If it was cheaper, every business would automate as many tasks as possible through machinery instead of human labor. Not only would it be cheaper – a robot can’t show up late for work. It can’t get frustrated, slack off, get distracted, or argue with customers.
In raising the minimum wage, the gap between the costs of automation vs. human labor shrinks, and in many cases, reverses. According to the former CEO of McDonalds Ed Rensi, if the Fight for Fifteen get their way, they can kiss their jobs goodbye. As he stated on Fox Business: “I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries — it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe.”
He continues, “It’s not just going to be in the fast food business. Franchising is the best business model in the United States. It’s dependent on people that have low job skills that have to grow. Well if you can’t get people a reasonable wage, you’re going to get machines to do the work. It’s just common sense. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. And the more you push this it’s going to happen faster.”
He has a solution of his own in the minimum wage wars; “I think we ought to have a multi-faceted wage program in this country. If you’re a high school kid, you ought to have a student wage. If you’re an entry level worker you ought to have a separate wage. The states ought to manage this because they know more [about] what’s going on the ground than anybody in Washington D.C.”
If artificial intelligence ever becomes a reality, one of the first things robots will do is lobby for a higher minimum wage.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]