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Fast-Food CEO Invests In Machines Because Regulation Makes Them Cheaper Than Employees (yahoo.com) 954

An anonymous reader writes: The CEO of Carl's Jr., Andy Puzder, has been inspired by the 100-percent automated restaurant, Eatsa, as he looks for ways to deal with rising minimum wages. "With government driving up the cost of labor, it's driving down the number of jobs," he says. "You're going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants." Puzder doesn't believe in [the progressive idea of] raising the minimum wage. "Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job? If you're making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive -- this is not rocket science," says Puzder. What comes as a challenge is automating employee tasks. This is where he draws the line and doesn't think that it's likely any machine could perform such work. But for more rote tasks like grilling a burger or taking an order, technology may be even more precise than human employees. "They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case," says Puzder in regard to replacing employees with machines.
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Fast-Food CEO Invests In Machines Because Regulation Makes Them Cheaper Than Employees

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  • Jokes On Him... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:28AM (#51721085)

    Hope those machines buy his crappy food...

    • If Puzder is going to fire Suzie rather than give her a $3 raise, then his taxes are going to go up to pay for her social safety net costs. It's impossible to have a society where a large fraction of people can't find work that pays a living wage. Those people will vote (or act in other ways) to overturn the system that is making their lives impossible.

      I'm always amazed that the rich think they can hide in their gated communities and enjoy the fruits of other people's labor.

      • by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:00AM (#51721203)

        I'm always amazed that the rich think they can hide in their gated communities and enjoy the fruits of other people's labor.

        That shouldn't be amazing. No matter what happens in other businesses, or society as a whole, Puzder is still making the optimal choice for himself.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 )

          That shouldn't be amazing. No matter what happens in other businesses, or society as a whole, Puzder is still making the optimal choice for himself.

          For this moment, maybe.

          So now that the optimum situation is to have no employees, we need a plan of what to do with the number one enemy of the corporate state, the human taker.

          Do we line 'em up and shoot them?

          Do we pay higher taxes to support them?

          Then who on earth do we sell our stuff to?

          Taxes are almost as unacceptable as employees, so I guess we start lining people up. Investor tip! Fertilizers will be a growth industry. There is an old adage about people eating their seed corn.

          Modern corp

          • by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:03AM (#51722721)

            So now that the optimum situation is to have no employees

            It's the optimum for the business that Puzder is responsible for. Your questions are good questions, but they are questions for society as a whole, not questions for Mr. Puzder to answer. If society allows people to run businesses with no employees, and it makes sense from a business perspective to do so, you can't blame individual business owners for making that choice.

          • by mishehu ( 712452 )
            Soylent green, yo...
          • by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:27AM (#51722959)

            This entire thread is based on a false idea that if people are thrown out of minimum wage jobs that they'll be unemployed forever.

            This has been proven countless times since the 1700's to be absolutely false.

            Once a technological innovation disrupts employment - the loom, the cotton gin, the computer, the combine planter/harvester, the robot - those who were displaced from employment find new jobs in higher paying sectors, at least in the aggregate. How many file clerks do you know? Know anybody picking corn, wheat, or soybeans by hand? Yet unemployment is around 5%.

            The people slinging burgers will find new work. They'll have to. New employment opportunities will open up; they always have.

            • by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:55AM (#51723253)

              That's only partially true. During the times of the Luddites, it took 3 generations (70 odd years) for employment to increase to close to full, after a significant proportion of the population was shipped of to the new world.
              Around the turn of the 20th century a move was made to reduce the number of people in the workforce due to automation. Woman were turned into homemakers and children were taken out of the workforce, as well as limits being put on the hours worked by everyone else.
              The trend of taking children out of the workforce continues with the length of time that people stay in school continuing to increase. My parents get by fine with about a 8th grade education. My brother graduated out of grade 10 to go to technical school and become a well paid glazier. Now kids are expected to spend at least 4 years in collage/university.
              Things were also pretty horrible for the poor in 18th century England and only the large amount of land available in the New World etc made things bearable in the colonies and the new nation of the USA.

            • by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @12:34PM (#51724435)

              This entire thread is based on a false idea that if people are thrown out of minimum wage jobs that they'll be unemployed forever.

              This has been proven countless times since the 1700's to be absolutely false.

              Once a technological innovation disrupts employment - the loom, the cotton gin, the computer, the combine planter/harvester, the robot - those who were displaced from employment find new jobs in higher paying sectors, at least in the aggregate...

              Real history shows that it is THIS claim that is absolutely false. The people displaced in the original Industrial Revolution did not ever find new employment, in high paying jobs or elsewhere. They became destitute. Eventually the productivity increase of the IR created a wealthy enough society that decent employment was restored for the full population, but it took 70 years to do this. Most of the people whose livelihoods that were destroyed in 1770 did not ever get decent jobs again. Their children did not. Their grandchildren did not. Their great-grandchildren did however, around 1840.

              The beggars, squalid poverty, workhouses, debtors prisons of Dickens time were all very real.

              Interestingly, that little clause you stuck in there "at least in the aggregate" indicates you realize to some degree the falseness of your claim. It is exactly the problem that people exist as people, not as aggregates, that makes the average increase in wealth from automation completely useless to the people put out of work.

              If robotics puts people out of work in large numbers today, we need a solution that helps the people put out of work as soon as it happens - not in 2086 after they are long dead.

            • by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @01:07PM (#51724869)

              > This has been proven countless times since the 1700's to be absolutely false.

              Yes because new jobs come along all the time that people gradually shift to that are too complex to be automated. People stopped making cloth by hand when looms and later power looms came in, people stopped farming when tractors became a thing, assembly line workers were somewhat phased out when specialized robots came to the line, etc. The difference this time is we are finally on the cusp of general machine learning.

              In the not too distant future robots and computers are going to be in a position to replace not only easily-repeatable low skill labor, but almost ANY job not requiring super specialized knowledge or skills. Those in high paying "intellectual" jobs are also going to be on the receiving end of a pink slip. It's already starting to happen. Lawyer firms used to employ armies of articlers and clerks to do discovery and research on case law, and are already being replaced by automated systems that do the same work in less time. RBS just the other day cut 400+ investment adviser positions to be replaced with their digital robo-adviser system that recently rolled out.

              When a machine can learn to do anything you can do, and do it consistently without error, even if it only works at 1//4 your speed you're gone. The machine won't take coffee breaks, surf /. or get sick while it works at its task 24/7/365. And it will get faster over time as the hardware and software inevitably improves.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:09AM (#51721251)

        This is why basic income is inevitable. Paid for by the corporations through taxes because they put all of the people out of work. There will be no personal income to tax if people don't have jobs. The only thing left to tax will be the corporations.

        And the corporations, while they might not paying taxes to give people a basic income will need to. For without the people getting that basic income there are no consumers to consume what the corporations are producing and so they will go out of business.

        The corporations will leave and go somewhere else, like China and India you say? Of course they will and they will just do to China and India what they did wherever they moved from, putting everyone out of work and forcing the government to make them pay for a basic income.

        What of the country that all the corporations left that now has an unemployed work force but no corporations to pay for their basic income? Probably there will be a new tax to "sellers" of goods and services, so the corporations will pay the tax to keep people in a basic income one way or another. But more likely, a new economy will rise up.

        So yeah, keep up the good work you corporate bastards. Looking forward to sitting on my ass while you support me. Well, in fact, I won't be sitting on my ass, but I will be spending my days doing something *I* want to do instead of wasting away 1/3 of my life in your factories.

        And unless you continue to support me in that endeavour, you will be unemployed (out of business) too.

        Greed is awesome.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:11AM (#51721681)

          "Paid for by the corporations through taxes because they put all of the people out of work."

          Corporations simple pass any added taxes and costs on to the customer. Thus if you add taxes to a corporation they simple raise the price and pass that added expense on to the customer.

          A CEO I worked for once said "People are idiots, they think they can raise minimum wadge or add taxes to a company to pay for some social benefit. Corporations pass the added expense on to the customer. Thus they never realize they are the ones paying the taxes not the company.

          A corporations job is to make money, that means that we take what ever expenses we have including taxes, add them up, attach a profit margin to it, and sell it. Otherwise we would not be making money."

          • by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:28AM (#51721821)

            "Corporations simple pass any added taxes and costs on to the customer. Thus if you add taxes to a corporation they simple raise the price and pass that added expense on to the customer."

            No, they don't. Or, at least, they don't do it *automatically*. That's what competition is about.

            Currently we all see how high officials' overall wages and shares' profits are increasing well over average/median salaries. This means that given strong competition they can absorb increased costs by reducing their profit margins and still stay in business (of course, this doesn't mean they would accept it out of their free will, but that they'll do if there's no other way).

            "A corporations job is to make money, that means that we take what ever expenses we have including taxes, add them up, attach a profit margin to it, and sell it."

            Exactly this. Which in turn means that, as long as the profit margin is higher than "the fair profit for money" (in Adam Smith's words), they can possibly reduce their margin and still stay in business (because it's still better to accept the reduced profits than putting their money anywhere else with even lower margins). As an extreme example, you can see how as of now "the money" is accepting even negative returns on long term bonds from healthy economies.

            • This has ahll been tried, repeatedly. You say "they can possibly", let's look at what people ACTUALLY DO.

              > as the profit margin is higher than "the fair profit for money" (in Adam Smith's words), they can possibly reduce their margin and still stay in business

              They "possibly could", I suppose. Here's what is in fact happening. Each paycheck, I have a certain amount set aside for retirement, and to buy a house again, because I'm trying to be a responsible adult. That money that is set aside is of course "

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by kaiser423 ( 828989 )
            Corporations that pass through 100% of the cost increases are either in the commodity business, or aren't in a competitive arena. There is always an attempt to trim some in order to offset the new costs, simply because you know that your competitors are looking at this as an opportunity to steal some of your customers if they happen to raise their price less.
        • Consider this alternative future:
          1) Wealth and control of resources concentrates in the hands of a few.
          2) These people stop considering the rest of humanity "humans", or just believe that what is theirs is theirs and no one else has a right to anything. They also don't need labor very much at all because it is automated. So people who have only their labor to offer are frozen out economically.
          3) The owners use automated weaponry to enforce their rights of ownership
          4) The power of the few snowballs and they eventually own the entire planet and all means of production, and the rest live in misery on whatever pittiance is allowed them or is outright exterminated via automated weaponry.

          To see this in its infancy, look at Detroit. People there can't sell their labor, don't have means to leave, and have resorted to subsistence farming. However, if a "landowner" comes along with the means of ejecting the "squatters", they won't even be able to subsistence farm.

          Societies that *do* what you say is inevitable (basic income) will avoid this. Societies which allow ever increasing concentration of wealth into the hands of a few might not. The USA's trend on this is pretty scary, witness the almost complete capture of the political system by money.

          -PM

          • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:48AM (#51722007)

            To see this in its infancy, look at Detroit. [...] Societies that *do* what you say is inevitable (basic income) will avoid this.

            Quite the opposite: Detroit is such a basket case precisely because most of its residents already receive a "basic income" from the government.

            The power of the few snowballs and they eventually own the entire planet and all means of production, and the rest live in misery on whatever pittiance is allowed them or is outright exterminated via automated weaponry.

            Yes, that is the future we face if we give government the power to hand out a "basic income", to control private weapons ownership, to restrict entry into markets and businesses, etc. And people like you are working hard to make it happen.

          • Hey, remind me: Which political party has ruled Detroit as a essentially a one party state the last 50 years [battleswarmblog.com]?

            Oh yeah, that one.

            The one pushing the minimum wage hike.

            The one pushing for higher welfare payments and eliminating work requirements.

            If the policies of the Democratic Party worked, Detroit should already be one of the best places to live in America.

            How did that work out?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Your premise is that a social safety net must exist.

        I'm always amazed by the consumer who thinks that he can demand production and enjoy the benefits of other people's capital.

        • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:37AM (#51721423) Homepage Journal
          I'm always amazed by the consumer who thinks that he can demand production and enjoy the benefits of other people's capital.

          I'm always amazed that people think their "capital" has any sort of meaning unless the mass of society can benefit from it. Guess what, the only thing preventing the masses from stringing you up and taking your capital is the basic social contract that allows you to get rich as long as standards for the masses don't fall too far. You violate that social contract no amount of funny money or gold bars or factories is going to save your head from getting blown off as the police officers and military you depend on to live find it expedient to slay you.
      • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy.gmail@com> on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:30AM (#51721377)

        It's impossible to have a society where a large fraction of people can't find work that pays a living wage. Those people will vote (or act in other ways) to overturn the system that is making their lives impossible.

        With real wages having gone nowhere for decades, we're arguably well into that scenario now. How much longer do you think we've got ?

        When the wealthy have a police state with killbots on their side, what chance do you think the people have ?

        • by houghi ( 78078 )

          It is the ideal feeding ground to get someone into power that promises to solve it all by blaming one group.

          It has happened before. It could happen again. Due to Godwins law, I am not allowed to reveal who it was.

      • If Puzder is going to fire Suzie rather than give her a $3 raise, then his taxes are going to go up to pay for her social safety net costs.

        He has bought the politicians. So he thinks he is covered there on the tax issue. But the damn fool does not realize, his machines won't need food, would not buy entertainment, would not buy a home or pay for college. As more and more employers automate more and more functions and lay off more and more people, he will end up with lots of shiny new machines willing sell food at great profit.... if only there are people with money to buy them.

        It is really very short sighted of a food industry CEO to go this

      • I read somewhere that only 2% of jobs pay a minimum wage. You are hurting those who are above that level by making them now minimum wage and increasing the share

      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        Once again, we see there are consequences to a generation of screwing over employers while ignoring reality. Because you forced Suzie's costs up by another $3 per hour, the employer got a machine instead. This is basic supply and demand. Raise the cost of human labor and the demand for it goes down.

        You can babble on about living wages, greed, and similar crap, but that rhetoric doesn't get Suzie that job or feed her. $0 per hour is much further from a living wage than whatever Suzie was making before.

        I'm always amazed that the rich think they can hide in their gated communities and enjoy the fruits of other people's labor.

        Wh

    • Re:Jokes On Him... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:22AM (#51721773)
      Yes, that is the same conclusion that old Henry Ford came to before he raised the wages of his workers. If they couldn't afford to buy a car then who could? What people just can not grasp is that technology is about to replace almost 100% of human employment. And that does not need to be stopped at all. But we absolutely must develop social and economic systems that support humans or we will fall completely apart. And this is another issue that politicians simply can't address. If a politician got on TV and declared that we must change everything we are used to around us due to automation and technology he would be considered a lunatic by most Americans. It is similar to speaking about mandatory birth control due to over population issues. It is a unapproachable subject. This could actually be the downfall of democracy as we can not address serious issues at all with elected officials who can be unemployed simply by mentioning certain topics.
    • Hope those machines buy his crappy food...

      They can save even more if they automate the CEO position.

      Sorry Andy, you've been replaced by C3PO.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:28AM (#51721093)

    Remember how they told us that there would be no IT jobs left in the US because everything can be done so much cheaper in India?

    Now it's that there will be no burger flipping jobs left because machines can do it cheaper. Let's wait and see how these burgers taste and whether I don't like them over there at [other burger joint] better even if they cost 30 cents more but taste like a burger and not like the bag it came in.

    • They probably taste just as well, if not better. Machines are much easier tuned to perfection and consistency.
    • by uncqual ( 836337 )

      When dealing with standardized patties, how can you tell if a human or a machine "flipped" it? Can you really taste the spit the human added to it and, more importantly, do you really like that taste and is that taste consistent across chefs?

      This is Carls Jr -- like their competitors, humans don't hand grind the meat and hand form the patties carefully compressing them "just right" -- places that do that charge a whole lot more than an extra 30 cents.

      Machines likely will likely result in a more uniform and,

  • Why ideed? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:30AM (#51721099)

    Why pay money if they work for a bowl of rice?

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:31AM (#51721103) Journal

    With government driving up the cost of labor, it's driving down the number of jobs

    That's what he wants to make this about, but in reality his actual reasons for using robotics are

    They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case

    Which has nothing to do with the cost of the labor and everything to do with the repeatability and efficiency of the employee. I'm betting that, for the right money, you could get an employee to fit almost every one of those. But on the whole, it's not that employees are getting more expensive, in real dollars, but rather than AI and robotics which can do these jobs better than people - per his own words - is getting cheaper than the cost of an employee. It's not if people get replaced but when. The only thing that changes is the exact spot in time where the curves cross.

    This happened in the industrial revolution when mechanical devices took over automatable tasks. It's just that it's coming for a different class of worker this time.

    • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )
      I suspect the time will be sooner, rather than later. The example of Eatsa, is still only on the ordering and delivery end. The production end has already shown to be automatable for an increasingly affordable price for businesses. The example of Momentum Machines [momentummachines.com] custom burger production system [gizmag.com] is 4 years old, I'm surprised it hasn't been rolled to production somewhere already. . .
    • by Zuriel ( 1760072 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:01AM (#51721207)

      He's arguing against raising the minimum wage because it's pricing human employees out of the market. Okay, so what's the plan in 5 years when the machines cost half as much? Or 5 years after that, when the machines cost half as much again? Are we going to lower the minimum wage to one dollar an hour?

      More than that, if minimum wage employees get pay cuts and job losses like he is threatening... who does he think will have the money to buy his robot-made burgers? Cutting the minimum wage means you spend less on payroll, but your customers are somebody else's employees and they got a pay cut too.

      • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:24AM (#51721343)

        He's not arguing anything. He's making a threat - which means he doesn't have a plan, because if machines were cheaper he wouldn't need a jab at minimum wage. He wouldn't need anything - he'd just do it.

        • "which means he doesn't have a plan"

          Oh, he has a plan - he just can't quite afford it right now. Automation costs money, but it costs less and less every year. He's hoping to put off moving to automation until it's even cheaper, and to do that he needs lower wages. It is about money, but it's not about any long term human job prospects.

  • inevitable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:35AM (#51721115)
    It's inevitable less qualified humans will be replaced by machines. It's inevitable over time more qualified humans will be replaced [youtube.com]. It's extremely short-sighted (or disingenuous) to blame government regulations for doing something that is inevitably going to happen just a few years down the line anyway. As machines catch up to and surpass humans in more areas the percentage of humans who cannot be profitably employed [zpub.com]will approach unity. In my opinion the reasons to reject these changes tend to be bad ones.

    You have the traditionalists, who just don't want anything to change. You have the sour grape connoisseurs, who believe positive change is undesirable because they see it as unlikely. Then there's the worst of them, the people who believe experiencing unpleasantness like working is intrinsically valuable. It's happening. The list of things humans can do that robots and computers cannot do is shrinking... and that list never grows longer. It's time to look to a future free of involuntary employment. It's time to make it [wikipedia.org] happen as soon as possible.
    • It's inevitable over time more qualified humans will be replaced [youtube.com]. It's extremely short-sighted (or disingenuous) to blame government regulations for doing something that is inevitably going to happen just a few years down the line anyway.

      Without minimum wage, automation drives competes with low cost labor, but it also drives down prices. The net result is that people at the low end might see their incomes stagnate or even decline, but they are still better off in absolute terms. With minimu

      • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

        In both cases, the motivation is the same: voters are saying "we don't like seeing people with low incomes / people driving less safe cars, so we're just going to legislate the problem away". But that simply transforms poor working people with cars who could gradually improve their situation into even poorer jobless people without cars who will never be able to get out of poverty.

        It is staggering that there are people who look at the race to the bottom of the last few decades, producing stagnant wages, near

  • . . . .Extra big-ass fries from their machines ? And, will they also identify unfit mothers ? Not Sure wants to know. . . . (grin)
  • Cut that shit out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rebelwarlock ( 1319465 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:46AM (#51721141)

    Puzder doesn't believe in [the progressive idea of] raising the minimum wage.

    Square brackets are used to modify the original statement only when it would provide contextual accuracy, not when you want to add bias to a statement. If you add bias this way, I instantly think you're a moron, regardless of your views.

  • by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:46AM (#51721143) Homepage
    I work in automation. It isn't so much that minimum wage matters... sure if you have really, really low minimum wage and people willing to work for it then you might just throw labor at a problem, but typically we automate for a variety of reasons: improved accuracy/quality, better throughput (a robot loading a machine can often keep up better than a human, which means I get more throughput out of my expensive machine), more consistent process. We *want* to automate everything, and when we look at what we *can* automate, it's always the boring repetitive jobs anyway. So it doesn't matter that much whether someone's making $6 or $8 or $10 an hour, if we can automate it we will. Certainly we are growing more concerned with the fact that a growing percentage of the population isn't going to be able to find the easy put-nut-A-on-bolt-B type of work anymore, and there's definitely a portion of those people who may not be able to be retrained to do something that a robot can't do. That's a societal problem, not an engineering problem. First is understanding that this isn't the same thing we saw in the industrial revolution. If I gave a laborer a steam shovel I made them a lot more productive. If I just say "stand aside while this robot does the job" that's different. And no, you're not going to take someone who works on an assembly line and retrain them to be a robot programmer. That's absurd. They won't get a job assembling robots either, as Fanuc apparently has a "lights out" manufacturing facility for their robots - it's a completely automated line. Minimum wage is doing a good thing: encouraging factories to automate by making the payback look better. Automated factories are better. Automated restaurants are probably better too. The fact that we have a very low skilled portion of the populace is a separate issue that needs addressing... maybe a guaranteed minimum income, I don't know. But coming up with make-work jobs for them is no better than putting them in prison and having them dig holes and fill them in. Also relevant to this discussion - has everyone seen the short story, "Manna [marshallbrain.com]"?
  • He is an idiot.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:46AM (#51721145) Homepage

    Those automated restaurants don't run for free without trouble. They need highly skilled ($40 to $50 an hour skilled) employees to maintain and repair them plus you need skilled workers to clean them and stock them. So he is simply moving labor to high skilled tier where it will end up costing him more because he will have to pay 1/4 the employees 5 times more. AND now he has maintenance costs that are significantly higher.

    Stupid CEO is letting his hatred for poor people color his business decisions.

    • by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:54AM (#51721167)
      A typical fast food restaurant is already full of machines that need to be cleaned, stocked and maintained. This one isn't going to be much worse. The ordering system is just a simple touchscreen, for instance. It only needs to be wiped off once in a while.
    • Depends on how reliable the equipment is. Does it require a full time repair person on site at all times the restaurant is open? Or can one tech reliably manage two or three stores? Can one tech at five times the cost of one minimum wage employee replace two or three shifts worth of a crew of from 3 to 8 people, including a manager and assistant managers sufficient to ensure managerial coverage at all times (those managerial persons making more than the base employees and they get benefits).

      Even a full t
  • Minimum wage increase fuels automation technology, relieves humans from drudgery. Everyone benefits from the increased efficiency, unemployment remains low, miserable fast food workers end up in slightly less miserable job just like the factory workers before them.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Exactly right. Automation increases the marginal productivity of labor, and therefore the value of labor.

    • miserable fast food workers end up in slightly less miserable job just like the factory workers before them.

      Assuming that the slightly less miserable jobs are available in sufficient numbers, and that the workers are qualified and motivated.

  • The problem is not fast food labor. The problem is that a large percentage of jobs are in China. There are fewer hi-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States. Life in the U.S. is rapidly degrading.

    It's good that low-level jobs are taken by machines. It's bad if the hi-level jobs of designing, manufacturing, and maintaining those machines are all taken by Chinese.

    In Hong Kong, a long time ago, I met a man who was having golf clubs made in China. He said he taught a Chinese man to design the factory. He found later that the Chinese man's brother was building an identical factory to make golf clubs that would compete with his business.

    This is an excellent book that tells one part of the story of degradation: Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the Tactics Behind China's Production Game [amazon.com]. There are many other, related issues.
  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:25AM (#51721347)

    Assuming for the sake of argument that we ALL have a stake in, and ALL have contributed to, the progress that our civilization has enjoyed - why is society becoming so extremely polarized at the very rich and very poor ends of the economic spectrum? In other words, why is the middle class disappearing?

    Don't get me wrong - I understand that hard work, intelligence, and creativity, (along with a HUGE amount of sheer luck that is usually unnoticed, much less acknowledged), engender differential material gain and economic stratification, to some extent. We will always have inequality - it seems to be the law of the universe. But I don't believe that we must have the extreme inequality that has taken hold over the last three decades or so. Victor Yakovenko has some interesting things to say about the matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    We use artificial mechanisms to protect ourselves from extreme weather, disease, natural disasters, etc. Now, how can we all pull together to protect ourselves from extreme economic conditions? For this kind of polarization is unstable - like a lightning storm, major discharges will occur. Many of these 'discharges' will be very destructive - global war, famine, climate change, bloody revolution... Andy Puzder sounds both self-righteous and somewhat panicked at the prospect of having to defend his masters' hoard against those who insist on a decent living wage for Carl's Jr. employees - he really sounds like he's talking about war tactics and strategies. Why can't we arrange it that 'more than enough' is considered the end of this fight for wealth concentration? How can we tame the collective gluttony which both feeds on the misery of our fellow man and steals a staggering amount of opportunity from our children's children's children?

    I ask these questions and make these observations in the context of TFA and TFS because with all of the automation and efficiencies of production our civilization has gained over the past several decades, we ALL should be working fewer hours while having both a better standard of living and a better quality of life.

    Apologies for seeming a bit rambling and unfocused. This is a very complex, very broad issue, and it's hard to formulate thoughts and questions at all, much less do it in the space of a Slashdot comment.

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:35AM (#51721413)
    Wanted: Kill-bots that only target CEOs.
  • Labor costs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bruinwar ( 1034968 ) <bruinwar@hPOLLOC ... om minus painter> on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:39AM (#51721437)

    Start a franchise, pretty much any big name brand restaurant. Your contract has set costs, your contract for the building set in stone, your overhead minus labor, non-negotiable... that leaves labor.

    So you want more money in your pocket, the only place to grab it is from your workers somehow. I knew a woman that was an "assistant manager" at a Culver's. They cut the health care coverage to the bare bones & made the employees (managers & assistant managers) pay 100% for it. The owners (they had 3 Culver's) saved 10K. Just enough take their families to Hawaii for 2 weeks over Christmas.

  • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @07:46AM (#51721491)

    With fast-food chains going after anything human with their human employees, it is no wonder they found that machines are more effective.
    When the person taking orders has to follow a precise script and take order within a certain time, that the kitchen is all about timers and calibrated doses, what's the advantage of having humans in the first place?
    In a real restaurant, you can ask for advise, make special demands (within limits), the chef can compose with unusual ingredients. Commercially, they know the little attentions that can make you a returning customer. This is what humans are for. And this is part of the reason people are ready to pay more in a good restaurant, because you have real, competent humans rather than robots in human bodies.

  • by TomGreenhaw ( 929233 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:01AM (#51721595)
    machines don't forget to wash their hands after pooping in order to spread their intestinal viruses.

    Unfortunately people's buying behaviour is not in general altruistic, it's based upon self interest.
  • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:02AM (#51721599)
  • by Hugo Hinterberger ( 4507207 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:16AM (#51721707)
    I am all for automation: start with the CEO and the owners, replace them with voting systems.
  • by Toddlerbob ( 705732 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:29AM (#51721827)

    "They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case"

    He complains about wages, and then lists the reasons he'll automate no matter what the minimum wage is, no matter what the regulations are. Sounds about right.

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @09:15AM (#51722259) Homepage Journal

    I refuse to use self-service lines. Why the fuck am I going to work as a cashier and not get paid for it, and not even get a discount on the items? No, I want a human who is trying to make a living to ring up my items for me. If you try to "force" people to use self-checkout by having only one register + 6 self-checkout lanes open I'll leave the cart full of groceries and walk out and buy from your competitor instead.

    If you're going to have robots running the fast food joint, I'll give it a miss and go to the salad bar at Whole Foods instead and I'll be better off with that healthier food choice anyhow. :)

  • Economics 101 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wkwilley2 ( 4278669 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @09:57AM (#51722651)

    This is a simple problem really.

    You work at Mcburgerbelldees and you want 15 dollars/hour cause minimum wage just isn't cutting it.

    You're right, but the thing is, you should be working towards a better job, flipping burgers or dropping fries in hot oil isn't and shouldn't be a career goal, nor does it merit 15 dollars/hour.

    Minimum wage jobs are there for supplemental income and those who are just starting work for the first time.

    I understand, shit's expensive, I've been there and done that. Used to work in convenience for 6 years before I started work with a Fortune 500 company making great money for the area I live in, 7 years later and I've moved into the office as part of the management staff. It's not a hard concept to grasp, but if you're not willing to work hard, towards a goal that doesn't involve doing as little work as possible, you'll never get anywhere.

    As an aside, if you go into any Wawa or Royal Farms in this area, they have already done away with the waiters, they have been replaced by an automated kiosk. And guess what, they're always to work on time, always do their job and never get the order wrong unless you entered it that way.

    So what makes more sense to you? Paying a snotty over-privileged 20 something 15/hour, or buying a 500~ dollar kiosk that never complains? The decision seems cut and dry to me.

  • Is it obvious yet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:19AM (#51722881)

    Companies hate their employees. Labor costs are a barrier to higher profits. Employees are treated as liabilities.

I had the rare misfortune of being one of the first people to try and implement a PL/1 compiler. -- T. Cheatham

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