August 14, 2014
Politicians aside, I think that the vast majority of people pushing for a higher minimum wage are well intentioned. A good example of this is Nick Hanaeur in his recent article about how pitchfork’s are coming for the 0.01%. His article garnered an incredible amount of attention, and rightly so, but was in my opinion greatly lacking in solutions. While he accurately identified the perilousness of the current transformation of America into an undemocratic oligarchy, his primary solution revolved around raising the minimum wage. This is a superficial and largely meaningless answer to a symptom of a very structural problem.
If you want to solve structural problems you need structural solutions, and raising the minimum wage is not a structural solution. In case you missed it, I outlined my thoughts on the matter in the post: The Pitchforks are Coming…– A Dire Warning from a Member of the 0.01%.
Equally important, the entire argument of raising the minimum wage cannot be had without discussing the impact of technology. As I and many others have highlighted over the past several years, one of the most troubled segments of the U.S. economy consists of fast food workers. They simply cannot survive on the wages being paid to them by employers and need food stamps, disability and second jobs merely to make ends meet. In theory, raising the minimum wage will help these folks the most, but will it really? I think not.
A robot that can make 360 burgers an hour could put many fast-food workers out of a job – exactly as its designers intended.
Silicon Valley-based Momentum Machines developed the device, which is more like an assembly line than a humanoid robot, reported Singularity Hub.
“Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient,” said Momentum co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas. “It’s meant to completely obviate them.”
The company says the burger-flipping robot could take the place of two or three line cooks and save restaurant owners about $90,000 a year in salary and benefits.
The robots also reduce liability, management duties, and the space needed to prepare food, the website reported.
Some restaurant owners could use those savings to improve the quality of ingredients – basically offering gourmet burgers at fast-food prices – but others could offer the same quality food at lower prices.
Oxford University researchers predicted in a recent study that 47 percent of U.S. jobs were at risk of being automated within 20 years – especially service occupations, where most recent job growth has occurred.
The folks at Momentum Machines are very serious about their undertaking and boast an impressive pedigree. Its website boasts that:
Our team was trained in mechanical engineering, control systems, and physics at top tier institutions: Berkeley, Stanford, UCSB, and USC. We draw from work experience that includes cutting edge firms such as: Tesla, NASA, Semiconductor Technology Associates, etc. Our investors are tier one venture firms and we are advised by the best in the restaurant industry.
Moreover, if Oxford University is correct, up to half of U.S. jobs could be threatened by automation. Raising the minimum wage doesn’t do any good if it causes your job to disappear faster.
As I have written for years, we need radical structural change to address the real root problems in America. These problems including central banking and the Federal Reserve‘s unaccountable power, TBTF banks, corporate interests running Washington D.C., a disappearance of the rule of the law, the surveillance state and out of control intelligence agencies, the militarization of the domestic police force, corruption, and an overly aggressive foreign policy.
Calling for an increase in the minimum wage sounds good, but it is a superficial and ultimately meaningless solution. If we want to be serious about change, we need to seriously and radically address the issues listed above.
This article was posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 4:29 am