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Free Minds & Free Markets

Don't Blame the Minimum Wage for Those Self-Service Kiosks at McDonald's

Government-mandated price hikes do a lot of things. Spurring technological innovation is not one of them.

Richard B. Levine/NewscomRichard B. Levine/NewscomIn their haste to condemn the negative, unemployment-inducing effects of minimum wage laws, some free-marketeers are giving these forced pay hikes undue credit for spurring technological innovation.

Witness the reaction to McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook's recent comments that the fast food giant would be rolling out self-serve kiosks in 1,000 stores each quarter, with the hopes of having them in all their American locations by the end of 2020. Several websites were quick to pounce on this as another example of minimum wage increases displacing the workers they are supposed to help.

"McDonald's introducing self-serve kiosks that don't need minimum wage," says the headline at Fast Company. "Workers complaining because McDonald's would not raise their wages might want to start looking for other jobs sooner rather than later," cautions Hank Berrien over at the Daily Wire.

"The Fight for $15 [campaign] has been proclaimed a success everywhere it brought about an increase in the minimum wage but, as almost anyone could have predicted, the end result is going to be more automation and, probably, fewer jobs," writes Hot Air's John Sexton, himself a former McDonald's employee.

Similar articles in Forbes and ZeroHedge have greeted past rollouts of these self-serve kiosks. Conservative Twitter is happy to reiterate the point with memes and sarcastic hashtags.

The minimum wage does indeed fuel unemployment, and these commenters' hearts are in the right place for lampooning the policy. But fingering these kiosks as an example of the minimum wage's ill effects gives the regulation undue credit for an otherwise positive development while ignoring the real costs of the policy.

For starters, McDonald's has stressed time and again that its adoption of these kiosks is less about avoiding the costs of human workers and more about capturing the benefits that come with the new technology. As company spokesperson Terri Hickey told Buzzfeed yesterday, customers appear to be more likely to place larger orders when interacting with one of these kiosks.

Hickey adds that the "restaurants are transitioning some roles to more customer engaging positions like Guest Experience Leaders and table service." James Wehner, the chain's director of global digital experience, said much the same thing to the trade publication Kiosk Marketplace last year, arguing that self-service kiosks were either having no effect on staff levels or in some cases increasing them because of the boost the machines were giving sales.

That is, of course, the sort of thing you'd expect them to say. After all, replacing workers with machines is bad PR. But marketing material from kiosk manufacturers also suggests that the main draw of these devices is not savings on labor costs.

When the kiosk maker Zivelo touts the advantages of its products, for example, it cites more accurate order-taking, easier upselling, faster ordering, and enabling companies to "redeploy the workforce to more strategic customer retention and dining room management initiatives." Notably missing is any mention of reduced labor costs.

If you're trying to discern the negative consequences of the minimum wage, you should focus less on flashy new machines and more on mundane responses, like job losses, hours cuts, and higher prices.

Seattle, one of the nation's early adopters of a $15 minimum wage, is a great example. In June 2017, the University of Washington found that the city's wage law had actually cost low-income workers $125 by reducing the number of jobs and workable hours available.

At the time I asked Mars Maynard, general manager for the Seattle bookstore Ada's Technical Books, how his business was responding. "We have changed our store hours a little bit, we have changed our staffing hours, we've reduced staffing hours, and we have raised prices," said Maynard. Automation did not come up.

When Minneapolis was preparing to raise its minimum wage a couple weeks later, Steve Minn—the owner of several affordable housing complexes in the city—told me he'd likely compensate for the new costs by reducing the frequency of janitorial service, not by buying more Roombas.

Minimum wage laws do a lot of bad things, but those new kiosks at McDonald's are not among them.

Photo Credit: Richard B. Levine/Newscom

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  • Michael S. Langston||

    For starters, McDonald's has stressed time and again that its adoption of these kiosks is less about avoiding the costs of human workers and more about capturing the benefits that come with the new technology.

    I'm sure they do, as any large corporation stating openly, this move to automation is about significantly reducing human employees will face a certain, swift, and direct backlash from many.

    Furthermore, it's incorrect to state minimum wage has no impact for two reasons:

    1. It changes the cost/benefit structure and therefore must impact any fiduciary decsions
    And
    2. Given self service kiosks exist in all kinds of places for years, but McDs is only rolling out now with these additional pressures.

    Technically it's possible this is all coincidence, but unlikely given the real cost savings.

  • BigT||

    ...some free-marketeers are giving these forced pay hikes undue credit for spurring technological innovation implementation.

    FIFY

  • Michael S. Langston||

    I wouldn't say some/any/all free-market proponents are doing anything here as this is just a basic economic reality.

    Though note, giving 'credit' to the increases in minimum wage, doesn't mean it's the only cause.

    But the article tries to make the case the the cost difference between automation and the status quo is irrelevant.

    And that's ludicrous.

  • MarioLanza||

    The article's author's "logic": "Well a book store didn't turn to automation and a janitorial service didn't turn to roombas. Therefore minimum wage is not the impetus for McDonald's turning to kiosks."

    Wow. The stupid is strong in this one.

  • MarioLanza||

    "Though note, giving 'credit' to the increases in minimum wage, doesn't mean it's the only cause."

    No one is saying this. There many other ways that Big Brother makes the costs to employ someone go up. Thanks, Big Bro'!

    But look at the bright side: the unemployed and on the dole are really reliable Democratic voters. That's what it is all about, isn't it?

  • BambiB||

    Can't believe that Reason swallowed this hook, line, sinker, pole...
    If business is up, that may require more workers. But when business declines, you think the machines will go away? So in effect, machines are displacing human workers, and MacDonalds (for now) is keeping the labor usage up (temporarily) - perhaps to suppress backlash. A year or two in, once the technology is fully fine-tuned, without any fanfare, they will reduce worker hours and headcount. Because the two events are separated by a year or two, far fewer people will make the connection. So while it's true that the arrival of automation isn't instantly reducing headcount, this should be seen as part of the public relations strategy, not as actually "creating" new jobs.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Exactly.

    When I walk into McDougals to order one Big Mac combo large with Coke,and one Double Quarter-Pounder combo large with a diet Coke, and a big chocolate frosty, I'd much rather type that than say it.

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    Especially because a Frosty® is a Wendy's registered trademark.

  • Don't look at me.||

    No wonder it's so embarrassing to order it at McDonald's.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Have it your way, bitches.

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    That's Burger King.

    You can't beat the King's meat™.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Dairy Queen can

  • Haha, charade you are||

    With markets, you can Live Mas

  • The Last American Hero||

    Arby's has the meats.

  • gphx||

    That's the cashier's name, dumbass.

  • Nom de Sobriquet||

    Enh. Say what you want, but, I'd rather type it into a kiosk than try to place an order with a 17 year old reprobate who thinks his/her labor is worth more than it is. I'm not trying to paint with a broad brush, but if something like this pushes out those without customer service skills in favor of those with an understanding of smiling and asking "how can I help you?" - instead of smacking gum and asking "wuchoowant?" - I'm in favor.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    Sheetz has had them for 20 years. They're inevitable, but labor prices hikes will accelerate the process.

    I like being able to type my order and not have to worry about someone with no English skills trying to understand me. And I can customize to my heart's delight.

    Drive thru:
    "Eh, what kind of pop you got?"
    "Que?"

    Don't even need "Big Macs" and "Double Cheesburgers" anymore. Just build your order.
    Chicken or burger?
    Cheese or not? What kind?
    What veggies?
    What sauces?
    Which bun?
    Done

    That's why I love Sheetz
    Grilled chicken breast
    double provolone
    guacamole
    pico de gallo
    sour cream
    shredded lettuce
    diced tomatoes
    grilled onions & peppers
    brioche bun
    Enjoy!

  • CDRSchafer||

    Me too because the workers almost always screw up the order. That's another reason I like kiosks.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    fingering these kiosks

    Somebody started that debate earlier.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Robosex

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Well, that didn't take long. I am glad someone else clicks on Christian for the articles.

  • HGW xx/7||

    "But...but...but it takes the nimble hands of a living, breathing artistan to get that ideal half-regular, half-diet Coke mix perfect!!"

  • Longtobefree||

    Yeah, the nimble hands of the living breathing (?) customer at the self-serve soda machine - - - - - -

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    A couple of things seem to be happening here. The minimum wage increases may not speed innovation ( a claim I don't see proven here) but they do appear to be speeding implementation. Which, in the form of an automated ordering experience, is debatably a form of innovation.

    And, reading through the article I saw this

    If you're trying to discern the negative consequences of the minimum wage, you should focus less on flashy new machines and more on mundane responses, like job losses, hours cuts, and higher prices.

    Are the two highlighted items unrelated to kiosks? They don't seem to be, quite the opposite actually. So, I'm left wondering what case the author thinks he is making.

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    I am not satisfied with your comment. You BROKE your GUARANTEE!

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    You can have your money back. Guarantee satisfied.

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    But I'm still not satisfied. Sexually or otherwise.

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    Who said anything about your satisfaction?

    *finishes post coital cigarette*

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Goddamnit, you give Red Tony a reach around right now, you monster!

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    What if a business deems a human employee more productive than a kiosk at 10$ an hour, but not at 15$?

    Surely automation is at least to some degree a way of expressing that price interference? And if the human really was more useful than the kiosk at that wage level, than that is clearly a market distortion.

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    Shh don't confuse the author with good points.

    Hey, a Kiosk will only mess my order up once a week instead of all the time like an employee.

  • ||

    Hey, a Kiosk will only mess my order up once a week instead of all the time like an employee.

    Sure, that once a week screw up will involve a lifetime supply of big macs and/or collapse the economy of a small country every third week but, such is progress.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Lookit, people.
    Britches destroyed PM Linques, he is now on track to destroy Hit@##$%%^^ampersandRun in toto.

    Don't you get it?

  • markm23||

    I expect that 99.9% of screwed up orders from kiosks will be customer mistakes. Of course, as always, the majority of screwups will still be a minimum wage worker putting the wrong item in the bag or tray, not a mis-entered order.

    And if "all the time" at McDonald's is more than "once a week", you have a problem.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    ...then that is clearly a market distortion.

    The sad thing is that I'm actually not intoxicated when I write these posts.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Guest Experience Leaders

    So is a Guest Experience Leader someone who leads me through my grand Guest Experience journey?

  • Citizen X||

    Presumably, one of the Guest Experience Leader's duties is talking people down from the ledge when the full existential horror of eating at McDonald's hits.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    At regularly eat McDonald's breakfast, and look how I turned out!

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I knew I'd eventually find a reason to envy you.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    When it got to the point where I could bang the biscuit on the counter top, I went to Chik-Fil-A

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    When you stare into the depths of the Abyss, the Abyss stares back.

  • General Skarr's Prize Petunias||

    Why you gotta make every comment thread about your butthole?

  • Agammamon||

    Eating anywhere involves blanking out the existential horror of living in a universe with entropy.

  • Arcxjo||

    There's a woman at my local McDonald's who apparently gets paid to walk around in costumes (a turkey in November, Uncle Sam in July, etc.). I've been trying to figure out for a year what her actual job was.

  • VinniUSMC||

    Guest Experience Leader is a fancy way of saying "janitor".

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    They're fattening her up for the Christmas burgers

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    He is the guy who offers you cologne in the twa-lette.

  • Rhywun||

    Reduced labor costs is bad PR for the kiosk manufacturer too. I wouldn't be so credulous as the author in believing everything they say (or don't say).

    Also, why would an independent bookstore look into automation? I doubt it's economically feasible for anything other than huge nationwide chains at this point.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Depends on how you define automation. A more efficient register/payment system could reduce the staffing needs at a bookstore from 3 to 2, or 2 to 1.

  • Rhywun||

    Fair enough. I assumed the author had in mind some sort of self checkout machines that would eliminate the need for any ckeckout staff.

    PS. I'm not buying for a second that McD's won't reduce their staff to a skeleton crew - especially once the automatic burger makers are rolled out. They are all about efficiency.

  • jdd6y||

    Yes. That is exactly what I thought. I happen to own a fairly successful retail food business. I promise you that the manufacturer has an analysis of payback in terms of saved labor costs. That is what all the manufacturers that I've dealt with in considering automating a portion of our processes say. Sure, there are other benefits, speed for one, not just insofar as it saves labor costs, but simply additional throughput that is constrained by the size of my commissary.

    The automation would not do much for customer service. If it does, it shows how shitty the status quo is. It would help you maintain a smaller staff, which reduces turnover, and allows you to eliminate the worst employees you have. It allows you to focus the humans where humans are more beneficial.

    This has everything to do with McDonald's not being able to find workers, frankly.

  • Homple||

    Can't find workers at the wages they want to pay, anyway.

  • JWatts||

    Bingo. There are too many people that never fully grasp that the labor supply is a curve versus wages.

    I fully support McDonald setting their own standards, but the idea that they couldn't raise wages and have plenty of employees is ridiculous. Granted, they might not be profitable,which is why they don't.

    But the limit on functional employees is based upon their pay scales, not on the labor pool.

  • DarrenM||

    Then the government is doing them a favor by forcing them to pay more. Right?

  • Bubba Jones||

    Um, every decision is a cost/benefit decision.

    Higher minimum wages reduce the incremental cost of implementing the innovation benefits. And possibly yield absolute savings.

    Time for Britches to get a real job for a while.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Those who have never had the pressure to meet payroll each week don't know how things work.

  • SIV||

    "Would you like Tide Pods with that"?

  • Mongo||

    It's 'McKiosk', fuckface.

  • Falcon53||

    Funny you used McDonalds as an example, because they ARE trying to cut costs through automation. The company still washes dishes by hand. McD's is considering adding commercial dishwashers to their restaurants, and it's hard to justify any other explanation other than cost savings.

    Not that a commercial dishwasher is a new technology, but it certainly is automated.

    None of this is a bad thing.

  • Bubba Jones||

    The problem with automated dishwashers is that they aren't an efficient use of time or real estate.

  • Ron||

    some cities in the false belief that paper packaging is bad for the environment are now requiring places to use real plates etc. of course this ignores the fact of how much energy and water is wasted in cleaning those dishes.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Not much if you dip them all in the same tub of soapy water...

  • JWatts||

    Real plates are cheaper than disposable plates if you ignore the labor involved in bringing them to the kitchen, sorting, cleaning and racking them. So, a cheap dish washing robot would be a cost savings and eliminate the paper. But we're not there, yet. (Probably not much longer though).

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    These are the same people who drive coal powered cars.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    "The company still washes dishes by hand."

    What McD's has dishes???

  • Falcon53||

    The trays they hand you and the containers that they warm the food in. Have a look in the kitchen next time you go.

  • Ron||

    Of course McDe wouldn't say its about Minimum wage because they know that would get the government involved just like it did when Boeing moved to another state to avoid Union wages

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Boeing also didn't want to put up with WA democrat regulatory bullshit anymore too.

  • Dillinger||

    talk to a human to order "food"? fuck that.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The entire point of using automation is to reduce labor costs.

  • ||

    The entire point of using automation is to reduce labor costs.

    Sometimes it's to achieve feats unattainable by current labor standards at any cost.

  • Pro Libertate||

    No one can screw up orders like entitled kids. Service is at an all time low. Bring on automation.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I have found myself having to explain my order to a young kid about 2-3 times recently. Chick-Fil-A has pretty good customer service but many food chains do not.

  • Agammamon||

    *sort of*.

    In the McDonald's example here, its to maintain labor costs while being able to deploy human labor to other areas - while maintaining the capabilities a restaurant already has.

    In this case, shifting personnel from the back (cooking/cleaning/order taking) to the front (cleaning tables, waitstaff/greeters).

    They're not *technically* reducing labor costs, only making their labor more efficient so they can do more with what they have.

    Unfortunately Britschi interprets that as 'increasing wage bills isn't what is spurring increasing automation' when what's happening is a mixture of businesses looking for efficiency gains to do more with their labor *and* businesses looking to reduce wage bills.

  • The Last American Hero||

    If you think they are going to take 3 people from behind the counter and have them all working up front cleaning, you have never worked at or managed a McDonalds. At best, it's one person getting moved and 2 heading to unemployment.

  • marshaul||

    The entire point of using automation is to reduce labor costs.

    That is certainly not axiomatically true. It may be arguable in some cases, but it's blatantly wrong in others.

    I work in automation, for a small company. In many instances we spend as many man-hours (and more expensive ones at that, being engineer man-hours) developing our automated systems as we would hiring technicians to simply carry out their tasks.

    What's the benefit? It's simple, and it's an ancient economic principle, albeit here in a nano-scale: comparative advantage. We shift human effort to where it is best-utilized and more effective: design. And we shift machine effort to where it is best-utilized: performing repetitive tasks with extremely high reliability. The cost of labor is often about the same, but frankly isn't even a consideration in the first place.

    We are optimizing for consistency and quality of outcome, and it's merely a side-benefit that we create more intellectually engaging jobs than rote ones. Moreoever, due to the nature of this comparative advantage, we wouldn't improve our outcome by simply throwing more labor at it.

  • Curt||

    "Don't Blame the Minimum Wage for Those Self-Service Kiosks at McDonald's"

    Okay... can i give the minimum wage credit for it? Can I consider this to be one of the only actual positive outcomes of minimum wage increases?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Huh. Companies are more worried about the bottom line than more global socioeconomic issues. Artificially inflated wages are no less a cost than higher beef prices, regulatory compliance costs, or increasingly incompetent staff. If there are cost-effective changes that improve the business, why not make those changes?

  • LarryA||

    higher beef prices

    But higher beef prices, as well as higher prices for other ingredients, are also a function of higher minimum wages. The cost of hamburger patties isn't paid to the cows, it's paid to the workers who turn them into patties and transport them to the restaurant; workers who also qualify for the higher wages.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Some of the cost of beef is paid to the ranchers who raise the cattle.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    Higher beef prices are also a result of higher corn feed prices which are a result of ethanol mandates

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    THIS^^^^

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't not supersize that."

  • Rhywun||

    Hell, I'll eat at McDonald's again if it causes tripping balls.

  • BYODB||

    I don't know if I want to find a giant space baby in my burger, but hell I've seen worse on LSD I suppose.

  • ||

    "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't not supersize that."

    ALL THESE SERVICE KIOSKS ARE YOURS — EXCEPT NO. 7
    ATTEMPT NO ORDERS THERE

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    What's good for europa is good for international transfers at Shanghai pudong airport.

  • gimmeasammich||

    I doubt you're still checking this, but was the "Dave" quote referencing Airplane 2? If so well done. Sonny Bono's finest work for sure.

  • DarrenM||

    I believe it's 2001: A Space Odyssey. "Dave" is an astronaut. HAL is the computer apologizing.

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    Also, I used one of these in a tiny town outside Zaandam in the Netherlands, because McD's was the only thing in town still open. At 8pm. On a Saturday.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    That's one sad fucking town.

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    Oh yeah.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    I was at a conference and there was a dozen of us at 7 pm on a Thursday night on downtown Phoenix trying to find an open restaurant. We ended up the only folks in a South American fusion place.

  • Jerryskids||

    I've mentioned this here several times before, 25 years or so ago when I was working in Atlanta where a million people all go to lunch at the same time, I used to regularly eat at a Taco Bell (or a Del Taco, I don't remember) that was the fastest place to get in and out of I've ever seen. They had a serpentine line with these touch-screen kiosks where you'd place your order and it'd spit out a ticket you took to the cashier and paid for your order. The line moved fast since there were 10 or 12 people all ordering at the same time and all the cashier was doing was taking money and making change, not punching in orders. In the few minutes it took you to get to the lone cashier, the 15 people working in the back had your order ready since they got started when you placed your order, not when you paid for it. The manager there told me this was a prototype system developed by a local company they were testing and for some reason it never got rolled out system-wide. Maybe there's some volume threshold you have to have to make the system cost-effective, but just the fact that the customer's the one entering the order so there's none of this "you screwed up my order" by the jackass in front of you time-wasting aggravation has to count for something.

  • ||

    Technically, even the kiosks are obsolete. Everybody already carries a mobile kiosk in their pocket that's capable of submitting their order and paying before they even arrive at the restaurant.

    One thing not being considered or addressed is the 'Third Space' concept. Kiosks don't toss out loitering black men and make more room for offering restrooms to each of the n-possible genders.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Not everyone has a cell phone.

    Not everyone is willing to be forced to order food on their cell phone. Kiosks allow walk-ins to order food without drastic change.

  • ||

    Not everyone has a cell phone.

    Not everyone is willing to be forced to order food on their cell phone. Kiosks allow walk-ins to order food without drastic change.

    Not everyone has a car for a drive thru window and not everyone who has a car is willing to eat in it. My point wasn't to mandate how a restaurant run their business or how the customers should buy their food as much as point out that in the whole "Manned vs. unmanned registers" labor debate the question "Do we even need (all these) registers?" isn't an insignificant one.

  • markm23||

    More to the point, not everyone wants to try to read and select icons on a tiny screen, and I expect that very few people will want to allow fifteen different restaurant chains to load 15 different apps on their cell phone. I'd be reluctant to allow even one - since undoubtedly it would include 2,000 words of fine print saying that they aren't responsible for malware.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Interesting point. Fast food could just be a hole in a wall out of which your food pops. Order and pay through your phone. Sounds perfect for a food truck.

    Timing of food pickup seems like the trick. Maybe only allow orders in proximity?

  • marshaul||

    Timing of food pickup seems like the trick.

    Not really. This onus can be left on the customer, who has ample incentive (wanting fresh food) to meet it.

    I've been ordering most of my takeout meals by phone for years, long before this discussion was a thing. I place my order at such a time so as to arrive when the food is ready (or at least still fresh), based on their provided estimate and my own experience.

    And I know full well that if I show up 2 hours later and my food is cold, that's entirely on me.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    Sheetz does that too. Order and pay on your phone, pick it up at the store.

  • gormadoc||

    You're kidding, right? The prospect of higher minimum wages is certainly a factor. If MD was allowed to hire and capable of hiring workers at sufficiently low wages they'd use them instead of kiosks. The minimum wage forces them to make do with fewer workers than they otherwise would, making kiosks an attractive supplement or replacement.

    Wendy's is also phasing in kiosks and explicitly did so in response to rising wages resulting from both legislation and competition. It would be ridiculous to imagine that MD, which is hiring from the same general pool with the same general job conditions and competing in the same job market, isn't feeling the same pressure from wages.

  • jdd6y||

    I thought the article was really naive slash uninformed about the retail food space so I looked up the author's background on linkedin. Unsurprisingly, the author has no business experience or education, and has been out of Portland State a whole 2 years working primarily as a Reason intern. So that is why he took the for-public-consumption claims of McDonald's and the mfr at face value. He doesn't know any better.

  • Johnny Lawrence||

    Yeah, this article was a mess.

  • marshaul||

    If MD was allowed to hire and capable of hiring workers at sufficiently low wages they'd use them instead of kiosks.

    Yes, the fact that McDonald's can't hire capable workers at $7.50/hr is because they are not allowed. I for one really want to take a huge pay cut and show the local McDonald's employees how it's done, but the government doesn't allow it.

    Oh, wait.

  • ||

    The advantage of the kiosks is dealing with someone who is not borderline retarded. Recently, I ordered a chicken snack wrap without mayo. It came out without cheese and lettuce too. I then looked at my receipt, and the idiot cashier keyed in my "no mayo" request as "plain." I would never have made that mistake had I been at a kiosk.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I once got a plain dry burger for my kid that had no meat on it. Wtf.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I got one like that too. Except mine also had no bun. Very tasty though.

  • Agammamon||

    Isn't that called 'a salad'?

  • ||

    The advantage of the kiosks is dealing with someone who is not borderline retarded.

    Racists

  • TxJack 112||

    agreed. Last weekend it took my family 35 minutes to get our food because they gave it all to someone in the drive through. Even after my wife asked and was told it had been given away, they still could not remember the order. She had to ask to speak to the manager. Only then, did getting the food made and in our hands become a priority. Machines do not act like bozos.

  • marshaul||

    I ordered a chicken snack wrap without mayo

    Communist.

  • Fooseven||

    The entire fast food experience is one of shame, so getting rid of the cow-eyed employee component is a no brainer.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I thought the employees were the no brainer.

  • Marshal||

    This seems like Trump reasoning.

    Bookstore operations show fast food drink kiosk investments are not impacted by rising labor costs.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You mean cost analysis?

  • The Last American Hero||

    Bookstores don't use bar code scanners, automated point of sale systems, and computerized inventory management?

  • BYODB||


    The minimum wage does indeed fuel unemployment, and these commenters' hearts are in the right place for lampooning the policy. But fingering these kiosks as an example of the minimum wage's ill effects gives the regulation undue credit for an otherwise positive development while ignoring the real costs of the policy.


    I see Christian didn't take economics in college or high school. A damn shame for a libertarian.

  • netizen||

    Actually he probably did take in it high school. This is what economics is like in the hands of public high school teachers.

  • Troglodyte Rex||

    Most times I go to a fast food joint, there is usually only one order taker/cashier. I don't think this is as big a deal as whiny snowflakes would like to make it out to be.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    That's the Wendy's model and works much faster than the old McD's model of several registers where one person took your order, your money and gave you the food.

  • marshaul||

    Most times I go to a fast food joint, there is usually only one order taker/cashier. I don't think this is as big a deal as whiny snowflakes would like to make it out to be.

    Agreed. While it's clear that Christian will benefit much from more practice as a writer, and can stand to improve his rhetorical defense (that is, argument-making abilities), I think his point is essentially correct here.

    The fact that the commentariat is so unreceptive of this point has much more to do, I think, we the fact that it has been overrun by thinly-disguised Republican partisans, who feel the tribal obligation to rush to the defense of their Team, who are having their current group-think talking point challenged.

    The author did not argue that no automation can be linked to labor costs, merely that McDonald's may be being made into a talking point over a decision that actually has little to do with that point. While plenty of labor costs have been and will continue to be saved by automation, it is indeed doubtful that the local McDonald's is actually saving money buying this gear and paying for maintenance techs vs that one bottom-tier cashier's wage.

    As many commenters have pointed out, customers already prefer kiosks for obvious reasons (e.g. order-taking accuracy). And I have no doubt that McDonald's needn't lie when they say customers order more when presented with a machine over a human: the machine can't judge.

  • Sevo||

    "The author did not argue that no automation can be linked to labor costs, merely that McDonald's may be being made into a talking point over a decision that actually has little to do with that point. While plenty of labor costs have been and will continue to be saved by automation, it is indeed doubtful that the local McDonald's is actually saving money buying this gear and paying for maintenance techs vs that one bottom-tier cashier's wage."

    You claim the capital and expense costs are higher than the result of (and the expected future result of) legal market distortions; prove it.
    The author blew it and you apologia does nothing to rectify the mistake. Your tribalism is noted.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, and:

    "...thinly-disguised Republican partisans, who feel the tribal obligation to rush to the defense of their Team, who are having their current group-think talking point challenged..."

    Undisguised bullshit noted.

  • DajjaI||

    It's true. My tobacconist explained it to me.

  • Arcxjo||

    I'm not buying it because I've tried to use their god-awful mobile app. Expect not being able to pay with cash or a gift card, some menu items not being available to order, the machine crashing every time you try to start an order, and your order not getting sent to the kitchen unless you go over to the counter to have an employee submit it for you.

  • FD||

    The plethora of empirical data you provide convinced me---- Jesus.... how does an editor even allow an empty belch of a piece such as this?
    A reason why I hardly check in anymore.

  • FD||

    The plethora of empirical data you provide convinced me---- Jesus.... how does an editor even allow an empty belch of a piece such as this?
    A reason why I hardly check in anymore.

  • Sevo||

    I know if I were a Mikey D's franchise owner, having to pay $15/hr to some whiney kid who shows up about half the time wouldn't affect my decision to automate the crap out of my operation.
    No, Mr or Ms City Supervisor, your stupidity regarding the effects of raising the MW has nothing to do with these can't-strike kiosks over here. You can ask Christian right here if you don't believe me.
    Nope! Nothing to do with it...
    (snurkle, snurkle, giggle....)

  • ||

    The minimum wage only fuels unemployment because employers have been giving their employees a small pay cut almost every year for decades. The main argument against raising the minimum wage, every time it is proposed, is that in a free market, wages will be self-adjusting since an employer who fails to pay market value for labor won't be able to hire anyone.

    But it turns out not to work that way. For a present day worker -- at almost ANY income bracket -- to be as wealthy as a worker from 1968, the minimum wage would need to be approximately $22 an hour. Employers don't HAVE to raise their wages above the minimum, and every higher pay scale is based on that minimum, so you wind up with employers "forgetting" to adjust for inflation unless forced to by a minimum wage increase.

    That lack of adjustment for inflation is a de facto pay cut every quarter, despite the employee seeming to make the same amount of money. Over time and a large work force, those pay cuts add up to big time profits. Raising the minimum wage only increases prices when companies decide they must keep their wage-theft generated, artificially high profits AND meet their new payroll obligations. If they'd roll some of those profits back into paying the wages they have been promising and lying about for decades, we could have fair wages AND affordable prices.

    But I won't hold my breath.

  • Sevo||

    Bull
    .
    .
    .
    shit.

  • Agammamon||

    The minimum wage only fuels unemployment because employers have been giving their employees a small pay cut almost every year for decades. [citation needed]The main argument against raising the minimum wage, every time it is proposed, is that in a free market, wages will be self-adjusting since an employer who fails to pay market value for labor won't be able to hire anyone.[please show your work]

  • Sevo||

    G-guy's assumption here is simple and the result of a simpleton's thinking:
    Some one "controls" the market, and to assholes like G-guys, the market is controlled by employers.
    Hint, G-guy, for what it's worth, no one "controls' the market unless we let the government to do so. In which case, I hope they shoot you first.

  • Gracchus||

    Generally speaking, employers do "control" the labor market in the sense that they have the edge in the bargaining position. And in sectors with high market concentration, this power is exacerbated.

  • Sevo||

    Gracchus|6.7.18 @ 1:00AM|#
    "Generally speaking, employers do "control" the labor market in the sense that they have the edge in the bargaining position."

    Lefty fantasy.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    I don't know what it's like where you are but around here, there are lots of help wanted signs in fast food restaurant windows. Seems to me that prospective employees have plenty of choices available. Don't know how hard it is for employers to get someone in the door, but it would appear they're not able to make "take it or leave it" offers.

  • ||

    What choice do they have, when every employer bases their pay scales on the same minimum wage?

  • Sevo||

    Gindjurra|6.8.18 @ 9:47AM|#
    "What choice do they have, when every employer bases their pay scales on the same minimum wage?"

    Find a lone of work which isn't largely M/W?
    How hard was that?

  • ||

    What choice do they have, when every employer bases their pay scales on the same minimum wage?

  • Sevo||

    Oh, and
    Gracchus|6.7.18 @ 1:00AM|#
    "Generally speaking, (bullshit, bullshit bullshit)"
    It's no wonder you post here so infrequently! A fucking lefty imbecile like you is probably tired or having your hat handed to you.

  • Gracchus||

    "It's no wonder you post here so infrequently! A fucking lefty imbecile like you is probably tired or having your hat handed to you."

    Some of us have lives outside of a B-level magazine catering to "cosmotarians" and their populist-minded commentators.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Over time and a large work force, those pay cuts add up to big time profits."

    There are "big time profits" to be had in the restaurant industry? Who knew?

  • Sevo||

    Not the G-guy above. S/he thought someone else was making all that dough.
    G-guy is a lefty imbecile.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "For a present day worker -- at almost ANY income bracket -- to be as wealthy as a worker from 1968, the minimum wage would need to be approximately $22 an hour."

    $22 in 1968 would buy you maybe 15 minutes or so of long distance phone time yet there can't be more than two or three present day workers who don't have smartphones with unlimited talk/text.

    I think you have confused "money" with "wealth".

  • Don't look at me.||

    The whole thing was a mish-mash jumble of brain dead never had to make a dime in my life thinking.
    If profits are so fucking easy to make, why isn't this asswipe out there using this theory and making himself rich?

  • gphx||

    If you find a phone from 1968 and plug it in it'd still work. In 1968 people didn't have to buy a new phone every year or two at $900 each and be lucky to pay off the old one before someone demands they replace it.

    Back in the day if you wanted to get away from marketers, pollsters, needy relatives, or demanding employers all you had to do was drive away from your home phone. Nowadays not being plugged in, tracked, and on call 24/7/365 to such demands is impermissible.

    I think you have confused 'wealth' with 'enslavement'.

  • Greenforce||

    Is it that hard to set your phone to silent?

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "If you find a phone from 1968 and plug it in it'd still work."

    Assuming you're paying for phone service. Lots of people don't.

    "In 1968 people didn't have to buy a new phone every year or two at $900 each and be lucky to pay off the old one before someone demands they replace it."

    If your point is that some people have to have the latest and greatest, I sure wouldn't argue with you but I've had my phone for about five years now, it cost me $40. Nobody is demanding that I replace it.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Of course in 1968, the government began fucking around with providing health insurance to the poor and elderly. 45 years of double digit cost increases later, idiots wonder why there is wage stagnation. Couldn't be because the amount employers are paying for health insurance is gobbling up all the employee compensation money, could it?

  • LarryA||

    That lack of adjustment for inflation is a de facto pay cut every quarter,

    Raise the cost of labor, and you raise the cost to produce the goods, which means the employer has to raise the price of the goods, which means the workers pay more to buy them, which wipes out any gain the workers make. Except that government takes a bigger cut, and the workers lose ground.

  • Mark22||

    The minimum wage only fuels unemployment because employers have been giving their employees a small pay cut almost every year for decades.

    The missing wage increases have gone into regulatory compliance and benefits. But that's irrelevant anyway; the effect of the minimum wage on employment is independent of why people are earning what they are earning.

    The main argument against raising the minimum wage, every time it is proposed, is that in a free market, wages will be self-adjusting since an employer who fails to pay market value for labor won't be able to hire anyone.

    No, the main argument against the minimum wage is that it isn't a compulsion on employers, rather it is a restriction of workers. Employers will never pay $15/h to a worker who isn't worth $15/h to them, but a worker who isn't worth $15/h isn't allowed to sell his labor for less under a $15/h minimum wage.

  • Gracchus||

    "No, the main argument against the minimum wage is that it isn't a compulsion on employers, rather it is a restriction of workers. Employers will never pay $15/h to a worker who isn't worth $15/h to them, but a worker who isn't worth $15/h isn't allowed to sell his labor for less under a $15/h minimum wage."

    I wouldn't say its the "main argument" against the minimum wage, but it is probably the most successful one. Flipping the minimum wage from being a benefit to workers to being a source of repression is pure genius from a meta-politicking POV.

  • Mark22||

    Flipping the minimum wage from being a benefit to workers to being a source of repression is pure genius from a meta-politicking POV.

    There is no "flipping". The minimum wage has never been and will never be a "benefit to workers" in general.

    The minimum wage, in fact, started out as an explicitly racist policy to exclude African Americans from the labor market.

  • Mark22||

    Over time and a large work force, those pay cuts add up to big time profits.

    US domestic profit margins are around 7% and haven't increased substantially since 1947. So the idea that corporations are enriching themselves by gradually cutting pay doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

    But I won't hold my breath.

    Please do. For around 7 minutes.

  • Gracchus||

    "US domestic profit margins are around 7% and haven't increased substantially since 1947. So the idea that corporations are enriching themselves by gradually cutting pay doesn't hold up to scrutiny."

    On the other hand, corporate profits as a % of GDP have risen substantially in the past quarter century, whereas the labor share of income has declined as a % of GDP. I wouldn't go so far as to say that economizing payroll is the primary reason for this, although I think we can all agree that cutting labor costs is probably the easiest way to get higher profits in the short-term (and even in the long-term).

  • Mark22||

    On the other hand, corporate profits as a % of GDP have risen substantially in the past quarter century, whereas the labor share of income has declined as a % of GDP.

    That's because US corporate profits contain lots of sales overseas:

    Because national income is defined as the income of U.S. residents, its profits component includes income earned abroad by U.S. corporations and excludes income earned in the United States by foreigners.
    I wouldn't go so far as to say that economizing payroll is the primary reason for this

    Your opinion in the matter is irrelevant because you obviously know nothing about economics.

  • DarrenM||

    What matters is not that you make more money each year, but that you make more in relation to your standard of living. If your wages decrease, but the standard of living that supports increases even more, you come out ahead. People seem to assume the standard of living is static, which is patently false.

    Most employers are certainly better at negotiating prices/wages than most employees, so one can argue that a MW helps offset that disadvantage for low-wage workers.

  • The Last American Hero||

    I could also argue that the sky is green, but that doesn't make it so.

    I also see a total lack of evidence that people are incapable of negotiating the terms of their employment.

  • Gracchus||

    "I also see a total lack of evidence that people are incapable of negotiating the terms of their employment."

    People with skills can generally do that, given that their skills are often in short-supply. Engineers, doctors, professional managers, etc tend to get contracts or have more leeway when it comes to "shopping around" for the best deal.

    But the plurality of workers are unskilled, especially in low-wage sectors like hospitality or fast food. Unless they have a union or benefit from a tight labor market, most low-skilled workers don't "negotiate" the terms of their employment; they either take the terms as they get or they find other work (or starve). Unfortunately for them, the poor conditions of low-skilled work are pretty standard in the economy; there's hardly any incentive for a businessman to improve these conditions, given the high turnover rates and thin profit margins in these low-wage sectors. Life as a low-wage worker generally sucks, although one could (somewhat sadistically) see it as a clear incentive for self-improvement.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    Or the employee can get a raise or a new job that pays more.

    When I was in college I was making $3.35/hour delivering pizza, flipping burgers and busing tables. That paid for school. Then I got 40 hours a week punching stuff into a computer at a bank for $4.80 an hour. A few months later I got into my field at $5 an hour. Two years later it was $11. I'm still there, but it's around $40, plus some overtime.

    IT'S ALL ABOUT SKILLS. Leftists are telling these folks that they never have to improve themselves, just demand more 'because they deserve it'. Reality is that they are selling their labor, and they will only get back what their labor is worth.

  • Gracchus||

    "IT'S ALL ABOUT SKILLS. Leftists are telling these folks that they never have to improve themselves, just demand more 'because they deserve it'. Reality is that they are selling their labor, and they will only get back what their labor is worth."

    Unfortunately, what someone's labor is "worth" fluctuates from month to month or even day to day depending on the industry. Changing oil prices, new consumer preferences, new management techniques, and a whole host of other factors beyond any individual's control can affect their productivity without them even doing anything. Of course, an individual should do everything in their power to improve their own condition, although that's easier said then done.

  • Rockabilly||

    I wish there were sexy robots who served the burger and fries.

  • Mark22||

    "Hey sexy mama, wanna kill all humans?"

  • The Last American Hero||

    I just assumed that Carl's Jr. would be rolling out that version of the kiosk.

  • Mark22||

    For starters, McDonald's has stressed time and again that its adoption of these kiosks is less about avoiding the costs of human workers and more about capturing the benefits that come with the new technology

    Well, if McDonald's says so, then it must be their true motivation! They obviously never look at labor costs, ever!

  • Beowulf||

    There may be a case to be made... unfortunately, Christian's article doesn't make it.

  • Longtobefree||

    As company spokesperson Terri Hickey told Buzzfeed yesterday, customers appear to be more likely to place larger orders when interacting with one of these kiosks.

    Because the carbon-based units are now all incompetent twits, and the less you order, the less they can screw up?
    Or because everyone under 60 is now spending all day every day locked into their own touch screen, and are no longer capable of face to face interactions?
    Who cares? It is McDonalds.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Based on my experience, the main thing driving adoption of these kiosks is McDonalds desire to make the ordering process as chaotic and humiliating as possible. And its working ! It ends up being a huge confused mob at the cashier counter...everyone wondering if they picked the optimum ordering method.

    Its like they've lost any sense of customer service. Most people will tolerate a reasonable wait, but they want the wait to be fair. Meaning, others can't just skip ahead of you at random. These things take the already unfair McDonalds multiple-lane ordering system, and add even more lanes. Wendy's does it better IMHO.

    Oh yeah, of course min wage are contributing to these. Jesus f-ing christ Reason. Get a grip.

  • TxJack 112||

    The basic problem with this entire debate is those on the left have a complete lack of understanding about why businesses exist and how fast food corporations operate. First, businesses exist to sell a product at a profit. They so not exist to create jobs. They create jobs because they require humans to make, sell and distribute their product. Second, McDonalds Corporation only owns about 2100 of the over 14,000 McD's in the world. The overwhelming majority are franchises, i.e. small businesses. They are required to purchase all their supplies, food and other items, including the building from the corporation who charges them for it. As a result, most McD's run on very slim profit margins. That is why owners typically own 3-5 stores. You cannot make a living off a single store. This is why when leftist idiots push to artificial wage increases, workers lose their jobs. Kiosks are a way for stores to increase profits by reducing labor and food costs. If a customer screws up and orders the wrong item, it is on them, not the store. The other issue no one wants to accept is jobs like McDonald's were always intended to be entry level jobs, not careers so if you are 35 yrs old, working as a cashier at McD's and struggle to live on your salary, that is on you, not the company. You are the one who made the decisions that put you in the situation.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "First, businesses exist to sell a product at a profit. They so not exist to create jobs."

    Winner winner, chicken dinner.

  • Sevo||

    "...if you are 35 yrs old, working as a cashier at McD's and struggle to live on your salary, that is on you, not the company. You are the one who made the decisions that put you in the situation."

    Exactly.
    Mikey Ds purposely makes the jobs un-demanding, since they pay low end wages and don't expect much initiative.
    You show no initiative and chose to stay in a low-paying job? Expect to keep getting low pay.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Don't forget flexibility of scheduling. McD's was a fine place to work as a teenager who was trying to fit in a job around school and activities, and there were other employees like the old guy working for spending money that like to get up early but could really only do a 4 hour shift since being on his feet for much longer was tough.

  • MicesNicely||

    My work involves interacting with humans. During my leisure time, such as ingesting nutritive foodstuffs, I prefer to interact with machines.

  • markm23||

    "ingesting nutritive foodstuffs"

    So we're no longer talking about McDonald's?

  • gphx||

    Only greedy people wouldn't be willing to eat dirty burgers.

  • Azathoth!!||

    We have reached a new development in the transition of Reason from libertarian playbook to regressive leftist bastion.

    Leftist mantras are employed right next to libertarian facts and readers are guided towards rightthink down pathways they already trust.

    This could indicate more clearly the left's intent to humiliate libertarianism before utterly destroying it. Or it could simply signal that the left tends to send libertarianism to the same demise suffered by it's predecessor, liberalism

    Either way, the necrosis has spread.

  • gphx||

    You're just racist against horseshit.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    90% of the articles are leftist bullshit.

    90% of the comments are libertarians saying the article is leftist bullshit. Except for Tony.

  • croaker||

    I want these kiosks.

    "We're finding with kiosks, customers tend to feel less rushed, take their time, browse the menu..."

    And the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons manning the front end aren't yelling "Order or get the fuck out" at you when you're standing on the back wall trying to decide what to order. If I'm not at the register, I'm still making up my mind. Duh. You think you're worth $15/hr? Not even close.

  • Haha, charade you are||

    Absolutely true. The unnatural (read: govt. forced) wage increases certainly make the kiosks more appealing, but they are not necessarily the sole cause of their implementations. I studied a Panera last year, conducting a detailed simulation, and found with statistical confidence that the most productive and efficient combination would be reducing the order takers to 1, use 4 ordering kiosks, then diverting the employees that were order takers to other jobs, such as cleaning or food prep, with the option for them to open a register in the event a large group walks in.

  • The Last American Hero||

    And nobody argued sole cause. They argued that if you raise the minimum wage by 50 percent, expect to see more kiosks as one of many ways the company will restructure. Other items that get less play were "expect fewer menu options, smaller stores when new ones open, and higher prices at the counter."

  • DarrenM||

    The MW increase was not a cause of automation, but it did speed it along. Companies have more incentive to automate jobs more quickly. However, those jobs that could be automated would still become automated if the cost/benefits were attractive.

    Reducing hours, even though this means less pay despite the MW increase, now allows MW workers to work more than one job to compensate.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Yes it is. Duh.

    Market interference changes market incentives. Decreasing the supply of one factor of production (labor) likely increases demand for alternatives (technology).

    Is leading with an obvious falsehood Reason's new clickbait strategy? They've done it a lot lately.

  • rferris||

    Wow, too long in academia?? Sure McDonald's says its about tech................they have a PR dept. , duh.
    What do you think spurred them to adopt this expensive tech if not the high cost of wages. People like dealing with people, so it was not customer service. The author misses the boat on this one!

  • Socialmisfit||

    There is little reasoning evident in this Reason magazine article.

    In business the automation vendors constantly knock on the door. Do the math and it does not pencil out. Raise the cost of manual labor and it suddenly pencils out.

    Of course having the government mandate wage increases helps spur investment in workforce automation.

    I am worried that Reason, like most other magazines, has been hijacked by the forces of leftism.

  • Peter Schaeffer||

    "I am worried that Reason, like most other magazines, has been hijacked by the forces of leftism"

    You can stop worrying and treat it as a fact. Reason is now just another left-wing rag.

  • markm23||

    Just having people with power in government _propose_ doubling the minimum wage spurs investment in workforce automaation. If you wait to see if it will go through, you won't have time to develop kiosks or burger-frying robots.

    And once they have the tech, most likely they'll install it whether or not the price of semi-competent labor went up...

  • XM||

    I used to eat at Mcdonalds occasionally because it was near where I used to work.

    I don't ever recall more than two people at the register. Most of the time, there was only one person. Sometimes a guy who looked like a manager took my order.

    They did have a kiosk at this location, and sometimes they had an employee stationed next to it. She actually punches in the order. I've seen people bring me food to my table, but Carl's Jr did the same thing years before the automation craze.

    Most Mcdonalds employees are part timers and can work on flex schedule (thanks ACA employer mandate). These kiosks work full time and will never unionize. Convenience might be primary factor behind the rise of automation, but the franchisees who sunk in their own money to run Mcdonalds would not have used kiosks if they didn't foresee some longer term savings.

  • The Last American Hero||

    News flash, but when I worked there 30 years ago most employees were part time and worked a flex schedule. One of the few factors a store manager can impact is labor, so overtime can be real problematic. They would not schedule anybody for over 30 hours so that you could pick up a shift for a sick employee and still not get OT.

  • SFC Steven M Barry USARET||

    Just how is Libertarianism any different than Communism? After all, they are both Jewish.

  • Sevo||

    "Just how is Libertarianism any different than Communism? After all, they are both Jewish."

    A representative of the Imbecilic Bigots just showed up.

  • johngray0||

    No one is talking about the best part, which is on the customer's side. That we don't have to have complicated dialogs with humans who have attained barely functional literacy. If that.
    Indeed, look at the tech additions McD's has been adding for decades. Each innovation is a race to blunt the effects of the ever shrinking education level of the workers. And task requiring reading, processing, or god forbid, math, has been scrubbed out of the fast food work flow.
    The kiosk is just the logical end: Don't patch the problems of the under-educated worker. Replace him.

    To be fair, customers are just as stupid. For the more intelligent part of the McD's workforce, they are probably relieved not to have to interact with customers, either.

  • dwshelf||

    I think the author is guilty of believing PC BS.

    If you do something to reduce labor costs, you're better off discussing some secondary reasons as if there were no primary reason.

  • Bob Armstrong||

    On the basis of my extremely limited sample it seems like kiosks are being adopted in Europe faster than here . I think I first saw them in Prague .

    The solve several problems :
    o You can have more kiosks than feasible for order takers , reducing lines

    o With use of plastic , it reduces currency translation problems -- which , despite the Euro , I was in 4 countries with 4 different currencies .

    o It eliminates language problems with essentially the first choice being the flag you recognize as your language for the rest of the transaction .

  • Peter Schaeffer||

    "Government-mandated price hikes do a lot of things. Spurring technological innovation is not one of them."

    What nonsense. Early in the 20th century most immigrants were employed in manufacturing. Around WWI, the government imposed severe restrictions on immigration. Faced with an end to mass immigration, manufacturing wages increased and productivity rose massively. Quotes from "The U.S. Economy in the 1920s"

    "In general, in manufacturing there was a rapid rate of growth of productivity during the twenties. The rise of real wages due to immigration restrictions and the slower growth of the resident population spurred this."

    "These trends can be seen in the data in Table 3. Labor productivity grew much more rapidly during the 1920s than in the previous or following decade. Capital productivity had declined in the decade previous to the 1920s while it also increased sharply during the twenties and continued to rise in the following decade."

    Immigration restriction raised both wages and productivity. Exactly what you expect from Econ 101.

  • Sevo||

    "Faced with an end to mass immigration, manufacturing wages increased and productivity rose massively."
    Given such malarky, it's not surprising that the book does not show up under any search.

  • spec24||

    I'd prefer to have more Reason articles that use more reasoning and less proclamations. There is nothing here to convince me that minimum wage laws don't rush the adoption of automation. In fact, there are several things that do just the opposite. "More accurate order taking" IS reduced labor costs!!

  • The gouch||

    "F" THEM!!!! I needed 30 employee's to fill my quotochant to fulfill the obligation's of contracts ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, all they had to do was breathe,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 2 were limp wrist,, 3 were democraps who were/wanted special hours,,, 1 was a mooooooooooslim who wanted space for his prayer rug,,, I closed the business and put 27 out of work!! DON;I you love AM!!!!!!

  • Spookk||

    Minimum wages laws are fine, but need to eliminate other ways employers with thousands of drones screw over the workers and customers as well.

    And add a side of caps on corporate executive pay...

  • Sevo||

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • CallMeDigitalBob||

    Yeah, Ben and Jerry's tried to cap their executive pay with the inevitable result being no one with the ability to run such a large company wanted to work for 8x what theit lowest earning employee makes. The problem is blue collar ignorance and people thinking anyone born with a silver spoon in their mouth can run a company. In truth it is a very small group of people who have the talent to pull it off and they don't come cheap because people who actually know what they are doing are few and far between.

  • Sevo||

    I shouldn't be amazed, but am, at the number of low-watt lefty bulbs who think that running a major company is showing up more often than they do and approving what the secretary wrote.
    I'll be happy to educate the lefties; my fees begin at $850/hour, payable in advance, two hour minimum, and I'm sure that will be the last I hear from you after we cover 'regulatory compliance'.

  • gamegame||

    Good article, thanks for sharing. lazy 1; handless millionaire

  • mulp||

    As incomes of McDonald's customers fall, it must cut its labor costs and it's other costs increase.

    But that means McDonald's will further help drive down incomes of larger blocks of workers, cutting consumer spending, forcing businesses to further cut labor costs.

    Liberals elites, meanwhile having higher incomes find businesses serving McDonald's workers too undesirable, shopping instead at Starbucks, While Food, and other premium price stores. In their jobs, liberal elites earn high incomes producing things that the working poor give up eating to afford: cell phones, medical care.

  • MatthewMannn||

    Oh... it will be good for my an essay writing website https://mcessay.com/. I have a lot of orders for last few weeks.

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen||

    If they're not going to give me a discount for doing the work myself, then I'm going to pick a human any time. That's why I don't scan and bag my own groceries. There's no financial incentive in it for me, and invariably takes me longer because the stupid scanner machine never is working right, and tells me I haven't placed my item in the bag when I really have!

  • The Last American Hero||

    Ok, Ok. Would you like us to get off your lawn now?

  • Sevo||

    "If they're not going to give me a discount for doing the work myself, then I'm going to pick a human any time."

    The "discount" means they won't have to raise the cost of your goods for the new M/W regs.
    You still want to pay the extra cost? I'll bet Mikey Ds will let you do so.

  • Pepe||

    Very disingenuous of this author. The perceived short-term increase in order size will wear off as consumers are generally not stupid in the long run. The justification for the capital expenditure is the labor savings- increased customer satisfaction is the cherry on top.

  • David Friedman||

    "the city's wage law had actually cost low-income workers $125"

    I do not know what that means. Is it $125 million reduction in income summed over all low-income workers? $125/year in average income of low-income workers? $125/worker reduction in income in the period since the law was adopted?

    So far as the central claim, I do not think the article provides enough evidence to support making it with such confidence. Economic outcomes are not unicausal. The kiosks reduce the amount of labor required for part of the service McDonald's is producing--all else being equal, that makes them more attractive the higher the wage for that labor.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Univ of Wa released the study, so you can look it up. Essentially, when you look at the population low wage workers, some made more money due to the wage increase, some lost their jobs, and most saw a reduction in hours since base rate and OT got expensive. In the final analysis, the typical low wage worker made $125 less in the year after the wage hike law changed than in the year before.

  • Rex Stetson||

    This article convinced me of the opposite of what its author was asserting.

  • CallMeDigitalBob||

    How is this guy writing for a web site called Reason?
    Of course it is because of labor costs. About the only thing the author got correct was yes, using technology to avoid hiring people is bad PR. McD's had the ability to replace a repetitive employee task with a technology giving multiple benefits that is easily scaled to 40,000 locations. Saying that McDonald's didn't do this because bookstores and property management companies can't is just nonsense.

  • soldiermedic76||

    During the late 70s and early 80s agriculture accelerated its automation. This corresponded with increasing costs. The farmers and ranchers I have spoken to from that period state the main reason was increasing labor costs and burdensome labor regulations.

  • Who needs a reason?||

    It might be an advantage to not have to communicate with a mumbling or white-people-hating counter attendant.
    .

  • DrHubert||

    Actually, unions & DEMS are the fault of kios in service industry

  • vek||

    It's nonsense to imply higher minimum wages didn't encourage them to explore stuff like this. It probably wasn't the SOLE factor in making the decision to deploy, but it was one of the factors, and may well have been enough to tip the scales in favor of this. I own a business. It's just common sense.

  • texexpatriate||

    Thanks for this essay. I was one who never thought the self-ordering computerized kiosk had anything to do with wages, but I am one who will never use them, ever. I dislike touch screen devices and won't use them. I use the most simple flip phone I could find. I have learned just enough about computers to navigate on them. There are plenty of other people of all ages just like me, too. McDonald's is my favorite fast-food restaurant and I use it 1-2 times a week, but if I could not order at a counter from a real person I would never go there again.

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