As pressure mounts to raise the wages of fast food workers, advocates may want to take note that such wage increases eventually pass a threshold where it makes financial sense to simply invest in automation. As Grocery Store cashiers learned, these jobs are not a given. We are all competing not just with each other but with robots.
One of the primary reasons that the gap between the rich and poor has increased so much in the past 20 years has been the rise in IT. Once we purchase a computer, robot, etc. its capabilities – its output and productivity are owned by the buyer which increases the wealth generated by that person.
As people demand McDonalds pay workers $15 an hour and the government insists that they also provide health care, restaurant owners are increasingly evaluating whether to simply replace their work force with machines.
Naturally, in 2017 when today’s “living wage advocate” is ordering their Big Mac from a friendly touch screen and having it delivered momentarily by a robot they’ll make no connection between how their beliefs resulted in more people living in poverty. Instead, they’ll blame McDonalds. They’ll blame greedy restaurant owners. But they won’t consider that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to price people out of their workforce.