… is from page 26 of the 2009 Revised Edition of Thomas Sowell’s Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One:
Young people who begin by working at McDonald’s seldom spend their careers at McDonald’s. Just in the course of one year, McDonald’s has more than a 100 percent turnover rate. What those who leave take with them is not only such basic experience as showing up for work regularly and on time, cooperating with others, and knowing how to conduct themselves in a business environment, but also a track record that enables them to move on to other and very different occupations at progressively higher levels in the years ahead. The experience and the track record from McDonald’s are likely to be more valuable in the long run than the modest paychecks they earned serving hamburgers.
Put differently, whatever reduces opportunities for gainful employment for people with little or no experience has the effect of costing both them and the society far more than the lost jobs which have been dismissed as “menial” or as paying only “chump change.”
Economists are routinely accused of focusing only on money – only on the pecuniary aspects of human life. But that accusation totally misses the mark. Good economists understand that choices and adjustments are made – and costs and benefits are experienced – on many different margins, only some of which are monetary.