favors big corporations because it severely hinders any potentially industry disrupting upstart companies from getting into the marketplace because they simply can't afford it.  That's not the corporation's fault.  They're just reacting to the landscape set by the government.  It's the government's fault for implementing ever more complex rules in the name of "fairness" (an arbitrary concept that can never be defined universally).  The activist government you favor benefits no one except government employees and large corporations.  Everyone else is society gets screwed.  

 

 

on Aug 15, 2013

I think the stratification issue is the biggest issue facing our society in the next generation.  The fundamental issue is that entry-level jobs have a benefit to society, but not the corporations that create them.  Therefore, if left up to the free market, the jobs won't be created, or they will go to folks who need more than a minimum-wage job.

 
 
its not corporations eliminating entry level jobs. It's the government and those who support interjecting their own concept of wht a "minimum wage" should be into what should be a private arrangement been the employee and employer.
on Aug 15, 2013

Another sickening example of

Rich getting Richer

 

I guess many Folks that do work there to sustain living since it’s not just an

"Entry level job" anymore for the low and middle class as well as kids that

Urgently need the job because they study will be happy to be replaced by a

Machine.

 

What I don´t understand is the long-time concept in that whole thing.

Soon if the salary drops again for the low earner as well as the middle class 

earner, there will be hardly any money left to buy stuff anymore.

If there is no money to spend, products won´t be bought criminality is likely to 

receive a boost. If nothing is/can be- bought from the majority of the earners there won’t be any profit at all.

 

The whole concept of replacing human work with a machine is nothing else than 

misanthropic. Even though some call it efficient i call it unsocial thinking or 

greedy bullshit.

 

Every time it happens there should be a "greed award" handed out along with a 

Insulting title that has to be displayed alongside with the company name.
 

Sure if someone is currently rich it is easy to smile about stuff like that and point the 

finger because it doesn’t affect them but if the low and the middle class breaks away 

someday it´ll be rich working lonely for the superrich.

 

I would like to get some more info from some why they think 15USD would be too much:

Frogboy for example you said that you cleaned fluid remaining´s from sewers... I

truly do not understand how you can say that someone that has to work with

Feces/Bacteria and do the job that nobody else wants to do because its gross smelly

and dirty is not worth 15USD the hour.
I would even say it should be more... Why do you think otherwise?
 

If someone is able to earn 15k USD+ on a single day for singing for dancing acting oir politics

then why should someone that has to flip burgers and be possibly insulted by customers all day not have a pay of 15USD/h?
Where is the Justice balance?
I know it is not existent since if it would we would have a more even income overall.

 

The fact is that the money from a fulltime job isn´t enough anymore for the majority that is why most of the folks run 2 jobs or even more just to

survive... And this hasn´t always to do with education some folks work on "entry

jobs" because they have no choice or are not granted the opportunity to prove

they can do more-many are overqualified for the job they do and are treated like

shit...Even though they do a good Job
 

Throwing all of them into one cup and say everyone is late or "if they actually show up to work"  or to say they do a half ass job isn’t fair.
And you should not categorize - since it has a classifying smell to it...
 

 
@Jafo and Lightstar: You guys said back in the days you´ve worked as a computer technician or as Architectural Draftsman? for only 1 dollar/h ok LS a little more – How did you survive haha
But lets be real for a second, it should be obvious that the dollar back then had much more value than the dollar today…You should have noticed that if you go and buy your food pay your taxes. And something tells me you guys are just making fun.

What im trying to say is some honest folks do work hard, give their very best simply because it is their own way of living or the way to hold/keep respect for themselves, some of them want to be able to be proud of what they have done over the day when the sun settles (  so they can pad themselves on the shoulder )

something you do not get any more from your boss or super rarely. At least I have never seen a manager at McDonalds do that to an employee.
 

If someone can explain me exactly why it would be economically wrong or unbearable to give better payment to entry level jobs or (low-mid earner class) please do so since I´m eager to know.
(But keep in mind that making such an investment would contribute into more interest / better skillset ( that was here written down as being on time and encouraged to do a good job) better service overall and possibly result in more customers/profit and it would carry a big part in balancing shit out in general.
And why would you be against a pay raise for people that have literally nothing, something like this would improve their quality of life immense, especially if you are not far from away from the equal pay class ??- simply support something like this for them and be happy if they receive it. 
Even if the Gov would force something like this- i know many company´s that are inuslted by that especially timework but those are mainly the guys that abuse and make money...If these company´s would be giving a freehand when they already have a position that has nothing to worrie about shit would get more unequal and people would work for barely nothing in the end. IM not saying every company has that  kind of relation to the employee´s but most of them do if you take a short look at the income table.


I sometimes think it is just jealousy that the high rollers are left out and do not get a pay raise?
Or companys crying croc tears - while they profit from such an investment in the end.
Some may do because the numbers were smaller when they have worked back in the day.



on Aug 15, 2013

The whole concept of replacing human work with a machine is nothing else than 

misanthropic. Even though some call it efficient i call it unsocial thinking or 

greedy bullshit.

 
Did your scribe write this or did you use a computer?
on Aug 15, 2013

Roloccolor

The whole concept of replacing human work with a machine is nothing else than 

misanthropic. Even though some call it efficient i call it unsocial thinking or 

greedy bullshit.

 

Fuck the wheel and the plow and the cotton gin and harvesting equipment.  I do my shit by hand.  Goodbye polio vaccine and smallpox vaccine and life expectancy into the 80s.  We are on the verge of having cancer beat using all of these fancy machines instead of old school alchemists, but we need jobs.  Get rid of the machines, find an alchemist somewhere.  Hell, scrap it all right now.  We'll get rid of 90% of the world's population in nothing flat due to lack of medication and starvation.  But everyone will have a job!  Let's go back to a time when we didn't replace any human work with machines.  People who lived to be 40 were "old aged" and infant mortality was 50% or higher.  That was the good old days before machines when greed didn't exist and the world operated on complete justice and fairness.  

Screw machines and the unprecedented wealth and comfort and life their use has generated for billions of people.  I want vague concepts like fairness and social justice to govern everything.  

This is exactly the sort of progressive nonsense that gets legislated into law and then in turn hurts the lives of the poor and middle class because no one bothers to think through the ramifications. Let's not think things through and just say "machines are bad".  Someone make a law saying no automation! That's the ticket and will solve all the problems our last round of good ideas created.

I was half kidding with my Directive 10-289 joke in the beginning, but here we are with people basically advocating for it.  

 

on Aug 15, 2013

Roloccolor
@Jafo and Lightstar: You guys said back in the days you´ve worked as a computer technician or as Architectural Draftsman? for only 1 dollar/h ok LS a little more – How did you survive haha

In my case it was 1974 ...I was starting third year Architecture at RMIT [part time[ and working 9to5 for $44....take home pay was 40.

'Average wage' was considerably more back then - it's a safe bet I was way below 'average'..... yet it was a 'skilled' profession.

 

The real 'hassle' regarding low wages is there's a level at which people just won't bother working at all...and will stay on whatever social security they can get.

The plus for low wages is it provides a level of potential for a person's self-respect having an accessible employment vs scabbing off the welfare cheques.

on Aug 15, 2013

When I was 14 I took a summer job at a bike shop, it payed $3.75 an hour, I worked on bikes and swept the place up.

I could not see a bike shop today hiring a kid in high school for a summer job if they had to pay $15 bucks an hour and supply health benefits on top. so much for the lil guy trying to break in to the job market..

I can see our news papers delivered by the paper boy jumping to $8 a week delivery.

 

 

 

 

on Aug 15, 2013

You have a good point Frogboy and i will have to rephrase myself if only a little... knowing that normally a job was required to write this message and even more to deliver it. Im sorry, that was way before my time and I did not had influence to change it and im sorry for those jobs lost because of the current state of technology..while I’m happy bout the Net, it is one of the greatest inventions of mankind since it includes the thought of free information and was not made out of greed. At least it wasn’t constructed on that thought.
However despite the fact that many jobs already vanished because of technology: would you please give me a good point that has nothing to do with potential money making that would justify replacing a human with a machine these days under the assumption that it would impact on society and would possibly cost lots of jobs?
OH and it has to be Non-scientific nature I could understand a replacement in that category simply because we are limited to certain things my whole thought here is more based on average work that can be done by a human these days, i didnt thought we would go from flipping burgers or cleaning feces with from a shovel to surgery or early detection of diseases since i was more focused on now then the past.
There are only very little factors can think of that justify something like that.
speaking of MCD it is clear the choice to save money or to maintain the income on the same level if not raise it while it is not necessary because there is more than enough pure profit for that food chain even if they would have to pay the 15USD/h.Therefore i mentioned Greed. On a second thought it could also have to do with hygiene of the product- but thats prob. more part of the mitigate commercial picture to make such a switch.

on Aug 15, 2013

When I started work it was a 40 hour week and my income was $44.....and 4 of that was tax.

My first "paycheck" job (I had sold papers before then) I earned $42.  And I thought that was a fortune!

 

But then penny gum was still a penny.

on Aug 15, 2013

However despite the fact that many jobs already vanished because of technology: would you please give me a good point that has nothing to do with potential money making that would justify replacing a human with a machine these days under the assumption that it would impact on society and would possibly cost lots of jobs?

Sure. Producing food.

Prior to the rise of mechanized farming, famines were common. Starvation was a regular part of life.

Mechanized farming was the single most disruptive (job wise) technological innovation in history. Where once nearly all of mankind worked the land, they were now free to pursue new things that resulted in vast improvements to the standard of living of mankind. What made this disruption relatively pain free was that it was gradual. Not everyone mechanized at once. It was a gradual progression.

We owe our current lifestyle to machines.  Our clothes. Our food. Our heating. Our cooling. Modern appliances displaced servants.  In the 19th century, even middle class people had a servant or two. The wealthy, by contrast, dedicated significant parts of their homes to housing servants.

Today, the people who might have been toiling the earth or spending their days performing drudgery are instead engineers, doctors, office workers, accountants, software developers, artists, writers, etc.

The displacement of jobs by innovation is nothing new.  What is new, however, is the increasing meddling of governments into the free market. It turns what would normally be a gradual displacement into a rapid displacement.

Had the government forced framers to pay their "farm hands" more than the cost of one of those new fangled tractors, we would have seen the mechanization of farming occur much more rapidly and a much greater difficulty of displaced farm hands to find new work.

 

on Aug 15, 2013

A machine wouldn't be too bad. At least it would speak English...

on Aug 15, 2013

Fuzzy Logic

A machine wouldn't be too bad. At least it would speak English...

 

dont matter.. the instructions will be in Japanese.

on Aug 15, 2013

Fuzzy Logic

A machine wouldn't be too bad. At least it would speak English...

 

HG_Eliminator

Quoting Fuzzy Logic, reply 27
A machine wouldn't be too bad. At least it would speak English...

 

dont matter.. the instructions will be in Japanese.

 

     

on Aug 15, 2013

Frogboy




I think the stratification issue is the biggest issue facing our society in the next generation.  The fundamental issue is that entry-level jobs have a benefit to society, but not the corporations that create them.  Therefore, if left up to the free market, the jobs won't be created, or they will go to folks who need more than a minimum-wage job.

 
 
its not corporations eliminating entry level jobs. It's the government and those who support interjecting their own concept of wht a "minimum wage" should be into what should be a private arrangement been the employee and employer.

 

I'd be ok with the government staying out of this, provided that the system didn't result in substandard wages due to market power inequality, which is a necessity condition of a free market.  Right now, the balance is power between retail workers and fast food places/Wal-Marts is not a free market situation, and it is the taxpayers who are paying the externality costs via food stamps/Medicaid for the working poor.  (basically, our current system is a subsidy to Wal-Mart as much as it is the recipients of government aid)

 

That said, a free market situation with a hyper-powerful service union vs Wal-Mart would lead to a long strike.  (and even in that case, there would be a market power inequality there- as the likely result would be higher costs passed onto consumers- it's really a triangular system between Labor, Capital, and Consumption)

 

Such an idea would be government providing everyone a sum of money on which they can live (not all that well, but live), and then abolishing the minimum wage.   You would have market power equality under such a system.  Such a system would also be more efficient than what we currently do for welfare/government aid currently.

 

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