Framing the Dialogue

Parsimony – Living Wage D.C. Style

minimum wageThe wonderful do-baders (they actually think they’re dogooders) in the District of Columbia really care about their citizens that they are pushing through a new law that will require large retailers (Wal-Mart) to pay a 50% (yes that’s percent not “cents”) premium over the existing minimum wage. The Washington Post reports:

Premium on minium wage mandated by D.C. lawmakers could chase Wal-Mart jobs elsewhere

WASHINGTON — District of Columbia lawmakers gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill requiring certain large retailers [Wal-Mart] to pay their employees a 50 percent premium over the city’s minimum wage, a day after Wal-Mart warned the law would jeopardize their plans in the city. [The parent, Wal-Mart, warned the children, DC lawmakers, that the fire was hot, but they touched it anyway.]

The retail giant [Wal-Mart – nice David/Goliath reference.  Funny that you never see “The government giant”] on Tuesday linked the status of at least three planned stores in the district to the proposal. But the ultimatum did not change any legislators’ minds [they know better]. The 8-5 vote [shockingly 5 voted against – they probably wanted a 100% premium], the result of an hourlong debate in a packed council chamber, matched the outcome of an earlier vote on the matter.

“The question here is a living wage; it’s not whether Wal-Mart comes or stays,” said Vincent Orange, a Democrat and lead backer of the legislation [so if the issue is a “living wage” why limit the increase to only Wal-Mart…and other large retailers? Living is living no matter the size of the company. I wonder if the DC government has any employees that don’t make this living wage?], who added the city did not need to kowtow to threats [turns out it is more of a promise than a threat]: “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.” [WOW THIS IS RIGHT OUT OF ATLAS SHRUGGED! Elected officials who have probably never run a business know better than the “retail giant.”]

Should the bill be signed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray and pass a congressional review period, retailers [why just retailers? What about other workers who should also deserve living wages?] with corporate sales of $1 billion or more and operating in spaces 75,000 square feet or larger would be required to pay employees no less than $12.50 an hour. The city’s minimum wage is $8.25. [Okay so that “living wage” amounts to around $25,000 per year gross wages. I am not sure that is “living” once government taxes the hell out of the worker. Oh and let’s not forget that retailers are not likely to hire someone to great customers or sweep the floors at that wage. So who does the “living wage” hurt? Right…it hurts entry level employees. The really really sad part is that the whole minimum wage/living wage argument has been debunked so many times that it is shameful that it still has to be discussed.]

While the bill would affect several existing District retailers — such as Macy’s and Target — an extended grandfather period and an exception for unionized businesses [BINGO – if you have a union you would be exempt. Funny how that works out!] has made it clear the measure is aimed at Wal-Mart, which has announced plans to open six stores in the city.

“Nothing has changed from our perspective,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo. He reiterated that the company will abandon plans for three unbuilt stores and “review the financial and legal implications” of not opening three others under construction. [This happened in Chicago and Wal-Mart built their stores just outside of the city boundary. The jobs went there and the poorer folks who really benefit from Wal-Mart’s low prices have to travel further to shop there.  So Mr. Orange, do the retailers really need you after all?  The politicians really only care about themselves and want to champion issues that they can exploit to win the support of low-information voters.]

Do you have any doubts why conservatives do not want to confer statehood on the District of Columbia? Let’s not give these liberals two more seats in the Senate and seats in the House.

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