As the #FightFor15 movement get fast food workers to strike in order to get a $15, and they watch businesses in Seattle closing because of the forced raise in wages. Automated cashier options are now an option to be weighed. Of course a business wants a human face to represent it. But the business wants to stay in business, so many are being forced to choose a cheaper, more sustainable option for its budget.
Would you like some microchips with that burger? McDonald’s Europe strikes another blow against human interaction by installing 7,000 touch-screen computers to take your order and money.
McDonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the U.S., adding 62,000 employees to its roster. The hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.
And this real world affect of what politicians can merely raise taxes to meet budgets with (or, on the Federal level just print more money [a dumb move BTW]) is that small business go out of business, thus affecting the poor who want jobs.
But now the option through technology is to replace workers for businesses altogether:
(Washington Policy Center) Everyone is predicting what the real world impact of Seattle’s newly passed $15 minimum wage will be. The truth is there will not be a mass exodus of businesses from the city, nor will the economy crash.
Certainly, some businesses will move or close down, consumers will pay more, some workers will receive fewer benefits and the lowest skilled workers will have a harder time finding a job because they are competing with more experienced workers.
But many businesses will simply figure out how to employ fewer low-wage workers. They will do that by substituting machines and technology for people.
Service industry CEOs have cautioned a higher minimum wage is “encouraging automation,” which can improve efficiency. Even Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates warns that a higher minimum wage would “encourage labor substitution” and incentivize employers to “buy machines and automate things” and ultimately “cause job destruction.”
He’s right. When government increases the cost of labor, employers find other ways to save money.
Just look at how McDonald’s has responded to France’s $12 an hour minimum wage. In 2011, McDonald’s invested in 7,000 touch screen computers in France to reduce the number of workers needed. Restaurants around the country are already exploring automation as a means to cut costs; Applebee’s is installing 100,000 tabletop tablets for ordering and payments.
Many food businesses are considering a machine that can freshly grind, shape and custom grill 360 gourmet burgers per hour, no human labor needed. Alpha, the burger-making robot, can even slice and dice the pickles and tomatoes, put them on the burger, add condiments and wrap it up. The manufacturer makes the point that cashiers or servers aren’t even needed: “Customers could just punch in their order, pay, and wait at a dispensing window.” The maker says Alpha will pay for itself in a year.