The Wall Street Journal, which has been chronicling the nation’s economic woes industry by industry, today ran a a piece about the latest cost-cutting strategy being employed at some restaurants–letting the busboys go.

Of course, this means that the wait staff must now clear tables and scrape dishes clean, tasks that most of them frown on and that some have even refused to do, leaving their places of work either voluntarily or involuntarily.

But here’s the rub: Since busboys usually don’t receive tips, they must be paid the full minimum wage, but wait staff generally fall under the “tipped employee” category and can be paid as little as $2 or $3 an hour, depending on the state.

Here we see an excellent example of the minimum wage law’s backfiring, but you won’t hear any politician denouncing such laws. Instead, they’ll blame the heartless restaurateurs and pass a law limiting their profits (to go along with executive pay and bonus laws coming out this week).

The really ironic thing is that, for at least one group of 570 restaurants all called Bob Evans (which seems to be a Midwestern chain), spoons are disappearing and must be replaced at an alarming rate.

Theories abound, all the way from wait staff revenge to a simpler cause–the spoons, being lighter and handier, are used to scrape the plates but they end up getting discarded into the trash can with the leftovers.

Anyway, we can only hope that the cost of the spoon replacements outweighs the cost of the previous bus staff.

Karmic revenge, you know.