Seattle Group Strikes Back at $15/Hour Minimum Wage Law

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Every so often in this country, we go around and around about the minimum wage. A lot of this takes place at the federal level, but lately we’ve seen individual cities fight for a hike. Last month, the Seattle city council approved an eventual increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Now, the citizens are fighting back. A grassroots organization called Seattle Forward has collected almost 20,000 signatures in an attempt to repeal the law by referendum at the next election.

The co-chairman of Seattle Forward, Angela Cough, explained the group’s position in comments to Reuters: “Right now, the ordinance on the table we think is going to be pretty damaging to the city from the business perspective, and from the workers’ perspective.”

Naturally, not everyone agrees with her assessment of the situation. These proponents argue that Seattle’s current $9.25 an hour minimum wage will help decrease the income-inequality gap, reduce crime, and help more people get ahead in the workplace.

This kind of thinking has not only been challenged by economists and Seattle Forward, though, it has also attracted a lawsuit from D.C.-based business group the International Franchise Association. In their suit, the IFA claims that the law “discriminates against interstate commerce generally, and small businesses that operate under the franchise business model specifically.” These criticisms address the provisions of Seattle’s ordinance, which gives businesses with over 500 national employees only three years to come into compliance.

A Starting Point
Here’s what the left really doesn’t get about the minimum wage thing. It’s not meant to be a person’s living wage for the next thirty years. It’s meant to be the place where you start and nothing more. If you’ve been in the work force for more than a year and are still grinding it out for minimum wage, you’re doing something very wrong. Maybe you had the bad luck to choose a crappy place to work, but 9 times out of 10, you’re making that hourly wage because that’s what you’re worth. Not in an intrinsic way, let me make that clear. You can make $6 an hour and still be a wonderful mother, a loving husband, a charitable wunderkind, and a righteous man of god. You can live a rich life, have a wealth of wisdom, and die happy never having worked your way up the company ladder. Fine.

But if your aim is to make a living wage, the easiest way to do that is not to sign petitions and go on strike. It’s to make yourself more valuable to the marketplace. If that means going that extra mile at McDonald’s, that’s what it means. If it means going back to school, so be it. What you make is a measure of how much you’re worth to the market. You can’t increase that amount by demand. The sooner people realize that businesses don’t owe them a new HDTV and the latest iPhone just for clocking in, the sooner we can put this wage-hiking, job-killing, un-American nonsense behind us.