DC City Council Votes to Kill Jobs - More Minimum Wage Follies

Minimum wagecitizensrepublic.wordpress.comThe economic ignorance of the city mothers and fathers of Washington, DC never ceases to flabbergast me. Years ago, the city's solons decided that not enough people were choosing to work at house-cleaning and other domestic chores, so they sought to solve this "shortage" by voting to boost the minimum wage for such work. Surely, increasing the price of an activity will increase the demand for it.

In another boneheaded move, the city council voted earlier this year for legislation, the Large Retailer Accountabliity Act, that would hike the minimum wage for workers at "big box" stores to $12.50 per hour. This is a big increase over the city's $8.25 minimum wage. Evidently the city council believes that this is the way to entice retailers like Walmart, Target, and Wegmans to open businesses in the city.

Even the editorial page of the Washington Post recognized how stupid this proposal is:

"We don’t have to beg people to come to the District anymore,” [city council member Vincent] Orange pronounced confidently. In fact, the measure backed by Mr. Orange will prompt companies to think twice about coming to the District, particularly to struggling neighborhoods that most need jobs and services. Existing businesses will worry they will be next in line for prejudicial treatment from lawmakers catering to special interests.

The bill, tentatively approved by the council, would require big retailers to pay employees $12.50 an hour. That’s $4.25 more than the District’s minimum wage, which already is a dollar higher than those of Virginia and Maryland. The measure could lead Wal-Mart, the bull’s-eye being targeted by the bill, to scale back its plans for development in the District, including a store slated for Skyland Town Center in underserved Ward 7. Wegmans, the grocery chain the city is trying to lure to the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus, has also reportedly expressed concerns about the extra cost of doing business and the competitive disadvantage (i.e., higher prices) that would result from the bill.

The hubris of the Large Retailer Accountability Act is matched by its hypocrisy. Council members who backed the measure, first sponsored by Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), claimed only to be looking out for D.C. workers struggling to keep pace with the cost of living in the District. Apparently they aren’t worried about people who work in fast-food restaurants, the unionized grocery stores carefully exempted or countless other businesses or, for that matter, about some of their own government employees who make less than $12.50 an hour.

The Post notes that DC Mayor Vincent Gray can veto this "bad bill." For a nice roundup of the evidence that setting minimum wages kills jobs, see my Reason colleague Brian Doherty's long post, "The Minimum Wage: A Little Light Empiricism on a Heavy Subject," and see also Reason contributor Sheldon Richman's column, "The Minimum Wage Harms the Most Vulnerable."

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  • John||

    It is not just going to kill jobs. It will make it harder for people to live in the District in general. Why would a retailer subject themselves to this when they can just build across the state line in Maryland or VA? It is hard enough to live in the inner city as it is. Lack of big grocery stores and low cost big retailers has a real affect on people's standard of living. Now, thanks to this, that will be even more true.

    But fuck it. The rich white people all live on the NW side and can go across the border to Monkey County. The poor people in NE and SE, can just suck it up. However worse off they will be will be more than made up for in the increased smugness on the part of the rich white people.

  • ||

    I'm sure you see it in your neighborhood, too, John - I see DC license plates driving around here (Huntington, Hybla Valley, Potomac Yards) all the time because we have all the retail options DC does not.

    If I were John Mackey, I'd close up shop in DC as a big "fuck you!" to the DC Council.

  • John||

    So would I. I guess DC will now only have restaurants, bars, and high end boutiques. Actual stores that people need to shop in won't exist.

  • anon||

    Actual stores that people need to shop in won't exist.

    Uh, dunno if you've noticed, but that's kind of a trend that's started without the help of minimum wage laws.

  • JW||

    If I were John Mackey, I'd close up shop in DC as a big "fuck you!" to the DC Council.

    Problem being, is that the Foggy Bottom WF is fucking packed day and night. They've got to be rolling in it with their profit margins.

    FWIW, I agree in principal. Businesses should tell DC to fuck off and locate elsewhere, presuming that elsewhere isn't as equally stupid **cough-cough** MARYLAND **cough**. Let the rot take hold.

  • ||

    As much of a zoo as the FB and CH stores are, I can't see that they're making as much profit as, say, the Duke St. (Alexandria) store, which has a lower minimum wage and fewer taxes. The Alexandria store is always packed to the gills, but their overhead is bound to be exponentially lower than the Foggy Bottom and Columbia Heights stores.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Why would a retailer subject themselves to this when they can just build across the state line in Maryland or VA?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I know there's a lot of money floating around D.C., but why any entity whose reason for being didn't revolve around having its dick in one of the federal government's many orifices is beyond me.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...would move there...

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Because you're providing goods and services to a workforce unlikely ever to have its size reduced or have its pay cut (until the final implosion) in any meaningful way.

  • Duke||

    I just skimmed through some of the comments at the WaPo article and surprisingly found that almost all are in agreement with the article. This makes me wonder whether WaPo readers will agree with whatever the opinion of the paper is at any given time. "This just in: WaPo denounces gun control and declares everyone should be armed. Comments: I agree, gun control is for stupid rethuglicans."

  • db||

    Maybe they all think the minimum wage should be increased across the board instead? Or more likely, that when the debate has tangible consequences for their retail choices and prices, people suddenly see the downside of the minimum wage.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, isn't that the essence of Team Spirit, though? Why bother with thinking for yourself when the Team Coach tells you that what's the Blue Thing to Do or the Red Way to Head?

  • Doctor Whom||

    Let's make it more expensive for certain businesses to operate in DC, especially when the parking lots of such businesses in Virginia are already full of cars with DC tags. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Anything that makes life worse in Washington DC is fine by me.

  • Killazontherun||

    City council, keep doing what you do best. Make the city unattractive to young ambitious go-getters who want to move there and make a difference in the lives of all of us. Perhaps, some may even have second thoughts about joining the ranks of the public sector and instead pursue an honest profession.

    Though I despise the idea of a minimum wage, anything that helps destroy that city is a good thing.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I always root for DC sports teams to lose. Having some nice schadenfreude over DC United's dismal performance so far.

  • ||

    Even the sportscasters in DC don't report on DC United.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Yeah, I'm a big fan of RG3, but I still couldn't pull for the Redskins to win, especially after the recent push to get a new stadium built, a whopping 16 years after getting FedExField.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    The Atlanta Falcons are also getting a new stadium to replace the Georgia Dome (constructed in 1992). The Atlanta City Council is forking up $200 million to help finance construction.

  • JW||

    especially after the recent push to get a new stadium built, a whopping 16 years after getting FedExField.

    The new stadium will have no shelf higher than Dan Snyder can reach.

  • anon||

    Though I despise the idea of a minimum wage, anything that helps destroy that city is a good thing.

    They're just banking on all the minimum wage workers to move out so they can all live a little closer to work.

  • Killazontherun||

    OT, but how the hell is it this is not getting more press?

    Plot to Assassinate Leaders of Occupy Movement, "If Necessary"

    http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/06/.....necessary/

    Asked why solid information about an assassination plot against American citizens exercising their Constitutional right to free speech and assembly never led to exposure of the plotters’ identity or an arrest—as happened with so many other terrorist schemes the agency has publicized—Paul Bresson, head of the FBI media office, offered a typically elliptical response:

    The FOIA documents that you reference are redacted in several places pursuant to FOIA and privacy laws that govern the release of such information so therefore I am unable to help fill in the blanks that you are seeking. Exemptions are cited in each place where a redaction is made. As far as the question about the murder plot, I am unable to comment further, but rest assured if the FBI was aware of credible and specific information involving a murder plot, law enforcement would have responded with appropriate action.

  • anon||

    "Appropriate action" of course meaning no action if they see fit.

  • Killazontherun||

    There is so much redacted sections of the official material that cover up the name of the parties involved you have to assume the worst. They would not do that for me or you.

  • SugarFree||

    I'm betting on Huston PD.

  • John||

    I would too. I can't see the Texas Rangers coming up with something that fucking stupid. They are a bit higher on the food chain than your typical flatfoot. And the only other PD with jurisdiction would be Houston PD. I can't see who else it would be other than the Rangers or Houston PD.

  • Killazontherun||

    probably developed in the Houston Fusion Center (where federal, state and local intelligence people work hand-in-glove). During our trial we learned that they were all over our stuff, tracking Twitter feeds etc. It seems to me that based on the access they were getting they were using what we now know as the NSA’s PRISM program.

    There are several dozen of them around the country, all ran by administrators with an extreme degree of flexibility in their decision making capacity. It's a statistical inevitability that at least some would be involved in domestic wetworks.

  • Killazontherun||

    I'll also note about that report, I wished they left the Boston Marathon speculation out of it. Even if the facts cited are oddities that are unresolved (the sniper team guys being on sight), it is still a highly speculative matter that undermines a very solid piece of reporting on this assassination plot you have definite proof on.

  • John||

    There is one in nearly every state. Since their mandate is to share information about terrorism and there is very little terrorism out there, they have very little to do. For this reason they tend to come up with stupid ideas and get into a lot of trouble. The Maryland fusion office got in a lot of trouble back in 07 for spying on anti-war groups. of course that was back in the Bush era when such things were frowned upon. Now in the era of hope and change, plotting the assassination of protest leaders is apparently okay.

  • JW||

    I'm betting on Huston PD.

    Planet Huston?

  • John||

    Holy shit. What they call a plan is usually called a conspiracy in Court. That looks to me like a conspiracy to commit murder. Imagine if Bull Connor had had a contingency plan to kill MLK if necessary. That is exactly what this is.

    This is astounding and horrible.

  • Rich||

    I blame violent video games.

  • anon||

    Individualists. It's all their fault. Oh and capitalists too.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    But think of all the jobs created or saved in small inefficient local bodegas.

  • anon||

    Guys, guys, it's not a problem at all. If people start getting fired, we'll just make it illegal to fire people. See? Problem solved.

  • ||

    $4.25? $4.25!!!!!

    How RETARDED are these people?

    A .50 cent change causes a ripple imagine $4.25. It just blows my mind at the idiocy of these fools.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    young ambitious go-getters who want to move there and make a difference in the lives of all of us.

    There should be a bounty on these people.

  • Rich||

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    Nah, I see the cure as some sort of Clockwork Orange aversion therapy. We would be cranking out bitter, cynical libertarians by the truckload!

  • anon||

    he measure could lead Wal-Mart, the bull’s-eye being targeted by the bill, to scale back its plans for development in the District, including a store slated for Skyland Town Center in underserved Ward 7.

    That's exactly what poor people need; less access to affordable goods that make life better for everyone.

  • MJGreen||

    But if they're goods from the wrong provider, do poor people really want them?

    Excuse me, I meant, should poor people really want them?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Evidently the city council believes that this is the way to entice retailers like Walmart, Target, and Wegmans to open businesses in the city.

    Uh, are you sure the goal isn't to keep them out? Progs are always complaining about how big box retailers destroy neighborhoods.

  • ||

    Yep - they think Columbia Heights was a thriving, safe, culturally-rich neighborhood before that evil Target and Whole Foods moved in! Of course, all the anti-big-business hipster in CH shop at Target & Whole Foods.

  • anon||

    How does Whole Foods not cause the liberal brain to implode?

  • ||

  • Almanian!||

    Fuck DC

  • Auric Demonocles||

    And the value of property just outside the DC cityline increases even further.

  • ||

    If only...

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Fuck DC

    Way to go, collectivist. Smear an entire population just because some subset of them voted for economically illiterate control freaks who think they can solve the world's problems with a few magic words.

    There are some very nice people in DC. Probably. Maybe. In some secluded abandoned corner.

  • anon||

    I know you're being sarcastic, but if DC were wiped off the face of the earth today, I'd cheer.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    Can we save the museums, memorials and Kristen? (Maybe John too, if he is on his best behavior).

  • anon||

    It'd be unfortunate, but I'd be willing to suffer the collateral damage. I'd almost bet they'd be willingly sacrificed. Or, you know, on "vacation" at a perfectly convenient time.

  • NoVAHockey||

    There's only so much room in my bunker 10-12 miles from the memorial bridge. perhaps i'll operate on an underground railroad basis. spend the night, pick up some supplies and godspeed.

  • ||

    That's very sweet, but I only work in DC (a maximum of three days a week), so feel free to nuke away!

  • Killazontherun||

    What I like about this minimum wage raise is it is a peaceful solution that leaves no mess to clean up.

  • Seamus||

    Kill 'em all. God knows his own.

  • Killazontherun||

    Yeah, but there is that one who would demand his chair.

  • Almanian!||

    B+

    That was some Epi channeling happening there, PB.

  • Zeb||

    I hope you are not being sarcastic. Smearing an entire population because of who some of them choose to elect is total assholery.

  • KDN||

    ZOMG REJUN WAR

  • ||

    Hey, speaking of progressives, where are Tony and Palin's Buttplug to bring some perspective to this?

    I don't know what's going on but it's not good. The other I had one of my educators storm into my office demanding I increase her pay from $10.15 to $15 because her professor at some college told her that's what she was worth. Apparently, she had some 'pace of life" she had to maintain - whatever that meant but it sounds as though I had to subsidize it. This from someone who had worked but TWO WEEKS and had a lot to learn. My best, most educated and experienced girls who showed loyalty start at $15.

    It's like the concept of paying your dues and earning your stripes while striving for more is a completely lost value in contemporary society. It's what my father taught me and it's how I governed myself for 10 years working in the financial industry.

    My sister, the director of our place, is a hippie liberal - but a talented, hardworking one albeit with bad math skills - and she is at a loss for word regarding the chutzpah shown by the 'nouveau worker.'

  • anon||

    The other I had one of my educators storm into my office demanding I increase her pay from $10.15 to $15 because her professor at some college told her that's what she was worth.

    So, you did give her a pay cut, right?

  • ||

    Better: My sister fired her.

  • anon||

    Awesome. I wish I could've witnessed that.

    "Oh, you're worth $15/hr? Fine, get the fuck out and go find someone to pay you that."

  • ||

    I wish I was there too. I joked to my sister about going 'Koch' on her ass.

    Hey, she did what she had to do.

    She was timid telling me the story, being a hippie and all asking "did I do the right thing? I don't think that was appropriate what she did."

    I told her you did fine. Too bad because we agreed she had potential. We liked her. That's the sad thing. Somewhere along the line these kids are getting bad advice.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    That's the sad thing. Somewhere along the line these kids are getting bad advice.

    From the sound of things, her idiot professor is to blame for that one.

    Because it can't be said enough: Nuke universities today.

  • MJGreen||

    What's sad is that the professor probably won't lose any sleep over it, and she will probably still consider him the good guy in this story.

  • Killazontherun||

    'I run a business, you know what your professor runs? A mouth. That is all. She has little real responsibilities, so she fires it off like a machine gun without any concern for who it effects.'

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Somewhere along the line these kids are getting bad advice.

    Somewhere along the line? Try from day one. They've been told they're super special and extra-awesome from the cradle. And given a closet-full of attendance trophies to prove it.

  • Killazontherun||

    The message to kids should be, 'you're super awesome and I know that you got it in you to prove it and all it takes is a lot of hard work to reach those goals', and not, 'you're super awesome, and here's an award for your awesomeness; now go forth and change the world, lil' 'bama!'

  • Bill Dalasio||

    But, you're getting at the core of it, aren't you. Your awesomeness is one they're responsible to go out and prove. What their given is an "awesomeness" that they get just for applying.

  • ||

    With my blessing of course.

    I love sending people home for bad behavior. Until it's outlawed, it's one leverage in our favor. The sanctity of the business to the benefit of all - clients and workers - can't be strong armed by dopes.

  • Spoonman.||

    PWNED

  • ||

    Speaking of hippie liberals, I actually adore them. Know why? The real liberal, like my sister or one of my educators (a former nurse) have a certain sense of responsibility, intelligence and sensibility to them. They value hard work and spot entitlement behavior from a mile away. Sure, they can be flaky but they're not like that Laurie Penny chick and her ilk. Two different cats in my view.

  • anon||

    Your sister is a liberal, not a progressive then.

  • ||

    Yes, but she falls into the progressive traps and all its vapid and stupid thoughts and needs to be slapped back into reality.

  • SugarFree||

    Tony is getting well-fed on the climate change thread. Why leave a trough when the slop's so good?

  • Killazontherun||

    I miss rapping with Baily on those global warming threads but it is just not worth trodding through all the troll crap to get to his comments.

  • Killazontherun||

    Bailey.

  • MJGreen||

    She pulled that shit after two weeks?

    That's just stupid. I'm glad your sister rewarded the worker's stupidity appropriately. Hopefully she'll learn from this.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Apparently, she had some 'pace of life" she had to maintain

    you sat her down and patiently explained, using short easily understood words and pictures, the concept of marginal return, right?

    You know, like, "Who gives a fuck how much YOU think you're worth?"

  • Almanian!||

    She just needs to work on her pitch, cause usually that approach works. With most employers.

  • ||

    Almanian, it's a little more than that. But yes, it's all in the approach. But don't be idiotic and ask for $5 more in a small business. That's just rude and obtuse.

  • Rich||

    "Surely you'll agree that, um, *these* puppies are worth $7.50/hr each!"

  • ||

    I think I'm gonna use that next time.

    One girl told me she bought a $500 000 home with a pool and couldn't maintain the mortgage payments.

    I sat there silent.

    "And..you're point?" I asked.

    "I need more money" she replied.

    The stupid. It burns.

  • anon||

    "You need less house."

  • JW||

    I thought that strippers worked for tips?

  • R C Dean||

    "Sounds like you need another job. Either in addition to this one, or instead of this one."

  • anon||

    You know, like, "Who gives a fuck how much YOU think you're worth?"

    To be fair though, I know how much I'm worth. That's why I'm the boss and don't need to ask anyone but my customers for a pay raise.

  • R C Dean||

    Yeah, I know what I'm worth, too.

    Fortunately, my employer does not.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    That's the sad thing. Somewhere along the line these kids are getting bad advice.

    I blame degreed educators.

  • anon||

    I kinda dislike how it's entirely the advisor's fault. You have to be a certain amount of stupid to take that advice.

  • ||

    True. But still, the educator bears some responsibility for invoking herself in a process that doesn't concern her.

    It's not like me and my sister pay ourselves a giant salary. It's modest. Yet, somehow society thinks we're millionaires. Sure, the family has assets but our income derived from this highly labour-intensive job is hardly 'go buy a Maserati' territory.

    Owning a business is a long-term investment for the future.

  • NoVAHockey||

    what's your business? just curious.

  • ||

    Private, non-subsidized daycare. 30 minutes/25 km north of Montreal.

  • Seamus||

    Oh, so that $15 she was asking for was in *Canadian* dollars? Now her demand doesn't sound so outrageous. It's not like she was asking for *real* money.

  • anon||

    Such a 15-year-ago joke. Canadian dollars are worth as much as US dollars now.

  • Killazontherun||

    Goddamn Bernanke.

  • MJGreen||

    The problem is that you're taking her money and putting it in to your greedy profits.

    That's how it works, right?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    It's not like me and my sister pay ourselves a giant salary. It's modest. Yet, somehow society thinks we're millionaires. Sure, the family has assets but our income derived from this highly labour-intensive job is hardly 'go buy a Maserati' territory.

    There's a reason the main targets of the Soviets weren't really the aristocrats, but the middle class. Lenin and his ilk hated the fact that people could find a way to live comfortably (not lavishly) without the benificience of the state, and the kulaks were a lot less likely to buy into commie bullshit about class warfare.

  • ||

    RRR, I see that at work both in practice and rhetoric everyday in a "social-democratic' state.

    Obama actually said people deserve a 'living wage' and set a figure of $14/hr I believe it was?

    Like I said, something is wrong. Very wrong.

  • ||

    That's what I always tell my progressive friends. Their policies and their utopian ideas about wealth redistribution don't hurt the wealthy one way or another. They can either move or hire lawyers and accountants to find loopholes. Their ideas hurt the middle class because it creates a glass ceiling. With all of these regulations and high taxes in place, the middle class and poor suffers because it stunts their ability to more productive.

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