Mar 30, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 28 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
"Why Are So Many Seattle Restaurants Closing Lately?” asks a recent Seattle magazine headline. The Scrapbook is no restaurateur, let alone knowledgeable about the local economy, but we’ll guess it has something to do with the fact that Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage starts phasing in on April 1. However, the first rule of liberals confronting the laws of basic economics is deny, deny, deny.
A feature in the Seattle Times called the “Truth Needle” (we’re guessing the Times didn’t want to pony up to license PolitiFact’s logo) declares the claim that minimum wage has anything to do with the undeniably large number of restaurant closings is “false.”
Now, it’s certainly the case that restaurant operators in liberal Seattle are claiming a higher minimum wage has nothing to do with their business decisions. This is likely somewhere between a delusion and a lie, so let’s split the difference and call it public relations. Again, basic economics tells us that the typical restaurant operates on a slim profit margin, and wages typically run about 35 percent of operating costs.
Nonetheless, in very liberal and very wealthy Seattle, angering your customer base by proclaiming your opposition to redistributive social justice would be foolish. It would also be foolish to anger the local regulatory czars in a city that has proclaimed the new wage law a political triumph. “Restaurateurs are business people, not politicians, and angering the mayor over the law he signed is not a smart business move,” notes the Washington Policy Center.
However, there’s little doubt that the city’s heralded food scene is running scared. A spokesman for the Washington Restaurant Association told the Washington Policy Center, “Every [restaurant] operator I’m talking to is in panic mode, trying to figure out what the new world will look like.” We’re fairly certain it will be a Brave New Seattle, where there are fewer great restaurants, to say nothing of all the other labor-intensive businesses that will be shutting down.
Naturally, this means fewer jobs for the poor. Worse, the increased wages will also amount to a regressive tax. Economist Tyler Cowen flags a new study in the Journal of Political Economy by Stanford’s Thomas MaCurdy, concluding an increase in the “minimum wage produces a value-added tax effect on consumer prices that is more regressive than a typical state sales tax.”
The study also points to another reason why cash-strapped municipal governments like artificially raising wages. “Unlike most public income support programs, increased earnings from the minimum wage are taxable,” MaCurdy writes. “Over 25 percent of the increased earnings are collected back as income and payroll taxes. . . . Even after taxes, 27.6 percent of increased earnings go to families in the top 40 percent of the income distribution.”
So minimum wage increases grow government, make the rich richer, and still allow liberal politicians to demagogue the hell out of poor voters by falsely claiming they’re putting more money in their pockets. In the longer term, living wage laws and other en vogue liberal policies are likely to transform one of America’s best cities into Detroit on the Puget Sound. It would be nice if there were a stronger political counterweight in our overwhelmingly Democratic cities, but the best hope for conservatives regaining a foothold in urban America might be simply to stand back and let liberal economic policies work their magic.
Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
A poignant notice from the website of Borderland Books, an independent bookstore in San Francisco’s Mission District:
At the beginning of 2014, the future of the business looked, if not rosy, at least stable and very positive. We were not in debt, sales were meeting expenses and even allowing a small profit, and, perhaps most importantly, the staff and procedures at both the bookstore and the cafe were well established and working smoothly.
Nov 10, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 09 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
It turns out Elizabeth Warren, favorite senator of the left, is not only a self-described Cherokee without evidence of Cherokee ancestry, but a self-described consumer -finance expert without evidence of any financial savvy. Joining two of her favorite themes, women’s oppression and the cruel inadequacy of the minimum wage, she wrote this in a “tweetstorm” she cohosted the other day with fellow Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand: “2/3 of minimum wage workers are women, but the minimum wage no longer keeps a mom & her baby out of poverty.”
5:47 PM, Oct 6, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A Nevada man complained to Vice President Joe Biden that it's hard for small businesses to operate these days:
"It's real hard for the small businesses," said the Nevada man. "It's not so easy."
He added, "Right now it's very hard for a small business to make it--and everybody."
"Yeah," said Biden, seemingly in agreement.
"It is very hard," the man said.
The vice president is in Las Vegas, Nevada today.
2:09 PM, Apr 3, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
In the midst of the Obama administration's latest push to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released an analysis showing the the percentage of hourly workers earning at or below the minimum wage is down to 4.3 percent, or 3.3 million workers.
Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By FRED BARNES
President Obama talks, talks, talks about jobs. The first 20 minutes of his State of the Union address in January was all about jobs. Immigration reform would “create jobs for everybody,” he said. His energy policy “is creating jobs.” Obama said he’s assigned Vice President Biden to make sure training programs match workers with “good jobs that need to be filled right now.” Last week he described his new budget as “a road map for creating jobs.”
1:08 PM, Mar 2, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the White House is focused on making the argument for raising the minimum wage. In just a few minutes, Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest will be joined on the phone with Governor Malloy of Connecticut, Governor Chafee of Rhode Island, and Governor Shumlin of Vermont to make that case.
Conservatives and the unemployed.Mar 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 24 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Millions of Americans, glutted with benefits that until now have seemed likely to be renewed and renewed again, have suddenly become devoid of ambition, shed the work ethic, and taken to the couch and the TV remote. Or found a back pain or emotional problem that entitles them to the even higher benefits designed to ameliorate the plight of truly disabled workers.
8:18 AM, Jan 29, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
President Obama called for a minimum wage hike in his State of the Union Address, but to hear Washington state Democrats tell it, wages aren't the main concern: The real problem is the modern American workplace itself. The minimum wage in Washington state is already $9.32 an hour, more than two dollars an hour higher than the current federal minimum wage.
There are better ways to help workers than the minimum wage.Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By IKE BRANNON
There is a vintage Corvette parked on the street nearby, a 1977 canary yellow model in perfect condition. The NADA Blue Book says it’s worth around $15,000.
The car is someone’s toy: I know that because it hasn’t been moved for an entire year. I’ve seen the owner visit it a couple of times to rev the engine and give it a sponge bath, but it’s been in the exact same spot since last Christmas.
Long-term unemployment is a serious problem. Liberals don’t have an answer. Conservatives can do better.Dec 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 14 • By MICHAEL R. STRAIN
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee wrote a letter on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to Rep. Dave Camp, Michigan Republican and Ways and Means chairman, urging him to devote some committee time to extending federal unemployment benefits. At issue is the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, enacted in 2008 to offer qualifying unemployed workers benefits above and beyond what are available during normal economic times.
7:28 AM, Sep 20, 2013 • By VICTORINO MATUS
If you couldn't tell from all the red banners this was a far-left rally, you could probably tell by the smell. It was an earthy group consisting of various age groups and even more various hair dyes. They seem to like denim. And I think I've figured out how they managed to give their blue jeans that unwashed look.
12:28 PM, Sep 19, 2013 • By JIM SWIFT
Yesterday, President Obama signed a number of supposedly uncontroversial bills into law.
One new law contains a provision that has been controversial in the past.
The law, S. 256, gives the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) authority over submerged lands surrounding its coastlines, gives the President authority to establish naval defensive sea areas there, and also delays scheduled increases in the minimum wage for the remote island.