Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G
sinetimore

Share It Fairly, But Don't Take A Piece Of My Pie

I am not looking forward to writing this piece.

I really am not.

But I am honor bound to do so.  I have always said, truth is truth, no matter where it comes from.  And especially if it's truth you don't like, you can't ignore it.  I take a lot of cheap shots at Obama, but when he does something right, I applaud it.  I take cheap shots at Fox News, but when they get it right, I applaud them.  Intergrity means you have to admit when the pie in the sky runs out of gas and plummets to earth.

What makes me honor bound to write this is the number of gleeful cheap shots I've taken at the economic experiment currently falling apart in the state of Nebraska.  I was one of the chorus of people laughing as the supply side fantasy got a shove into the cold cruel world and failing (I don't have a lot of sympathy for the citizens of Nebraska because they reelected Brownback.  The challenger was winning until it was discovered he went to a strip club over a decade earlier when he was in his 20's.  This one incident caused people to abandon him and go with the governor who put the state in a financial death spiral.  The people of Nebraska deserve what they get).  However, there was another little economic experiment going on, one that people like me were cheering on and hoping it would defy the odds and prove everyone wrong.  And that was the $15 an hour minimum wage hike in Seattle and San Francisco.  I've talked smack about a goofball economic policy I couldn't wait to see fail.  Now?  I have to talk about the failure of an economic policy I supported.  Like Billie Jean says, "Fair is fair."

For those that came in late -- Seattle decided to inplement a local minimum wage hike to $15 an hour.  The goal of the whole thing was to get people an actual living wage -- a couple where both partners are working full time are just barely above the poverty line (and the feds don't set the line very high).  People cite the expense of modern living as the reason they rely on government programs and benefits, so this was seen as an incentive to make a legit living.  People raised concerns that this would cause prices in the area to skyrocket as the costs were passed on to the consumer.  But many people, such as myself, basically believed our own unique spin on supply side economics -- with the boon in people making money and having a surplus, they would spend more, businesses wouldn't have to jack up prices to break even because of the influx, and everything would be fine.  Like I said, it was a unique spin, but still that discredited spectre of supply side economics.  And for us supporters, this folly is becoming our downfall.

Let's start with the biggest failure of this whole thing -- getting people off government assistance programs.  The increase is being phased in gradually, and was $11 an hour starting in April.  In March, 130,851 people were enrolled in the Basic Food program.  In April?  130,376.  That is less than a half a percent drop, not even statistically significant.

Workers are asking for fewer hours so that the pay increase doesn't disqualify them for public subsidies for rent and child care.

Prices are going up, and some restaurant managers are combating trying to appeal to the pocketbook by not encouraging customers to tip.  This means that the servers who rely on tips are getting less moeny.

San Francisco and Los Angeles have also passed $15 an hour minimum wage laws after seeing Seattle do it.  Comix Experience is a comic shop in San Fran, and Brian Hibbs, the owner, is offering a graphic novel club subscription to his customers.  $25 per month.  You don't get anything special with it, and Hibbs admits it is just a "donation" to keep him economically viable with the increase in the minimum wage.  But this is comics.  He needs 334 of these dues payers to make the $80,000 the increase in minimum wage will cost him.  He currently have 228.

And this is just the beginning.  The Los Angeles County Board just this week approved $15 minimum wage, and New York is looking at it for fast-food workers.  And Governor Andrew Cuomo approves.

No one ideology works.  It takes a little of them all.  We've seen in Nebraska that the right side pipe dream of lower taxes creating an economic boom is a fantasy.  And now, the standby of us old lefties is getting beaten with the reality stick.  We need to abandon the absolutism of these ideals and figure out how to make things better.  And we won't do it if we continue to ignore reality.
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