$15 – Not Now! | Guest View

By Emory Cole | Nov 12, 2014

The desire by some politicians to increase the state minimum wage from the current $9.32 per hour to $15 represents a 62 percent increase, which will be detrimental to small business.

Imagine for a moment what a 62 percent increase would do to your personal budget.

Apartment rent of $1,000 per month would become $1,620. A gallon of gasoline at $4 per gallon would cost $6.50. That $3.50 morning latte would cost $5.65, and so on. The minimum wage will increase to $9.47 on Jan. 1.

The $15 Now campaign is backed by the Service Employees International Union.

The unions have to promote a higher minimum wage so there is enough money for their subjects to afford to pay union dues. It has little to do with improving the condition of low-wage workers and more to do with creating a more powerful union.

Traditionally, our country has established a minimum wage so that young people and immigrants entering the labor market can begin to learn a trade and, in time, become a productive part of a business enterprise and earn higher wages based on performance.

The minimum wage was never intended to support a family of four or maintain family income above the government established "poverty level," as is often portrayed by organized labor and politicians most interested in getting elected to public office.

Also, keep in mind, government is a major beneficiary of higher wages because it collects more taxes as a result.

Recently elected Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant has been the most vociferous proponent of the "$15 NOW" campaign. Sawant, a socialist and self-proclaimed Marxist, became a citizen of the United States in 2010 after her marriage to a U.S. citizen.

She emigrated from Mumbai, India, where she graduated from college with a degree in computer science. In the U.S., she went back to college and earned a degree in economics and has taught that subject part-time at Seattle Community College.

It is unfortunate that Sawant is not more inclined to be as vocal about the value of higher education and hard work to improve one's economic status in life as she herself has done (aka “The American Way”).

Instead, she complains about how unfair our capitalist system is to low-wage workers and how she can make it all better for us in this country through income redistribution. Nonsense!

Recent history clearly demonstrates the devastating effects of many decades of socialist policies in countries such as Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and India.

These policies have, in many respects, driven countries to near bankruptcy and lowered their credit ratings.

Young entrepreneurs from France and Italy are leaving their home countries because taxes are so burdensome and there are few decent employment opportunities for their younger generations.

A sharp increase in the minimum wage to $15 will cause major "ripple effects" throughout the labor market.

Workers earning this wage currently will certainly want to be paid above the $15 minimum.

This will only provide incentives for our state's largest employers to seek cheaper labor markets for their manufacturing, cause major price increases for services, and likely force many small employers out of business.

It is naive to believe a dramatic increase in the minimum wage will greatly improve our struggling economy. Likely, all it will do is make the price of commodities much more expensive such as lattes, restaurant meals, groceries and home goods.

I wish the media would take time to ask the $15 Now protesters who they actually work for when they are out parading around fast food restaurants.

It is likely many of them are being paid by SEIU or other union affiliates and not working for Subway or MacDonalds.

I hope the voters in Washington are smart enough to see through the "smoke and mirrors" of these socialist political efforts.

Emory Cole is a lifelong resident of Washington state, a small business owner for over 35 years, a U.S. Army veteran and former mayor of Mukilteo.

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