Minimum wages are designed to protect low paid workers, and governments periodically recalibrate the minimum wage.
Even then there are advocates for the so-called “living wage” which is even higher than the legal minimum wage.
All of these efforts though are distorting the market price for labour. And if the minimum wage rises past point at which the job is no longer viable then it ceases to exist, especially as technology allows for a cheaper alternative.
Hamburgers are a multi-billion dollar business, and while fast food chains have got the process down to an efficient production line process, making them is still labor intensive with armies of burger flippers and sandwich assemblers. In a move that could put millions of teenagers around the world out of their first job, Momentum Machines is creating a hamburger-making machine that churns out made-to-order burgers at industrial speeds and aims to use it in its own chain of restaurants.
According to Momentum Machines, making burgers costs US$9 billion a year in wages in the United States alone. The company points out that a machine that could make burgers with minimum human intervention would not only provide huge savings in labor costs, but would also reduce preparation space with a burger kitchen replaced by a much smaller and cheaper stainless-steel box.
This self-contained, automatic device sees raw ingredients go in one end and the completed custom-made burgers come out the other at the rate of up to 400 per hour. The machine stamps out the patties, uses what the company says are “gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant,â€ť applies the toppings (which are cut only after ordering to ensure freshness), and even bags the burgers.
The company plans to open its first restaurant in the near future and to market the machines to third parties, arguing that one can pay for itself inside of a year. The company is targeting restaurants, convenience stores, food trucks and vending machine applications.