A few years ago, back when the $15/hour movement started, a photo started floating around the web. It wasn’t necessarily THIS photo but it looked something like this:
That’s an automated McDonald’s ordering system. The photo was intended as a threat: “Demand an honest wage,” the message went, “and we’ll just automate your job away entirely.” As with all things rich vs. poor, it’s a lie. Here’s why:
The $15/hour movement got started around 2015 (and even at that would have left countless people below the poverty line). That photo is dated 2005. This is the web; maybe it was a typo but the caption noted that it was a prototype, the wave of the future.
I don’t mean to put too fine a point on this but the concept of a for-profit business is, well, to make profit. Consider that an axiom. It means that a business should, by rights, do any and every legal thing it can do to create profit. The wealth hoarders at the top usually view the workers who generate the revenues as leeches and ALWAYS view the ‘Employee Compensation’ line on the P&L as a “problem.” (Curiously, not the ‘Executive Compensation’ part, just the ‘Worker’ part…)
That means that automation is coming whether or not the corporation pays an honest wage. There are two – and only two – considerations on the topic: dependability and public acceptance. The corporation is already chipping away at the ‘acceptance’ part by offering these kiosks as “conveniences.” (As we know, today’s “convenience” is tomorrow’s “Screw you, YOU do it!”) The very moment the ‘dependability’ part catches up, you’ll see fully automated McDonald’s everywhere you look – without regard to the pay rate of the workers.
Paying the workers an honest wage – or not – never enters into the equation. Sooner or later, those workers are going to be out of a job as a result of automation. The ONLY thing that will result from the lack of honest pay is that the workers’ plight will be worsened when they’re finally cut loose. If they were paid an honest living wage while the transition to automation occurred, they’d be better positioned to absorb the loss of that job while they find another one.
I’ll tell you this: I don’t know about you but I’m kind of tired of all of the fraudulent excuses and stories being peddled in an attempt to justify theft from the workers…