Just Talkin’ 5-17-18

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Big Mac attack? JT just found out you can order your own at a kiosk at a Shreveport McDonalds on Bert Kouns and a family member found one of the contraptions in Winnfield. Only problem…it doesn’t take cash. That has to be handed to a live person. Well now! JT thinks this is the burger chain’s answer to the demand for better wages, simply replace the employee with a machine.

JT can’t help but wonder if this will minimize the “wrong order” epidemic? Highly doubtful. JT had no idea automated ordering was coming to fast food restaurants, but a search on Google revealed it is not a new concept at all – it’s just taken it a while to catch on and reach the smaller metropolitans.

Cane River Financial Services 2

(From Businessinsider.com)

In 2017, Wendy’s announced plans to install self-ordering kiosks within a year. McDonald’s is adding kiosks to 2,500 stores, though it pledged not to replace cashiers with kiosks. Walmart — which announced Thursday it is giving workers a pay raise— has been testing automation in the form of shelf-scanning and floor-cleaning robots. Smaller chains such as Eatsa and CaliBurger have been working on automating the entire restaurant experience. “With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” then-Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider in 2016. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.” Other executives say that the trend towards automation isn’t purely a money saving play. “The way history goes, automation is a natural.

If you look at your phone, that’s a form of automation,” Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Travis told Business Insider. If all Dunkin’ Donuts customers ordered and paid using their mobile phones, Travis says the chain would be able to cut 30% of labor in stores. However, he says, Dunkin’ Donuts biggest challenge in 2018 is finding enough workers who are good at their jobs, which can result in understaffing. So it looks like those less tech savvy will have even more problems getting that perfect take-out. JT thinks it may be a good time to go back to cooking from scratch….He’ll take some butter beans and cornbread please.

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President Trump’s behavior in Washington, D.C. reminds JT of how the Right Rev. Jolly Harper once described Pat Todd Jr.’s actions on the City Council. Jolly said Pat Jr. was “like putting a fingerling cat fish in a gold fish bowl. It’s sure stirred things up.” Old timers around here Jolly remember Jolly, the much-loved pastor of First United Methodist Church, who had a wonderful wit. Pat Jr. was a member of the City Council who had a reputation for bold statements and even bolder actions around whom controversy was swirling most of the time. Sound a little bit like the President?

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JT and the Natchitoches Times staff want to wish all graduates, from preschool to doctorate degree, a hearty congratulations. No matter the level of education, you worked hard for it and earned that paper with your name on it.

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Rumors are that the regular session of the Louisiana Legislature could end as early as Friday or even Monday at the latest. Then the special session to address state finances would begin. This would be the sixth special session called to address the state’s financial woes.  There was also a regular session thrown in there too that didn’t amount to a hill of beans. All of these sessions were necessary because the state implemented a one-cent sales tax ad what was called “A Bridge” until they could get a state spending plan in place. Well, that “bridge” has collapsed because the Governor will not re-new the temporary sales tax and legislators don’t like his budget plans.

Also, they can’t come up with a plan of their own to raise $650 million they are short of a balanced budget. Disgusted is the only way to describe how voters feel about their legislator’s inability to fix our financial woes. The sad thing is…they don’t see themselves as the problem. It’s either this governor, past governors, past legislatures or the other party that’s the reason they can’t develop a budget that this state can live with. As the old saying goes….if you’re not a part of the solution, then you’re a part of the problem.

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JT doesn’t have all the answers for our sluggish economy…but one helpful idea did come to mind last weekend. If Northwestern could schedule their graduation ceremonies a couple weekends throughout the month of May instead of just one day… that would really help local business. Traffic around Natchitoches at noon on a Friday is already a little “freaky” but last Friday it was a nightmare. Because of multiple graduation ceremonies on Friday, Front Street and South Drive were almost at a standstill. It was an especially good day for restaurants with all having wait time for those needed tables.

JT experienced the same traffic jams on Saturday afternoon but found out it was a wreck on the Keyser Avenue Bridge that had everything backed up.  He just chalked that experience up to practice for the time when the Front Street Bridge will be replaced. It’s going to be very similar to what the folks with businesses and offices on St. Denis Street are experiencing with their street being shut down to traffic from Front Street to Second Street.   —–