Wendy’s (WEN) said that self-service ordering kiosks will be made available across its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year as minimum wage hikes and a tight labor market push up wages.
It will be up to franchisees whether to deploy the labor-saving technology, but Wendy’s President Todd Penegor did note that some franchise locations have been raising prices to offset wage hikes.
Now, this led to a really interesting Facebook discussion. Me in plain text, my friend in italics:
But if the wage really isn’t liveable to begin with, does it matter if it is $9 or $0?
A perfectly legitimate question, but just the same, you (generally speaking, not you in particular) still have to look at it from the employer’s perspective. I am sure you already do, but whether he cannot get workers at $9 per hour or cannot afford them at $15, the results are the same.
And from the perspective of the employee, would it really be that presumptuous of me to suggest they better their situation by acquiring more marketable skills, or honing or taking better advantage of the skills they already have?
But what about the long-term view that employers are missing. If they keep finding ways to not pay people because they are too focused on the short-term bump that comes with downsizing, automation and off-shore outsourcing, all they are doing is shooting themselves in the foot. Because eventually, all they are doing is raising unemployment and then there will be no one to buy their products. It is in the interest of them to actually keep people in their communities hired and working.
The thing is, though, that this affects certain industries more than others, so I don’t think that what you’re saying is necessarily going to be the case. That unemployment is going to affect those industries more. To illustrate, even if it got to the point that my friendly local Whataburger was entirely automated, I would still have my own job helping the more affluent among us troubleshoot their high-dollar smartphones, tablets, and computers. As for how the affluent got that way…well, they might have started at Whataburger, but they worked their way up the wage ladder gaining those more lucrative skills. It’s complicated, I know. So complicated that I just think it’s a bit simplistic to think a government-mandated minimum wage is going to make poverty disappear in this country.
It’s not. But considering a lot of government trade practices have enabled an environment where it makes financial sense to move entire factories off shore and otherwise outsource instead of hire in-house, leaving towns devasted and people scrambling for anything they can get, then there needs to be some kind of banalce. And a blanket $15 isn’t the answer because it is not necessary in areas where the cost of living is significantly less. But there will always be a need for these types of jobs and there will always be people who, by choice or other determining factor are unable to take advantage of certain higher educational opportunities and training. Should they be denied the ability to have some kind of basic quality of life that goes beyond the struggles of living paycheck to paycheck?
Now, that’s a tricky question. Such seems to imply that they have the right to such basic quality of life. And if you have a right to something like that, such necessarily implies that someone else has the obligation to provide you the means for it. I remember Senator Rand Paul riled up quite a few progressives a while back when he compared such to slavery:
“With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery.”
It might sound extreme, but I do see what he was getting at.
But you know what? I AM a small-L libertarian, but I am also a pragmatist. I realize that there’s going to be only so little that people can live on and that taxes are always going to be a thing to some extent. To that end, if the government came along and told businesses, “you pay X amount of money to your employees and we give you X amount of tax credits” to the point that the businesses came out at least a bit ahead, I might not have a big problem with that. Would that be ideal? No, but it would certainly be far preferable to the government saying, as it does now, “you pay X amount of money to your people or we send men with guns to your door, and we’re not going to help you meet that mandate, you’re just gonna have to suck it up.”
And sure, maybe Yelp should be paying more in San Francisco, but I think even that line of argument obscures a critical fact — that some, nay, MANY jobs are not meant to be and should not be construed to be jobs to raise families on.
Agreed on that point, but how much of that is the direct result of corporate downsizing, outsourcing and other not-so-employee-friendly corporate strategies that are forcing people to look at these jobs not as something to merely help fill in the blanks but as things necessary to sustain life?
That’s a good question. I will say that some companies are particularly disingenuous about this. Walmart will still sell itself as a career, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that’s been a load of crap for at least a few years. Part-time positions only, barely above minimum wage, with little to no hope of advancing to a full-time position. I worked there when I first came to San Antonio and lived by the skin of my teeth for about 15 months till I found better.
I know that drill. At least a place like McDonalds if you put your effort in will train you and give you marketable skills. My four years there in HS/college gave me an early boost to my resume. And their management training program can actually earn you masters degree credits. I can’t speak for the rest of the fast food world, but there can be career opportunity for those that want it.