I heard this story this morning on NPR. It made me smile. Some politicians in Seattle are campaigning for a $15/hour minimum wage. But now reality is suddenly dawning on people. The current Mayor, Ed Murray, campaigned on the mandated pay hike, but now he is trying to slow down the movement. He is trying to come up with some kind of compromise that will count benefits and tips into the total. He wants to find a way that will allow him to claim to have kept his promise, but that won’t damage the Seattle economy as much as a real $15 minimum wage would. He is being pressured because the people to whom he made his promises might go “over his head” through a ballot initiative.
Well, you get to deal with the monster you made, Murray! You taught and encouraged people to believe that by a mere change in law they could become wealthier. Now they have learned their lesson and are expecting you to deliver.
Of course, it is not just “the people” in the abstract who are a danger to Murray. The city’s Robespierre (perhaps that’s not the best French Revolution dictator to fit her, but I’m not feeling very creative right now) is played by councilwoman Kshama Sawant. She is distinguished by an exotic name and an explicit commitment to socialism. As Democracy Now exulted:
Seattle has elected its first Socialist to city office in generations. Kshama Sawant’s election to the Seattle City Council made her one of a few Socialists to hold elected office in the country. Sawant is an economics teacher and former Occupy Wall Street activist who ran on a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
And their interview began thus:
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Seattle, Washington, where a former Occupy Wall Street activist is being sworn in today to the City Council. Kshama Sawant is the first Socialist elected to the city office in Seattle in generations.
KSHAMA SAWANT: We have shown that it’s possible to succeed as an independent, grassroots, openly Socialist campaign, not taking any money from big business, not currying favor with the establishment parties of big business, having an unapologetic campaign platform for improving the living standards of Seattle’s working people, and rejecting the business as usual.
So there’s no doubt she is a socialist. And she’s not interested in the mayor’s compromises. I’d be curious, if they don’t raise the wage, how they will prevent her from starting a ballot initiative.
The real gut laugh about this situation comes when you learn about Seattle’s leading liberals. As a liberal city, Seattle has many liberals who are business owners. Suddenly they are reacting with fear and loathing against principles they have espoused for years! They are terrified that they are going to lose their businesses.
They should be!
The PBS News Hour describes these men as being conflicted between moral pressure and market pressure. But there is nothing moral about pointing guns at people to get them to agree to your terms. That is immoral behavior and it is the foundation of all wage laws. And there is nothing moral about gaining a slightly higher wage for yourself at the expense of forcing others into unemployment and other businesses to close down. That , again, is the essence of all minimum wage law—if anyone benefits at all.
These people are reaping what they have sown by their immoralist economic delusions. I wish I could say I feel sorry for them. But I don’t feel anything about it other than grim satisfaction.