Pando Daily discovered that BadIdeaCA.com, a lobby group against an increase in the California minimum wage, put up this billboard this week, warning employees that they will be replaced by iPads if the minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour. Now, ignoring the fact that BadIdeaCA.com is funded by the lobby group for the tobacco industry, Berman & Co., whose founder was actually called “Dr. Evil” in a 60 Minutes report, along with the fact that the only real argument these guys tend to throw out is a mixture of stupid fear mongering and smear campaigns, the billboard itself shows an oblivious willful ignorance, both of economics and San Francisco’s love of tech.
On BadIdeaCA.com's website, the group warns that when San Jose upped its minimum wage to $10 in 2012, local restaurants raised prices and reduced hours and staff. Which makes perfect sense. In fact, the question becomes; why would a restaurant hire more people for more hours than they need? Why is a conservative lobby group so intent on avoiding the free market concept of failing when your business becomes unsustainable? If the only way you can survive is by paying your workers an unlivable wage, then maybe your business isn’t meant to be. Hell, why not pay people a dollar an hour? Why pay them at all? Obviously because the entire purpose of a minimum wage is to look out for those at the bottom of the pay scale, where salary negotiations, benefits, and job security are nonexistent.
Also confusing is the idea that it isn’t ALREADY cheaper to replace minimum wage workers with iPads. Working full time at the current California minimum wage, you’d hit the cost of an iPad within a week, and at least in San Francisco, we go nuts over automating service. Many businesses already implement some Square-like iPad system for checkout, and it only seems to draw customers and make existing employees' jobs easier. Finally, the argument that an iPad is going to replace servers is idiotic. Who is going to serve you the food? I can promise that an all automated delivery system costs a hell of a lot more than a $300 tablet.
Yes, minimum wage employers will have to adapt, maybe even suffer a little in the profit department so that workers aren’t screwed as badly as they’ve been for the last few decades. Maybe, just maybe, those who work minimum wage are in need of some support from the legislature, which could take a moment from giving another tax break for Facebook to help them. Maybe it’d be nice if those workers you’re threatening with replacement via iPad, BadIdeaCA.com, were actually able to afford their own iPads. Maybe.
[Via Pando Daily, photo Pando Daily]
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