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Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 5, 2014 at 6:52 PM

Minimum wage: Wage hikes can lead to automation

A fellow engineer, many years ago, referred to minimum wage laws as “Make Work Laws for Engineers” [“Seattle’s minimum-wage win spurs talk to target more cities,” Local News, June 4].

The history of the last 200 years clearly shows large masses of workers being replaced by machines. Automation today is not only easier to put in place, but it is easier to make equipment easy to use.

The designers and builders of the machines, and the users are all computer savvy. In the mid-1990s, one of my biggest obstacles to implementing computerized business systems was dealing with employees who had never used a keyboard.

It is not just low-pay workers who can be affected by automation. My first major project, in 1963, one year after getting my degree, involved the handling of inquiries for new cement plants. The end result was a task that could be done in one week by one engineer (with a big computer program and a drum plotter) versus 14 worker-weeks of engineering time (with slide rules and drafting boards).

Ralph C. Edwards, Vancouver

Comments | More in minimum wage | Topics: $15, engineers, Minimum Wage

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