Sunday, July 26, 2015

Walmart Defeats Yale

Yesterday afternoon, we went shopping at Walmart. There were plenty of obese, tatted-up folks, many speaking somewhat intelligible dialects.

In Los Angeles, they've decided to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They did this because Very Smart People who are Academics with tenure at Ivy League Universities have produced graphs and charts and equations that say this is a good idea.

My own daughter, recently graduated from high school and possessing an abundance of ambition, is not worth $15. The store where she works right now would look into replacing here with machinery should they be forced to pay her $15. She's getting crucial experience, skills and confidence that will help her someday produce $15 and more per hour of value. Judging from appearances and speech, many of the Walmart shoppers had dimmer prospects.

What's the plan for people who can't or won't do what it takes to gain skills making them worth $15 an hour? Are they expected to just sit at home watching daytime TV all their lives?

I'd suggest that the Ivy League geniuses, after completing their elaborate journal articles, spend several days at Walmart and the DMV and ask themselves if their conclusions really make sense.

Because they don't to me.


tom said...

Heh... I just got back from Wally World. Every trip reminds me that I need to work on my Mexican so I can survive.

And a few weeks ago I had to renew my license and spent an hour at the DMV. Overall I was in and out in less than an hour, which I consider a win (I also had to clear a lien on a car title), but I get the feeling that if the fire alarm went off, the staff would look up, note the alarm, and eventually contemplate evacuating.

In both places there's little sense of urgency. Raise the minimum wage without the workers even pretending to care for customers? There's a lesson there somewhere..

Trigger Warning said...

A Seattle-area nonprofit observed some workers recently asking for reduced hours, as they feared that their higher wages now put them at risk of losing housing subsidies.

I'm an advocate of making the minimum wage $1000/hr. That would reduce income inequality and the Gini Coefficient. It's just simple Progressive Maff.

tim eisele said...

Heck, even at $7.25/hour, automating away the job makes a lot of sense. You can buy some reasonably significant automation for even the $14,500/year it costs you to hire one full-time person (40 hrs/week, 50 weeks/year), and when you figure that automating away one job replaces people on two or three shifts plus eliminating their vacation replacements, that gets you more like $30,000 - $60,000 to work with per position automated. Heck, our local Wal-Mart has already automated away all of their baggers, and about 3/4 of their cashiers.

Basically, the unskilled jobs that currently pay minimum wage are going bye-bye, regardless of what the government decides to set the minimum wage at. Raising the wage will just make it happen sooner rather than later. I'd advise your daughter to learn how to install and repair robots (or design/program them) if she wants a job that won't be automated away. And if she doesn't like working with robots, find a job that requires common sense, good judgement, ability to do a wide range of different things on short notice, and some level of intuition, because the machines won't be too good at those for a while yet. That kind of job usually doesn't pay just minimum wage, either.

K T Cat said...

If the market was allowed to work, I think we'd see considerable deflation. Right now, we're suppressing that with borrowed money.