Minimum-Wage Blowback; The De-Humanization Of Fast-Food Has Begun

Minimum-Wage Blowback; The De-Humanization Of Fast-Food Has Begun (ZeroHedge, Sep 15, 2014):

In January we noted ‘Smart Restaurant’ – the burger-flipping robot – and just last month we reported on China’s robotification of the fast-food business; but, as The Washington Post reports, the greatest enemy to the minimum-wage-demanding fast-food worker has arrived: you can now order your own quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger from a welcoming, non-judging machine. With McDonalds sales the worst in almost a decade, it appears their need to maintain profits has stoked a move towards dehumanization. One wonder how long before this action is also declared ‘unpatriotic’.

As WaPo reports,

If you’ve ever felt guilty ordering at McDonald’s, the fast-food mega-chain has just the fix: You can now order your own quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger from a welcoming, non-judging machine.

McDonald’s move towards dehumanization, launched as a pilot last winter and expanded across San Diego last week, is part of a larger trend of chain eateries turning tablets into your full-time restaurant buddy: equal parts menu, server and paycheck. Applebee’s, Panera Bread and even airport bars have installed tablets to allow diners to order food or booze without a wait.

Chili’s became the U.S. king of human-less ordering this summer when it installed more than 45,000 tabletop tablets nationwide.

While cost control is one factor, the tablet ordering had another silver-lining…

The move toward tablets is a bet from marketers on a quirk of buyer psychology: that customers will order more food if they can do it on a screen. While ordering from a person might lead you to rein in your appetite, a tablet sits silently and harmlessly, covered in colorful ads. Ordering off a tablet can also lead customers to try something new, which might make them happier and more likely to come back.

With tablet ordering, “you can serve more lunches per hour, and the customers, since so many use their smartphone for just about everything, see it as more convenient.”

Of course, in a world of de minimus capital costs (courtesy of an apparently job-creating-mandated Fed), why wouldn’t the McDonalds of the world adopt such a strategy. The outcome, as we explained before, is all too obvious…

What happens after that should be clear to everyone: more unemployment, lower wages for the remaining employees, worse worker morale, but even higher profits to holders of capital. And so on. Because in a world in which technology makes the unqualified worker utterely irrelevant, this is what is known as “progress.”

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So much for $15 minimum-wage demands… One wonders how long before ‘tablets’ are also declared ‘unpatriotic’.

3 thoughts on “Minimum-Wage Blowback; The De-Humanization Of Fast-Food Has Begun”

  1. This reminds me of the shoemaker’s strike in 1853, a time of explosive growth in the machine age. They tried to strike for a living wage, the hours were long, work was tedious, and they united in a strike.

    The robber barons simply replaced their entire industry with machines…..put the entire craft out of business. Unless you search, and are willing to pay top dollar, you cannot find a shoemaker……there are a few, but not many.

    This is a page out of the Industrial Revolution playbook……they destroyed entire industries……all for profit. There were no unions to help them, they came later.
    I was fortunate to know a few of them…..very brave men who fought hard to win a living wage for people in America. They won it, their children and grandchildren rode on it, and didn’t pay mind when the war on unions started in the 1980s…….now, the percentage of union shops is very low, and the war will have to be fought all over again.
    In the global garbage can in which we now live, it won’t be easy…….and people are so desperate for work, they won’t fight. I wish they knew the stories of the Mollie Maguires. I have a wonderful book, published in 1877…..”The History of the Great Riots” The Strikes and Riots on the Various Railroads of the US…..
    The railroads were the robber barons of the times, many brave men died so that their children and grandchildren could have a living wage, an eight hour work day, holidays, sick leave……all the things that made life so easy for millions of us for so long. Now, it is gone, and the mindless fools running around today don’t have the discipline or courage to fight the evil corporations….the grandchildren of the railroad barons.
    It is a shame. I was lucky, I lived in the Golden Age of America……it is now gone. If people remember America at all, it will be the era I was fortunate enough to enjoy.
    Now, Fukushima is the beginning of the end for us. Someone called me to tell me of a service that provides fresh fish from farms…..they don’t get it, the radiation is everywhere……

  2. Marilyn, I used to employ over 200 people of mixed skills in the heavy engineering sector. We paid over the odds, gave 5 weeks PLUS statutory holidays fully paid, ( a total 28 days) we shared profits, and worked a basic 37.5 hour week, with Friday afternoon as off or overtime at time & a half. It worked well for the first ten of twenty five years.
    But, they still wanted more, for no extra effort.
    The Capitalist culture of the USA is quite different from the original Industrial Revolution, which started with the discovery/invention of the very first steam powered pump for the tin mines of Cornwall, where I am at the moment.
    The original Barons of Industry such as Lever, Salt, etc, looked after their employees, providing houses for them, similar to the Farming Industry with it’s Tied Cottages and jobs for life.
    I’m not saying it was paradise, but it does look like your culture of greed is wholly entrenched in society, whereas possibly our mixed economy or ‘Social Capitalism’ as I prefer to call it worked better for everyone……at least it did before the jews via Milton Friedman from US convinced Thatcher with her jew inner cabinet to abandon all state ownership and flog it and give the money to the jew banksters. Now we are finished…..all we have is museums.
    Again she let your greed culture in and we’ve followed suit.
    You are spot on when you say, we had the best times, but instead of making sure it got better, we failed the next generation completely by listening to and trusting the wrong people, and then wallowing in false luxury.

  3. Squodgy, great comments, I could not agree more. I used to work staffing startups, and it took all kinds of skills. One of the key factors (in my opinion) was that the young companies were run by individuals. I was fortunate to work with the likes of Ray Dolby, an Englishman, who set up and built the best darn sound company in the world. He and his VP made the hiring choices. We staffed their R&D department with some of the best minds in the audio world. I also worked with some of the greats in other industries, but I will tell you what changed and ruined it all.

    Ray Dolby, and his sort finally retired. They sold their companies, and corporations took over. Then, they started hiring by committee, the great minds no longer paid much heed to the people hired. When you are hired by group, the fine minds get eliminated, and you end up with companies full of C+ and B- bureaucrats. It is downhill from there.
    We worked and lived through the changes, and few were good. Today, corporations are so greedy, they no longer even sell franchises……they own all the chain companies….and fill them with b- and C+ players. They don’t fight, they don’t do a thing they don’t have to because they have no stake in the company….and they have zero futures. The ones who are responsible are so terrified of losing their jobs, they work 12 hour days and have minimum benefits. All profits go to the greedy guts on top, nothing to the workers. Millions work at minimum wage……I had a job within a month of graduating from college, and was earning very good money immediately. It was a time of growth, the greedy guts had not yet pushed globalization through.
    Today, college graduates are fortunate to have a job within a year of graduating…….it is just awful. They earn very little.
    By the way, some of the industrial giants of the 19th century did indeed provide housing for their workers. That way, they had complete control. It was attractive at first, but soon it was a nightmare. Before they knew it, the rent was taken out of their checks, and soon, they had to shop at the company store…….and you probably know where that went. The workers ended up owing more than they earned…….
    Greed is huge in the US, but it always has been. Robber barons would give parties, and guests could take salt spoons, or mustard spoons, and choose gems from a bowl on the table at dinner. They lived the high life, just as they do again while their workers slaved for pennies.
    We are not very creative. Mankind does the same stuff over and over…….


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