Study: Seattle’s Minimum Wage has also Affected Hygiene Standards in Addition to Costing Jobs

By all standards the minimum wage hike in Seattle has been a disaster. As is generally the case with progressive policies, it hurts those it claims to want to help.

Progressive politicians decry the “unfair” minimum wage and bemoan the fact that you can’t raise a family on such low wages. Of course, in their rampant emotionalism (read: political grandstanding), it’s never noted that almost no one is in the lamentable state of raising a family on a minimum wage job since minimum wage jobs tend to be taken by those just entering the workforce.

But we must not think about that. If you are not for raising the minimum wage, you clearly hate the poor.

Progressive politicians, on the other hand, are never accused of hating the poor,  even though their policies consistently and predictably cause them harm. Raising the minimum wage, as has been demonstrated each time it is done, costs employees hours and jobs.

These politicians don’t seem to understand that business owners don’t have a printing press in the back of their shop that can create for them unlimited amounts of money with which they can pay their employees. If they are forced by law to pay their employees more, that money will either come from the employer charging more for their product (which will cause fewer people to buy said product, resulting in a loss of business) or cutting back on the employee’s hours or possibly the job itself.

Now, however, we can add an “ick factor” as well as a potential public health risk to the consequences of the economically ignorant public policy.

A study recently conducted by professors from Indiana University, Ball State University, and Villanova University, found that each dollar increase in the minimum wage resulted in a 6.4% increase in overall health violations, with a 7.3% increase in critical “red” violations and a 15.3% increase in less severe “blue” violations in Seattle restaurants.

So-called “blue” violations include protection from contamination from insects, rodents, and animals, as well as employee cleanliness, garbage being appropriately disposed of, and restrooms being properly cleaned. “Red” violations on the other hand are those which would shut a restaurant down, including the spread of diseases such as salmonella and E. coli.

When employers are forced to cut back hours because they don’t have the money to pay the additional wages, work that was previously being done no longer is. It appears given a choice between serving customers and doing extra cleaning with the more limited hours, the cleaning is going to suffer.

As is almost always the case with progressive policies, people suffer from the law of unintended consequences. With the minimum wage, predictably, those who could afford it the least are affected the most.

On top of that, we’re now discovering that eating in Seattle restaurants may have a greater cost to the public than the higher priced menu items.

Law of Supply and Demand Upheld in Seattle Minimum Wage Case

It turns out that not every law liberals don’t like can be overturned by the Supreme Court.

In 2014, Seattle, following the instructions of liberal activists, agreed to raise its minimum wage to $15/hour.   It turns out this is doing exactly what every conservative, free market economist expected it would:  Reduce jobs and work hours for those making at or near the minimum wage.

A University of Washington study has found that the new law has resulted in an average net LOSS of $125 per month for low wage workers.

The lost income associated with the hours reductions exceeds the gain [in hourly rates],” the report says. “The average low-wage employee was paid $1,897 per month. The reduction in hours would cost the average employee $179 per month, while the wage increase would recoup only $54 of this loss, leaving a net loss of $125 per month (6.6%), which is sizable for a low-wage worker.

The economics aren’t complicated.   The real minimum wage is always zero.  Employers can always opt to hire less employees, have them work less hours, or use more automation, rather than paying entry level workers more than their labor is worth.  In Seattle, they are doing just that.

The only time a minimum wage law is harmless, is when its low enough that the “real” market minimum wage is higher than the law mandates.  In my rural Colorado town, in the midst of a fracking boom, fast food restaurants routinely advertise entry level positions a couple of dollars over the minimum wave.   We have an organic minimum wage that works considerably better than the state mandated one.

It doesn’t matter how many #FightFor15 hashtags you tweet, or how many rallies you hold.  Adam Smith still wins.   And sadly, in Seattle, low wage workers are losing.

Most Lawmakers Pushing For $15 Minimum Wage Hire Unpaid Interns

Last month, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (the left of the left on Capitol Hill) unveiled their Raise the Wage Act of 2017. The bill calls for the increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 – a 107 percent increase from where the current wage stands now at $7.25. Members believe the raise will help lower income families earn more money as they struggle to get by.

The caucus released a joint statement during the introduction of the bill:

“The federal minimum wage has been a stagnant $7.25 for far too long, forcing workers to juggle multiple jobs while barely making ends meet. For years, the CPC and progressive groups like Fight for $15 and Good Jobs Nation have fought for workers’ right to a living wage and have continued to show how low wages impact the daily lives of working families.”

There is just one major detail that makes this announcement a little ridiculous: the vast majority of the congressman who support this bill actually benefit from unpaid labor.

Following the introduction of the wage proposal, the Employment Policies Institute conducted a study of the labor practices of every co-sponsor’s office. They discovered that at least 174 of the bill’s 184 co-sponsors employ interns who work for $0 an hour. That means 95 percent of the lawmakers who support the Raise the Wage Act not only employ workers who make less than $15 – they hire people who don’t earn any money at all.

A bit hypocritical, no?

Of course, there is nothing wrong with interning for free (I’ve done it). It’s a superb way to gain know-how when you’re young and lack skills. Interning gives you the type of real world experience that you just can’t find at any school. If interns felt they were being taken advantage of on Capitol Hill, they’d simply leave. No one is forcing them to work for free.

The amazing part – this same concept applies to low wage jobs. Working for less money gives unskilled laborers a chance to a earn a paycheck and get their foot in the door to other opportunities. Time after time, we see where wage hikes result in higher unemployment for the most unskilled of workers. These are the people first to go if jobs are on the chopping block.

Increases in the minimum wage hurt unskilled employees. We know Democrats understand this because they practice it in their congressional offices every day.

If only they could preach it, too.

The Best Fine Dining In $15 Minimum Wage San Francisco: McDonalds

The rest of the restaurants will likely be closed or moved outside the Bay Area. With a $15 an hour minimum wage hike set to hit next year, that’s exactly what will happen. And the only reason McDonalds will survive is because they’ll automate everything and run the store with 3 people and an off-duty cop to keep the homeless out of the bathrooms.

I mean, was there anyone outside of the card-carrying communists who run San Francisco that didn’t see this coming?

I think not. The Wall Street Journal noted one publication reporting “at least 60 Bay Area restaurants have closed since September,” and another calling the spate of closures a “death march.”

Last year the San Francisco Chronicle looked at 20 years’ of menus from top restaurants and reported that prices had jumped 52% since 2005, twice the rate of inflation. But increasing prices isn’t a panacea for restaurant owners. “There’s only so much you can charge for tamales,” the owner of a small eatery said in 2015 to explain one reason he was closing.

It’s really a rainbow-unicorn belief in their own “specialness” that’s driving San Francisco to economic suicide. They really do think that tourists and business visitors are A-okay paying $35 for an appetizer or $200 a plate for a decent fine dining restaurant (before the wine). That’s so the dishwasher (who is probably an illegal undocumented alien) can earn a “living wage” of $15/hour.

The dishwasher will probably eat at McDonalds.

If there’s a silver lining to San Francisco’s culinary struggles, it’s that other cities, even ones run by Democrats, are realizing the arguments for a $15 minimum wage don’t match reality. In March, Baltimore’s mayor, Catherine Pugh, vetoed a measure that would have raised the local mandate to $15 by 2022. “I want people to earn better wages,” she told this newspaper. “But I also want my city to survive.”

Fat chance. Baltimore residents know they are mortals. They might be liberal, but there’s a limit to the delusion. West coast liberals are in a whole different league of mescaline-induced fantasy.

My advice to anyone living in San Francisco is first, to move if you can. But if you can’t, learn how to cook at home, or get used to a lot of fast food. Because when this minimum wage kicks in, that’s all you’re going to be able to buy for under $200.

Is $20 An Hour The New $15?

In an unbelievable clip from Atlanta, Hillary Clinton supporter LaTonya Allen, claimed that the new minimum wage should be $20 an hour. To quote her directly:

“The wages do not help us. We need to make 15 – actually we need to make it 20 dollars an hour.”

Clearly LaTonya has done extensive work with economic analysis and and has intricately studied the long term implications of upping the minimum wage. I am sure she has read this report highlighting that at $15 an hour, her home state of Georgia would lose 329,000 jobs in the next few years. Or this report showing that after #WeWant15 happened in many cities, Wendys started using robots instead of workers. Or this study that said for every $1 increase to the minimum wage, there is a 14% increase of a midlevel restaurant going out of business.

LaTonya, I have a simple question. Why stop at $20? Let’s get serious about inequality and demand that everyone make $40 an hour to really stick it to the man. After all, there is just as much economic evidence for $40 an hour as there is $20.

Minimum Wage, Immigration, Tariffs And Jobs: Only One Candidate Has It Right

When the Constitution was written, the concept of a job search was almost unheard of. You were either born on a farm, which meant you became a farmer, you became an apprentice in a trade, or you went off to gain an education at a place like Harvard. Ben Franklin didn’t have to send his résumé off to gain employment.

Of all the remaining presidential candidates, only Ted Cruz gets it right on minimum wage, immigration, tariffs and jobs.

Our founders would understand that you can’t legislate a living wage. Put in terms of the late 18th century, it means that the government can’t guarantee a good crop, or disease-free cattle. The government can’t insure against every peril facing a family and ensure they don’t face hardship. The founders understood the place of a charitable, moral population at the local level who care for the welfare of their neighbors.

It’s why the preamble for the Constitution reads “promote the general Welfare.” The key words are “promote” and “general.” Today’s politicians of all stripes confuse those words with “guarantee” and “individual,” leading to dumb ideas like the “living wage” favored by Bernie Sanders.

Bernie wants a national $15/hour minimum wage, which would be an absolute disaster in every way. It would:

  • Destroy jobs for those who need them most, unskilled disadvantaged laborers
  • Destroy the temporary/seasonal entry-level job market, like summer jobs for high-school and college kids
  • Entice businesses to use illegal immigrant workers
  • Raise prices on every good and service (restaurants, healthcare, shipping, transportation)
  • Place an unsustainable burden on small business which will ultimately sink the economy

The most popular article I ever wrote is headlined “McJobless in Seattle,” which was shared nearly 160,000 times. In Seattle, “McDonald’s has unveiled its plan to use touch-screen technology in self-service kiosks where customers can order and pay for their food.” You see, kiosks don’t get paid. They don’t call in sick. They don’t steal food. They don’t have temper tantrums and insult customers.

The effects of Seattle’s folly implementing Bernie’s plan to ruin America are manifold. College student and former Federalist intern Mitch Hall, at 20 years old, decided to take a semester to intern in Seattle, which would require a part-time job for expense money. After 70 tries, he’s still looking.

Having a combined two years of serving experience and close to five years of total experience in the customer and food services industries (which is literally as much as you can ask for from a 20-year-old college student), I assumed I’d be able to find a restaurant gig in no time. So, after reassuring my parents all would be well in the financial department, I boarded a plane in Philly a few weeks later and made the move.

Yet seven weeks and more than 70 job applications later, I still have yet to land a part-time, minimum wage job. I’ve spent the majority of the last two months stalking online job sites and entire days traversing the various neighborhoods of Seattle, filling out applications and inquiring about job opportunities at any restaurant, coffee shop, retail store, or other service-oriented establishment I can find.

Having squandered all of the money I had saved to get myself through what I thought would be a brief job-hunting period, I now find myself faced with the reality that if I don’t find work very, very soon, I’ll have to cut my break short and move back to the East Coast.

Why can’t an experienced, educated food-service worker find a job for a semester in a city filled with restaurants? I mean, this isn’t Enterprise, Alabama where the Mellow Mushroom is haute cuisine. In fact, Hall probably would have found a job there, where the minimum wage is $7.25. Hall concludes:

These restaurateurs and store managers don’t want to risk hiring a relatively inexperienced young adult they’ll have to spend precious time and money training, and who may easily grow complacent in the job once he realizes he’ll get paid $13 an hour no matter the extent of his stay or the quality of his job performance.

In highly technical language that even James Madison would easily grasp: Duh. If you pay someone more than they are worth, they will quickly lower themselves to the expectation of doing as little as possible since they know they are getting something for nothing. Find me a rich heiress (Paris Hilton anyone?) and I’ll find you a lazy self-engrossed underachiever–the concept scales down very well.

I’ve spoken to many business owners who have a hard time finding employees willing to work hard, show up, and learn a skill. The feeling of entitlement is a strong demotivator while starvation is an extremely strong motivator. Even Bernie supporters should realize that there’s a middle-ground between letting someone who can’t provide for themselves starve and giving everyone entitlement to be lazy.

On the relationship between jobs and immigration, Cruz likes to tell the story of Rob Knorr, owner of Maricopa, Arizona-based RK Farms, which grows peppers. He told the story at the CNN Town Hall Tuesday night. Arizona’s tough enforcement of immigration laws, which Cruz (and Trump to give him credit) applaud and plan to implement nationwide, caused Knorr’s illegal migrant labor pool to dry up. So he cut his acreage and developed a machine to help harvest peppers, cutting his workforce by 90 percent. He was then able to hire American machinists at a higher wage.

Less immigrants means more better paying jobs for Americans at the lower-end of the spectrum.

“Even if the size of the state’s GDP decreased, the decrease in immigration redistributed income from employers to employees, particularly at the bottom end of the labor market,” says Steven Camarota, research director of the Center for Immigration Studies, in Washington, which favors reduced illegal immigration. “That’s a good deal.”

This is the opposite of Sanders’ and Clinton’s plan to expand immigration and mandate a higher minimum wage. Their plan will result in businesses like RK Farms failure and net job loss. Keeping illegal immigrants around just to pay them less than Americans costs everyone more.

In 2004, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington-based group that seeks to reduce immigration, calculated that undocumented workers cost Arizona taxpayers more than $1 billion a year for education, medical care and incarceration, after subtracting the estimated taxes they pay.

Mechanization and industrialization were issues in our founders’ day, and in those days they were considered advances. With today’s liberals, they would rather go back to the days before the cotton gin (carbon footprints and all). In emerging markets like China, mechanization and industrialization are everything, driving their growth and ability to manufacture an amazing quantity of goods at a very low cost.

Clinton and Sanders, along with Obama, would rather wrist-slap China for not doing enough to combat global warming. (Hey, they limit their population growth, look at all the carbon dioxide they’re saving by having less people. What more do you want?)

Instead of focusing on human rights abuses and the evils of a Communist dictatorship (which he praised), Trump would impose punitive tariffs on China and other trade partners.

“I would tax China on products coming in,” Mr. Trump said. “I would do a tariff, yes — and they do it to us.”

Mr. Trump added that he’s “a free trader,” but that “it’s got to be reasonably fair.”

“I would do a tax. and the tax, let me tell you what the tax should be … the tax should be 45 percent,” Mr. Trump said.

That kind of tariff would destroy jobs in America, not create them.

Individuals wouldn’t be the only ones screwed by the Trump tariff. American businesses (and their many workers) would also be hit. Because almost half of what we import from China is industrial supplies and materials or non-automotive capital goods (i.e., inputs used by American manufacturers), many of these firms would pay more for the things they need to remain globally competitive. These higher costs, of course, also mean fewer employees, if not outright bankruptcy.

Individuals would be screwed in the short term because the price of everything made in China (and that’s just about everything) would increase. Importers and retailers would not absorb the cost; it would be passed on to consumers. So prices would rise, and jobs would dry up. Capital for innovation and investment in better manufacturing methods would go overseas, not in the U.S. where it would be captive to the punishing tariffs.

Trump is no different than Sanders or Clinton, just on a different scale. While the Democrats argue over which underprivileged classes are unfairly discriminated against and how everyone should be entitled to a fair share of other people’s wealth, Trump advocates taxing everyone to somehow even out international trade balances.

Trump is living in 1980, buying into Lester Thurow’s debunked “The zero-sum society.” It’s liberal thinking, no matter how you cut it. From Forbes in 2007:

Undeniable progress. Yet the zero-sum virus lives! You can find it today lurking inside these political canards: Energy is running out. Earth is burning up. Immigrants take American jobs. Imports wreck American industries. Taxes must go up to balance the budget. Americans spend too much on health care.

There’s only one candidate who doesn’t buy into the liberal talking points of mandated wealth redistribution, centrally-planned market manipulation, and job destruction. Ted Cruz gets all the answers right.

It’s not about “who’s the best conservative.” (That’s like arguing “who’s the best Christian” without first establishing that Christianity is true.) It’s about who’s right. On the minimum wage, immigration, tariffs and jobs, Cruz is right. Trump, Sanders and Clinton are all wrong.