As protesters gathered at fast-food restaurants across the country on Thursday, Reason.tv was on the ground in New York City to see what all the fuss was about. What they found was a surprisingly sparse protest full of paid protestors.
Reason’s Nick Gillespie adds:
Regardless of how much solidarity or sympathy you might feel about the people who assemble your Triple Steak Stack or your Cheesy Gordita Crunch, this sort of demand is economic fantasy at its most delusional and counterproductive. Doubling the wages of low-skilled workers during a period of prolonged joblessness is a surefire way not just to swell the ranks of the reserve army of the unemployed but to increase automation at your local Taco Bell.
The push to hike fast-food wages is indicative not of a brutal new economy but of a labor movement that is not only disconnected from reality but also almost completely devoid of vision. Remember in the late 1980s and early 1990s when soothsayers were bitching and moaning about “McJobs” and the perils of becoming a “nation of burger flippers”? Back then, Big Labor was convinced that the North American Free Trade Agreement would export all but the most servile tasks down Mexico way (they were way, way wrong about that, by the way). Nowadays, the SEIU and other groups seem to see flipping burgers as positively aspirational.
It needn’t be. While there is nothing wrong with any job, the simple fact is that nobody is going to get rich—or even comfortably middle class—if his or her main gig is punching the buttons at a McCafe. The skills necessary to work there are simply not that advanced to increase wages exponentially and the entire economy of fast food is based on keeping prices—and by extension, wages—relatively low.