Andrew Herzog, host of "Bonfire" on TheBlaze Radio Network, shares his take on self-checkout lanes and the rise of automation:
On my latest episode of "Bonfire," I ranted about self-checkout lanes.
Let me explain.
The local grocery store by my house decided it would be a good idea to remove their self-checkout lanes and install the typical express lanes. I’m not sure why they decided to do this since they already had express lanes. I am a fan of self-checkout because it’s quicker and more efficient. For some reason though, most people still elect to go through the express lanes, which was always good news for me since I’d be in and out of the grocery store within ten minutes. Unfortunately, this particular grocery store removed self-checkout and is now forcing me to wait in line, waste more of my time, and then pay them for it!
Obviously two more cashiers are needed on hand now to handle these new express lanes, and that costs money. Is the grocery store going to eat that expense? No, they will eventually pass the price onto people like me through their products. For some inexplicable reason, I am now giving more of my time and money for the same result of a checkout. That’s ridiculous and completely economically inefficient.
The takeaway here? You can’t stop technology. When the banks replace human tellers with kiosks, and when fast food replaces cashiers with touch screens, and when grocery stores replace their employees with self-checkout lanes, money and time are saved for everyone! No more training employees to take orders and push buttons. No more time wasted on my end explaining something to a cashier or waiting in line with fifteen other people to buy a gallon of milk. This is the capitalist way: making something better and more efficient for everyone.
I’m not being cold here. I don’t revel in lost jobs, but I don’t believe in keeping them for the sake of keeping them either. Employment is not the most critical aspect of an economy; after all, we could just employ half the country to dig holes and the other half of the country to fill them back in. Everyone would be employed but nothing of value would be created. A more important aspect of a healthy economy is increased efficiency and innovation. VHS tapes and typewriters are gone (along with everyone responsible for making them and maintaining them). But now we have streaming entertainment and smartphones more powerful than computers from the 1990s. That’s what I’m talking about!
You cannot stop technology, nor should you try.
Put the self-checkout lanes back or I will find another grocery store that understands basic economics.