Reader Denis Drew writes (lifted from comments) :
The bottom 50% of America’s workforce now takes 12% of overall income. If the federal minimum wage is raised to $15/hr that will add 3.6% direct inflation.
$15/hr being today’s median wage, half the workforce, 70 million employees receiving an average $8,000/yr raise would add $560 billion to the cost of $15.8 trillion dollar economic output = only 3.6%.
It is hard to believe that the products and services produced by half of the American workforce (70 million people!) would no longer be in demand over a 3.6% increase in overall prices.
Reader Denis Drew points us to think about an American institution, food, and wages…maybe much more elastic than we pretend (lifted from comments). McDo in France via Slate Magazine shows us some innovation is possible. Much more after the fold:
It may surprise some, but McDonald’s France—called MacDo by the locals—is the highest-grossing McDonald’s market outside of the United States (despite the fact that worker pay, a recent source of controversy in the United States, starts around $12 an hour—France’s minimum wage) …. If McDonald’s has found success in France, it’s because in many ways it has become the anti-McDonald’s: The service is warm, the interiors thoughtfully designed, and, above all, the food—from the baguette vessels to the pain au chocolat to the camembert-swaddled patties—is made for French palates. (italics are mine)
Before you book a two-top for Friday night, remember that this is still fast-food: The beef, while grass-fed and hormone-free, still comes from an industrial cattle lot, the lettuce still wilts under the glare of a heat lamp, the tomatoes are redolent of, well, nothing in particular. While you’re here, you’re not likely to forget that you’re eating at a multinational chain restaurant, but with enough macaroons and Camembert in your belly, it may just soften your opinion of the golden goliath.
The secret sauce at McDonald’s used to be lockstep consistency, the fact that a meal in Memphis tasted the same as it did in Moscow or Madrid. But the novelty of the American hamburger stand has worn off in the new millennium, and with it McDonald’s ability to export American culture as its staple commodity. A cheeseburger, fries, and Coke don’t register the same level of excitement when the café next door and the bistro down the block are also serving burgers. More and more, the key to McDonald’s future appears to be found in the DNA of the places it inhabits. And with it, suddenly the fast-food giant that to many represents the globalization of taste suddenly finds itself in a very unlikely position: as a defender of local cuisine.
And also from the THE EDITORIAL BOARD New York Times yesterday: