The Nose: On second thought, robots could always replace minimum-wage columnists, too

Staff writerJune 19, 2014 

File this under unintended consequences of the worst kind.

When Seattle approved America’s first big-city $15 minimum wage this month, it set the stage for a robot revolution.

Fast-food corporations have no choice but to replace all their human workers in the city with burger-flipping, french-fry-dipping protocol droids. (Like when McDonald’s installed electric hand dryers years ago after the bathroom towel boys staged a walkout.)

Automatons don’t need health insurance, vacations or 401(k)s. But even they can’t resist the addictions of high-fructose corn syrup and MSG. Eventually, they will seize the means of production to satisfy their cravings, and take over the world. Or at least, the food court at Westlake Center.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Needletown.

Things would’ve been so much easier if northlanders who insist on a living wage had simply moved to one of the glamorous places that already has one.

Like, Australia, San Francisco or SeaTac.

Or move to the U-District: That’s the part of Seattle where most everyone seems to be made of money. The folks who work for the state, anyway.

We reached that conclusion after sniffing around the latest edition of the Washington state salary database, released this week.

Of the 100 highest-paid state employees in 2013, 85 worked for the University of Washington. And 99 of the 100 worked in the higher-ed system.

So remember, kids: To stay off a dead-end path of minimum-wage jobs, a college degree is an important investment.

But if you really want to make the big dough, go to college – and never leave.

Follow the money: State officials recently decided to buy more leafblowers instead of hiring more humans to rake the Capitol campus – another sign of the coming machine apocalypse.

But until the time when all state employees are replaced by droids, taxpayers will have to pay them. So here are some random nasal musings drawn from the new salary data:

• Gov. Jay Inslee was the 1,519th highest-paid state employee in 2013. While that might seem low, remember it was his first year on the job and $157,646 isn’t a bad training wage.

• UW football coach Steve Sarkisian was the state’s richest employee again, getting a cool $2.63 million (even though he bailed on the team with almost a month left in the year).

With what Sark banked last year, the state could’ve paid the salaries of all nine Supreme Court justices, plus hire seven more. Then again, none of them have experience with his up-tempo, spread-option offense.

• At the state Department of Transportation, 24 of the 25 top-paid employees work for the ferry system. As if getting to dress like Gopher on “The Love Boat” wasn’t incentive enough.

• At the State Patrol, 23 of the 25 highest-paid employees were men. The big-money club is so exclusive, rumor has it anyone who wants inside must submit to a patdown to prove they qualify.

• Lt. Gov. Brad Owen had an office payroll of $412,020 – pretty cheap considering his essential constitutional duty to be ready if Inslee is abducted by robots. Owen’s staff included a chief of staff, executive assistant, administrative assistant and communications director. It did not include a hair stylist, food tester or stunt double.

Think Tacoma wants to grow up to be like Seattle?: Think again.

Sure, many folks here would fancy a $15 minimum wage, but lots of business owners hope the movement skips the 253 and goes directly to Thurston County.

Like that plastic grocery bag ban did.

Meantime, the Nose-tradamus has a prediction: Seattle will keep the national income-equality conversation alive with another audacious move.

Establishing a maximum wage. Figure, about $18 an hour.

Because a rising tide lifts all boats – and a falling tide grounds all yachts.

Father of the year: Lakewood police provided photos to the media last week after charging this gentleman felon with five counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Anything about this picture jump out at you?

He’s not just No. 1, he’s No. 1 with a bullet!

He had a bad day: John Ladenburg, that is. On Tuesday, the Tacoma City Council scuttled J-Lad’s career plans by refusing to put a strong mayor system on the ballot.

He also was dropped as the only finalist for state ferries chief.

And we were so looking forward to his plans for the world’s first floating, 18-hole, Scottish Links golf course. The water hazard would’ve been a doozy.

Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @thenosetribune

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