minimum wage

Something to Keep in Mind (Minimumawecity Mix)

McPoverty protesters outside Wendy's restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

Barry Ritholtz, for Bloomberg:

Consider as an example what Mark Perry, at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a month before the first phase of Seattle’s new minimum-wage law went into effect. The city’s “government-mandated wage floor … guarantees reduced employment opportunities for many workers.”

As one of my colleagues wrote last week, the “unemployment rate in the city of Seattle―the tip of the spear when it comes to minimum wage experiments―has now hit a new cycle low of 3.4%.” Meanwhile, a University of Washington study on the minimum wage law found little or no evidence of job losses or business closings.

Although you can never declare a game over until the final whistle, this experiment is starting to look like a rout.

Given the strangely anti-labor mood in which Americans find themselves, remember this when we start hearing about what a bad idea a useful minimum wage is supposed to be.

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Image note: McPoverty protesters outside Wendy’s restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, 20 February 2016. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

Ritholtz, Barry. “Minimum-Wage Foes Tripped Up by Facts”. Bloomberg View. 7 December 2016.

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An Important Day

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at her presidential primary election night rally, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Today was supposed to be something of a good day. The question, then, is what tomorrow brings. Let us start, then, as Steve Benen did, with yesterday.

Recognizing the writing on the wall, Sanders’ aides conceded yesterday that the campaign will “reassess” its strategy going forward. While that’s often a euphemism for “quit,” that’s not the case here: Sanders isn’t prepared to walk away, but he is prepared to shift his focus in light of the recent results. Consider the statement his campaign issued last night:

“I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories tonight, and I look forward to issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come. […]

“The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.”

Over the last couple of months, each of the Sanders campaign’s election-night statements have included at least one reference to his “path to the nomination.” This one did not. It wasn’t an accidental omission.

Sanders started the race as an issue-oriented candidate who didn’t expect to be the party’s nominee, and the recent results have brought him full circle. He’s not done fighting; he’s just going to fight for something new: he can’t catch Clinton through the ballot box, but he can “fight for a progressive party platform.”

This is the day, apparently, when the Democratic Party is supposed to come together and turn its eyes to November.

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Recommended Holiday Reading

McPoverty protesters outside Wendy's restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

E.J. Dionne Jr. opens his Labor Day column for the Washington Post with a basic reflection:

Many conservatives and most libertarians argue that every new law or regulation means that government is adding to the sum total of oppression and reducing the freedom of individuals.

This way of looking at things greatly simplifies the political debate. Domestic issues are boiled down to the question of whether someone is “pro-government” or “anti-government.”

Alas for the over-simplifiers, it’s an approach that misreads the nature of the choices that regulators, politicians and citizens regularly face. It ignores that the market system itself could not exist without the rules that government establishes, beginning with statutes protecting private property and also the various measures against the use of force and fraud in business and individual transactions.

More important, it overlooks the ways in which the steps government takes often empower citizens and expand their rights. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the realm of work.

It’s Labor Day, so there is no required reading. Might I, then, strongly encourage Mr. Dionne’s holiday offering?

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Image note: Hey, I’ve been there! ― McPoverty protesters outside Wendy’s restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

Dionne Jr., E. J. “The right question to ask about government”. The Washington Post. 6 September 2015.

The Jeb Bush Show (Radical Restructure Remix)

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits in a hallway after a campaign event Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Henderson, Nev. (Photo by John Locher/AP)

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours.”

Jeb Bush

This is an occasion when it is instructive to read past the superficial narrative. True, this is another occasion on which Mr. Bush required a do-overα, and the line really didn’t sound all that good. Still, though, the rebound was good enough to get Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)―the ostenisble House GOP budget wonk and former vice-presidential nominee―onboard. And even Democratic-sympathizing pundits and politicians alike can find a reason to go with the later iteration; to wit, Steve Benen:

For what it’s worth, the Florida Republican, not long after his interview, clarified that his comments were about part-time vs. full-time employment. The Washington Post reported Bush saying, “You can take it out of context all you want, but high-sustained growth means that people work 40 hours rather than 30 hours and that by our success, they have money, disposable income for their families to decide how they want to spend it rather than getting in line and being dependent on government.”

As a matter of Economics 101, Bush’s broader points have at least some technical merit. When an economy has more full-time workers, it means more economic activity. When employees work more hours, it means more output and greater growth. None of this is controversial.

The problem with Bush’s rhetoric, however, is the real-world implications, and the degree to which he fails to understand the issue.

For example, the Republican candidate, who made $5.8 million in “consulting and speaking” income in 2013, makes it sound as if sluggish economic growth is your fault – you’re just not working enough hours. In reality, however, full-time employment is soaring when compared to part-time employment, and Americans are already working, on average, 47-hour weeks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-VT), running for the Democratic nomination, is also willing to follow that course.

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A Reminder: Hungry People Edition

Pretty straightforward, this time. Katherine Mozzone of KRQE reports:

A hundred people or more showed up to a meeting about proposed food stamp changes and many were not happy. The State wants to require recipients to get a job if they want to receive benefits. The Human Services Department says this proposal will help people become more self-sufficient but critics say it will mean less food on the table for those who need it most.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program“We stand strongly opposed to the new work requirements,” said one speaker. “It’s just bad policy,” said another.

One by one, people took to the podium at Friday’s Human Services Department food stamp hearing to share their concerns about the proposed changes.

“I think the work requirement is based on the mistaken notion that people receiving SNAP benefits don’t know how to spend their time to better their lives,” said another opponent.

(Boldface accent added)

And that last would be the important point.

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A Quote: Palin on … er … ah … Something

NRA Stand and Fight rally with Sarah Palin. The National Rifle Association annual convention at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 2014. The exhibit hall contained over nine acres of guns and gun products and the convention was attended by over 60,000 people. (Mark Peterson/Redux)

“We believe, wait, I thought fast food joints, don’t you guys think that they’re like of the devil or something? Liberals, you want to send those evil employees who would dare work at a fast food joint that you just don’t believe in, I thought you, I dunno, wanted to send them to purgatory or something. So they all go vegan. And wages and picket lines. I dunno, they’re not often discussed in purgatory are they? I dunno, why are you even worried about fast food wages?

“Well, we believe, an America where minimum wage jobs, they’re not lifetime gigs, they’re stepping stones to sustainable wages. It teaches work ethic.”

Sarah Palin

Over at msnbc, Steve Benen humbly offers this “transcript, as best as I could put this word salad together”.

And it is an admirable effort. Still, though, a note to Mr. Benen: Can we all please agree that “word salad” is officially “ptomaine”?

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Benen, Steve. “Palin discovers that humor is hard”. msnbc. 11 August 2014.