There is no free lunch, and the cheap ones are not that cheap, either
What is the cost of a burger flipping drone? The minimal, bare survival amount a human needs? I’ve calculated this for the US, statistics are easier and faster to find, and almost all the numbers I use are from US government sources (plus, I guess a lot of the people who are going to read this will be from the US, and all the others will understand the references more easily than Canadian ones). I am calculating that this drone works 40 hours per week (which makes me an effeminate socialist to some, too bad) 50 weeks per year (what, 2 weeks of unpaid vacation per year, are you trying to destroy the economy?) and never misses a single day’s work, not even to give birth to their average 1.025 children. This drone lives all it’s life sharing a one bedroom apartment with a burger flipping spouse, except for the 20 year period where the couple raises their future burger flipping kids when they will live in a 2 bedroom apartment. This apartment’s rent will be 20% under the national average. They all eat from the USDA thrifty food plan, a bland serving of a meager 2000 daily calories based on the unhealthy food pyramid, they never get even once to taste one of the burgers they flip. They have the basic utilities, electricity, heat, at 20% under the national average. They don’t ride the bus, they have to walk everywhere they go. Our drone will however reach the average expected age of 78.7 years.
In it’s life, this drone will work 94000 hours over 47 years, from 18 to 65. It will require an average of $316600.00 in healthcare for itself and his 1.025 kids, and these kids will cost $123564.00 to educate in the public system, I am not counting daycare costs in this. Thus, what we need to figure out is how much such a drone actually costs per hour, that includes salary, some sort of pension plan, but just the payable part of it, some form of health insurance, and again, only the payable part of it, administration costs and plan provider’s profit cannot be counted in this. And paying taxes for the kid’s education, his public service footprint is actually larger than that, so this cost I am calculating is actually quite a bit low.
And the total? $9.30 per hour.
That is actually an extreme low ball estimate, I have already mentioned some of the items I am not accounting for, others include clothing, furniture and appliances, diapers for the babies and dental care, just off the top of my head.
When salary plus benefits (payable portion of benefits, remember) are under this amount, the employer is paying under the bare minimum survival cost of the resource. This means that the US federal minimum wage of $7.25 has our drone dying of starvation, homeless, but still at his grill at the age of 63. How can employers get away with that? Simple, the job is subsidized with public programs like Medicare-Medicaid and Social Security. What does that mean? If you are among the 53% of American citizens who pay taxes, the government comes to take the difference at gunpoint from your income. You are subsidizing that burger, even if you don’t eat it. Corporations use the government to steal from you so they can offer “lower costs” to you, the corporation gets to be the good guy who sells you affordable meals, but a large chunk of the cost of these meals are hidden in your taxes. On top of the labor costs they are subsidized for (that is a hidden subsidy), there are plenty of overt subsidies, notably agricultural ones that all displace the cost of the food from the price sticker to your tax form. Government gets to be the bad guy who steals your money to feed the 47% who don’t pay taxes, and this is true of almost all industries, not just food. When we know the level of efficiency of the government, you can bet the difference between what the corporation pays and the actual cost will get multiplied if they have to manage it, and that multiplied difference is going to get slapped on just one half of the population, those who pay taxes.
Next time you hear people whining minimum wage kills jobs, remember the alternative is for the government to take the difference out of your pockets. There is no free lunch, somebody has to pay, and when corporations buy resources under cost, that sucker is you.
(originally published on Facebook, Monday, November 7, 2011 at 3:25am – posted publicly on atomicrave.com on May 15, 2012)