November was a bad time to be a Democrat, but liberals did manage to push their dubious ideas through in a few cities. Local minimum wage hikes were particularly popular; conservative politicians can’t quite make a coherent argument against giving poor people a little more money. Especially if that money will come from businesses and not the taxpayers.
If the state of affairs in Oakland, California is any indication, the citizens are already coming to understand why these hikes are a bad idea. After only a single month under the new law, which raised the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $12.25, area businesses are feeling the pinch. Well, that’s not exactly accurate. It’s fairer to say the employees are feeling the pinch.
The Employment Policies Institute conducted a survey of 223 Oakland businesses to see how the minimum wage increase was affecting the economy. The results, to say the least, are eye-opening. 30% of businesses have cut employee hours and another 17% have actually been forced to lay people off. Keep in mind that the new wages have only been in effect since March 1st.
EPI’s research director, Michael Saltsman, said that the numbers “should give pause” to other cities thinking about voting for a higher minimum wage in the future.
Uh, that’s what we call an understatement.
Unfortunately, Oakland isn’t the only city that voted for a higher minimum wage. Seattle and San Francisco are among the other West Coast cities that approved an increase, though they are waiting to phase in the new laws gradually. If they were smart, they would find a way to scrap them altogether. Because the example seen in Oakland will only be the start. Every time a city or state increases the minimum wage beyond the federal standard, the result is the same.
And yet Americans fall for it every time. We’re too softhearted for our own good. It kills us to think about some poor sucker trying to raise a family on his McDonalds salary, even though we know intellectually that isn’t a common scenario. The sad part, though, is that these hikes hurt the very people they’re meant to help. What’s better? Working for minimum wage or not working at all? Actually, I wouldn’t want a liberal to answer that.
We need someone with a national platform to tell the truth about how capitalism is supposed to work. How the minimum wage is supposed to be a starting point, not a finish line. How it’s easier to do the work, earn a promotion, and get ahead than it is to stand on the sidewalk with a protest sign in your hands, waiting for someone to take mercy on you. A lot more satisfying, too.
But no. Hard work has become a dirty concept in 2015 America. We would rather teach young people that the deck is stacked against them. That they can’t get anywhere because of white privilege and the 1% and slavery and whatever other excuses are trendy that day. Predictably, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Too bad. The American Dream is still as vibrant and real as ever. The ladder is still there. Still sturdy. We just have fewer and fewer people willing to climb it.