An article in today's New York Times revealed that the owners of fast food outlets are having problems finding reliable workers. In the past, fewer teenagers are applying and adults don't seem to want fast food jobs either.

I'm no economist but I can't help but wonder if fast food outlets are having trouble hiring reliable adults maybe, just maybe, they should consider paying workers a living wage, along with health benefits and predictable work hours?

Yes, I realize that sounds crazy.

After all, over the past 30 years, and with the help of corporatist politicians, US firms have broken the unions, outsourced every job possible, and funneled the benefits of massive productivity gains up to the .1% while denying raises to almost everyone else.

Why monkey with a formula that's obviously working so well?

Perhaps because there's this little thing called the "law of supply and demand," which means that when the US is at nearly full employment, the supply of workers is down and the demand is up.  

This means that companies who want to hire workers will need to pay more to get ones who will show up on time and, just as important, not immediately jump ship the second they secure a better-paying job.

  • Here's what the owners of fast food outlets seem to be thinking:
  • Why should I pay more than minimum wage for semi-skilled labor?
  • Don't those people know they're expendable?
  • Don't they know this is a gig economy?
  • They should be grateful to "job creators," not demand more money.

In a way, I'm sympathetic to the concerns of the outlet owners. After all, increasing compensation will definitely cut into margins. And that might mean raising prices. And that would be bad for consumers because they only earn minimum wage... no, wait.

OK, let's start again.

In a way, I'm sympathetic to the concerns of the outlet owners. After all, if you raise prices, your customers will go to other fast food outlets, which won't be fully staffed and will have horrible service because they can't hire enough workers... no, wait.

OK, one last time.

In a way, I'm sympathetic to the concerns of the outlet owners. After all, if all the fast food outlets raise prices  and have great service, there's absolutely no reason that customers will come into YOUR outlet, since everyone is serving the same tasteless mush?

Yeah, that's the ticket.

As everyone knows, there's ABSOLUTELY NO WAY to create a competitive advantage when all your competition is offering a similar product at a similar price, especially if nobody likes the product and would rather consume a better product.

As the old saying goes: "Nobody ever made money offering customers a product they love when they can get a product they hate for the same amount of money." Hey, that's Marketing 101, right?

So, now that I've gone through the logic, it's clear that it's impossible for fast food outlets to pay a living wage with benefits and a predictable schedule. The only possible approach is to demand that Congress immediately repeal the Law of Supply and Demand.

Sometimes the best solution is the easiest.