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The Law of Unintended Consequences?

California’s $20 fast food minimum wage law, Assembly Bill 1228, just claimed another victim. A previously profitable McDonald’s location in San Francisco suddenly announced that it was closing after operating in the Stonestown Gallery for more than 30 years. As it turns out, there are only so many customers who want or can even afford a $16 Big Mac value meal. Add in the state’s notoriously high sales tax, and that’s about $70 for a hungry family of four to eat at McDonald’s. That’s simply not sustainable (and not a whole lot less than for a family of four to sit down at Applebee’s for two, 2 for $25 value meals).

From just before the COVID-19 lockdowns until now, McDonald’s (which was a major beneficiary of being able to stay open with drive-through during the pandemic as an essential business while independent restaurants with patio seating were forced to close) has eliminated its once-popular Dollar Menu. It’s been replaced with a lower-value $5 Value Meal consisting of a tiny cheeseburger or chicken sandwich, four chicken nuggets, small fries, and a small soft drink.

The carnage has not been limited to McDonald’s. It has spread like a contagion across the state’s fast food landscape. Most notable has been the beloved Mexican chain, Rubio’s Coastal Grill. Earlier this month, Rubio’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, closing 50 of its locations in California. Last week, an iconic Arby’s Roast Beef, the one with the classic sign that’s been a fixture on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood for 55 years, shut its doors forever—another victim of rising costs and California’s $20 an hour minimum wage law.

And then you have this: two major California Pizza Hut franchisees—PacPizza and Southern California Pizza Company—laid off more than 1,200 delivery workers by April 1, a result of California SB1228. They outsourced delivery to DoorDash, which doesn’t yet have to pay their drivers a guaranteed $20 per hour. But the California Assembly is trying to kill more jobs for what are called gig workers. Uber, Lyft, InstaCart, and DoorDash drivers beware; the California government is coming to help you by killing your jobs too.

According to the Hoover Institute, more than 10,000 fast food workers are now unemployed. This number is expected to rise as more fast food locations reduce their employee head counts or shut down altogether.

This also puts pressure on other businesses in the restaurant sector. Why would workers work for $16/hour at a nearby Applebee’s, Chili’s, or fast-casual restaurant when they can work at a fast food restaurant for four dollars an hour more?

This is what happens when government, not the marketplace, decides policy. It rarely works.

This is the hidden cost of Bidenomics—or, for those of us who live in California, of Gavinomics—and living in what is, in essence, a one-party state. California—30 years ago, when McDonald’s opened in San Francisco—was the state that many Americans wanted to move to, me included. Now, California is the state that most people are moving from.

In the case of the fast food category, beset by high costs, California is forcing fast food operators to cut costs and innovate to stay in business. Owners of fast food restaurants are doing the obvious. The first thing they’re doing is replacing full-time workers with part-time workers to cut costs. They are cutting back staff to the bare minimum, reducing hours (which on the surface would appear to be counterproductive), and they are automating, further reducing the number of employees at each location.

And what could be the net result beyond more fast food worker layoffs? That the architect of this catastrophic mess, Gavin Newsom, has become one of the top choices to replace Joe Biden as the Democrat nominee should he falter in Thursday’s debate or in a palace coup at the Democratic Convention in August.

I’m not so sure. Waiting in the wings—on her broomstick—is Hillary Clinton, ready to fly in to save the Democrat Party. She could replace Kamala Harris as Biden’s running mate. Or she could even replace him at the top of the ticket. Harris, who once was seen as Biden’s heir apparent when he once said he would be a one-term president, is even more unpopular and unappealing than Biden. Behind the scenes, Democrat puppet masters (can you say superdelegates) will have no problem anointing Clinton as the replacement for Biden, who last week couldn’t even remember the name of his incompetent Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.

Democrats know that Harris is unelectable. But they are faced with the quandary that passing her over will damage the party’s chances with two of its most important voting blocs: African-Americans and suburban wine moms. They also know that with all of California’s problems that Donald Trump and Republicans can seize upon, Newsom is not the answer, as polls show. Who is left? An equally incompetent Democrat governor like Gretchen Whitmer? Or if it’s not Clinton, who else could be drafted at the DNC to save America—to save democracy? Yes, Michelle Obama could be drafted to serve out Barack Obama’s Fourth Term.

God help the United States of America if that happens. More than four decades ago, the country survived the Carter Administration, Democrat mismanagement of the economy, and the Iran Hostage Crisis with Ronald Reagan’s 1980 landslide victory. (History showed that Jimmy Carter was leading Reagan in the weeks leading up to the 1980 election.)

But times are different today. Just look at the lawfare deployed by corrupt Democrats to even keep Trump off the ballot in several states and the obvious election interference already demonstrated by four sham prosecutions. Right now, only the Supreme Court stands in the way of Democrats making, on a national level, America a one-party nation.

Newsom certainly is not the answer. But remember, this oily politician was able to beat back a credible recall attempt in 2021 led by Conservative Larry Elder. If Newsom is not the drop-in presidential candidate who somehow becomes president, being term-limited, he could hold a cabinet role in a second Biden administration. That would place him in the perfect position to be the Democrat standard bearer for president in 2028. Then he and the Democrats could inflict upon the other 49 states what they have upon California.

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About Richard Truesdell

Contributor Richard Truesdell is an automotive and travel photojournalist. In the last 25 years has visited more than 35 countries on six continents. A former high school history teacher with a BA in Political Science from Waynesburg University, he is a lifelong Conservative moderate who has turned his thoughts and keyboard to political commentary and popular culture.

Photo: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 08: A sign advertising a digital ordering app is displayed at a McDonald's restaurant on May 08, 2024 in San Francisco, California. One month after California raised the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 per hour, menu prices at some chain fast food restaurants have surged as much as 8 percent. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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