Minimum Wage

Increasing the Minimum Wage Does Create Jobs! For Government Employees.

L.A. County creates enforcement squad, considers more business licensing.

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Some folks have not been paying attention to two years of McDonald's revenue reports.
Credit: Fibonacci Blue / photo on flickr

Both Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles have approved eventual increases of the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But it apparently won't mean much if employers don't comply. Concerned that state agencies in California will not make it a priority to enforce a minimum wage higher than the state requires, both the city and county will be creating their own wage enforcement squads. The county voted theirs into being Tuesday afternoon. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Details of how the enforcement program will work and what penalties will apply to offending employers remain to be worked out. As part of the program, the county could revamp its business permitting system to require more businesses in unincorporated areas to get county licenses.

The move to create a wage enforcement program was hailed by labor groups that had pushed for such a program, saying that without it, many workers will not actually benefit from the higher minimum wage.

"It sends a strong message to employers, especially those that don't play by the rules," said Supervisor Hilda Solis, who led the push for an enforcement division along with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "Now there will be a spotlight."

The minimum wage increase may also result in the expansion of government licensing mandates requiring more people to get official permission to engage in commerce. That was actually one bad consequence of increasing the minimum wage I wasn't even expecting. Reporter Abby Sewell notes that only one-third of the estimated 15,000 businesses in unincorporated Los Angeles County are licensed by the county. It currently only requires businesses with health and safety impacts to license with the county to do business.

So the county is going to create a new enforcement bureau and possibly expand existing bureaucracy, meaning there will likely be a need for additional staff. The county has set aside $408,000 to set up this enforcement squad.

I'm pointing all this out not just because I'm a critic of the minimum wage increase, but to hammer home the idea that increasing the minimum wage is not about making Walmart pay out more or snatch money from those fat cats on Wall Street, despite what we may hear from the likes of Bernie Sanders. From the Los Angeles Daily News, here's how proponents of the wage enforcement squad described the abuses that take place:

One workers' rights attorney said she represented bakery employees who have to be at work at 3 a.m.

"They work for 10 to 12 hours. They make basically three dollars an hour and that has not been the minimum wage in almost 35 years," said Yanin Senachai of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Another advocate said abuses were "often indistinguishable from human trafficking cases," telling the story of a woman who was forced to go to the bathroom in a bucket because she wasn't allowed to leave the kitchen where she worked.

A report by the county counsel found that the percentage of wage abuses were highest in the garment industry, with workers in domestic services, building services and retail businesses also experiencing high levels of wage theft.

I question the claim that these cases are "indistinguishable" from human trafficking cases (is she being dragged into the place by force every morning?), but it's de rigueur to define "trafficking" down these days to encompass people making decisions you don't think are in their own best interest (see: voluntary prostitution).

My point, though, is that it's probably not going to be the major players this squad will be going after (though certainly there have been stories of big box retailers not paying employees properly). Small bakers and garment shops and other small businesses will end up on the county's radar once they're forced to be licensed. And when these workshops that operate on very small margins are forced to pay wages they can't support, they're either going to shut down or those immigrants these people insist they're trying to help are going to be pushed out. That kitchen worker might not even have a bucket to piss in when it's over.

Just as with the recent New York City coverage and meddling on Korean-owned nail salons, there's a nanny state mentality that these folks believe that they're helping or saving immigrants from exploitation, even though their solution is likely to make life worse for these very same folks and simply erase these immigrants' own agency and ability to work. But immigrants of varying backgrounds and nations of origin don't have the same power and influence over municipal government that the unions pushing the wage increases do. 

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  1. Man! This is gonna be GREAT!

    1. Definitive proof that Almanian! is a robot.

  2. there’s a nanny state mentality that these folks believe that they’re helping or saving immigrants from exploitation, even though their solution is likely to make life worse for these very same folks and simply erase these immigrants’ own agency and ability

    “Don’t eat that, it’s bad for you. I’d rather see you starve.”

    1. DON’T EAT THAT YELLOW SNOW.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxAceec8DxI

  3. I question…

    This is what makes you such a terrible person, Shackford.

    Nice alt-text as well.

  4. What’s sad is this stuff doesn’t even get my blood up anymore…

    This country desperately needs an economic crash.

    1. An economic crash will prove the minimum wage wasn’t high enough.

      1. Exactly. When disaster strikes, the wrong culprits will always be blamed.

        1. #MakeAmericaMoreLikeVenezuela
          #FeelTheBern

  5. The useful idiots who think this is anything other than a union power-grab sure are going to be disappointed.

  6. The exodus is going to be delicious.

    1. Yes but unfortunately there will be some that bring Cali-derpiness with them to new locations. Better to put up a fence.

      1. Now that’s a fence idea I could get behind!
        And I live (for the time being) in CA. Can’t wait to sell and get out! I’m on a five-year plan. (hey, some commie detritus is still worthwhile)

    2. But nothing will be learned. Supporters would conclude that the only problem was that the $15 minimum wasn’t national, so ‘greedy’ employers are engaging in a ‘race to the bottom’ and that this must be ‘fixed’ by imposing the $15 minimum everywhere.

  7. As Zappa deliciously plays in the background, please allow me to tell the tale of a Quebec bureaucrat I dealt with five years ago, Scott.

    Applying for my daycare permit I had to go through quite a bit of a process. And when the day came I had to meet with three gate-keepers of civilization, I had to go through what seemed like an infinite stream of paper work (I wept for the trees indeed). Finally, when two left leaving the one woman, she noticed my face of subtle exasperation and said (I paraphrase loosely) in French, “I know it’s a lot but it has to be done. Because or else we end up in chaos like in Africa.”

    I kid not. It was at that precise moment I realized I was in Bureaucratopia and had to get out.

    The irony? Years into this business, not only are the codes arbitrarily enforced and applies depending on the inspector, from my perspective it’s nothing but splendid chaos. You can get rid of this silly government department and nothing will change.

    1. “I know it’s a lot but it has to be done. Because or else we end up in chaos like in Africa.”

      It’s cute how they have no idea that Quebec seems distinctly second-world to Americans.

      1. I don’t find it cute.

        The funny thing is, well depressing really, is Canadians would accept 2nd rate if it meant ‘free stuff’ to differentiate ourselves from uncivilized Americans.

        1. The tragedy of Canada is that it could have had French food, British culture, and American technology, and instead it ended up with British food, American culture, and French technology.

          1. The original quote was a country of French Culture, British Law and Order, and American Know-how.

            They ended up with a country of French Law and Order, American Culture, and British Know-how.

          2. And it’s funnier that way, because… French Law and Order and Lucas Electric.

            1. Actually, Lucas Electrics are very easy to trouble-shoot; just look for where the smoke is leaking out. There’s your problem.

            2. Dang. I haven’t seen a Lucas thread in quite a while.

            3. Not to say anything but the legal tradition (based on Roman/Napoleonic law) is just about the only sane part of this place.

        2. Second-world doesn’t mean second-rate, Rufus. It refers to the command economies of the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations. First-world nations were western capitalist democracies. Third-world were the “developing” economies (hell-holes).

          But this is yet another example of why Nicole is the absolute, positive worstest.

          1. Second-world doesn’t mean second-rate, Rufus. It refers to the command economies of the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations.

            So the command economies weren’t second-rate?

            1. They weren’t even fifth-rate.

            2. You know what I meant, RC.

    2. Talk about irony. Apparently nobody told her that one of the reasons the third world is so broke is that there are more, not fewer, government hoops to jump through before legally engaging in any wealth creating activity. As a result there is little wealth creation and a ton of corruption.

      1. And you know this to be true because….?

        What you said is not my experience in south and southeast asia’s third world.

    3. The irony? Years into this business, not only are the codes arbitrarily enforced and applies depending on the inspector, from my perspective it’s nothing but splendid chaos.

      Now you’re touching on where real government power stems.

    4. They like to believe that, since there are a lot of laws, then we are subject to the rule of law. Except with so many laws it becomes the rule of man, up to the discretion of the particular bureaucrat, and it can be just as chaotic and unpredictable for the victim as if there were no laws at all.

  8. I predict more squeeze on the middle. Home Depot and Walmart have an adequate support structure to ensure compliance with the laws and expensive lawyers to defend themselves from allegations that they aren’t. The California government dares not pick on immigrants (legal or otherwise) because it needs to maintain it’s liberal credentials. I don’t foresee too many family-owned Thai restaurants getting shut down. I predict the focus will be on non-immigrant-owned small businesses.

    1. Large companies may be willing to absorb losses from existing stores in places where they raise the minimum wage, but I doubt they will open new locations in those areas. That’s the unseen.

      1. Close, but not exactly.

        Large companies, because they deal in much larger volumes than “mom-and-pop operations”, can absorb the extra fixed cost of replacing workers with machines or equipment.

        1. That’s what happens when the federal minimum wage goes up. When municipalities do it they just don’t open more stores in those areas.

      2. Close, but not exactly.

        Large companies, because they deal in much larger volumes than “mom-and-pop operations”, can absorb the extra fixed cost of replacing workers with machines or equipment.

        1. Yeah, you’ll order your Big Mac from a touch-pad, but “Sam’s World Famous Burgers” is gonna disappear.
          This from the folks who hate big business.

          1. Not to mention cooking food for multitudes of customers is a high-risk/mission-critical proposition for the business. Spending a little time as possible everyday cleaning the restrooms that you don’t even really want the customers to use anyway… have you see the price of a janitorbot? Let a human do that job.

  9. It’s referred to as a “pot” to piss in, Scott. Now that Pot is good, I guess we have to change it to bucket, huh?

    1. Some immigrants came from a place where didn’t have a Pol Pot to piss in.

  10. I am confused. If they aren’t already prosecuting employers who pay $3, what is the point of raising the minimum wage?

    1. First rule of government: pass more laws and regulations.

      Second rule of government: pass more laws and regulations to “fix” the problems with the first laws and regulations you passed.

  11. “So the county is going to create a new enforcement bureau and possibly expand existing bureaucracy, meaning there will likely be a need for additional staff.”

    The SEIU approves of this message.

    1. Funny how the media is SO excellent at sussing out whose interests are what, who benefits etc., but when a Union is involved, there’s zero interest in who’s pulling the strings.

      1. You conspiracy wacko, you! Unions are made up of PEOPLE, so they are good. How can a Union be bad? They only want what’s right for their hard work (like a lot of time off for the Union bosses!)

        1. Aren’t corporations made up of people too?

      2. Nice paper you got there; shame if your printers were to go on strike. And don’t even get me started on CWA. A friend used to have a job doing titles (“shooting downtown; details at 11”) for the local TV station. He was forced to join CWA. Since he was a prog, I found the bitching about the mandatory union dues delicious.

  12. I have a friend who works in state government and a member of the AFSCME. I love the guy to death but he is insufferable as hell when we discuss the government’s role in the economy. He really thinks that rich people sit in a room and discuss how they are going to fuck over the poor and middle classes along with believing that if the government do not regulate everything, we will become like Somalia.

    The funny part is that he used to call himself a Libertarian. I asked him why he is now a full on statist and his response was that he grew up and understand that the government is the only thing keeping us from being destroyed and ruled by the corporations.

    1. “I asked him why he is now a full on statist…”

      I’ll bet it has something to do with retirement benes, too.

      1. He works for the State of Illinois. Chances are, he won’t get a damn thing when he retires.

        1. And since he’s aware of that possibility, he wants to do everything he can to tell people how much they should support government.

    2. I asked him why he is now a full on statist and his response was that he grew up and understand that the government is the only thing keeping us from being destroyed and ruled by the corporations.

      I used to believe that monsters roamed the countryside and let someone else worry about my safety and security too.

  13. The funny part is that he used to call himself a Libertarian. I asked him why he is now a full on statist and his response was that he grew up and understand that the government is the only thing keeping us from being destroyed and ruled by the corporations.

    Has he penned his “I once was lost, but now am found” former libertarian memoir for Salon, yet? They’re about due for one.

    1. What destroys me is that he states that a libertarian society is ideal but because we have rampant corporatism, we need the heavy hand of the government to insure equality. I pointed out to him that cronyism is the result of a large government that interferes in every economic transaction. If you take away the power of government to interfere, those looking for a handout would be a lot less and also those who are awful wouldn’t even remotely be attracted to government. This point sadly flew over his head.

      1. That is because HE is looking for a handout – AKA his government pension. His government job assured him that he would be assimilated out of his libertarian leanings. If you love him to death please give him more love, the sooner the better.

      2. ” those who are awful wouldn’t even remotely be attracted to government. ”

        If this point flew over his head, he was never a libertarian previously.

  14. Just give her one of the many, many buckets owned by some rich guy.

  15. That kitchen worker might not even have a bucket to piss in when it’s over.

    [stands and begins clapping]

  16. abuses were “often indistinguishable from human trafficking cases,”

    So people who work in restaurants have to sexually service 15 people a day? When do they get any cooking done?

  17. L.A. County creates enforcement squad, considers more business licensing.

    This was probably the point all along.

  18. or those immigrants these people insist they’re trying to help are going to be pushed out.

    This ensures that any stray Republican left in the county supports the additional bureaucracy.

  19. That makes no sense at all to me dude, None.

    http://www.CompleteAnon.tk

  20. Don’t kid yourself, this isn’t about helping low income workers to earn more, it is about getting rid of them.

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