Don't ask for a living wage or you'll be replaced by an iPad
by David Atkins
This is an actual billboard in San Francisco:
Pando Daily has more on this:
Its message — that minimum wage increases will lead to service workers being replaced by apps — is continued on an accompanying website — BadIdeaCA — which claims to be “holding activists accountable for minimum wage consequences.”So, this is obviously disgusting on the part of the restaurant industry and its flacks. But it's worth noting that restaurants are already beginning to replace servers with tablets.
So who the hell pays for billboards threatening waitstaff with redundancy if they demand a living wage? A bit of digging and clicking reveals that the campaign is backed by Employment Policies Institute, the conservative lobbying group which regularly campaigns on behalf of the restaurant industry.
There are a lot of progressives out there who are very hostile to the idea that mechanization of jobs has had a huge impact on the workforce and will increasingly do so in the future. It runs against the narrative that the entirety of the screwing over of the middle class was a pure product of Reaganomics and political decisions to benefit the rich, and the correlated narrative that we really can return to the economy of the mid-twentieth century if we only go back to the old tax rates and trade deals.
The fact remains that within one year a bunch of server jobs will be gone because restaurants will replace order-taking with tablets. Within a decade or two we won't need truck or cab drivers anymore. IBM can already diagnose cancer five times better than doctors. The flattening of the teaching profession will continue apace as the technology and techniques behind MOOCs continue to improve. 3D printing will render much of what manufacturing remains obsolete. Anything requiring mid-level management or analysis will be done better by computer within two decades at the max, and probably sooner.
Pushing for a higher minimum wage is important. But ultimately we're going to have to decouple human dignity from "having a job." There just won't be enough jobs to go around, and tweaking the tax rates of super-wealthy just won't cut it at a certain point.