Daily Archives: July 20, 2017

One Small Step . . .

48 years ago today, in Tuscaloosa, AL, Jan and I spent the day sitting in the living room of our only friends who had a color TV, watching the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Of course, since all the video from the moon was in black & white, I’m not sure watching it on a color TV made much difference.

At that time I was still in school, but with my father working for Boeing at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL, and Jan’s father working for Rocketdyne at the Cape, I was determined that someday I would work for NASA  too.

And though it took me nine years, in December 1978 Jan and I, and our two kids, moved from Montgomery, AL to Houston where I went to work for a NASA contractor at JSC.

And by the time the Space Shuttle was flying, I found myself in charge of processing the in-flight video coming down live from the Shuttle and sending it out to the world for others to see, kind of completing the circle.

While I was at NASA, one thing I heard over and over, from former astronauts, present astronauts, engineers and technicians, was “We made it to the moon. Why did we leave and never go back?”

About 4:15 this afternoon Jan and I headed into Conroe to meet up with Debi and Ed Hurlburt to have dinner at Cracker Barrel, Thursday being Jan’s favorite – Turkey and Dressing Day.

While everyone else went with the crowd and ordered the T&D, I, marching to my own drummer, ordered the Beef Roast Campfire Meal.

Cracker Barrel Campfire Meal

I had this once before and it’s really good, perfectly seasoned, moist and juicy. Really good,

By the time we left it was almost 7:30, so we did log in the prerequisite three hours that are required for all RV’er get-together meals. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet up again soon.

Now back to more Unintended Consequences.

I try not to pick on Seattle, but it’s just so easy. A recent paper in the Economic Policy Journal documents how, as Seattle’s minimum wage has increased from $9.47 to $11 to $13 to $15, restaurant health code violations has risen even faster.

And this is not per capita, but just on total violations. Which is even stranger, since as the minimum wage went up, the number of restaurants has been falling, either from going out of business, or moving out of t he city. Some people found this strange and couldn’t figure out the cause and effect.

Having been in the restaurant business a long time ago, I can tell you exactly what’s happening. They’re cutting the staff and the dedicated cleaning crew is the first to go. Then the cleaning jobs get spread out among the remaining staff. But as more and more reductions hit, there’s less and less time to do anything but your basic job, i.e. making hamburgers, for instance. So the cleaning jobs fall further and further behind.

In pretty much any business, but the restaurant business especially, if your labor costs suddenly increase, you have two real options . . . cut other costs or raise prices. So you start by cutting hours, and then cutting jobs. And of course that’s when you can start to have a problem with things like health code violations.

Now any time the idea of increasing the minimum wage comes up, the ivory tower elites will say, “Just raise prices. Since everyone will be doing it, you won’t be at a disadvantage.”

First off, if the business could get away with raising prices to make more money, THEY WOULD HAVE ALREADY DONE IT!   THEY ALL WOULD HAVE.

When you raise prices, people stop coming to your establishment. Now you hope that the higher prices will offset the loss of some customers. But at some point you start falling behind the curve and are just losing money. As you keep raising prices, sales go down.

Like the old adage, “I lose money on every sale, but I make it up in volume. Yeah, right!

Or like the story of the little boy who sets up a lemonade stand in front of his house. A guy comes by and asks how for a cup of lemonade, and the boy says, “$1000.00.”

The guy says, “How in the heck do you plan to make money selling lemonade for a thousand dollars a cup.

The kid says, “Well, I only have to sell one cup.”

I guess that goes for a $1000 hamburger too.

Of course some companies are using the minimum wage to restructure and cut costs even more.

The Applebee’s franchisee for NYC has over 40 restaurants there, and as the state’s minimum wage increased, he’s cut over 1000 jobs in the last year, two-thirds of his employees. But he’s doing this not by reducing service due to less employees, but by embracing technology.

He’s moving all his stores to the table-top kiosks for ordering, paying, and playing games.

Applebee's Kiosk

Instead of having one server for every three tables, he will have one ‘concierge’ for a dozen tables, there mostly to be sure you understand how operate the kiosks.

He expects eventually to cut over 2000 total jobs.

And according to the New York Post, the state’s lost over 1000 restaurants last year, about double the number lost in the previous years before the wage hike. And now they’re complaining about tax revenues being down, and are talking about raising taxes.

They never learn.

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I’ve got enough for about one more blog on this, so I’ll finish up tomorrow night.

I really appreciate all the nice comments from our readers on this series. Thanks.

Thought for the Day:  

Ignorance is repairable, stupid is forever. 


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