Hillary is raising the cheers of crowds by championing the promise to support minimum wage at $15 per hour. But the protectors of profits within the service industry are worried that this higher minimum wage will destroy their companies.
Whether this concern about the potential to lose market share and profits is real or not, it parallels and may be accelerating the improving technology capability which is creating self-serve kiosks, automation and robotics that can replace fast-food workers. The trend is obvious. Just search the net or read any business press. The day of replacing fast-food workers with automation and robotics is upon us. Can we stop it? No. Should we stop it? No. So why this Nugget?
What concerns me is the question about, “What happens when the ‘dust’ settles?” Let’s go back a few decades.
When President Bill Clinton signed trade agreements the work sector was a completely different environment than what we have today. Back then, because there was a great number of great-paying manufacturing jobs, there also was a lot of service jobs. Depending on which reference you cite, the ratio of service jobs for every good-paying manufacturing job ranged from 5:1 to 7:1. With all those service jobs, people from the manufacturing sector would have to settle with a lower-paying but highly available service job. Bill Clinton, and Bush afer him, must not have anticipated that those service jobs would also evaporate when manufacturing jobs left the country.
When a good-paying manufacturing job is lost, for any reason, such as the signing of preferential trade deals with Mexico and China, for each manufacturing job lost we also lost anywhere from 5 to 7 service jobs. As the manufacturing-job exodus accelerated to Mexico and China, those highly skilled, talented, hard-working, high-income earners who were left without jobs descended upon the service sector, and particularly the remaining fast-food sector jobs. Those fast-food jobs, almost suddenly became battle grounds between the displaced, talented, full-time manufacturing employees who were laid off or fired, and school kids who wanted, and still need and want, those same jobs as a foundation to prove they are capable workers as they transition from holding those jobs to help build their credentials and cash for school and future employment. With the vacating of plants and good-paying jobs the battleground in America developed between workers needing 2 and 3 jobs to save their homes and families and school kids needing workplace references to get good-paying jobs upon graduation. This battle will worsen as automation and robotics encroaches upon the fast-food service sector.
In short, it is ugly out there in the battle for the few remaining fast-food service jobs. It’s going to get much, much worse.
For many years we have been given hints that the number of jobs, and the employed in the service sector, was going to implode through automation and robotics in the workplace. Your politicians have been ignoring this warning, or at least it appears that way. Ask a politician about his or her plan to provide jobs for the next phase of worker displacement and you’ll get a glazed-over look as his or her mind goes catatonic. Don’t let your politicians plead ignorant to this evolution, nor distracted by other less important issues such as global warming which is nothing more than another tax you will bear but this time on the air you breathe. The point is: politicians should have been doing everything possible to “bring jobs back to America” instead of distracting you with empty promises and away from the implosion of jobs in America.
Articles have been warning for decades about the loss of jobs because of automation and robotics. But decades ago we didn’t concern ourselves with these warnings. Decades ago it didn’t seem like much of a threat to the employed. Back then, great-paying manufacturing jobs were plentiful, unions which protected jobs were strong, and the economy as an entity was in an expansionary phase. Work was plentiful and employment promised to be that of a lifetime. Back then it appeared as mere science fiction that automation and robots would someday replace workers.
It started to get real after the signing of trade deals. It began to accelerate about 5 years ago as technology and programming became more sophisticated. The threat is made more real with articles such as this one at CNN Money: See: http://money.cnn.com/2014/05/22/technology/innovation/fast-food-robot/
It’s no longer science fiction or something of the future. It’s here, now.
There is no alternative but to adopt this technology in the short-term. It is not possible to resist the move to automation and robotics. And you can’t blame the demand for higher wages as the cause, nor the trigger. It was destined to happen regardless of the influences.
Companies must move to automation and robotics to produce more output at the lowest costs possible. That’s the mandate of corporations and business. Even if there was no call to raise minimum wages, the jobs in the service sector, the fast-food business for sure, would disappear and do so as the capability of automation and robotics increases.
One company that manufactures a hamburger-making robot explains, “Our first device makes gourmet burgers from scratch with no human interaction. These burgers are fresh-ground and grilled to order and accented by an infinitely personalizable variety of produce, seasoning, and sauces. Serving a burger this great at such affordable prices would be impossible without culinary automation.” See End Note 1 [The highlighting is mine for emphasis.]
To see a few variations of robots in the fast-food industry, take a moment to view the link I am providing for your convenience that will take you to YOUTUBE: Click here to visit Youtube and watch this particular news report at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ_fSP3LGw8 To see more, simply type “burger robots” in the Youtube search box.
We are NOW entering an era of automated self-serve kiosks and processing by robots in place of humans. Human jobs will evaporate at a quickening pace. “People need not apply!”
If the job marketplace is terrible now, what happens when millions MORE workers are laid off from that last vestiges of employment, the fast-food joints? Where do they go to find employment when their last hopes are removed? Americans can’t move to China. They don’t speak Chinese. Besides, China is beginning to reach an employment plateau of its own and it, too, is hoping for rescue by turning to a services sector, especially the American fast-food model. India is also ruled out. You likely won’t find a job if you go to India. Though they speak English in India, there is so much talent in that country, and such a population density problem, that chances of a foreigner finding decent and stable employment in India is very remote.
I can present this in no other way.
The encroachment of automation and robotics into the fast-food service industry is a major problem for people employed there now, and for people laid off from the manufacturing sector who seek work in the fast-food sector. It’s a PROBLEM without a solution.
Hillary Clinton can campaign all she wants by appealing to the people with her cry to raise minimum wage. Doing so will merely accelerate the problem caused by the need for businesses to transition from humans to automation and robotics in the services sector. In other words, by repeating the populist chant in order to gain votes, if she remains true to her word after a satisfied populace votes her into the Presidency, she will merely accelerate the demise of millions of fast-food service jobs.
It might be better that we demand of her to stop with the plastic promises for raising minimum wages and instead, demand that she scrap the trade deals signed by her husband that shipped valuable jobs to Mexico and China. In other words, instead of repeating the cry for a higher minimum wage, let her call for destroying the very trade deals signed by her husband and in its place to put a substantive plan that will pull back the plants, factories, and great-paying manufacturing jobs her husband allowed to be shipped to Mexico and China. [Like, that would ever happen after she is elected President!!]
- Quoted from Momentum Machines website. See: http://momentummachines.com/