How Can A Human Justify Asking To Be Paid $15 To Work?

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

McDonald’s announced it will replace cashiers in 2,500 stores with self-service kiosks.

The story buzzed across the internet but Business Insider reported McDonald’s shoots down fears it is planning to replace cashiers with kiosks.

Official Denial

“McDonald’s has repeatedly said that adding kiosks won’t result in mass layoffs, but will instead move some cashiers to other parts of the restaurant where it’s adding new jobs, such as table service. The burger chain reiterated that position again on Friday.”

Is McDonald’s denial believable? What would you expect the company to say?

McDonald’s has to deny the story or it might have a hiring problem, a morale problem, and other problems.

“Our CEO, Steve Easterbrook, has said on many occasions that self-order kiosks in McDonald’s restaurants are not a labor replacement,” a spokeswoman told Business Insider. “They provide an opportunity to transition back-of-the-house positions to more customer service roles such as concierges and table service where they are able to truly engage with guests and enhance the dining experience.”

Move cashiers to table service? Really?

Yeah, right.

An interesting political rule from the British sitcom “Yes, Minister” is to “never believe anything until it’s officially denied”.

Will Humans Be Necessary?

When someone can be replaced by a robot, how can the push for $15 be justified?

Psychology Today asks Will Humans Be Necessary?

Will automation kill as many jobs as is feared? A widely cited Oxford University study predicts that 47% of  jobs could be automated in the next decade of two. Price Waterhouse pegs the U.S. risk at 38%. McKinsey estimates that 45% of what people are paid for could be automated using existing technology!


No less than Tesla’s Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking fear the loss of jobs will cause world cataclysm.


Lower-level jobs at risk


Let’s start with jobs likely to be eliminated, starting with the present and with those lower-level jobs.


Already, don’t you prefer a ATM to a teller, self-checkout to the supermarket checker, drive-through tolls rather than stop for the toll-taker, automated airline check-in rather than waiting for a clerk, shopping on Amazon rather than fighting traffic, parking, and the check-out experience with a live clerk, assuming the store has what you want in your size? Indeed, malls are closing while online retailers led by Amazon are growing.


As minimum wage and mandated benefits rise, fast-food restaurants especially are accelerating use of, for example, order-taking kiosks, which McDonald’s is rolling out in 2,500 stores, robotic burger flippers and fry cooks, even pizza, ramen and sushi makers. Even that fail-safe job, barista, is at-risk, Bosch now makes an automated barista. Mid-range restaurants such as Olive Garden, Outback, and Applebee are replacing waiters with tabletop tablets. Will you really miss having your conversation interrupted by a waiter hawking hors de oeuvres and expecting a 15+% tip? If you owned a fast-food franchise, mighn’t you be looking to replace people with automated solutions? Can it really be long until there are completely automated fast-food and even mid-range restaurants?


Robots are already being used as security guards. There are humanoid robots that can move heavy boxes, walk in uneven snow, and get up, not annoyed when thrown to the ground. (And won’t sue for failure to supervise or an OSHA violation.)


Instead of hiring architects for tens of thousands of dollars, many people are opting to spend just a few hundred bucks to instantly get any of thousands of often award-winning house plans which, if needed, can be inexpensively customized to suit. Far fewer architects needed.


BlackRock, the world’s largest fund company has replaced seven of its 53 analysts with AI-driven stock-picking.


The remaining jobs


In such a world, how can a human justify asking to be paid to work?


Four scenarios

The range of scenarios would seem circumscribed by these. How likely do you think each of these are?

  • Continue on the current path: The world continues to slowly make progress, e.g., birth rates declining in developing nations, slowed global warming, more education and health care. Those positives would be mitigated by declining jobs, more concentration of wealth.
  •  World socialism.
  • Mass population reduction, for example, by nuclear war, pandemic, or, per  Clive Cussler, highly communicable biovirus simultaneously put into the water supply of a half-dozen cruise ships?
  • A world run by machines and the few people they deem worthy.

Here is a debate between an optimistic and a pessimist on the future of the world.


The truth may well be something we can’t even envision. After all, he who lives by the crystal ball usually eats broken glass.

Note that Psychology Today author Marty Nemko did not ask about $15. He wonders if pay for some jobs is worth anything at all.

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2banana's picture

As bigger and bigger government with more and more regulations and higher and higher taxes makes labor more and more expensive...

Expect businesses to avoid hiring.

Especially lower skill type positions.

It really is that simple.

saudade's picture

How about just reinstitute slavery and be done with it.

Lost in translation's picture

"We've got top men working on it."

AVmaster's picture

Yep, they'll just shuffle them around till they quit and never refill the position.


And once they get down to whatever target it is like 5 people per store for example, then they might hire someone.


But by then you will probably have the machines that actually make hamburgers coming online so those 5 people will be shuffled as well till they are gone.


And you end up with a 2 person maintenance/cleaning team running around between stores doing maintenance/repair work and not much else.


They will do it this way so that they don't pay unemployment.



Erek's picture

When all the jobs are taken over by machines there won't be anybody with money left to buy or pay for anything at all. WTF then? A world of no work is a world of little or no income. The ones who survive are the ones who know how to provide for themselves without the use of currency (barter, trade, farming, etc…).

crazzziecanuck's picture

Before that happens, these machines will be heavily vandalized.  It's all part of the inevitable ISEP problem (It's Someone Else's Problem).

For one firm to do this, it's understandable, but for an entire sector, they're ripping their face off and everyone else's.  But those making the decisions are unwilling or unable to care about even their long-term positions.  To start, they largely exist to kick the can down the road until ... you guess it! ... it's ISEP.  It's a problem for the next round of overcompensated intellectual-light and morally-bankrupt executives.

But don't think "the market" is going to fix that.  Markets never do.  Markets have failures all the time yet people still pretend like they have this inherent magical property.  Markets would be fine ... in a human-free world ... because anything a sociopath touches will be turned to sh*t.  And power, be it government or "market" will attract these people.  Any ideology can work, but only until the sociopaths game the sh*t out of the system and destroy it from the inside.

Now, the less stupid people in these positions will realize the ISEP problem but know full well the government of the future can be extorted into, effectively, bailing them out somehow.  Think of the "mandate" of ObamaCare and realize "thinkers" at the Heritage Institute saw this down the road back in the early 1980s.  Right now, I'm starting to wonder if this whole "livable wage" is just a proxy bailout on behalf of large actors like McDonald's (who can no longer expect growth as the incomes and costs at the bottom shrink in the former and explode in the latter).  That leadership knows full well that even if they took a leadership position on living wages, they'll be expected to be the only ones.  The sociopaths at the other firms will think ... you got it! ... ISEP.  Those firms can continue on f**king their employees while a large firm like McDonald's is expected to shoulder the entire burden or drive them into bankruptcy.  In either of those cases, the status quo remains across the industry.

FIRE-HC-E (Financial, Insurance, Real Estate, Healthcare, Education; the major rackets of ourlives) is destroying the markets for not just McDonald's employees, but also markets for other brick-and-mortar companies like Apple or Home Depot.  This is why I focus heavily on our poor leadership because the leadership of the industrial sectors as a whole just sat back and watched as the likes of Wall Street slowly eroded the bedrock of the economy.

Everything is a racket.

blown income's picture

So , let me get this straight ,-


The igonorent piece of shit that I *would* have had to deal with to give my order and transfer payment to is -


Now the ignorent piece of shit that is going to bring the *product* to my table..



I'd still have to deal with a ignorent piece of shit....



Home cooked is soooo much better!

Took Red Pill's picture

The author, Mike Shedlock, links to a POS article in Psychology Today, authored by Marty Nemko Ph.D. Did anyone else read that? It says under An optimistic visionLonger term, it's even possible that we'll be able to accomplish more of what we want by using gene therapy or a chip embedded in our brain—Research to make that happen is already being funded by the federal government.” Ah, no thank you!

Mike also asks “how can the push for $15 be justified? And links to the Psycholgy Today article which say “we may also need a guaranteed basic income paid heavily by successful corporations and wealthy individuals”. Which view do you support Mike?

Psychology Today article also states “What about journalism? Even in major media outlets, many journalism jobs have already been lost to the armies of people willing to write for free. In addition, software such as Quill can replace some human journalists” Maybe in this case, that’s not a bad thing.

NidStyles's picture

More like Shylock....

If it's being printed commercially, it's probably bullshit.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

"How about just reinstitute slavery and be done with it."

If you're referring to government, yes, that is what government is trying to do with the oppressive regualtiuons/taxes and FREE $HIT FOR EVERYBODY ("we'll keep you fed, slaves") dependency programs..

If you're talking about businesses, they can't.  If we want high wages in the U.S. simply pay $100 for the toaster made in the U.S. instead of $20 for the toaster made in China.  In other words, effectively CUT your income to pay for someone else to make more.  The problem is that the consumer refuses to pay for high wages.  Pay $20 for the McBurger so that they burger flippers can make $20/hour?

losses mount's picture

Imagine a person with an IQ of 130 or better but autistic with bad social skills just got the sack from McDonalds and on the way home he gets robbed of his last pay. He get home to hear his girlfriend call him a useless piece of shit and walks out the door. He thinks to himself I hate everyone and I'm going to do something about it.

There wouldn't be one person in a hundred million that realises that this one individual has the power to wipe out humanity.

The biggest threat in the world isn't an asteroid or a market crash or robots; it's one person that's a bit smart and a lot pissed off.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

Yes, that's the price of freedom/liberty. I'm happy to take the risk rather than have an all-powerful government trying to control every aspect of all people's lives in order to "prevent" bad things from happening. Of course, bad things will still happen as we see in "gun free" England.

It is also why governments everywhere are trying to eliminate morals and values - so that people will go Postal more often, "requiring" MORE government to "police" these problems.

Hopeless for Change's picture

Had breakfast at McDonalds yesterday and had some Dindu scold me for leaving my tray on the table because I got up to get a napkin.  It was very hard to tell her, "No, you have nothing to worry about.  It's just the Dindus who leave their shit everywhere." 


I did, however, tell her "Keep fighting for 15.  You obviously deserve it."  I'm not sure she got the sarcasm.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

Oh, if I could only fart on demand I'd rip her a HUGE one as I walked by.

Mr Hankey's picture

Its cultural, crackah.You are a slave .You just cant  see it. Enjoy your extra sauce. 

losses mount's picture

I totally love freedom in almost all aspects, and at almost all times.

Except where there was the publication of a breakthrough in the extermination of us all.

I'm so glad nobody crazy enough got hold of it, but it should never had been published.

One last thing; it's not possible to stop someone from going through with their plan and execution if determined in this case, no matter how much surveillance or regulation or other measures.

And by the time it's done, it's too late to act.

Sick Monkey's picture

No time. Have to eat between jobs to pay for private planes and bonuses. Some have to do the fast food thing between hold ups to pay for college. Others off the grid have to eat at Mickey Dee's because they live in their cars sleeping in a Wally World parking lot. The tipping point is closer then you think. That deed your clinging on to like some sort of Shangri La will be *ss wipe when central banks meet their quota. Remember Katrina. Not even a chopper with some food and water for two **cking weeks then that idiot with a cowboy hat hops off a chopper. The least he could have done is bring some body bags. I bump into folks every day moving about the planet looking for American Dream 2. At this point in the cycle it's like running from a fire in lightening season. Hunker down and grow some beans. American dream 3 is a decade away.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I waited tables and worked in fast food for 5 years. At 15 I was ignorant and unskilled so this was my only option. At the time, most employees were as I. Just getting some income to pay for school, most vocational but some like me had an eye for college. The experience taught me a lot, in some ways more than my college years.

I ran into quite a few patrons like you. Treated me like a piece of shit because they could knowing I would be fired if I responded to them in a way they deserved. That also was a good lesson for me because verbal restraint had never been my forte and I must admit it still hasn't been adequately resolved.

I don't eat at fast food for many reasons but I have never lost my empathy for those who must work at such establishments. I know how hard it is to work with the public. I was relieved to escape it only to find Doctors can be just as nasty. It seems the ungracious infect all social strata.


Mr Hankey's picture

I love you  Miffed. I will never say a negative  word to or about  you.

Mr Hankey's picture

I love you  Miffed. I will never say a negative  word to or about  you.

zebra77a's picture

If its that bad don't go there.. Cook at home. 

I went to a@w bought an excellent gmo free burger, coffee, and fries. Had a counter server and a table server after cleaning up. Thats value  and the place was packed. Headed over to McDonalds nothing of value on their menu except the coffee. Nobody in their either. Empty. They rip off the customer AND their employees and bringing in self-serve kiosks will not stop them from going bankrupt... 

Mr Hankey's picture

Hope you  liked the xtra sauce. 

Ex-Oligarch's picture

McDonald's should improve its customer experience by:

<=  increasing the quality of its food

<=  providing "concierges"

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I have concluded none of the above. Those that go there obviously have no palate and their chubby scooters and / or drive thru make table service unnecessary.

I don't think most go to McDonald's for an "experience". That they are advocating such a thing is a sign they're doomed.


Ex-Oligarch's picture

Indeed. The fact that anyone in McD's management could use the word "concierge" with a straight face is a big red flashing neon sign that they are doomed.

tmosley's picture

Thought I ought to repost this here so more people can see it. This is EXTREMELY important, and everyone should read it:

Google just made what is likely the final theoretical leap standing between us and AGI, and have made a small scale proof of concept system that can transfer learning between domains that seem like they have nothing to do with each other--ie it learns the way babies do.

Now it is being scaled up. It's open source, so anyone can participate. By this time next year, you will have computer friends (and colleagues) like Samantha from "Her". The year after, no-one will be working for a living anymore--goods and services come from the labors of your personal robots.

As I have mentioned a few times before, everything else but this is all fun and games.

Cardinal Fang's picture

Interesting read. I find it interesting that computer scientists are working towards a model of AI that has a least common denominator for applications and that in this case a machine with a performance level of 88% is working for them.

It's almost scary that it seems Google and their computer models aren't looking for accuracy, they are looking for the appearance of accuracy.

This is what has driven graphic interfaces for years. They learned ( at MIT Media Labs for instance) that they don't need a lot of computing power to create visual presentations that create 'life like' simulations of human experiences and now it looks like fucking Google is like 'we don't need to waste a lot of computing power to be accurate, we just have to snowball humans into thinking the automated system is working.'

This is what they are going to do with autonomous vehicles. The car/program doesn't have to be 100% because humans aren't 100%.

What I am seeing across several systems is that the 88% accuracy is acceptable to companies and engineers nowadays.

Like the old joke about the two friends being chased by the bear, I don't have to be faster than the bear, I just need to be faster than you, Google doesn't need to be smart, they just need to be smarter than you. This is a key breakthrough for them, I think...

tmosley's picture

>Google doesn't need to be smart, they just need to be smarter than you

Very true. In fact, having them be not as smart as you would still leave you with an assistant that is more useful than any tool that man has ever made. The thing about computers is that they don't get bored, or feel the need to eat, drink, take drugs, get married, or sleep, so they can work 24/7 and be perfectly satisfied. I would be very comfortable having someone that isn't as smart as me but was very reliable going through and organizing my data, or scrubbing my floors, or reshingling my roof, or any number of things.

And the nice thing about it is that even if they suck today, they will be better tomorrow, and every day after that, unlike a human assistant, who can only become so good at their job.

OceanX's picture

I remember hearing, "computers are going to eliminate paper..."

Semi-employed White Guy's picture

You get your bills in the snail mail?   You still get a legacy news"paper" delivered?  You use a thick paper phone book?  Yes, they have eliminated a lot of paper unless your over 75, I guess.

insanelysane's picture

My mom and dad are 77 and the golf league they play in posts the weekly results on a website.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

I don't wipe my butt with 1s and 0s. I still use paper.

dussasr's picture

Re: Computers are going to eliminate paper - For several years they generated 3x the paper as everything was so easy to copy and print out, but this is finally ending.  Our office is almost paperless now.  Everything is on email and Box.  File cabinets are being removed by the hundreds.  On the rare occaision I have to use the printer it takes forever because it's in sleep mode since no one uses is any more.

Paul Kersey's picture

"The year after, no-one will be working for a living anymore--goods and services come from the labors of your personal robots."

Tmosley, the "garchs" have already figured out that employing most labor, human or robotic, is not the path to great wealth.

"Robert Litan and Ian Hathaway, writing in Harvard Business Review, have a dire hypothesis. They surmised that many American entrepreneurs are no longer looking for ways to produce more useful stuff, and are instead looking for new techniques for extracting money from each other and from the government. In other words, crony capitalism may be slowly cannibalizing productive capitalism."

shovelhead's picture

"In other words, crony capitalism may be slowly cannibalizing productive capitalism."

I guess you don't need blistering insight to write for Harvard Business review.

Why build factories or deal with market forces when you can borrow cheap money and leverage to turn a buck?

How can Amazon and Uber, that never made a profit, be worth billions? Everyone's gone fiat crazy. Risk for reward is so 20th Century.

AVmaster's picture

I never said all jobs were gonna get takin over by machines...


I basically said that this was the most likely pathway that would occur at mcdonalds...


Man dude, stop marathon watching terminator movies dude!



factorypreset's picture

The point is that when most jobs are replaced with automated means, the general population will either be culled or every one will be given a basic subsistence income to keep them out of the elites hair.  The elites who own everything (i.e., the means of production and all the networks) will have some analysts and AI do an in-depth cost/benefit analysis to determine which one it it will be. Pretty simple really. 

VZ58's picture

That is what your government check is for, dummy! You are using logic to thwart yourself. It's all great!

OceanX's picture

Perfect! Now, all we need are machines that eat the burgars ...maybe, eating the crappy food these resturants serve will become the next $15 an hour job,

AVmaster's picture

In all actuality, this would be good for the dimwits manning the burger flippers: It will force them out to go get training/decent education so that they can get a better job.

Working at fast food can get you into a rut where you work and work and work but you don't do anything to better yourself(work to live)...

Kicking them out will be good for them.

carlnpa's picture

There is no better job - they are gone.

What part of 104,000,000 working age Americans not in the work force don't you see?

Endgame Napoleon's picture

They sure do calculate to avoid paying UC. One of their favorite ways is by siccing the often dramatically absentee bully-mom crony gangs on employees who are not "culture fits." The mommas do not have to worry about the part-time, churn or low-wage nature of the jobs due to their back-up income from spouses, child support checks or many varieties of welfare and taxfare.

In order to pretend that they are all career women, along with ensuring that they have no social pressure to marry when they have children, what politicians will do is more of the same: they will come up with ways to make sure that moms take jobs, rather than staying home to raise children.

Their children bore them other than when showing them off in a gazillion workplace baby-show off contests, like the one where enployees dress up for Halloween, bringing dressed-up kids to work or the one where we all bring a photo, decorating bulletin boards and judging who looks the most like her baby.

In a world where work was not already greatly automated, there would be no time for all of the mandatory, baby-celebration activities, much less the way mom managers allow their backscratching momma employees to take so much time off: mornings off, afternoons off, days off, weeks off, in addition to their legally required pregnancy leave and PTO. In lower level financial services corporate office jobs -- the bulk of the jobs in the industry -- computers already do most of the work, making a mom workforce that does not work hard, but that has unearned income related to womb productivity, the "culture fit."

This does **not** just affect positions that have always been less lucrative, like office jobs and jobs traditionally worked by women. Back when my dad granduated with his undergrad degree, he went to work in industry for awhile before going back to get advanced degrees. He was is a technical field with an employee shortage. So, they flew him to the interviews. He said huge divisions full of people were needed to design just one component on a big project. Now, a computer program takes care of most things.

Professionals are kidding themselves, thinking this will not affect them due to the fact that they are irreplaceable. Whether high or low-skilled, most workers are not. Areas like law already had a chipping away of full-time jobs, with lawyer moms working at home while raising kids -- part-time -- and undermining the value of that difficult-to-get degree for people who do not marry someone with money.

To make it worse, there are now computer programs that can look up a law statute in a flash. They still need humans who understand the nuances of legal context. And those humans are in assortative mate households, taking two of the limited, high-wage jobs and putting them under one roof to concentrate wealth.

Assortative mating was not the hard-and-fast norm in the past; high earners did not always marry other high earners. The wealth from the few good positions was spread out over more households. We have fake feminism to thank for a decline in the middle class, and fake feminists will have robots to thank for the demise of the lavish lifestyles of most in the 20%.

One reason why we had a bigger middle class in past eras is that women were not so bored with their kids. Only an upper echelon of super-focused and brilliant women went into careers, along with young women prior to marriage and childbearing and women who had to work due to having no other means to provide shelter and food for themselves.

Now, at the bottom, the women who **must** secure a basic living for themselves, with no unearned income from spouses or government for reproduction, are disadvantaged in workplaces that cater to moms with unearned, womb-based income. They just have the inadequate wages and are simply in economic jeopardy when working hard. If moms were not so bored with their children, there would at least be a bigger pool of churn jobs for women and men who must secure another low-wage, churn job quickly when losing a churn job.

It is a very different matter when a single mom whose rent and groceries are covered by taxpayers, in addition to her $6,269 Child Tax Credit, loses a churn job than when a worker who lacks the womb-based, unearned income from a spouse, an ex or government loses a churn job. The worker with no womb-related unearned income has no money to cover rent or groceries.

Employers in the many parenting-clique jobs churn the people without kids first, even when they are the ones meeting the quotas -- i.e. when they are among the few in the building generating the most new business accounts and retaining the most accounts due to 1) coming to work every day and 2) staying the entire day.

Those moms need (and get) lots of time off, regardless of the impact on sales and retention of accounts. Working moms would not be indulged by employers, inconveniencing paying customers in their absenteeism cliques, were it not for the fact that computers already do most of their work.

Their colleagues do the rest of their work during their protracted absences. That certainly does not mean that their colleagues are valued more unless they are managers. Employers like the workers whose living is derived from means other than the low wages.

Canoe Driver's picture

Mostly true, insightful and rarely spoken. In one firm, the working moms would not only take all kinds of unofficial time off, but several would do mostly parenting, even breastfeeding, while at their desks. Their work was not done by computers, however. Computers at this point can only perform highly repetitive and mostly non-analytical tasks. Of course, lots of people are working to change this, but code to this day is written and executed in a linear fashion. Systems are only doing precisely what they're told to do, and their only utility remains speed.

No, their work was done by men, and on a per hour (actually worked) basis they were paid more than any of them.

Antifaschistische's picture

Well, in the good-ole-days, the kid behind the counter spoke english.   Today, at the McDonalds...(don't judge me bro) you have to understand some third level of ebonics to even place your order.  I say give me a kiosk any-day!

...and yah, automation will destroy all jobs.....same old buggy whip maker fear mongering.

J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock's picture

+100 for the Lost Ark reference



J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock

Grandad Grumps's picture

Never left. They just don't use a whip anymore.

Amicus Curiae's picture

ha! ussa IS already running on slave labour at the shit wages you get paid

especially considering your services like health especially and education are waaay over the cost of the same(better) elsewhere

your cheap food is provided BY slave wages. and inhumane CAFO feedlots

the owners just make huge profits

if they paid human employees  properly  people would be happier and able to contribute TO society

crappiest jobs in aus like fruitpicking  get $18  n hr

farmhand etc is from 20 to 25 at least

i work for 10$ n hr for others like me on pensions to help them out

i prefer to help for nothing

some people insist on paying

if I want someone to mow my lawn?

around 35 n hr or more ffs!

Oh regional Indian's picture

The American/East India company/Dutch/Venetian Black Nobility model of maximum extractive capitalism (MEC tm )has no place for feelings. In fact, its' frowned upon, which has created the giant asshole culture that is so prevelant in American and European businesses today.

I quit working and left the US because I figured I had no desire to become a giant asshole...

Hire and fire can only work in the MEC system..... I've seen grown men cry when they were denied entry to the orifice by dint of their magnetic card dbeing locked out, their box of stuff in a cardboard box on the welcome desk and a hard nosed HR freak stonewalling them....

Seriously fucked up....