Less than a month after Fox Business host Stuart Varney declared that humanoid robots from Boston Dynamics are “going to take your job” if the Fight for $15 movement succeeds in raising the federal minimum wage, Fox Business reported that Google is selling the company due to lack of profitability and the company's inability to find customers who actually want to replace workers with robots.
On the February 24 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., Varney, a frequent minimum wage antagonist, claimed, while rolling footage of a new humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics, that "$15-an-hour minimum wage protesters" should be worried because “that robot is going to take your job.” Less than a month later, on the March 18 edition of Varney & Co., Varney reported that Google was selling the robotics division responsible for the purportedly job-stealing robot. Fox Business contributor Elizabeth MacDonald added that Boston Dynamics was being sold because it is unprofitable and noted the “anxiety” the company created because of fears “that these robots could replace workers” :
STUART VARNEY (HOST): Do you remember those those videos that we showed you? We couldn't get enough of them. Robot dogs-- looked like robot dogs, or were stacking shelves with a humanoid robot. Well Google is selling the compa-- the division that does those robotics.
ELIZABETH MACDONALD: Yeah. they just bought it in late 2013 for half a billion dollars, Boston Dynamics. This is the “robo worker” in play that Boston Dynamics developed. They also as you noted developed a “robo dog.” If you kick either of these robots down they can get back. They are so agile, they are so breathtaking, and terrifying -- a source of a lot of anxiety dreams. Why? Even though they broke through the frontiers of robotics, the final frontier for Boston Dynamics: profits and sales. They are not making money. And also, reportedly, bad public relations. The fear is that these robots would replace workers.
VARNEY: Oh that's it.
MACDONALD: So they were concerned about PR implications from that.
VARNEY: How about that?
MACDONALD: Truly groundbreaking robotics, though.
VARNEY: Oh, definitely, we ran that video 24/7.
On March 17, Bloomberg reported that one of the reasons for the sale had been the long time frame needed to make a humanoid robot ready for market, adding that these robotic systems are unlikely to be ready “even ten years out.” Bloomberg also suggested that Google was distancing itself from worries that the machines would take jobs or be used for war.
The sudden failure of what Fox ominously called the “robo worker,” highlights the network's rigid opposition to raising the minimum wage even if their arguments are based on faulty data, discredited myths, or science fiction paranoia. In the past, Stuart Varney has cherry-picked data to claim raising the minimum wage costs jobs, in addition to his claims that robots will quickly replace workers if wages are raised too much. Varney is not alone at the network in promoting misinformation about the relationship between job creation, economic health, and the minimum wage. The truth of the matter is that raising the minimum wage has a negligible effect on employment. In February 2013, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) published a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between employment and the minimum wage and concluded that “the minimum wage has little or no discernible effect on the employment prospects of low-wage workers.”