By Chuck Woodbury
Look what I found in a McDonald’s in central California. It’s an automated cashier – just insert your credit card, punch a few buttons to pick your food and drink and then claim your goods when your number is called.
The machines are not what you would traditionally describe as robots, but they are replacing humans, so when it comes right down to it, that’s what they are.
I am not a regular McDonald’s customer, so perhaps these machines have been around awhile. Please let me know. This particular restaurant had four machines. The place was packed when I stopped by for a burger and shake. Two humans took customer orders at the counter. Other customers used the machines. I didn’t give much thought to the machines at first. Then, talking later to a few Californians, I was told that they were in response to California upping its minimum wage to $15 an hour. The machines, once in place, do not demand a wage and they always show up on time.
Personally, I like the idea of a $15-an-hour wage. It’s good that people can afford a better life than what they could at $9 an hour. But, business being business, it does not surprise me that McDonald’s would embrace these “robots” to keep its costs down, which in this case means employing fewer humans. I expect other fast food places will follow, if they haven’t already.
I wonder how many entry level jobs will now be lost to high school kids and others needing part-time income? I suppose it will soon amount to tens of thousands and many more in the years ahead.
What do you think? Please, no rants.