As Parker Beauregard proved once again yesterday, when preening politicians force businesses, in this case grocery store workers in Long Beach, Calif., to pay their workers higher wages – for the workers’ own good, of course – the workers lose.
Indeed, just about everyone loses. Except the politicians.
In this case, the grocery store workers lost their jobs. The residents in the neighborhoods where these grocery stores were located lost the convenience of having reliable, well stocked grocery stores serving a wide variety of fresh food close by. The city lost the tax revenue the stores generated. The residents of the city will lose money or services because the city will have to charge higher taxes or reduce services to compensate for lost tax revenue. The remaining stores will increase prices to cover their increased labor costs.
Indeed, so the only winners will be the politicians, who will pat themselves on the back as they compliment themselves for their own wonderfulness.
Something similar is occurring in my city, hundreds of miles from Long Beach, Calif.
When the minimum wage increased, a local grocery chain, Target, Home Depot, and a number of other stores reduced the number of full-service checkout lanes and 10 items or fewer checkout lanes while greatly expanding the self-checkout lanes.
Boom! Many of the cashiers lost their jobs! The baggers, many of whom were (warning: P.C. speak ahead) developmentally delayed and were placed in these jobs through a coordinated effort with the company, neighboring schools, and social workers, lost their jobs. Instead, now, with multiple closed-circuit cameras overhead, one worker, enjoying newly increased pay, supervises the multiple terminals, watching as shoppers scan, bag, and pay for their items, helping out when necessary.
The situation is similar in nearby fast food restaurants. Yes, those fast food restaurants, so often scorned by the elite, once provided an introduction to the world of work for low-skilled people, students, and new immigrants. But that was then, and this is now. And now these opportunities for those who so desperately need them are diminished as higher labor costs give owners no choice but to replace order-takers with touchscreens and introduce self-pick-up instead of servers.
Touchscreens pay for themselves within a few weeks.
And they don’t call in sick.
And the newly jobless quickly discover that $0 per hour doesn’t buy much.
But the politicians and labor leaders keep their inflated salaries — well above the minimum wage — so they don’t care.