By Eric Minor
The Seattle City Council spent the early months of 2014 holding hearings related to raising the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 per hour. Most hearings had time blocks set aside for the public to provide input limited strictly to two minutes. I spoke off the cuff at several of the hearings but read the following prepared remarks at the 5-22-2014 hearing.
Having attended a number of the council meetings on this subject, there are several amusing arguments that get repeated often. One of them is that there was a similar gnashing of teeth back in the early ’90s regarding a minimum wage increase. The story goes that the business community cried gloom and doom and worried that the increase might kill some businesses.
The proponents of 15 Now claim these doomsday predictions never came to pass; therefore the push for a $15 minimum wage today should be smiled upon. This logic is faulty on several fronts:
- First, there is no possible way the people making these claims can know what damage may have been caused, and which marginal businesses may have been pushed over the edge into failure in the ’90s example. There are thousands of small businesses in Seattle, and they don’t put out press releases when they go under, or bother explaining to a deaf government that the minimum wage increase is what finally did them in.
- Second, it is unlikely the increase of the ’90s was anywhere near as drastic as the one being advocated here. For starters, it didn’t only apply to Seattle while excluding all neighboring cities. It also didn’t start with the precondition of Washington *already* having the highest minimum wage in the country and then jumping by a whopping 62% taboot!
- Third, and most importantly, it seems to suggest that it is OK to use coercion to steal from others provided that the violence doesn’t actually cause the death of the other party. Think about it. That’s what they’re saying. See, they said it would kill all the businesses…but they weren’t all killed. Therefore, it was in fact OK to take that money by the force of government fiat. Let me ask you council-member Clark, would it be OK for me to wait for you to leave work at the end of the day, hit you over the head with a club, and steal $200 from your purse provided I didn’t kill you in the process? Would that be OK? Because that’s what these people are saying. We didn’t kill that business when we took 24,000, 100,000, 300,000 dollars from it. Therefore it is OK!
A city of Seattle’s caliber deserves strong and wise leadership from its elected officials. Resist the thugs. Remain silent on this matter and let it go to ballot if the angry mob can get it there.
This testimony can be viewed at the following link at the 6:00 minute mark: http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=2161440