Enjoy the company of your favorite retail employees while they still have jobs. Touch-screen kiosks that up-sell drinks and desserts, then take credit card payments, are the wave of the future. The greatest asset of companies selling these machines are $12 and $15 minimum wage laws.

* “Wendy’s said that self-service ordering kiosks will be made available across its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year as minimum wage hikes and a tight labor market push up wages,” explained a story in Investor’s Business Daily.

* “McDonald’s is rolling out self-service kiosks in restaurants across the U.S. that allow customers to order and pay for their food without ever having to interact with a human,” explained Business Insider.

* “Many, many concepts … are going to kiosks because we have to address, somehow, the rising costs of operating in our businesses,” said Bennigan’s CEO Paul Mangiamele, in an interview with Fox Business.

* “Chili’s recently made a big change to its in-store ordering system. The chain partnered with Ziosk, the restaurant-targeted tablet-maker, to develop a series of tabletop devices, like a تابلت هواوي, that allow customers to order their meals without the pesky interference of a human,” reported The Atlantic in June of 2014.

* The labor-saving technology that has so far been rolled out most extensively — kiosk and ­tablet-based ordering — could be used to replace cashiers and the part of the wait staff’s job that involves taking orders and bringing checks. Olive Garden said earlier this year that it would roll out the Ziosk system at all its restaurants,” reported The Washington Post in 2015, in an article titled “Minimum-wage offensive could speed arrival of robot-powered restaurants.”

Anyone who doubts the rise of the machines as an unintended consequence of high minimum wage laws should follow the money. Investors Alley, an internet-based stock advisory, is bullish on kiosk investments. “The quest to boost the nationwide minimum wage may be backfiring,” said a May 21 Investors Alley article. “Fast food restaurants are leading a new rebellion to circumvent higher minimum wages.”

Most rational, compassionate people would like to see society’s lowest wage earners do better. In Utopia, we could simply pass a law and make it so. In that world, we could pass laws that eliminate poverty, suffering, inequality and crime. In the real world, millions of American jobs don’t generate enough revenue to pay $12 or $15 an hour. In that corporeality, employers start looking for machines to do the work valued by teenagers and other low-skilled, entry-level workers.

Amendment 70 would raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 an hour. An independent study by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable found the “raise” will reduce overall employment by 90,000 jobs as of 2022. Teenagers will lose 10,500 jobs by 2022. A survey of restaurant owners found 72 percent would reduce employee hours; 71 percent would reduce staffing; and 20 percent would close locations. As kiosks become more affordable and sophisticated, those anticipated trends could get even worse.

Voting for Amendment 70 seems like compassion. If it passes, learn to enjoy those friendly interactions with the finger-smudged glass displays of impersonal machines.

The Gazette editorial board


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