Massachusetts is in the midst of debating the Fight for 15, with proposals on the table to raise the minimum wage that high at least for a few industries including big box stores and fast food outlets. That would have a serious impact on businesses such as McDonald’s, which hires a lot of younger workers looking for their first entries on their resumes, particularly if they don’t have a secondary school education. While we’re on the subject, if you happen to be in the Boston area be sure to stop by one McDonald’s where you can meet their new employee. He’s not very chatty, though, since he’s a machine. (New Boston Post)
At the same time as a coalition dedicated to passing legislation that would boost the state’s hourly minimum wage to $15 delivered its presentation on Beacon Hill, across town in Kenmore Square a McDonald’s franchise unveiled the world’s first Big Mac machine…
McDonald’s announced that their Big Mac machine would be making its worldwide debut on Jan. 24, less than a week after Donahue and Donnelly filed their joint legislation.
Noah Berger, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, told New Boston Post after Tuesday’s briefing that the threat of automation should not influence whether or not Massachusetts should adopt a higher minimum wage scale.
Berger is posing some theories which are actually true, but traditionally fall under the law of unintended consequences. One of the big points he’s making is that “automation allows workers to become more productive and… can allow for higher wages because it increases productivity.” This is all very true, but there are a few more points which Noah Berger might have wanted to mention. Automation increases productivity because it frequently replaces the need for lower paid workers. In return, people who need greater skills to operate and maintain the machinery find opportunities, generally at higher pay.
That, however, won’t come as very much consolation to the folks with high school degrees and no experience who frequently find early work at McDonald’s and other similar outlets. They won’t be getting those better paying jobs because there are still plenty of folks out there looking for work who have more experience and education. They will be the ones getting those jobs while the number of openings for the high school grads decreases. This is just basic capitalism in action.
But look on the plus side, guys. We’ve got an ATM that dispenses Big Macs! What’s next… a Krispy Kreme dispenser on every corner? We may indeed be entering a golden age.