The other day, I watched MSNBC’s Ari Melber interview Wolfgang Puck on the subject of restaurants reopening in post pandemic world. Wolfgang, who, by the way has a net worth of about $90 Million, whined that he is unable to fully open some of his restaurants because, as he put it, “I cannot find waiters or chefs to work the lunch shifts”. Of course Ari let that comment go unchallenged. Gee, if I was a reporter, I might ask Mr. Puck “Well, have you tried offering higher wages?”
Can you imagine if Ari was interviewing me at my home on a feature story about newly retired folks and I told him “You know Ari, I tried to hire someone to mow my lawn each week but all I can afford is $5 a week”. He might say “Gee, don’t you think that $5 is a little low considering the size of your lawn?
I live on the Cape where we see endless news stories in the media reporting a labor shortage. Most places of business, including the major food market where I shop have help wanted signs prominently posted offering $17 an hour. I want to ask the owners of these businesses, “Where can I live on the Cape during the summer on a job that pays $17 an hour?”
It’s not just MSNBC and it’s not just the Cape, it’s nationwide, and equally nationwide is the Media’s refusal to tell the whole story.
Yes, there a “labor shortage” but that’s only because employers are refusing to offer fair market wages. What is a fair market wage? Well, in the case of Mr. Puck, that would be taking his present offering and increasing it by $1 per hour each day until someone agreed to take the job. Whatever that is, $20, $25, $35, $50? …that is the fair market wage.
Of course business owners (and that includes corporations that own media businesses) will whine and say “But I can’t afford to stay in business at that wage scale!” Really? Well, if true, then your business does not belong to be in business, eh? Or maybe Mr. Puck will have to learn to live in a world where his net worth is a little less than $90 Million.