Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint What Does Bussing Your Own Restaurant Table Show About Minimum Wages?

Posted by M. C. on December 31, 2018

By Art Carden

With the New Year’s Day right around the corner, various outlets are reporting on workers who will “get a raise” with increases in the minimum wage going into effect in several states. But will people—potential low-income workers especially—be better off in the long run as a result of higher minimum wages?

Not necessarily. And we can see how if we follow the economist Ronald Coase’s advice and look out the window for an example. I saw one at a restaurant in Boston with a sign on the wall that said “Please put away your own plates & silverware when you are done.” They don’t have anyone on staff to bus the tables; hence, we have to do it ourselves.

Lest I be misunderstood—I can hear someone sneering “look at mister fancy man who is too good to clean up after himself!”—scraping a plate and putting it in a bucket is no great imposition. But what, I wonder, is happening to the bussers who would otherwise be earning money doing it? Where did they go?

Simple: they’re being priced out of the labor market by minimum wages. At $8 an hour, it might be worthwhile to hire someone to bus tables. At $11 an hour, Massachusetts’ minimum, it probably isn’t. With the minimum wage in Massachusetts set to rise to $12 an hour in 2019 on its way to $15 an hour over five years, we should expect to see fewer and fewer jobs like these.

Be seeing you

free lunch

Bernie’s free lunch.


One Response to “ What Does Bussing Your Own Restaurant Table Show About Minimum Wages?”

  1. Kenneth T. said

    Scrape plates? You mean people waste food? I might see bones, but… I love eating at the local buffet places but I really hate seeing all the people wasting food. It’s disgusting to say the least – more so when it’s my kids that are doing it.
    As for tipping… I normally tip very well (because I know that the servers pay is low) unless the service is extremely bad. But I seldom eat out any more.

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