Will Fast Food Strike End Like Twinkie Strike?

First let me say that strikes are the appropriate way to deal with issues in the private sector in order to get your way as a consumer or worker, as opposed to government regulatory action which forces private companies to do something which is not in their best interests. But keep in mind that when you deal with things in a free market way, you might not get the outcome you were looking for. I am guessing that Twinkie bakers thought their wages were going to go up, rather than being out of a job as the company closed down. I don’t think fast food restaurants will suddenly close because of boycotts, protests, and strikes–but they have other options.

Ever wondered how hard it would be for a machine to cook your burger and put lettuce pickles onions and ketchup on it? Probably not that hard, and wages would not have to increase much before those labor costs would dwarf the cost of making this machine, running it, and up-keeping it. Machines also don’t show up late for work, back-talk their boss, or spit in customers’ food. That is why fast food workers might want to tread lightly.

I don’t want to bash all fast food workers, some of them are great at their jobs, very pleasant and efficient. Those ones would probably earn$15 an hour feeding the new burger machine, and taking customers’ orders with a smile. But maybe I am wrong and this strike really will work, because maybe fast food restaurants really do need all those low wage laborers, and have paid them less than their skills are worth all this time. I hope that is the case because then fast food prices will skyrocket, and it will become more expensive to eat unhealthfully. Maybe that would usher our dollars into being spent at the farm stand, and less on genetically engineered beef, and GMO corn fed to the livestock. Perhaps when everything on McDonald’s menu doubles in price, people will make decisions which do not promote the mass producing of food at a detriment to the nutritional value.

So will there be a mass firing of workers as fast food companies opt for machines to do their jobs? Or will we have higher wages for low skill laborers, complete with fast food prices skyrocketing (which would probably lead to less being sold, leading to layoffs)? As long as the free market takes care of it, I don’t care too much. Who needs fast food anyway, it might be a good thing to start wrapping up the unhealthy fast food chapter of our history. Or maybe a market will be created for healthy fast food that is more expensive, but has competent, friendly workers who make above minimum wage–because they are worth more than minimum wage as workers.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for people with no other options, but I question how widespread having no other options is. This “to each according to his need, from each according to his ability” attitude has done its economic damage before. Needing more money should not automatically get you more money, that diminishes incentives to earn. And with a $60,000 per household in poverty being spent on a safety net for those who cannot make ends meet, it is hard to argue that throwing more tax dollars at poverty will solve the issue. Yes, we all know that there are some people who cannot help themselves, but by painting with a broad brush all minimum wage earners as helpless to advance, it is harder to identify the people who actually need help. We have a trillion dollar per year welfare program to help those who need it, and now we have to force private companies to subsidize even more charity for their workers?

Furthermore, Pretty much anywhere you work there is opportunity to make more money if you work hard and apply yourself. I started at Shaw’s when I was 16 making $6.25 and within 6 months I was making $7.25 as a cashier. I know many people who instead of going to college worked their way up at grocery stores, and in the IT field, and are now making more than their college graduate counterparts at age 22. Minimum wage was never something to live on, it was a starting point, and entrance into a job, usually as a teenager. Now apparently, 88% of minimum wage workers are 20 or older according to the LATimes. What this likely suggests is that you are now able to live off society without advancing your own skill levels or earning capabilities. Why advance if you don’t have to?

And that is why we need to allow the free market to handle wages. There are too many unforeseen consequences of messing with the market, and skewing incentives. When people are paid what their labor is worth, they make sure their labor is worth more. As it becomes less and less profitable to increase your skills, and easier to make ends meet with no skills, it should be no wonder why the economy is faltering, with high unemployment, record national debt, and more of our money being spent by this government then ever before.

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