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 7)
on Sep 04, 2013

Sorry but only an idiot would buy a hamburger from a machine. Self checkouts are a failure, and many retailers have been quietly 'removing' them. Costco started testing them then realized they actually had to pay additional people to re-check items, fix errors, debug the machines, and at times, manually enter bar codes. You can still find these 'unused' Costco automated checkouts at the Auburn Hills location - pushed off to the side like some arcane relic... The vast majority of chains are removing them - as quickly as they can....

http://www.businessinsider.com/costco-is-eliminating-self-checkout-2013-6

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/story/2011-09-15/self-service-checkout/50411994/1

http://supermarketnews.com/retail-amp-financial/albertsons-llc-removes-self-checkouts

 

http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2012/06/03/19832081.html

 

Why is it so bad people are demanding fair wages? Frankly, the rest of the civilized world has much higher minimum wages, and the US is quit a ways behind. If you want to stimulate the economy the best way is to raise wages because a significant number of those making minimum pump their money back into the economy. 

What I have noticed is local economies are trumping federal wages. Orlando for example bases minimums on what Disney pays.. In my city the minimum wage is around $9 an hour. Nobody DARES pay anyone less than that or they will never find anyone to work for them. Businesses in poor areas can't be trusted to set wages so the govt. has to step in and do it. In higher end areas the market determines wage.

Sorry bud, robots aren't replacing anything. Well.. Maybe they will replace CEO's, and we'd all benefit. 

on Sep 04, 2013

sadachara
Sorry but only an idiot would buy a hamburger from a machine.

Hmmm....seems 60 years ago there were these new fangle things called Automats.

 

sadachara
Why is it so bad people are demanding fair wages?

Not a thing!  That is the beauty of a free country.  THey can always get another job.  And they will - when their labor is worth it to another employer.

on Sep 04, 2013

Wage 'worth' is too relative, it's an 'opinion' of a business, often not based on the market. For example my friend owns a popular bar. They do between $25,000-$30,000 on a Friday or Saturday night in booze. Shouldn't that merit a bunch of $20-$40 an hour employees? Surely it should, however the majority of his workforce are under $10 an hour. Pathetic. So employers often cannot be trusted to make rational labor decisions, that's why the govt needs to set minimum standards. It's also why our govt' needs to ditch the 1980's rubbish $7.25 an hour and immediately bump it to at least $12 an hour, maybe $15.. I have yet to meet a business owner that was entirely fair about wages. Most just want the cheapest people they can find, and with large populations of 'desperate' workers they sure as hell can find those cheap people. Sad really.

Also, why is Joeuser still fail after all of these years? I click on quote to reply, and it doesn't even take me down to reply, or quote anything.. What a horrid site.

on Sep 05, 2013

sadachara
Wage 'worth' is too relative, it's an 'opinion' of a business, often not based on the market. For example my friend owns a popular bar. They do between $25,000-$30,000 on a Friday or Saturday night in booze. Shouldn't that merit a bunch of $20-$40 an hour employees? Surely it should, however the majority of his workforce are under $10 an hour. Pathetic. So employers often cannot be trusted to make rational labor decisions, that's why the govt needs to set minimum standards. It's also why our govt' needs to ditch the 1980's rubbish $7.25 an hour and immediately bump it to at least $12 an hour, maybe $15.. I have yet to meet a business owner that was entirely fair about wages. Most just want the cheapest people they can find, and with large populations of 'desperate' workers they sure as hell can find those cheap people. Sad really.

Sad, indeed.  But not quite in the way you think it is.

on Sep 05, 2013

sadachara
They do between $25,000-$30,000 on a Friday or Saturday night in booze. Shouldn't that merit a bunch of $20-$40 an hour employees? Surely it should, however the majority of his workforce are under $10 an hour. Pathetic.

So what is to prevent these employees from opening their own bar, and paying those wages?  They surely would skim off the cream of the crop (who would not want to work for 2x-4x as much)?

 

And therein lies your answer.  There is nothing stopping them, they just have not risked a thing.  Your friend did.  And he has to pay those people $20-40/hour when he only does a few hundred dollars on a night.

on Sep 05, 2013

Dr Guy


Quoting sadachara, reply 93They do between $25,000-$30,000 on a Friday or Saturday night in booze. Shouldn't that merit a bunch of $20-$40 an hour employees? Surely it should, however the majority of his workforce are under $10 an hour. Pathetic.

So what is to prevent these employees from opening their own bar, and paying those wages?  They surely would skim off the cream of the crop (who would not want to work for 2x-4x as much)?

 

And therein lies your answer.  There is nothing stopping them, they just have not risked a thing.  Your friend did.  And he has to pay those people $20-40/hour when he only does a few hundred dollars on a night.

 

Good luck getting credit for that, and with their slave wages, they can't save enough to even get enough to start their own business.  This is why income inequality is bad- it's a snowballing effect- poverty is one of the most expensive things out there.

 

Also, your "friend" can pass some of those increased costs onto his customers, especially if his competition also has to pay those increased costs.

 

 

on Sep 05, 2013

Alstein
Good luck getting credit for that, and with their slave wages, they can't save enough to even get enough to start their own business.

That's the American, 'Can Do' spirit.  All those other bars just sprang up from nothing when Magic Greedy Rich Dude tapped his Wealth Wand on the ground, so 'not fair'.

on Sep 05, 2013

Alstein
Good luck getting credit for that, and with their slave wages, they can't save enough to even get enough to start their own business. This is why income inequality is bad- it's a snowballing effect- poverty is one of the most expensive things out there.

Where do you think the friend got the money from?  The bar fairy?  Most people do not win the lottery and open a bar.  They create a business plan, sell it to money backers, and borrow the money for it.  But they have to pay that money back.  And the investors want a return on their investment.

That friend is just a $10/hour bartender who had a plan.  And sacrificed for it.  He is not Bill Gates,

 

Good luck with that.

on Sep 05, 2013

Magic Greedy Rich Dude tapped his Wealth Wand

I like the bar fairy better.

on Sep 06, 2013

Dr Guy


Quoting Alstein, reply 96Good luck getting credit for that, and with their slave wages, they can't save enough to even get enough to start their own business. This is why income inequality is bad- it's a snowballing effect- poverty is one of the most expensive things out there.

Where do you think the friend got the money from?  The bar fairy?  Most people do not win the lottery and open a bar.  They create a business plan, sell it to money backers, and borrow the money for it.  But they have to pay that money back.  And the investors want a return on their investment.

That friend is just a $10/hour bartender who had a plan.  And sacrificed for it.  He is not Bill Gates,

 

Good luck with that.

 

You need a certain amount of capital/collateral to get the loan.   Nowadays many folks can't even get that collateral from the service sector.

 

You need money to make money.  Poverty's expensive.

on Sep 06, 2013

Alstein
You need money to make money. Poverty's expensive.

It definitely does help, But is not a requirement.  And there are ways to save even on the "slave wages" of $10/hour.  I know, I have.

on Sep 07, 2013

$10/hr is high for slave wages, it's usually 8 at most.

 

 

on Sep 10, 2013

Good luck getting credit for that, and with their slave wages, they can't save enough to even get enough to start their own business.  This is why income inequality is bad- it's a snowballing effect- poverty is one of the most expensive things out there.

 

Exactly. The entire system is rigged to keep people from doing exactly that. They are so busy working 50 hours a week, barely paying their living expenses, and they are supposed to magically find 4 million in financing?

The fact is most business owners want to pay as little as possible so they can keep the biggest chunk possible. If they find 'suckers' to pay bottom dollar for, they will hire them. This is why we need govt. regulation to keep the wages reasonable, a base line. $7.25 is ludicrous, and needs to be doubled immediately.

I read a story of a worker that worked at a place for 12 years, and over that 12 years he never got a single wage other than the federally mandated minimum wage increases.  The owner of that company should be shot for paying the guy the same for 12 years, that's inhumane. But these owners/ceos will continue to do this, which is why we need regulation.

Automation is largely a failure, and will continue to be a failure. I am laughing at all of the money these companies wasted to automate, and then they have to scrap these expensive machines after a few years.

on Sep 10, 2013

sadachara
they are supposed to magically find 4 million in financing?

For a pub?  Damn.  I know permits & whatnot are a tough nut in some places, but...

on Sep 10, 2013

sadachara
then they have to scrap these expensive machines after a few years.

Not necessarily.  Demand/satisfaction with self-checkout was overestimated/oversold but it won't go away.  One employee can manage 4 kiosks, maybe more, and I still prefer self-checkout about 15-20% of the time, especially when I have only a few items - almost always get out of Dodge quicker.  Most of the time, I'll use a conventional checkout lane but that doesn't mean self-checkout has zero appeal.  It will remain one of your checkout options for some time to come for many retailers.

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