Don’t robots deserve a living wage?


higher wage floors will accelerate the destruction of the retail store economy and its replacement by Amazon and internet shopping. That’s going to be bad news for workers in those sectors.

The real damage, though, will come from the automation of low-skilled tasks. High labor costs (especially in Silicon Valley, where people know quite a bit about robots and automation) will accelerate the development of labor-saving technologies that reduce the need for $15 per hour human workers (and that figure doesn’t include the cost of benefits and taxes for those workers, of course).

Just as blue model unionization accelerated the automation of manufacturing, union efforts to impose relatively high minimum wages on low-skill work will accelerate the destruction of these jobs.

The true beneficiaries of Silicon Valley’s new minimum wage laws are going to be found in the corporate offices of the tech giants who create robots and the venture capitalists who invest in them rather than among the growing number of Californians trapped in the low-paid labor market.

Indeed, for the Silicon Valley tech moguls who hunger after liberal plaudits alongside generous returns on their portfolios, supporting dramatic minimum wage increases is a perfect strategy. The same low-wage workers whose jobs are about to be torched will applaud the tech moguls’ philanthropic virtue even as they are pushed out of the labor market.

Today’s jog was livened up by listening to Ralph Nader. One moment he and a guest were gushing about spreading the genius of a $15 minimum wage nationwide; the next they wanted Amazon investigated since its lower costs were putting little family-owned stores out of business.

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