Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Paying More For Less

On our way to out to Hawaii last month, my wife and I spent a day and a half in San Francisco.  The City By the Bay is one of those that has a voter-approved, higher-than-the-national minimum wage--currently $11.05 an hour.  That will increase every year until it reaches $15 an hour by 2018.  Please keep that little factoid in mind as I share our story.

We decided to end one of our nights in San Fran by grabbing some dessert at a well-known chocolatier.  Being a Friday night--and beautiful weather by Northern California standards--the place was very busy.  After placing our order at the counter (which featured a sign saying the price of the treats included a 4% surcharge for "San Francisco Health Initiatives"--more on that later) we tried to find a table in the dining area.  After a few minutes, a group left a table and my wife and I moved over there to claim it.

The group left quite the mess--with melted ice cream on the table and soiled menus as well.  After a few awkward minutes of standing by the dirty table the busboy finally came along to clear the dishes.  He set his tray on the table and then grabbed one glass and slowly placed it on the tray.  Then he grabbed one spoon and slowly placed that on the tray.  Then he grabbed one dirty napkin and slowly placed that on the tray.  Then he grabbed another dirty glass and slowly placed that on the tray.  At the pace he was going, we would have finished our sundae and been out the door before he finished clearing the dishes from the previous customers.

After finally getting all of the dishes off the table, our busboy walked off--leaving us with an ice cream and fudge-covered table top--which prevented us from touching the surface without becoming a gooey mess ourselves.  After a few more minutes, the same busboy returned with a wet rag and slowly began to push the slop around the tabletop--causing some to drip over the side.  The almost 15-minute cleanup process was completed just in time for our much-smaller-than-expected $10 hot fudge sundae to arrive at the table.

Now I'm going on the assumption that our less-than-expedient busser was making that minimum wage of $11.05 an hour--meaning that he was getting about 40% better pay than the busboys who work quicker and better at say, Two Brothers here in Oshkosh.  And without having to work any faster or to do a better job of cleaning his assigned tables, that same guy is looking at a raise next year, and in 2017 and in 2018 as well--until he is making double what those better same skillset workers are making here in Wisconsin.

And is Slow Busboy "earning" those pay increases?  Is the famous chocolatier saying "Wow, you are really busting your hump out there--you deserve a raise"?  No.  His "economic value" is increasing only because a bunch of voters (many of whom are NOT going anywhere near said chocolatier anytime soon) decided at the ballot box that he "deserves" more money--even if he isn't doing any more (or better) work.

And as for the 4% surcharge for "San Francisco Health Initiatives" that was added on to our sundae?  I can only guess that money is used to purchase the "medicinal" marijuana that every panhandler was smoking or reeked of having smoked near every bus stop and tourist attraction we stopped at during our visit to America's "Most Progressive" city.

I think we will skip what will likely be the $15 sundae the next time we visit.

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