The $15 Minimum Wage and the Mood of Voters

 

 

 

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UPDATE: Yesterday, as expected, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a $15 per hour minimum wage in the city which will be put into place gradually. Most businesses will have to comply with the highest level minimum wage in the nation by 2017, smaller businesses have until 2021 to comply. 

The People’s Republic of Seattle government has once again ignored the ages old teachings of Adam Smith by considering a plan to increase the minimum wage of workers within the city limits to $15 per hour. If approved it would make Seattle’s minimum wage FAR higher than any other city or state in the country. San Francisco, that West Coast Liberal bastion, previously held such a proud distinction with a minimum wage of $10.55 per hour. Seattle’s plan doesn’t so much resemble the “invisible hand” as it does represent an iron fist.

In 1776 with his magnum opus “The Wealth of Nations” Scottish economist Adam Smith described the invisible hand as the means by which industrialized nations attained prosperity by government staying out of a free market economy and letting the “invisible hand” dictate prices of products and services as well as wages of workers.

I always felt that if a person doesn’t like making the minimum wage, whatever that wage might be, they should make themselves a more valuable commodity (i.e. worker). Put in the time to gain experience. Put in the effort to educate yourself. Develop a craft. Sell yourself. Upon making yourself more valuable a company will surely find use for you and compensate you in a fashion that makes your desire to work well and stay with that company heightened. Hiring and then training new personnel is expensive and time-consuming for businesses. As long as other outside factors aren’t driving the business owner they will tend to pay good or fair wages for a good staffer.

There is no question the move toward a higher minimum wage in Seattle and elsewhere in the country is rolling down hill and gaining momentum. There is also little argument that the $15 level proposed in Seattle and approved by voters in the small town of SeaTac, just south of Seattle, is completely arbitrary. There is no relevant data to suggest that $15 per hour is the sweet spot between fair and unfair wages. Why not make the minimum wage $20 per hour? Why not make it $13? For the record a worker earning $15 per hour, working 40 hours per week, and working 50 weeks per year would earn $30,000 per year. For the record the poverty rate for a single individual is $11,670 and $27,910 for a household of 5. Those making less than those figures would be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP (The Children’s Health Insurance Program). Is there anyone who couldn’t live fairly well on 30k annually? Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. I wonder how inspired you would be to improve yourself, educate yourself, grow your income if you weren’t so motivated to do so prior to being handed a wage that allows you to live as comfortably as $30k per year would allow you to work. Keep the hateful comments to yourself. I am not suggesting that $30k is a LOT OF MONEY.  Clearly it’s not for many people. But its a helluva lot for a 19-year-old high school dropout with no employment track record.

I also look at another bit of recent local, Washington State and Seattle, news being related to this subject. Last month King County voters rejected Proposition One to raise taxes to maintain current Metro bus service at existing levels. Ultra Liberal Seattle and King County voters rejected a tax increase to maintain, MAINTAIN, BUS SERVICE…a service that caters almost exclusively to people of lower-income. Seems like a contradiction of terms doesn’t it?

So what does this mean? Can we read the tea leaves and make a determination on our future? Seems to me the people of King County want and probably need more money in their pockets. Unemployment in Washington State has dropped to pre-recession levels of 6.1% in April. In the Seattle-Metro area the unemployment rate is 5%. The federal unemployment rate also hit new post recession lows last month. So…what gives? Higher taxes and lower wages is what gives. People are not thriving. They want more money.

I do not hold to the Libertarian point of view that there should be no minimum wage and government should stay out of it. Unfortunately so much government involvement already makes that dream completely unrealistic. Nonetheless a $30,000 minimum wage seems far beyond reasonable for someone handing out McCheeseburgers and fries. The minimum wage ought to be as low as possible; my suggestion would be $9.89 per hour to comply with the Federal standards of what constitutes poverty for a family of three. If you have a family of more than three and you make the minimum wage…learn to watch movies at night.

Any minimum wage law should include other requirements. It should be two-tiered. One minimum wage that’s lower for teenagers, and one that’s higher for adults. Teen unemployment nationwide is already at an incredible 19.1%. And keep in mind that only includes those who have previous employment in which to claim they are unemployed. The real number is MUCH MUCH higher. A $15 minimum wage, if universal, would grow teen unemployment to almost 100%. Such an occurrence would make saving for, or paying for college nearly impossible; subsequently putting more of a strain on Mom and Dad or simply denying a higher education to far too many deserving young people.

Another aspect of a very low minimum wage that I would like to see implemented is that it could only be used for a short period of time, perhaps 6-months or one year. Make it illegal to continue to employ someone at the minimum wage if they’ve proven their worth and the employer wants to keep them around. Naturally employers would know, or could be educated, that hiring and training a Newby would be more expensive and time-consuming than giving someone who was making minimum wage a well-deserved raise.

These ideas make sense in so many ways. Which is why they will never be implemented.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

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Uncommon Friends and What You Can Do Together

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A book I have yet to read and has long been on my GET list is called Uncommon Friends: Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel and Charles Lindbergh. It is a 1987 publication that tells the story of the close life-long friendship that existed between these five extraordinarily accomplished men as well as James Newton the book’s author.

It has long been my belief that if you surround yourself with enough good people and discard the folks in your life who have a negative influence on you, you can’t help but be successful. These five men written about in Uncommon Friends could hardly be higher in achievement. Ford, Lindbergh, and Edison need no introduction to anyone educated beyond the 6th grade. Alexis Carrel and Harvey Firestone are less familiar historical figures, but nonetheless accomplished. Alexis Carrel was a French surgeon and biologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912 for pioneering vascular suturing techniques.  Harvey Samuel Firestone was an American businessman, and the founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, one of the first global makers of automobile tires, and early investor in Henry Ford’s Ford Motor Company. These men set high goals for themselves and met regularly through life to discuss how to accomplish them.

It’s not an uncommon thing to have friends who together and/or separately accomplish great things. I believe it’s not unlike a leaf on the water being caught up in the wake of a fast-moving rowboat or canoe and subsequently moving along the surface of the water at the same speed as the boat…at least for a moment. I frequently take my canoe to nearby lakes where I fish; though, rather than a leaf I’m far more familiar with a lily pad getting caught…not in my wake…but in my fishing line.

My family is blessed to have several extraordinary people, who have impressive, even great accomplishments on their resume’s. For a middle-aged guy, with a middle-income life, from a lower middle-income single parent upbringing my connections to greatness or near greatness are, I believe, unusual. My brother, just one year older than I, is a millionaire several times over. He travels the world. He sets up companies for public stock offerings hopping from company to company collecting stocks and equity as he goes. My sister-in-law is an attorney at Microsoft. She’s educated at Cal-Berkley. And has made quite a name for herself in Seattle philanthropic circles. My father-in-law, George Fleming, is a University of Washington legend. He was awarded MVP of the 1961 Rose Bowl while leading the Huskies to a surprise victory over then Number 1 rated Wisconsin. He followed that with a 25 year career in the Washington State Legislature.

But despite my family connections and their accomplishments my wife and I are not unlike most people. We are on our own. And while grateful for all the support and help we’ve received over our 25 year marriage, what we have accomplished or failed to accomplish comes strictly from our own efforts. We’ve never hitched our wagon to another high-flyer and joined them for the ride.

I thought of the connection between high achievers recently since I had a difficult decision to make. My wife and I got into the direct-sales industry through an incredible company called, AdvoCare, only 4-5 months prior to this writing. We did so after first enjoying the benefits of using the AdvoCare nutritional products. They were fantastic and literally changed my life and the life of my wife. Our health has not been so good since decades before. In determining that we would try representing AdvoCare we agreed to give it 3-6 months of effort. If the company, the products and the income were worth continued effort after that then we’d certainly give it.

A trip to AdvoCare Success School in Dallas, Texas in mid-February is fast approaching. Finances are tight. And if I am to go to Success School I’d first have to determine, in conjunction with my wife, that we did want to continue working AdvoCare as a business. And secondly, I’d have to figure out how to pay for the trip. Because though my company, Total Broadcasting Service, is and has always been profitable in its 8 years and my wife makes a good living outside of our company, the economy of 2009-2011 impacted us to the tune of high credit card debts. And catching up is tough. A trip to Dallas and two-day hotel stay would just mean more credit card debt.

We made the decision to go, to make the trip, to incur the debt and to continue to help people by introducing more and more of them to AdvoCare, in part because of my belief in our friends who got us into AdvoCare. (I’m not sure they’d want me to use their name’s publicly here. So I won’t. But contact me and I’ll tell you all about them) My friend, to whom I refer is someone I’ve known since shortly after he got out of college. In age, he’s about 10 years my junior. I worked with him for several years at the same company. I only met his wife in the past year. But it’s clear that she, like him is special. And I intend to benefit from the association. I intend to be taken up in their wake and pretty soon make my own wake.

My wife and I live what most would term an upper middle class lifestyle. But we can do a lot better. By better I mean more income, more vacation time, more money to help our grown kids, more time and money to help and care for more people, and a freedom to do things we cannot currently envision. My friend may not be Thomas Edison or Henry Ford or Charles Lindbergh. But then again. He might be. And if he is I intend to gain from it.

Some cliche`s come to mind: Familiarity breeds contempt. And A prophet is never known in his own land. Too often we allow familiarity to blind us to a person’s true greatness and thus deny ourselves of that which is great about a person because we know what aspects about them or their history aren’t great. When you do so you only hurt yourself.

Thanks for listening. Comments are welcome.

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