A downtown press conference staged by the Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association called for the elimination of child labor laws today, based on a new study which details the impacts of raising the minimum wage.
“If child labor laws are enacted, I’ll have to close my hardware store,” said Harold Black, owner of Duece Hardware. “Besides, the little guys really like running the paint mixer.”
Okay. The part about child labor isn’t true. But it’s no more outrageous than some of the other claims promised at the today’s media event, carefully staged outside a hardware store. A transcript of the event replacing the words “minimum wage” with “child labor” would effectively demonstrate just how crass and craven these so-called representatives for the business community really are.
Supporters and opponents of a proposal to increase the minimum wage in San Diego are scheduled to hold events Thursday to drum up support for their points of view.
Supporters who contend that workers at the state minimum of $8 an hour can’t make ends meet in San Diego plan to rally at 6:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church on Front Street in Hillcrest.
On the other side of the argument, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce plan to release a study at 10 a.m. at the Ace Hardware on Sixth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter. The study says raising the minimum wage above the state level will harm small businesses while making only a minimal dent in poverty.
Plan opponents argue that the proposal, set to be heard by a City Council committee next week, hasn’t been vetted enough and, if enacted, would put San Diego companies at a competitive disadvantage.
You can bet the farm, despite literally hundreds of studies and ample evidence to the contrary, many journalists in town will dutifully and unquestionably report on the “side” of the issue raised by Sanders, et al.
I’d be thrilled if even one minimum wage worker got an opportunity to tell their “side” of the story alongside these business yokels in the local media. Treating poverty wages and misery as a “pro” or “con” issue only serves to dehumanize and demean the reality of more than a third of our local workforce.
“Job Killer,” the New “Wolf”
Did you know that raising the minimum wage is an ineffective tool for reducing poverty?
That’s the kind of malarkey dished out today by Sean Karafin, “lead author of study and Interim President & CEO, San Diego County Taxpayers Association.” Councilmembers Scott Sherman and Lori Zapf were tapped to nod their heads in agreement at appropriate moments.
A parade of small businessmen trotted up before the media by the Chamber promise doom, gloom and destruction, should they somehow have to actually pay their employees enough to live on. They didn’t talk about how it’s really the taxpayers that enable those low wages through food stamps and other assistance programs.
The arguments made by Sanders and the SDCTA focus on the proposals before the San Diego City Council being voted on next week. Trust me–this group is opposed to any increase; they’re lost the battle at the state level and are hoping to muddy the waters with this fill-in-the-blanks study.
The hundreds of actual studies paid for by advocates for and against minimum wage increases are overwhelming…er, actually, they cancel each other out. There is one thing they all agree on: increases in the minimum wage reduce poverty. Which is what qualifies this so-called new “study” as complete BS.
— ❁ Sara ❁ (@earthysara) June 5, 2014
Don’t Confuse Me with Facts
Hey, there’s always history–the minimum wage has been raised on multiple occasions and on multiple occasions opponents of those increases have cried “wolf.” The earth has continued to rotate (unless you’re part of the subset of flat-earthers in the GOP). Life has gone on. Businesses have risen and fallen. “Wolf,” indeed.
Via the Economic Policy Institute:
As a 1995 paper in the Journal of Economics Literature put it, “There is a long history of empirical studies attempting to pin down the effects of minimum wages, with limited success.” No one found significant employment losses when President Truman raised the minimum wage by 87% in 1950. When Congress raised the minimum wage by 28% in two steps in 1967, businesses predicted large employment losses and price increases. As the Wall Street Journal reported six months later, “Employment and prices show little effect from $1.40-an-hour guarantee.”
Via the Seattle Times, which researched the matter as their city council considered (and did!) raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour:
Ten years ago, San Francisco raised its minimum wage from $6.75 to $8.50 an hour, a 26 percent increase. Since then, it has gone up at regular intervals to its current $10.74 an hour, the highest big-city starting wage in the country.
The city has slapped other mandates on businesses, including paid sick leave and a requirement to provide health-care coverage or pay into a pool for uninsured residents.
What have the effects been on employment?
Almost none, according to economists at the University of California, Berkeley, who have studied San Francisco, eight other cities that raised their minimum wages in the past decade, and 21 states with higher base pay than the federal minimum.
Businesses absorbed the costs through lower turnover, small price increases at restaurants, which have a high concentration of low-wage workers, and higher worker productivity, the researchers found.
When in Doubt, Blame Bob Filner
What we do know is that the San Diego Chamber of Commerce has an unbeatable record when it comes to hyperbole and misdirection in defending what it sees as the best interests of its members. They’re a lying machine and proud of it. Remember the imminent collapse of the hotel/tourism industry? How about those 46,000 jobs fleeing San Diego?
Of course, if challenged on the facts, Chamber President Jerry Sanders has the ultimate comeback– it’s called the Blame Bob Filner defense. He actually used this bit of spin during the KPBS Midday Report yesterday in discussing the Barrio Logan Community Plan.
The beauty of the Filner defense is the core element of truth: expectations were briefly raised in various segments of San Diego’s have-nots.. ...And now those damned Democrats with their talk about inequality have raised expectations of poor working people… It’s all Mayor Grabby-Grabby’s fault.
I doubt Jerry Sanders would consider the March, 2014 scientific opinion poll by a business group showing a majority of small owners favoring increases in the minimum wage. Or the more than 600 economists (including 7 Nobel Prize winners and 8 former presidents of the American Economic Association) who wrote the president in January of this year in support of the Harkin-Miller Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.
The fact is the Chamber of Commerce and their cohorts would like to have us ignore the real economic crisis. This “study” and “press conference” are acts designed to deflect public attention from the core truths.
People can’t afford to live in San Diego at the lower wages currently being paid. A study by the Center for Policy Initiatives shows that 38% of working-age households locally have incomes too low for the cost of a basic, no-frills lifestyle without public or private assistance. A real taxpayers advocate group, unlike the SDCTA, would realize opposing increasing minimum wages equals supporting the taxes to pay for this assistance. The Chamber of Commerce’s skin in this game is the preservation of those taxpayer subsidies for their membership..
If the minimum wage had kept pace with actual productivity since 1960 the current rate would be $22 hour. The $14.75 difference between the current federal minimum and that number is a large part of the argument about growing inequality in the US, as Senator Elizabeth Warren pointed out at a March 14, 2013 Senate Committee hearing on indexing the minimum wage.
Had the minimum wage kept pace with the income growth going to the top 1%, it would now be $33 hour.
It’s all here in the video below:
Finally, the National Employment Law Project’s Paul Sonn, writing in US News and World Report:
Looking abroad, Australia has a minimum wage of more than $15 per hour yet enjoys low unemployment and strong growth. Closer to home, Washington, D.C., instituted a substantially higher minimum wage and benefits standard for security guards in 2008, successfully transitioning an $8 occupation to one where guards now earn $16.50 in wages and benefits without evidence of ill effects on the commercial real estate industry, which pays the guards’ wages.
Similarly, Los Angeles, San Jose and St. Louis have all phased in minimum wages and benefits of more than $15 for airport workers without adverse effect. And San Francisco already requires all employers to provide minimum wages and benefits that together total $13.18 per hour for large employers, yet the restaurant industry has seen stronger growth in the city than in surrounding counties. (emphasis mine)
Equally significant, it is not just workers but also growing numbers of business voices that are backing the need for transitioning our economy to a $15 minimum wage. The Seattle increase was endorsed by a majority of the business representatives on the committee that negotiated it. In Los Angeles, real estate developers Eli Broad and Rick Caruso have called for a $15 minimum wage. And nationally, more voices from finance and tech, like investor Nick Hanauer, have been making the case that phasing in a $15 wage is not only feasible but an economic necessity in order to generate the consumer spending power that we need to break out of our tepid recovery.
A Very Special High School Graduation in Temecula
I know, they’re all special. (I have a daughter graduating next week)
But this one merits a mention. Via very proud parents Catherine and Doug Snodgrass:
Jesse Snodgrass, the teenage special needs student arrested in an undercover police operation will receive his high school diploma at the Chaparral High School graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 5, at 6:30 p.m.
The February 2014 Rolling Stone article, “The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass” details how Jesse, who suffers from a range of disabilities, was falsely befriended by a police officer who repeatedly asked the boy to provide him drugs. After more than three weeks, 60 text messages and repeated hounding by the officer, Jesse was able to buy half a joint from a homeless man he then gave to his new – and only – “friend,” who had given him twenty dollars weeks before. He did it once again before refusing to accommodate the officer, at which point the officer broke off all ties with the child. Shortly thereafter, Jesse was arrested at Chaparral High School in front of his classmates as part of a sting that nabbed 22 students in all, many of them children with special needs.
Even though a criminal judge dismissed the charges against Jesse, the Temecula Valley Unified School District still attempted to expel him. Jesse’s family went to court to fight the expulsion attempt, and in March 2013, an administrative law judge halted the expulsion attempt, issuing a scathing ruling against the school district and ordering Jesse’s immediate return to Chaparral High School. In October 2013, Jesse filed a lawsuit against the Temecula Valley Unified School District, Director of Child Welfare and Attendance Michael Hubbard and Director of Special Education Kimberly Velez for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other charges.
On This Day: 1851 – Harriet Beecher Stow published the first installment of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in “The National Era.” 1974 – Patti Smith recorded her first song. It was her version of “Hey Joe.”1976 – Thirty-five members of the Teamsters, concerned about the infiltration of organized crime in the union and other issues, meet in Cleveland to form Teamsters for a Democratic Union
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