Liberals have always claimed to be champions of the poor. Despite the mountain of economic evidence against their policies, liberals accuse conservatives of wanting people to die for not supporting their agenda. Of course, conservatives aren’t as evil as leftists make us out to be. We just realize that even though a policy might have good intentions, it doesn’t mean it will have a good result.
Perhaps no policy better illustrates this ideological gap than raising the minimum wage. On the surface, it seems to make sense. If workers aren’t making enough money, just make it illegal to pay them below a certain threshold… problem solved! Sadly, reality doesn’t work that way.
Although liberals have good intentions when they “fight for 15”, they actually do more harm than good. Not only are minimum wage laws bad for the economy overall, but they also hurt the people they’re intended to help.
Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what happened in Seattle. After raising the minimum wage three dollars, research indicates that low-wage workers have become even worse off than they were before.
Liberal Seattle City Councilpersons were so sure that the “$15 For All” minimum wage hike would lift the poor out of poverty and cut government welfare spending that they contracted with the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance to evaluate each of the three-phase minimum wage increases. The increases began with a base of $9.32 per hour in 2014; to $11 in April 2015; to $13 in 2016; and $15 in 2017 (small firms with under 500 employees were given an extra year for each bump).
As the law was phased in, problems started to appear:
University of Washington’s Jacob Vigdor reported that in a cost-benefit-analysis for the 2015 hike to $11 an hour, “the effects of dis-employment appear to be roughly offsetting the gain in hourly wage rates, leaving the earnings for the average low-wage worker unchanged.” UW suggested that “negative unintended consequences” may rise as businesses and workers have more time to adapt to the minimum wage ordinance.
By the time the wage hit $13 an hour, low-wage workers were actually starting to lose money:
UW found that the average low-wage employee enjoyed $54 per month in higher earnings due to the $3.53 per hour increase associated with the second phase of Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance. But Seattle’s low-wage workers lost $179 a month on average due to job losses and reductions in hours worked. That amounts to $1,500 a year.
Even worse, the law hasn’t been completely phased in yet. Eventually, the minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour by the end of the phase-in period. Unless Seattle makes a change to the law, it’s likely low-wage workers will lose even more money.
It’s just the latest example of good intentions equaling bad results. Conservatives aren’t evil for opposing such laws, we’re just living in the real world. If liberals truly want to help the poor, they better join us soon.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]