Dec
05
2013

Why Big Labor thinks that McJobs are more fertile ground than Dirty Jobs.

Nick Gillespie, on the misdirected zeal of Big Labor trying to up the unemployment rate by upping the minimum wage:

While there is nothing wrong with any job, the simple fact is that nobody is going to get rich—or even comfortably middle class—if his or her main gig is punching the buttons at a McCafe. The skills necessary to work there are simply not that advanced to increase wages exponentially and the entire economy of fast food is based on keeping prices—and by extension, wages—relatively low.

Rather than focus on fast food, it would be smarter to focus where the jobs—and wages—are. There’s something on the order of 3.7 million openings (about the size of the entire minimum wage workforce) in various trades ranging from construction to carpentry to ++electrical to welding. These are jobs that are not only in high demand but pay relatively high wages, often around the median household income of $51,000. Mike Rowe, the former host of the cable show Dirty Jobs, makes a compelling case that these are exactly the sort of gigs that can secure people steady work that allows for advancement and serious benefits.

…Nick goes on to suggest that maybe unions should consider encouraging those jobs. Which is a nice thought, except that the unions in question are pretty much a core component of the Democratic caucus, and it is not in fact in the Democratic party’s best long-term interests to make largely Republican – and largely right-to-work – states look good. True, they already look good – Texas and North Dakota alone are doing yeoman’s work in keeping our economy afloat – but why should the Democratic party’s power elite make those states look even better?

What’s that? “The good of the country?” …How I envy your earnest innocence and generous heart.

Via Instapundit.

Moe Lane

PS: I assume that I don’t have to explain to everyone why raising minimum wages can be problematical in a fully-industrialized society with a flair for robotics?

7 Comments

  • Catseyes says:

    Looking forward to the first Roboburger Franchise. They will probably kill off McDonalds.

    • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

      I was talking to my family about this, maybe yesterday.
      .
      I told them that I thought the economics and the tech were a ways from being there, but that I would want to have a closer look at what the Japanese are doing to say for sure.
      .
      I’ve just realized that I could’ve said that the technology already exists, being generally marketed under the name vending machine.

  • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

    Some things humans do well, and automation does poorly. Vice versa of course.
    .
    The genius of the better fast food franchises is the engineering they put into optimizing the processes, and making the product fit the processes. They’ve made things very simple and fast, with a training requirement and mancount appropriate cheap labor. (Probably not as cheap as if labor laws weren’t pushing everything so high.)
    .
    If labor gets steadily and certainly more expensive over the long haul, I can imagine them re optimizing things for fewer people, doing more complicated things, and more expensive equipment.

  • Phil Smith says:

    Let’s assume that the typical fast food franchise is open 18 hours per day, and that we could automate an average of one required job per hour. At $15/hour that works out to just almost $100k per year. The ROI on that is easy. Order/payment kiosks are going to pop up everywhere very soon, based on the threat alone. You’d think that a president that already blamed ATMs for his problems would have enough wit to see that, but I guess not.

    I’m not as confident about robotic burger makers – that’s a whole ‘nother level of automation – but many order-taker jobs are going to be lost.

    • Crawford says:

      McDonalds uses frozen, pre-portioned patties. I don’t think they even need to be flipped, because the cooking surface is two-sided and presses down on them.
      Robots can cook burgers just fine.

  • Catseyes says:

    The tech is here now guys I look forward to my 50% Bison 50% beef burger, with fresh lettuce, onion, tomato and jalapeno mustard:

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

    And I want even have to put up with a surly robot to get it.

  • Crawford says:

    http://vimeo.com/65586234

    Depressingly empty store, though.

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