Dining Out & the Minimum Wage

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, you probably have, but with all this noise about sustainability, farm to table, “natural” food, and “buy local,” the matter of simple economics has been noticeably absent.  Look, here’s the thing:

Restaurants, like most other businesses, depend for their success, in part, on the people who work in them.  So all the noise about the product–whether it’s from Pete’s Chicken Farm in neighboring Pootsville or the line caught, oil poached halibut that killed itself to be on your plate–is a distraction from the #1 concern shared by anyone who owns a restaurant.

Paying the workers.

The organization that has been fundamental in leading the charge against the minimum wage is the National Restaurant Association (NRA).  The organization, based in Washington, D.C., has relentlessly opposed any increase in the minimum wage, and has lobbied hard to prevent lawmakers passing legislation that would so so.

Weekly, the NRA cites spurious data.  This is from one of their recent news releases: “A mandatory wage increase would hit business owners, many of whom operate on narrow profit margins, with additional costs that likely will force them to cut costs or increase prices, the economists wrote. That could mean fewer jobs, as was noted in arecent study on wage increases by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).”

It’s a self-serving argument that egregiously ignores the fact that most people who work in restaurants as servers or cooks cannot afford to rent apartments, save money, or plan for their future.

But if increasing wages means a less than 5% increase in profit?  No to minimum wage.

Meanwhile the noise gets louder: Buy local, eat natural.


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