The most recent example of the consequences associated with failure to comprehend basic economics is unfolding in the vacation capital of the world, Walt Disney World.
The fan site, WDW Magic announced the news yesterday:
“Automated PhotoPass coming to Walt Disney World meet and greets.”
If you’ve never actually put your marriage to the ultimate test by draining your life savings and taking your family to Disney World for a week, you may not have any idea what that bit of news means.
It’s pretty simple: throughout the park there are professional photographers stationed at locations where children can meet their favorite characters, princes, or princesses. They capture some pretty awesome moments in professional quality – so much so that it makes standing in a 2-hour line so your kid can get the autograph of a local high school girl getting paid to dress up like Cinderella for a summer, worth it.
As a cost-cutting move, it seems Disney World is going to be replacing a number of these photographers (though not all) with automated camera stations at these “meet and greets.” The news has not gone over well with the public as evidenced by the comments that followed the announcement:
Kim C … “don’t do this! It is a terrible idea! I always buy the photo pass because I know your amazing photographers will capture special moments for my family that a machine just won’t do. #BADidea”
Cliff Matthews … “Interactions with characters create great candid pictures. Taking away these great photopass cast members eliminates the opportunities from these character interactions. So many memorable opportunities will be lost. Spontaneity over cookie cutter pictures plz.”
As a regular Disney vacationer, I agree with these disappointed sentiments. We’ve got a number of pictures that these photographers captured that we will cherish for years. But the larger question is why Disney is doing this. Cost-cutting, no doubt. But what provokes it? Greed? Maybe. Or maybe it could have been predicted. Remember it was just a few months ago that Huffington Post was reporting this:
“Under a tentative agreement reached this weekend, workers at the entertainment park and its sister properties will receive what both Disney and union leaders are touting as precedent-setting raises. The current starting wage of $10 per hour will rise to $15 by 2021 ― a 50 percent pay increase over three years.”
There persists a bizarre naïveté about the basic consequences of wage increases. Businesses, even large corporations like Disney, don’t merely absorb those costs. They are either passed off to the consumer in the form of higher prices or they are offset by reduction in staff or services.
It is distinctly possible that several highly professional photographers are losing their jobs because the Disney workers union demanded that the part-time high school kid, who does little more than remind you to lower your useless safety bar on Winnie-the-Pooh, get paid $15 every hour for that “skill.”
Minimum wage or entry level pay hikes offer great opportunities for politicians to pander and posture. They are a gold mine for community organizer types. But they violate a basic principle of economic wisdom and those principles are never breached without a consequence.
Just check your next Disney photo for proof.