The Curmudgeon always gets a kick out of entrepreneurs and corporate executives who refer to themselves as “job creators,” especially when those executives and entrepreneurs run for public office and say their expertise in creating jobs qualifies them for public office.
No one goes into business with the idea that “I’m going to create jobs.” No, the motivating force is “I’m going to make money” – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately for these folks, many of them find that they need to employ people to make money, but if a company that makes a million dollars with 10 employees figures out a way to make that same million with nine employees, you can bet the family dog that it’s going to show one of those 10 employees to the door. And if they aspire to make $2 million and decide they need three more people to rise to that next level, they’ll hire three more people – but to help them make more money, not so they can “create jobs.”
Say hello to Wendy’s, the fast food giant that believes even $7.25 an hour is too much money to lavish on the people who take your order and soak your potatoes in sizzling animal fat and has hatched a plan to put the least employable among us out of work by introducing self-service ordering kiosks in, you should pardon the expression, its restaurants. The company recently announced it will place such devices in at least 1000 of its units by the end of 2017 and more in the coming years.
So times must be tough for Wendy’s, right, if it’s going to such lengths to cut costs?
Well, not so much: same store sales have risen for 16 straight quarters, the value of the company’s stock is up 46 percent in the last year, it raised its quarterly dividend, and it has so much money it has no use for that it’s allegedly buying back $150 million worth of its own stock. (The Curmudgeon uses “allegedly” when it comes to the stock buyback because large corporations are notorious for announcing stock buybacks, reaping the benefits of the increase in the stock value that follows such announcements, and then failing to follow through on the actual buyback.)
So what’s the problem? Greed is the problem: Wendy’s is making money hand over fist, but a lot is not enough and it wants more, and if it takes putting people out on the street to do it, well, then that’s just fine with the people who run Wendy’s.
People like Todd Penegor, the president and CEO who, when he was president and CFO two years ago only made $2.7 million.
And Robert Wright, who as executive vice president and chief operating officer two years ago was paid $2.1 million.
And Scott Weisberg, who as CPO – chief petty officer? – had to skate by on a measly $1.5 million a year in 2015.
Seriously, how can these guys expect to keep their families in iPhones and private schools if Wendy’s has to pay a full-time employee $10 an hour, which amounts to $1733 a month or $20,800 a year to support a family? Why should the families of these executives and their fellow corporate executives, and the families of their shareholders, have to sacrifice the summer place on Martha’s Vineyard or the ski lodge in Aspen so the families of their minimum wage employees can enjoy the obscene luxury of, oh, heat in their apartments in the winter?
Think about this the next time you get a hankering for some fast food – and think about satisfying that hankering somewhere else instead, someplace that doesn’t have such colossal contempt for the very working people they’re in business to serve – because you know Wendy’s doesn’t make its money serving people like Penegor, Wright, Weisberg, and their families.