When Government Gets Involved…

On a recent trip to a local restaurant where you order at the counter, my husband noticed the addition of about five or six order kiosks. They were sort of cute, and looked as if they might be fun to operate. I didn’t really think anything about it under I read an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The editorial is entitled, “Another Minimum Wage Backfire.” President Obama has supported raising the minimum wage, and a number of states have raised it on their own. Now we are beginning to see the impact of raising the minimum wage.

The editorial reports:

Last week the Wendy’s Company did a public service on its second-quarter earnings call by explaining how mandated wage hikes will lead to fewer jobs for the low-skill workers that progressives claim to be helping.

First, CFO Todd Penegor talked about the pressure to pay higher wages and said that “we continue to look at initiatives and how we work to offset any impacts of future wage inflation through technology initiatives, whether that’s customer self-order kiosks, whether that’s automating more in the back of the house in the restaurant. And you’ll see a lot more coming on that front later this year from us.”

Translated loosely, that says that Wendy’s is a business who does business to make a profit. The company will do whatever it has to do to keep making a profit and keep its stockholders happy. If people lose their jobs because of federal regulations, that is unfortunate, but the blame should be on the federal regulators–not the company.

I would like to note here that the reason the unions like higher wages is that they feel that if the minimum wage is higher, unions can ask for higher wages when they bargain. However, an increased minimum wage will have a strong impact on the food industry because that is the industry where many teenagers get their first jobs as busboys, kitchen workers, etc. More of these jobs will be replaced by machines, and less teenagers will have the experience of having a first job. An increased minimum wage will also cause an increase in prices in many of the restaurants that are still inexpensive enough to bring the whole family.

Raising the minimum wage is another idea that although it it well meaning, does not consider the law of unintended consequences. Very few people are supporting families on minimum wage jobs, generally these jobs are entry level jobs for people just entering the job market. Raising the minimum wage does not accomplish anything–it simply takes away the opportunity for teenagers to begin a working career.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

There are parents who support the ‘everybody gets a trophy’ mentality, but what happens when their children enter the business world. What happens when the CEO of a company tries to practice ‘everybody gets a trophy’ in his business. We have a recent example.

Yesterday Business Insider posted a story about Dan Price, founder and CEO of the Seattle-based credit-card-payment processing firm Gravity Payments. Mr. Price decided to raise the minimum salary at his company to $70,000. At first his employees were thrilled, but things do not work out as well as planned.

Employees are leaving. Why? Because some employees feel that some less valuable employees got increases bigger than some more valuable employees. One employee complained that the new policy did not reward work ethic–there was no incentive to do more or work extra hours to complete tasks. People who had done that in the past were treated no differently than the less conscientious employees.

The company is struggling financially because of the decision to pay everyone $70,000 a year. There is also a court case filed by Dan Price’s brother, a minority owner, which was filed soon after the pay raise.

There is something in the American psyche that expects to be paid a fair wage for a hard days work. There is also something in the American psyche that resents it when people who do not do a good job are paid the same as people who do. That is why socialism will fail in America, just as it has failed in all the other places it has been tried.

Hoisted On Their Own Petard?

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported that Los Angeles labor leaders, who recently supported a minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are now asking for changes in the law that would exempt companies whose workforces are unionized.

The article reports:

For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.

But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”

Laws for thee, but not for me. If a unionized company can be exempt in order to stay in business, why can’t a non-unionized restaurant be exempt?

The Council voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The increase in the minimum wage will be a problem for both restaurants and fast food places. The increase will also pose a problem for other small businesses.

Looking Past The Obvious

On Monday, the New York Post posted an article about the push to move the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Contrary to what is true in most case, it isn’t about the money.

The article reports:

A Times editorial last week cheered Los Angeles’ enactment of a $15-an-hour minimum wage — but noted that restaurants, particularly fast-food joints, don’t like it. Said The Times: “The restaurant industry . . . will not go down without a fight.”

We didn’t think that bringing down an entire industry was what the campaign for a $15 minimum was supposed to be about. Oops.

Back in March, we noted that a similar hike in Seattle’s minimum wage was leading to a spate of local restaurant closings, given that labor costs account for 36 percent of the average restaurant’s earnings.

The left has been on a war against McDonald’s for years. I will admit that I do not routinely eat at McDonald’s (although I love their mango smoothies), but that is my choice–just because I don’t eat there doesn’t mean that I have the right to prevent anyone else from eating there.

The article cites one example of the impact of the minimum wage hike:

Case in point: Z Pizza, which has to shut down — putting all 11 employees out of work — because its owner can’t afford the higher labor costs. Ritu Shah Burnham says she tried layoffs, cutting hours, price hikes and not paying herself — to no avail.

And while small businesses have six years to phase in the wage hikes, she has only two, since she’s a franchise of a large chain.

The Times dismissed such concerns, saying minimum-wage hikes can be offset by higher prices and by “paying executives and shareholders less.”

That didn’t work for Burnham, who has no shareholders and is no executive — just a victimized small-business owner whose workers’ hourly wage is about to be cut to zero, thanks to their “advocates.”

It is time to send all of the big government types home. The only way to turn this around is to elect people at all levels of government who believe in freedom from excessive government regulation. The big government types are killing small business, and thus, killing the economy.

From The Young Conservatives Website

The following cartoon is from the Young Conservatives website:

branco min wage cartoon

The article below the cartoon states:

A survey of American economists found that 90 percent of them regarded minimum wage laws as increasing the rate of unemployment among low-skilled workers. Inexperience is often the problem. Only about two percent of Americans over the age of 24 earned the minimum wage.

Advocates of minimum wage laws usually base their support of such laws on their estimate of how much a worker “needs” in order to have “a living wage” — or on some other criterion that pays little or no attention to the worker’s skill level, experience or general productivity. So it is hardly surprising that minimum wage laws set wages that price many a young worker out of a job.

Support of an increase in the minimum wage is political–it is  not based on economic realities. Unions support it because it allows them to negotiate for higher wages. Eventually this cycle leads to inflation and hurts low-income wage earners the most.

Looking Behind The Economic Numbers

Breitbart.com posted an article today the current state of the American economy. The article points out that the current stated unemployment rate of 6.1 percent does not tell the whole story.

The article reports:

Only about half of the drop in the adult participation rate may be attributed to the Baby Boom generation reaching retirement age. Lacking adequate resources to retire, a larger percentage of adults over 65 are working than before the recession.

Many Americans who would like full time jobs are stuck in part-time positions, because businesses can hire desirable part-time workers to supplement a core of permanent, full-time employees, but at lower wages. And Obamacare’s employer health insurance mandates will not apply to workers on the job less than 30 hours a week.

The article also mentions the fact that many of our young people are being encouraged by colleges to obtain degrees in subjects that are of limited value in the workplace. These students graduate with massive debt and no marketable skills.

The article concludes:

New business regulations, more burdensome than are necessary to accomplish legitimate consumer protection and environmental objectives, exacerbate these problems.

All of this suppresses wages except for the most skilled and talented workers.

No surprise, average family income, adjusted for inflation has fallen from about $55,600 in 2007 to $51,000 even as the gap between families at the bottom and top widens.

It’s time for a new economic policy for America.

The Practical Side Of Economic Policy

I hate to admit this, but I think economics is boring. I understand the basics, but after that I get lost. Yet economics and economic policy have a lot to do with how successful all of us are and how successful the country is. Right now America is not in good economic shape, and economic policies have a lot to do with that fact.

Fox News posted an article on Friday by Peter Morici entitled, “Why I can’t be both an economist and a liberal.” Mr. Morici goes into detail about the effects of some of the economic policies coming out of the Obama Administration.

The article cites an example of the consequences of one Administration policy:

The Congressional Budget Office estimates raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as President Obama proposes, would eliminate 500,000 to 1,000,000 jobs. Businesses will be forced to raise prices, lose customers and lay off employees. Fast food restaurants will begin to use more machines and we’ll see something similar to automated checkout devices at drug stores and supermarkets.

Past increases in the federal minimum wage did not have large impacts on employment, because those were in line with inflation, and businesses adopted strategies expecting such periodic adjustments. The minimum wage was last reset in 2009 and we knew that raising it one dollar to $8.25 to preserve purchasing power would not cost many jobs.

Jumping it up to $10.10 an hour, however, would fundamentally redefine the tradeoffs businesses face regarding unskilled labor and automation. The workers left standing would have more spending power but overall, increasing unemployment by at least 500,000 would take a bite out of GDP and growth from an already anemic economic recovery.

Meanwhile, the Democrats criticize the Republicans for not being willing to raise the minimum raise. Common sense and cause and effect are not mentioned.

The article also mentions the idea that if America would cut its CO2 emissions to curb global warming, China would follow suit.

The article points out:

Liberals argue that by setting a good example the United States can bring China along.

Nonsense! American diplomats have not been able to get Beijing to respond on its undervalued currency or protectionism generally, abandon the use of force to settle territorial disputes in the China seas, or anything else the Chinese Communist Party sees as impairing economic growth or its quest to wrest leadership from the United States on global economic and security issues.

It’s time for those in leadership in America to begin putting the good of the country above the good of their political party or worse, the desire to stay in power. We have created a political class–something never intended by the founders of this country. It is time to limit terms of Senators and Representatives and return to government by the people. A Congressional term should not be a ticket to lifelong wealth.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences Strikes Again

Yesterday Byron York posted an article in the Washington Examiner about the coming increase in the minimum wage for federal contractors. The minimum wage for federal contractors will go from $7.25 and hour to $10.10 an hour. This will include fast food workers, laundry workers, and other low paying jobs on military bases. So what are the consequences?

The article reports:

In late March, the publication Military Times reported that three McDonald’s fast-food restaurants, plus one other lesser-known food outlet, will soon close at Navy bases, while other national-name chains have “asked to be released from their Army and Air Force Exchange Service contracts to operate fast-food restaurants at two other installations.”

…The administration is making it very expensive to do business on military bases, and not just because of the minimum wage. Under federal contracting law, some businesses operating on military installations must also pay their workers something called a health and welfare payment, which last year was $2.56 an hour but which the administration has now raised to $3.81 an hour.

In the past, fast-food employers did not have to pay the health and welfare payment, but last fall the Obama Labor Department ruled that they must. So add $3.81 per hour, per employee to the employers’ cost. And then add Obama’s $2.85 an hour increase in the minimum wage. Together, employers are looking at paying $6.66 more per hour, per employee. That’s a back-breaking burden. (Just for good measure, the administration also demanded such employers provide paid holidays and vacation time.)

These are the actions of an administration that does not understand or value our military and does not understand basic economic principles. The Obama Administration has already begun to make changes in the way the military exchanges are run that will change the savings our military get on food and clothing (see rightwinggranny.com). We need to elect leaders who value our military and take care of them.

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The New Definition Of Senate Oversight

Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted a story about an exchange between HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin and ranking Sen. Lamar Alexander at a Senate Hearing.

Senator Alexander asked Labor Secretary Thomas Perez  if he believes that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is qualified to judge the impact of raising the minimum wage. The CBO has stated that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs. Perez did not directly answer the question.

The article reports what happened next:

Harkin said that Perez can “answer as he wants to answer, not as you direct him to answer. You can’t force him to say one thing or another. If he wants to answer that question, then he can answer that question.”

Alexander: “So a senator is not entitled to a yes-or-no answer to a specific question?”

Harkin: “The senator is entitled to ask a question, and the secretary can give the answer as he sees fit.”

Alexander: “That’s not much congressional oversight in my book.”

Harkin: “Well, it’s being respectful of people who want to respond in the way that they feel is best suited to answering the question.”

Alexander: “Well then we might as well not ask questions if we can’t get answers.”

This exchange depicts where we are in Washington. Congress has given up so much power that it has lost its oversight of the executive branch of government. It will be interesting to see if the minimum wage gets raised by an executive order. Then we will see if there are enough people in Congress who respect the Constitution to demand that it be followed. America has serious economic issues–this is not the time to play political games with people’s lives.

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Work vs Welfare

Below is the Executive Summary from a white paper released by the CATO Institute on August 19. The white paper was entitled, “The Work versus Welfare Trade-Off: 2013.”

Executive Summary

In 1995, the Cato Institute published a groundbreaking study,The Work vs. WelfareTrade-Off, which estimated the value of the full package of welfare benefits available to a typical recipient in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It found that not only did the value of such benefits greatly exceed the poverty level but, because welfare benefits are tax-free, their dollar value was greater than the amount of take-home income a worker would receive from an entry-level job.

Since then, many welfare programs have undergone significant change, including the 1996 welfare reform legislation that ended the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program and replaced it with the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. Accordingly, this paper examines the current welfare system in the same manner as the 1995 paper. Welfare benefits continue to outpace the income that most recipients can expect to earn from an entry-level job, and the balance between welfare and work may actually have grown worse in recent years.

The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work. Welfare currently pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, even after accounting for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and in 13 states it pays more than $15 per hour. If Congress and state legislatures are serious about reducing welfare dependence and rewarding work, they should consider strengthening welfare work requirements, removing exemptions, and narrowing the definition of work. Moreover, states should consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tightening eligibility requirements.

One of the things that has made America great has been the willingness of Americans to work hard, knowing their diligence would be rewarded. When the government creates a situation where staying home doing nothing pays as well as working, it undermines the work ethic in America and weakens our country. It might also be a good idea to examine the role the tax burden plays in this–does the working person earn less because of the tax burden that comes with working? Is the welfare recipient subject to a lesser tax burden?

The bottom line here is simple. People are not stupid. If a person can make as much money not working as he would working, why should he work? I recently posted a story with a striking example of this philosophy at rightwinggranny.com. We need to reinstate the work requirements to receive aid, and we need to be more aware of who is getting aid so that we can limit fraud.

It’s time to make sure that the people who are working hard are rewarded for their hard work.

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