A $15 minimum wage won't be anyone's silver bullet

Why our problems with inequality run much deeper than the minimum wage.

I must admit that the campaign for a $15 Seattle minimum wage has so far reminded me a bit of the bumper sticker campaign for Tim Eyman’s $30 car tabs initiative. The message is simple and to the point — no explanation necessary. And anyone who questions it or adds complexity to the argument is, in the case of Eyman, a protector of the corrupt status quo, and in the case of $15 Now!, a greedy protector of the corrupt status quo.

The upside to this debate, I guess, is that every consultant in town has been hired to work some angle of this thing. Labor appears to be of two camps: Some want to make a quiet deal, while others see an opportunity to storm the castle. The business community is wondering if they’re going to be tied to the tracks as the train rolls over them. Non-profits are waiting to see if they’ll be exempted; if tax increases might be enacted to help them pay salary increases. As the Seattle Times recently reported, shelters and counseling centers say the new rule could cost them $11 million per year.

The few local businesses that have expressed concerns are attacked as greedy capitalists. If they need to pay their employees slave wages, proponents say, then they deserve to go out of business. Not surprisingly, not many people are willing to express concern. Here's why I am.

First, raising the minimum wage so high locally could bring a number of unintended consequences with the potential to hurt those we want to help. It’s already very difficult for young people to get employment experience. At $15 per hour, summer jobs will be all the more difficult to get, making it almost impossible for young people to find work and develop a work ethic through their experience. I worry that this move so quickly will make the problem worse. A more moderate increase at the national or state level would be a better option.

Second, large corporations can probably absorb the immediately higher costs. Our local restaurants and retail businesses will have a much tougher time. Will this result in closures or fewer yet more experienced employees? Will employer participation in healthcare be reduced or eliminated to absorb the increased cost? And will companies be willing to take a chance on young people or immigrants with limited English skills?

The mayor’s task force on income inequality has been debating and receiving briefings from experts about the effects of raising the minimum wage since the beginning of the year. The challenge for Seattle is that no one has raised it to $15 so quickly. Even SeaTac’s Prop. 1 only impacts certain economic sectors and exempts small businesses and those with a union contract.

Some people point to San Francisco's minimum wage as an example of what we should do here. At $10.74, it's the highest in California, but only a little over a dollar more than the State of Washington's. And although San Francisco has implemented a minimum wage bump alongside rent control to make the city more affordable for working people, they are suffering more and more from the relentless march of gentrification. The reason is simple: The city's blue-collar family wage jobs left long ago.

Seattle still has plenty of decisions about minimum wages left on its plate: What should our minimum wage be? Will it be phased in over time? Is total compensation counted in the minimum? Will businesses with labor contracts be exempt? Will there be other exemptions for non-profits, types of industry, or size? Will the city include some sort of tax relief for small businesses as part of the package?

Rather than debate whether Seattle should pick $15 or $11 or $25 though, it might be better to discuss the problem in a larger context. How do we help people move up the economic ladder?


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 7:13 a.m. Inappropriate

Most of us have worked a minimum wage job at some point in our early years. And most of us gained experience, education, training, etc. that allowed us to move up the economic ladder where we command a higher wage. We need to look at why some people seem stuck on the bottom rung of the ladder and do what we can to assist their efforts to move up. A $15 hour minimum wage will temporarily make some people feel better, notably the politicians pushing it, but it won't solve the problem. The majority of people in poverty don't have a job at all, and a $15 minimum wage will only make their challenge of finding employment that much harder. Minority youth have the highest unemployment. A $15 minimum wage will most certainly make getting the first job extremely difficult. Without that first entry level job these kids may never have an opportunity to start their climb up the economic ladder.
If raising the minimum to $15 turns out to have significant negative consequences there's no reversing it later. This isn't like buying public toilets.

crash63

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 8:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Crash, I would agree with you. But people do get stuck in entry level jobs. I'm sure more research could be done, but we do know a lot already. I'm not an expert by any means but I've met enough people who are stuck to expound a few cases
- they don't want to advance; getting by is good enough
- they don't have the mental capacity to advance
- they have taking training to advance but still can't find jobs

I don't have much sympathy for the first case, but it is their choice of life, not mine. But, overall, I do have sympathy for those who are stuck. I think they should be able to earn just enough to get by, which is probably somewhere around $15.

If I'm wrong about my observations, then yes, making it easier for people to rest their laurels in the wrong place not worth the other detriments that you mention.

pragmatic

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 7:15 a.m. Inappropriate

1 of 2

Jordan, the policy makers in this state don't want the less well off moving up the economic ladder. That's why they created the most regressive state/local taxing structure in the country.

Moreover, your assertion that “[m]arginal tax rates have been reduced” is incorrect and misleading. No state or local marginal tax rates have been reduced, indeed, regressive state and local taxes have been hiked over and over. Those moves were meant to cause the greatest adverse financial impacts to those households here with the least economic means.

The democrats have effectively controlled what happens with taxing policies in this state for a generation. All they've done is give massive tax breaks to profitable corporations and hike taxes that target individuals and families for the greatest financial impact. That shows they believe “trickle down economics” will help those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

What haven't the government heads here done? Work to impose taxes that target the wealthy and corporations:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/69/19237_TaxFoundation_v2.gif

See how this state is an outlier, Jordan?

The only democrats that flourish in Washington State are those that loathe the notion of progressive taxing. Look at Ed Murray's record in the state legislature – all he did was push for legislation making the tax impacts on the less-well-off worse, and he never advocated for progressive taxing strategies.

Elsewhere in the country democrats are liberal. They try to level the playing field and work for social justice. That's essentially what “liberal” means. Here though the democrats want to increase the wealth gap between the rich and the poor by using nasty taxation policies, especially when it comes to transit.

The democratic party leaders and their functionaries now in power always push for higher sales taxes and car tab taxes for local transit taxing districts, and then work hard to impose them. Those are the singular accomplishments of Frank Chopp, Ed Murray, Greg Nickels, Dow Constantine, Larry Phillips, etc. Constantine and Phillips now are pushing for higher sales taxes and car tab taxes for Metro, instead of questioning the management of Metro, explaining why additional tax revenue might be needed, or advocating for a revenue-raiser not designed to hit the families with the least the hardest.

Look at how “tax the people with the least the heaviest” is the unvarying theme of the democrats. King County Metro’s high taxing targeting the middle class and poor dates from its first sales tax in 1972. Then Metro doubled its sales tax in 1980. Then the democrats around here really started going to town. They controlled King County and hiked its sales taxes again for Metro in 2000, and then again in 2006. In 2011 the democrats began collecting an additional car tab tax. That completely unaccountable municipality Sound Transit was designed and operated by democrats. It got a big sales tax and car tab tax from the democrats in the state legislature in 1992, and the local democrats began imposing those with gusto. Another unaccountable local taxing district (the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority) was created and authorized to impose heavy car tab taxes. It did that for over three years, and completely wasted all that tax revenue. Now the people here are taxed heavily for transit -- a 1.8% sales tax, plus car tab taxes, plus a property tax.

That's far more regressive taxing, and higher overall taxing, compared with everywhere else in the country.

Seattle used to impose a modest payroll tax a few years back, and then the city council repealed that progressive tax. What did it replace it with? You guessed it, a TBD car tab fee the democrats in the state legislature just had handed it.

What do Dow and Larry want, really badly, at this point? A more regressive taxing structure. What does their party's leadership want after that? Yet more regressive taxing authority from the state legislature for Sound Transit. Then Ed Murray will push for “city-only” regressive taxes on top of that for more light rail.

What don't the democrats ever implement? Policies involving paying for transit the fair way, the way the peers do: not much new local taxing, and progressive taxing only to the extent needed.

crossrip

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 7:16 a.m. Inappropriate


2 of 2

Your contention Jordan – that the government heads here want those with the least to gain economic clout – patently is false. We know that because the democrats that have been in control in this state for over a generation only hike regressive taxes. Here doing maximum financial harm to the households least able to afford via taxing practices is the goal.

Let's look at how much sales tax already is imposed for buses and trains here, and consider how much extra taxing the state and local democrats are pushing with this new ballot proposition they want to float in April.

The amount of additional financial impact from the proposed tax hikes can be seen from the county's press release about them:

0.1% increase in sales tax, which would generate approximately $50 million per year (and expire after 10 years)

http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/Future.aspx

That's just the sales tax hike. There also would be a $60 per-vehicle annual hike.

About 70% of the sales tax is paid by individuals and families, and there are 800,000 households in King County:

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/53/53033.html

Those figures allow the average cost per household to be calculated; it is $43.75 per household per year just for the upcoming sales tax hike (the car tab tax on each car would be on top of that).

Now let's look at the existing regressive taxing for buses and trains here by Metro and Sound Transit.

A 0.1% sales tax hike would cost the average family $43.75. The average family here already pays a 1.8% sales tax for buses and trains, plus a Sound Transit car tab tax, plus a property tax for Metro. Did you know that in Seattle some of the “Bridging the Gap” property tax hike revenues were handed over to the county for additional Metro service on certain routes in the city? Add that in as well – it's more tax revenue Metro already gets.

The existing sales tax hit for transit here already is $788 every year for the average family ($43.75 x 18). Most families have a couple of cars and are responsible for paying property tax, so add a couple of hundred dollars on top of that figure for those additional confiscations by local governments each year.

Lower income families with young children are targeted for the heaviest impacts (they have to buy kids clothing, furniture, health supplies, etc.).

Call it an even $1,000 in taxes targeting the average family ALREADY for buses and trains. That is a huge financial penalty – year after year – that is unnecessary. For example, in the greater Portland area there is NO targeting of individuals and families via regressive taxing. Households there pay no sales taxes or car tab taxes for that extensive and expanding bus, train and streetcar system.

A $15 minimum wage would provide additional income to maybe 15,000 households around here. Even those families essentially would be no better off because of the excessive regressive taxing they are subject to.

crossrip

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 9:29 a.m. Inappropriate

What a hit piece disguised as a call for reasonableness! No one is claiming that a minimum wage increase is a silver bullet. Neither are the other ideas professed here and by others who otherwise show little interest in them. I don't believe - and neither should you - that they would support them if they were actually proposed or if a city government was legally able to enact such laws. This is just an attempt to change the topic, in part by killing this one with a thousand papercuts. Panaceas don't exist in public policy and a quest by the quixotic should not prevent Seattle from doing what it can do now. Then we can focus on fixing the regressive tax code in Washington, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and restoring food stamps and extending unemployment insurance coverage, if our divided governments in Olympia and D.C. can pass them. I hope we'll have the support of everyone now saying those are the better solutions. But I predict seeing a repeat of the argument seen here and elsewhere by opponents: that those solutions are too imperfect to implement because they don't fix every problem. Bottom line, the article sounds written straight from a talking points memo, down to the concern for the summer jobs of teenagers and the nostalgia for a different time invoked by the dated picture of a McDonald's employee.

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 9:29 a.m. Inappropriate

I'll be the anti-crossrip and keep this as simple as possible: Go ahead and raise the mimimum wage to $15 an hour but as soon as my cost as a consumer goes up to cover that increase, I'm looking for a better price elsewhere (out of state or country, if possible).

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 10:54 a.m. Inappropriate

As a small business owner, I think everyone deserves to make a living wage. However, there are many small businesses - restaurant, retail and non-profits who are going to have a very difficult time in paying $15 an hour. You must also remember that for a business owner, it is not just $15 an hour but payroll taxes, unemployment, and workman's comp on top of the $15 an hour. If this passes, there needs to be a way to help small businesses with some type of tax breaks. For instance, the state of Washington has us paying a huge amount of B & O taxes as does the city. Give us a break and I am sure that every small business owner would be happy to raise the wages of its workers. After all, the more they make, the more they have to spend which helps the economy and creates jobs for others. So lets not forget to take care of small business (50 employees or less) in working to end income inequality.

annied

Posted Fri, Mar 7, 5:08 p.m. Inappropriate

Yes, it is all about incentivizing work, versus more public assistance. In my mind, a good way to do this is for the state to cut outright public assistance and then use that money to cut payroll taxes, subsidize unemployment insurance, etc.

It's called making work pay, and that is clearly in the state's power depending on the mechanism which they distribute funds.

For businesses, it should be revenue neutral and not be a burden.

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 11:52 a.m. Inappropriate

I'm a small business owner with 2 locations in Seattle, and have 22 full time employees. Mine is a service business and our employees, other than managers, receive tips as well as their wages. Our lowest paid non-manager employee is paid $9.75 hr and our highest is paid $15. Tips range from a low of $900 per month to $1,200 per month. We also provide paid sick leave and 5 paid holidays a year. So total compensation ranges from $31,080 to $45,600. Our payroll expenses represent about 60% of our total costs. A 60% increase in wage expenses will require us to increase prices by approximately 30% to keep us in the black.
Every small business owner I know is doing the same math right now trying to determine if they will be able to survive in a $15 minimum wage environment. We put all of our savings into our businesses, so we will do whatever we can to try and make it work. But we can't force customers to pay 30% more for the same service, given that they could easily go outside of Seattle to get the same services at a much lower price. It will be a challenge to stay in business. We care a great deal about our employees, and currently pay them more than our competitors, as well as providing benefits our competitors do not. If we go out of business 22 people will lose their jobs, we will have lost our investment, and the community will lose the $10,000 a year we routinely give to local charities.
This in no way a threat, but just simple economics. We want to stay in business in Seattle. The City can legislate a wage increase, but it can't legislate demand. Our employees are not living in poverty, but they may if we go out of business.

ep

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 2:05 p.m. Inappropriate

Have to side with Mr. Richards on this one. Mr. Royer, you give us little choice but to take your claim about unmet demand for labor in the manufacturing and service sectors as merely anecdotal. The question is, if the inequality/unemployment problem is indeed structural--if there's this big disconnect between the supply and demand for better-payed skilled workers--where are the incentivizing wage increases we should expect?

Even If, as you posit, the labor market works as an escalator, for far too many it seems to end at the first or second floor of our economy, due to there being far too few actual vacancies at the higher levels. What do we do for those who really have no clear route out of the basement? Train all the fast food workers you want, there still won't be enough slots in programming for all but a comparative few (at depresses wages, from the expanded supply.) Besides, someone of course will always have to work the counters and clean the toilets. You seem to be saying, "Look, a number of us are doing OK here. Don't let's rock the boat, 'cause it could capsize." From the point of view of someone who's in the drink anyway, that possibility has to be seen as not all bad, since it allows for perhaps a complete re-set, or a chance to try again, starting over. Doesn't seem the $15/hr idea is such a risky experiment.

Grumpy

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 2:58 p.m. Inappropriate

Mr Royer - apparently Dick Conway (as authoritative voice on the regional economy for business as any) disagrees with some of your conclusions. See today's KPLU story about it. Here's an outtake:

"'I kind of shook my head; I thought that seems a little on the high side. But when I put my pencil to it, it’s really not that outrageous,' he said.

First he thought back to the start of his own working career in a furniture factory. It was 1963, and he was 18 years old. He earned the minimum wage, $1.25 per hour. 'Back then, $1.25 could buy you quite a bit of stuff,' Conway said.

Adjusting for inflation, that $1.25 is about what Washington state’s current minimum wage, the highest in the country. But Conway says it’s not enough. You’ve got Seattle’s high cost of living. And you’ve got a regressive tax system that disproportionately hits low-wage workers."

If he is right that the Seattle economy can absorb a living wage boost and be fine, why should we not take a serious look at it and move quickly to bring people up out of the basement? Your arguments that we should focus instead on education and training sound hollow and like a distraction (especially because the financial elite in this state are not paying their fair share, a big piece of why we are underfunding education).

NineIron

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 4:23 p.m. Inappropriate

I heard Dick Conway on KPLU as well, and I have to disagree with his methodology. First of all "Back then, $1.25 could buy you quite a bit of stuff", is as unscientific measurement of purchasing power you could possibly devise. And his conclusion that productivity gains should be the benchmark for increasing minimum wage is a bizarre one. Sure, auto manufacturers have seen huge productivity gains since 1963, but not because workers are so much faster, it's because many workers were replaced by machines. So fewer workers are producing more cars. But how does that correlate to a service business like a restaurant, barbershop, or nail salon. The workers there are not serving two or three times as many customers as in 1963.
This is a very different world than 1963. We are a global and technologically driven economy. In order for workers to reap benefits from the economy as it exists today they need to improve their skills to become high skilled workers. The reason low skilled workers haven't seen wages increase is because low skill workers are not in short supply. Raising the minimum wage in Seattle to more than double the Federal minimum wage will ensure that there will be a huge supply of low skill workers in this city. The competition for those low skill jobs that are left will be fierce, thus holding down wages, creating a busy underground economy, and increasing the number of unemployed and homeless in Seattle.
I believe what Mr. Royer is trying to say is that if workers want a shot at creating a lifestyle anything above poverty level they will need to build skills that will allow them to command a higher income. Our tax system is regressive. Higher education is too expensive. Quality technical training is too scarce. Good childcare is too expensive.
Not everyone will win in our current economy, but the least we can do is provide everyone with an opportunity to be successful. A $15 minimum wage is a feel good band aid that carries many negative consequences, and does nothing to change the long term fortunes of those stuck at the bottom and those just entering the workforce.

ep

Posted Mon, Mar 10, 3:42 p.m. Inappropriate

ep - You raise interesting issues with which I disagree, and to which I could spend lengthy comment space to respond. However, my point is that Dick Conway (described by the Puget Sound Business Journal as the "dean of local economist") predicts that the region can absorb the higher labor costs without significant negative effects. We can quibble over the methodology to get to an adjusted wage, but that's missing his bigger point. Given how well respected Mr. Conway's forecasting is among the business community in Washington (his annual forecasts inform everything from aerospace to real estate), it seems to me that big and small businesses should take him seriously, even if the policy goes counter to their intuition.

NineIron

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 4:01 p.m. Inappropriate

I do not make $15/hr but I currently make 42.785% more that minimum wage. In order to keep my buying power, when the dust settles an “everyone” is making $15/hr, I would need a raise. That would mean I would need to now earn $20.60 to keep up with my family’s current standard of living once prices go up to reflect the new wage. (Its call inflation) By upping minimum wage, you are depreciating my, and many other peoples value.
We have worked hard and sacrificed to make what we do now. It is unfair to tell people who have worked and striven for their education and job experience that they are now, again, at the bottom of the heap. I have paid my dues and do not want to go there again! I am sorry if poor life choices (decision-making), poor judgment, or whatever is holding these individuals back, but that is not the fault of myself, any business, or the government.
Minimum wage jobs (mostly fast food) were never meant to support a family on. They don’t require any technical skill or any special knowledge or training. If you decide to have a family but are unwilling to better yourself, seek further training, or do anything for a job that isn’t minimum wage (so you can support said family), that is not the fault of your employer. However, there are lots of funding options out there for people who are limited income to go back to school for little or no money. Plus, if you’re so bad off as is claimed, you are most likely on government assistance (I’ve had to go on it before). They will pay for childcare while you are going through re-training and in most cases, community colleges (partnered with these welfare programs) will offer you free classes when you are a part of these programs. You have options. Arbitrarily demanding an increase in pay, without an increase in responsibility, a gross and uneducated disregard for how finances and inflation work at best, and a petulant feeling of self-entitlement at worst.
The only thing this bill passing will do is temporarily raise “apparent” income levels, until prices rise (inflation) in response. Now, all the people in my bracket who went to college, put the time in, and strove to better themselves are at the bottom of barrel with the “minimum wagers”. This also as the double dangerous effect of removing all motivation to better yourself. After all, if someone, as an uneducated person, can make just as much money flipping burgers as being a Dental Hygienist, Receptionist, Administrative Assistant, IT professional, or any number of skilled jobs, without the work, responsibility, or education. Why bother. It’s a dangerous road to start down.

twedee

Posted Fri, Mar 7, 1:51 p.m. Inappropriate

Twedee:
It's not clear where you get the idea you yourself would need a raise to keep your "buying power" should the minimum wage go up. Are you referencing prices at MacDonald's? Studies seem to show they could cover their increased costs with just pennies added to menu items.

You seem convinced helping out the impoverished in this fashion would harm you, personally: you'd prefer not to be back at "the bottom of the heap." Who would? You cite your own efforts to get ahead. What makes you special? Why are you so sure those below you on the wage scale deserve to be there? Do you have some sort of monopoly on virtue?

Who, exactly, decreed that "minimum wage jobs were never meant to support a family on?" People mostly take whatever employment they can find, then go from there. If there are no better-paying spots available, they--without planning on it--end up with society's minimum wage, which we've collectively decided to implement out of the general feeling it would be indecent to treat fellow humans any different.

You may think "there are a lot of funding options out there" for those seeking further education or retraining, "for little or no money." Are you speaking from personal experience? Have you applied at a university or community college recently? Are you aware of the student loan crisis, featuring the highest debt (and default) levels in history? Did you know, that should you get the credentials for one of those dental hygienist or IT jobs, for every opening there are currently three or four applicants? Where do get the idea, anyway, that those in minimum-wage positions are "uneducated persons?" If you want to see steam coming from somewhere other than coffee, ask your local barista why she never thought to go to school.

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Grumpy

Posted Fri, Mar 14, 4:06 p.m. Inappropriate

Grumpy, I hire you for $25 per hour, because you have job experience, you are mature and dependable, and work very hard, and you speak English very well. You spell well too.

Currently, I can hire an untrained immigrant, or even a teen at less than $10 per hour, and that is painful enough, because I know the immigrant needs English help, and teens ... well, teens need tons of everything. They haven't quite learned that showing up on time for the job is a key component in keeping that job, along with they simply are young.

If I have to start paying someone who doesn't speak English very well, or a teen $15 per hour, I simply cannot imagine you're going to keep being happy with being paid $25 per hour. But I can't pay you what you're worth, if I have to pay the non-skilled, non-English speaking staff $15 per hour.

Plus there is still the occasional month where my small business doesn't earn enough for me to pay me ... even a dollar an hour.

Posted Thu, Mar 6, 4:30 p.m. Inappropriate

For those of us who find the high cost of living in Seattle already a major challenge to our budgets, the prospect of (a) price increases which reflect the higher cost of local labor as a result of this measure, (b) price increases which result from less competition as local businesses close likewise on account of this measure, and (c) tax increases to maintain the social services being lost or cut as a result of local non-profits doing less or shutting their doors because they can no longer support their staffs--also on account of this measure. For those who complain about 'gentrification,' don't you see that a measure like this only adds to the problem--the problem of how to make ends meet in a town where only rich folks can increasingly afford to live? Sure, lots of poor and unskilled people would flock here to try and take advantage of such an inordinately high minimum wage. But where would they stay? Oh, I know, another "Occupy Seattle" camp in downtown or Capitol Hill. Is that the real purpose for this measure?

Posted Fri, Mar 7, 10:14 a.m. Inappropriate

I think the real purpose of this measure is clear: to raise the earning power of those earning the least in our city of wealth. Fail to pass this measure and yes, you may just find another Occupy Seattle camp bigger and more unified than the last - all shouting for a $15 minimum wage.

Furthermore, the idea that raising the minimum wage will take away all motivation to better yourself is ludicrous and shows a real contempt for those people working the minimum wage (many of whom are organizing themselves to push for a better wage from their employers and the public they serve). This coming from people simultaneously claiming that this will cause concordant inflation that will undermine any benefit of the extra money in the pocket of "the minimum wagers," as one class-warmonger affectionately terms them here.

The anti- side is a smear campaign of specious arguments consistently entirely of the standard logical fallacies, ad hominem and slippery slope among the most used. Their worst assumptions are that the majority of minimum wage work in Seattle is for "fast-food" work (while also warning of wide-spread catastrophic effects to all sectors of the economy; which is it?); that minimum-wage work generally and "fast-food" work specifically is unskilled; that no one working for minimum wage has already got or is getting higher-ed or technical training; and that this is a zero-sum game and this measure is just rent-seeking. They have to make such arguments from faith because the actual economic data and studies do not support their claims, like the thoroughly debunked notion that higher minimum wage costs will cause a flight of capital and business to a region with a lower minimum wage.

Finally, if some businesses close, won't others open and isn't that capitalism?

Posted Fri, Mar 14, 4:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Tim Richards, just as ludicrous is your inability to understand the economics of owning and running a small business.

Perhaps the ripple effect of many small business failures will cause you to come down out of your ivory tower due to a job layoff.

Posted Fri, Mar 7, 12:01 p.m. Inappropriate

I regularly hire two types of people to work with me: those with some technical skills in my industry who I pay $15/hr and those with very little technical skill in my industry, but who want to learn and will go the extra mile. I pay them $10 an hour.

Guess who will be **** out of luck if the minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour?

Simon

Posted Fri, Mar 7, 12:09 p.m. Inappropriate

"Finally, if some businesses close, won't others open and isn't that capitalism?"

Yep, they'd open in Bellevue or Shoreline.

Simon

Posted Fri, Mar 7, 8:13 p.m. Inappropriate

The current liberal feel good position is that if a person fills a slot on an organizational chart they are worth XXX. They forget that receiving XXX requires that the worker in question earn it. Earning it usually is tied to something called productivity or as my old boss used to say, "Making widgets." I fail to see how a burger flipper is on par with machinists, ditch diggers, or roofers. But that's just me. Having gone thru the burger flipper phase of working life, there's no special skills involved and certainly no math skills in these days of cash registers that can automatically calculate the correct change for each purchase. A place to start and then leave as soon as possible.

The slots on the organizational charts paying XXXXX are usually based on advanced criteria such as education, knowledge, experience, and skills. Slots that pay XXX are based on basic criteria, perhaps operating a push broom is one of those basics. Not all slots are equal nor should they be.

If the lowest rung becomes $15/hr, it only makes sense that all those rungs that are between the current minimum wage and $15/hr, move up the economic ladder. Those folks already being paid above the minimum wage have proven themselves. I'm sure that most of them will not view this situation in a favorable light. Why? Because not all workers are created equal and those making above the current minimum wage are living proof of this inconvenient truth.

So let the minimum wage raise to $15/hr, it'll be an interesting spectacle, with the most common comment being I told you so.

Djinn

Posted Sun, Mar 9, 12:54 p.m. Inappropriate

Raise the state wage to $12. Cut state subsidies for housing, health care, etc, and use that money to subsidize state funded benefits through employment, like paid sick leave, health ins. stipend, lower unemployment and L and I taxes.

State benefits should be redirected through the mechanism of hourly work.

The burden on employers could be increased slightly, but mostly this should be about how the state distributes more funds to the working poor and not the non-working poor.

Posted Sun, Mar 9, 2:47 p.m. Inappropriate

The state should give everyone a raise in the $10 to $20 an hour wage band. They could do this by providing a subsidy of $2 hour into a personal account for a worker that could be used for vacation, dental, health, or retirement. This would benefit everyone in this wage range, not just the lowest skilled and lowest paid. Second, it is a disincentive for under the table work.

Posted Thu, Mar 13, 11:10 a.m. Inappropriate

I have spent 20 years eating at misc. restaurants on the Ave, & seen many come and go. Walk by in the morning and see the owner in the shop, and late at night. Many put in 12 hr days or more. I wonder how much money their shop makes in yearly income. Even if it is a 100K, the time they put in makes the hourly wage very low. Will my favorite restaurant survive $15/hr?

The pro $15 crowd come off as extreme zealots. They say if you can't pay your employees $15 per hour your business shouldn't exist. Anything less is slavery?!? Really? With no skin in the game it is easy to demand $15 with no grasp, or care, for the consequences.

username

Posted Sat, Mar 15, 7:57 a.m. Inappropriate

I am the owner of one small business and consult my parents on their small business. But I don't pay employees the least the law requires. That was never a part of my business model. Unfortunately, so many other small business owners seem to have made it a part of their business model. That is their own fault and they shouldn't expect the public at-large to be concerned about the failure of their own creativity to adapt to a changing world - the latest of which is a push to raise the minimum wage to a rate that makes up for decades of inflation that has significantly chipped away at the spending power of those making the minimum wage.

The zealots seem to be the business owners and corporate-apologists who claim that a greater minimum wage will be a tidal wage wiping out businesses on a catastrophic scale (while whining about 100K in take-home pay). Why must they exaggerate every claim or call by the pro-change side as akin to an accusation of slavery or similar?

Bottom-line: Everyone has skin in the game, even those not on the minimum wage, but especially those making the least legally possible.

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