The real minimum wage, no matter how much liberal politicians try to deny it, is and always will be zero.

Now, California fast-food workers are learning this lesson the hard way, as the owners of their places of employment are reacting to the economy-crushing minimum wage hike by eliminating employees and bringing in automated kiosks for order placement. It didn’t take long, did it?


In response to recent minimum wage increases in California, fast food restaurants across the state are shifting to automation to get rid of wage-earning humans.

The move to making customers place orders at digital kiosks alleviates what owners say is the financial strain of rising labor costs after the minimum wage for the state’s fast food workers increased on April 1 from $16 to $20 per hour.

Harsh Ghai, a Burger King franchise owner who manages 140 outlets along the West Coast, is leading the transition to automation. He plans to introduce digital kiosks across all his restaurants within months — a drastic acceleration from his original timeline of five to 10 years.

Of course, he’s accelerating his plans; this is his livelihood, which he is under no obligation to surrender to appease the vote-selling efforts of pandering leftist politicians who, when it comes to basic economics, are stubbornly ignorant of the difference between face and fundament.

If you’d have asked us here at RedState, we could have told you this would happen – and in fact, we did.

See Related: Like AB5, CA’s Fast-Food Minimum Wage Hike Results in Layoffs, Closures, and Higher Prices 

Newsom’s CA: Fast Food Employee Starts Work Day Only to Find Out She’s Out of a Job Thanks to New Law

Here’s the onion:

Rather than make less money, restaurant owners are exploring alternative strategies to maintain profitability. Reducing staff numbers appears to be their primary solution for lowering overheads.

The layoffs present a stark reality for employees and their unions, who have long advocated for wage increments.

Workers at well-known chains such as Pizza Hut and Round Table pizza restaurants have also felt the impact, with job losses reported following statements from management about the unsustainable nature of the new wage costs. Meanwhile, major fast food players including McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Starbucks have signaled intentions to offset the increased expenses by raising prices.


The first layer of this stinker is economic; businesses, to survive, to continue providing goods and services, have to be profitable. When faced with this kind of situation, that is, the artificial inflation of labor costs by government fiat, they have to either raise revenues or reduce costs. The itch here is that fast food is a discretionary expenditure for almost everyone; if prices go up, patronage goes down.

The second layer of this stinker is employment. Fast food has several avenues for automation. An owner can use kiosks, and replace all the the order-takers. There are other options as well, like the RoboBurger automated burger machine, which handles the burger-making process from start to finish, even allowing for custom orders – so customers can have it their way, prepared by a robot. 

And the former employees? Well, that says it all, doesn’t it? They are now former employees. They are now earning that aforementioned real-world minimum wage: Zero.

One could even replace the entire outlet with just the RoboBurger and eliminate any employee beyond the one who occasionally has to stock and service the machine, like any other vending machine.

The sad part of this is that, not so very long ago, flipping burgers at a fast food joint was how a lot of young folks got their first employment experience. I knew a guy in high school who got himself a job flipping burgers and frying fries in a McDonald’s outlet in town; twenty years later, he owned a chain of franchises. Now that opportunity, at least in California, is gone.


This was inevitable, from the moment California’s impeccably coiffed Governor signed this stupid bill. It reveals, once again, the sad state of California’s state government, and the economic illiteracy of California legislators. A generation of young people, who would be looking for part-time work and would gain valuable experience in the workplace, are now priced out of the market.

Good going, Sacramento. Keep it up. You’re doing terrific. And yes, that is sarcasm.