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A McDonald's in Panorama City, Los Angeles. (Photo: Public Domain)

Californians Are Asking, Where’s the Beef?!

Now that it costs so much to hire entry-level workers it’s no longer worth hiring them

By Tim Tapp, June 7, 2024 3:30 pm

Americans – not just the rich ones – used to be able to afford to eat steak every now and then. America is becoming a place where most people can’t afford to buy a hamburger – or a burrito – at a fast food chain. That’s how it was in the movie, Demolition Man.

Now it’s how it is – in reality.

It’s not so much because the cost of beef has gone up  – or that the buying power of money has gone down – although that hasn’t helped. What’s made it so expensive to buy beef at a fast-food burger joint in states like California is the cost of paying people to make them.

Gavin Newsom – the Leftist (there are no “Democrats” anymore) governor of California – recently signed into a law a mandatory minimum wage of $20-per-hour for flipping burgers and making tacos and ringing up customers at fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Chipotle.

The result is that regular people increasingly can’t afford to eat at McDonald’s and Chipotle – or Taco Bell – anymore.

Interestingly, Newsom – who is rich enough to eat prime rib for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – exempted restaurants that make and sell their own bread. This just coincidentally includes Panera restaurants, which Newsom has an interest in.

According to the Orange County Register, “Panera has 24 locations in California all owned by Gregg Flynn, Newsom’s friend and billionaire campaign donor. Newsom denies helping his friend out, though the Bloomberg article reports that he and Flynn have a long business relationship with each other, with Flynn apparently bragging to colleagues that he is on a texting basis with the governor.”

So Newsom is aware there’s a problem when the cost of labor exceeds its value.

Leftists get upset when such value judgments are brought up. But the market is indifferent to how Leftists feel about how much a fast-food worker’s labor is worth. They insist that fast-food workers – who used to be generally teenagers working part-time after school and on weekends – be paid as if these entry level/first-time jobs were careers rather than learning experiences. Fast-food jobs used to be exactly that. A first-time job you took to learn how to show up on time and do your job. Almost no one saw a job at McDonald’s as a career – unless they wanted to move up to being an assistant manager, then a manager and (one day) owning their own franchise.

In which case, the minimum wage was a temporary wage.

Now that it costs so much to hire entry-level workers it’s no longer worth hiring them. McDonald’s isn’t the only fast-food chain that is working on automating entry-level/first time jobs. Because McDonald’s doesn’t have to pay a computer to take your order. Or a machine to prepare your burger. This is the only way to keep fast-food burgers – and burritos – available at fast-food (rather than steak) prices.

And to keep fast-food restaurants from being pushed out of business.

But the human cost is the lost jobs of the people who used to do them. It’s a hidden cost but no less expensive for being so. High school kids and other young people no longer get the opportunity to earn money after school, on weekends. Or to learn how to show up on time, deal with customers and be a good worker. Many of them remain dependent on their parents for money – and remain as children well into adulthood.

Because they never learned how to grow up.

The California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA) says10,000 jobs have been cut across fast food restaurants” since Newsom signed the $20 mandatory minimum wage bill into law last year. Southern California Pizza Co., which owns multiple Pizza Hut stores, announced layoffs of around 841 delivery drivers across the state. Another restaurant chain – Rubio’s Coast Grill – recently announced it would be closing 48 of its restaurants across the state.

More such layoffs are all-but-certain because a $20 hourly wage is not sustainable – to use a word beloved by the Left. To understand why it isn’t, ask why not raise the minimum wage to $100 per hour? That would be a “living wage” – another favorite term of the Left. The problem, of course, is that few businesses could afford to pay it – so it might as well be no wage at all.

The same applies to the $20 mandatory minimum. It’s only paid if business can afford to pay it. If they’re making – rather than losing – money.

That’s how the Left likes things, apparently. Leftists like Newsome can afford to be seen as “caring” for the people they drive out of work, who can’t afford to eat a beef burrito, taco or burger at a fast food joint that can’t afford to pay staff to make and serve them.

CABIA president and founder Tom Manzo is right-on-the-money when he says “Governments, unlike private businesses, have options when they run out of money.” By which means governments can take as much money as they like – out of taxpayers’ pockets.

Leaving them even less money for fast-food burgers or burritos.

All the more reason to buy beef – at affordable prices – by not buying it at the drive thru. It’s not going to do much for the people who’ve lost their jobs to the $20 minimum wage. But it’s a way to avoid paying $20 for a beef burrito, taco or burger.

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4 thoughts on “Californians Are Asking, Where’s the Beef?!

  1. C’mon – Newsom was pandering to his immigrant voting base who have replaced those traditional teen-age workers in fast-food restaurants.
    There’s been at least two GENERATIONS of “newcomers” (their term, not mine) who use fast-food jobs AS THEIR CAREER, so Newsom is basically trying to buy votes from his immigrant fast-food workers with this boneheaded, short-sighted move…

  2. I haven’t eaten in a fast food establishment since the $20 minimum wage went into effect. I would sometimes stop in if I worked late. Not anymore. I refuse to pay inflated food prices to support those kind excessive wages for jobs that don’t require any skills.

  3. Republicans should write a bill requiring that pot industry workers get paid $100/ hr minimum. Hit Dims where it hurts!

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