The opening paragraph of this CNNMoney piece (over one year ago) perfectly captures a growing sentiment that I’ve seen making the rounds more frequently of late:
As protesters across the country call for the fast-food chains to raise their wages, a number of companies have begun experimenting with new technology that could significantly reduce the number of restaurant workers in the years to come.
Do you see the beautifully subtle, nuanced blame-shifting going on there? It’s the minimum wage workers and those protesting on their behalf who are, we’re supposed to believe, forcing companies to experiment with new technology. If said workers and protesters would just keep their traps shut and work tirelessly for poverty level wages, their benevolent corporate overlords might just look the other way and not concern themselves with squeezing another penny into next year’s EPS. I see this blame-the-worker meme growing and being more widely circulated in the past few months as the minimum wage has come more front and center. So, allow me to say this:
Give me a fucking break.
I’ll take a wild guess that the fellows below didn’t protest for higher wages, but I haven’t seen any of them around recently.
Has anyone seen this lovely lady around in the last few decades:
There may be a few of these guys left, but not many:
And it’s not just a low tech phenomenon. Below are traders on an atypically busy day on Wall St.
The point is simply this:
Wages and salaries are part and parcel of running a business. Companies are (generally) going to try to minimize them (along with all other expenses) to the extent possible (with the notable exception of senior management types, who will continue to bilk the system for all they can get). Some companies – as Barry documented here – will pay their workers so low a wage that their employees need to avail themselves of various forms of public assistance. This is shameful and should be addressed.
Technology is going to advance whether employees protest for higher wages or not. Automation will replace some $7.25/hour workers who haven’t so much as uttered a syllable about their pay, no less asked for it to go to $15/hour.
This scare tactic – suggesting that workers should consider themselves lucky to have their jobs and just shut up and do them lest they be replaced by a machine – is just that, a scare tactic. It will or won’t happen depending on what some green-visored bean counter (wait, they’re gone, too?) says after running a cost/benefit analysis on his
abacus calculator Excel spreadsheet. So let’s stop pretending it’s a punishment to be imposed on those fighting for a higher wage. It’s not.
Oh, one final thing. If this guy is ever at your front door, you may want to call 9-1-1.