With All The Fuss Over Minimum Wage, This Seattle Biz Just Did Something ‘Freaking’ Revolutionary

Images Credit: The New York Times

Seattle, it seems, has become the new epicenter in the highly charged debate over the minimum wage and whether government-mandated pay increases are ultimately good for the workforce, for business, and for the free market.

As Western Journalism reported in mid-March, a number of businesses in Seattle — especially small restaurants — are facing severe financial hardship and even closure as a result of the city council’s approval of a $15-per-hour minimum wage that goes into effect over the next several years.

The pay hike imposed on businesses by the council’s progressive majority is having the proverbial unintended consequences, as minimum-wage employees talk of benefit losses that have accompanied the wage gains.

A cleaning woman who works in a hotel near the airport was asked by a reporter what she thought of the new law:

“It sounds good, but it’s not good.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I lost my 401k, health insurance, paid holiday, and vacation,” she responded. “No more free food,” she added.

The hotel used to feed her. Now, she has to bring her own food. Also, no overtime, she said. She used to work extra hours and received overtime pay.

Now, The New York Times reports on a Seattle-based business whose new, self-imposed minimum wage policy is beyond stunning and may well mean that this business will be inundated with employment applications.

Just this week, Dan Price, the founder of Gravity Payments — a credit-card payment processing firm he started in 2004 — announced to his staff that the new minimum wage at his small business would be $70,000 a year.

“…Mr. Price surprised his 120-person staff by announcing that he planned over the next three years to raise the salary of even the lowest-paid clerk, customer service representative and salesman to a minimum of $70,000.”

That works out to approximately $33 per hour, more than double what the city’s government-mandated minimum wage will be when it has climbed to the peak.

“Is anyone else freaking out right now?” Mr. Price asked after the clapping and whooping died down into a few moments of stunned silence. “I’m kind of freaking out.”

The difference, of course, between what the Seattle city government ordered by law and what private business owner Dan Price instituted by choice goes to the heart of any rational examination of the minimum wage and its impact.

As the Times article notes, the move by Gravity touches upon another hot-button issue, in addition to minimum wage. “Mr. Price’s…unusual proposal does speak to an economic issue that has captured national attention: The disparity between the soaring pay of chief executives and that of their employees.”

The Gravity boss says he will pay for the staggering wage hikes for his employees in a way that would no doubt please populist politicians advocating “economic justice” and redistribution of wealth.

“…by cutting his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000 and using 75 to 80 percent of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profit this year.”

It will be interesting to see how Dan Price’s high-flying wage structure fares as unanticipated market forces inevitably affect his company’s fortunes.

The long-term question, certainly, is whether those forces of Gravity will bring Price’s lofty plans crashing back to Earth.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Hillary’s First Target As Candidate: Private Sector CEOs

UN Women (Flickr)

Taking a page out of her party’s anti-business playbook, Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton wasted little time between announcing her candidacy and attacking the earning power of private sector employees.

She delivered an early campaign speech this week in which she lamented the fact that “the average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes.”

Without taking into account the disparate qualifications between an executive and an entry-level worker or the time many CEOs spend working their way up to a lucrative position, Clinton’s rhetoric nonetheless struck a chord with the far-left wing of the Democrat Party.

One supporter, Jared Milrad, expressed his pleasure in seeing Clinton address income disparity, saying that it proves she “has been listening” to the more vocal leftists in the party.

“I definitely see the push from the left wing,” he asserted, “which I think is great.”

Despite her comments’ populist appeal, however, many would-be supporters are reserving comment until they see some substantive proof that she is willing to back up her words with action.

Union boss Leo Gerard, for example, said he is unwilling to make a decision based on what he has seen so far.

“I think it’s too early to make any judgments on what I would call the very short opening statement,” he said, “and we’ll see what happens as we go forward.”

As Reuters reporters pointed out, Clinton’s criticism of high-earning executives could have a significant downside. Reliant on wealthy donors to propel her campaign toward next November’s election, some forecast her remarks could turn off potential financial supporters.

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Disgusting: Professor Goes On Profane Rant Against Conservatives And Their View Of God

Facebook/Brittney Cooper

According to Rutgers University professor Brittney Cooper, social conservatives cannot be true Christians because they do not see God as a leftist, politically correct activist. Specifically, she opined in a recent Salon editorial that the recent controversy over Indiana’s religious freedom law proves that those on the right hold an unacceptable view on God.

Somehow, she interpreted the law to be not only anti-gay – as many of its opponents have characterized it – but also racist and sexist.

“This kind of legislation is rooted in a politics that gives white people the authority to police and terrorize people of color, queer people and poor women,” she wrote.

She went on to lambaste the “white, blond-haired, blue-eyed, gun-toting, Bible-quoting Jesus of the religious right” as a “god of their own making.”

While she chose to capitalize references to her definition of God – “a radical, freedom-loving, justice-seeking, potentially queer (because he was either asexual or a priest married to a prostitute), feminist healer” – while using all lowercase letters in reference to God as worshiped by social conservatives.

Though Cooper acknowledged that the God she despises “might be ‘biblical,’” she asserted that He is “also an a—hole.”

It is time, she concluded, for leftists to “reclaim the narrative of Jesus’ life and death from the evangelical right.”

Her pre-Easter advice to those willing to heed it was to “mark this Holy Week by declaring the death to the unholy trinity of white supremacist, capitalist, heteropatriarchy.”

With one last jab at a central tenet of the faith, she concluded that “once these systems die, may they die once and for all, never to be resurrected.”

Does this professor have a point in her criticism of conservative Christians? Let us know in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Map: What’s The Most Unique Job In Your State?

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Florida’s most unique occupation is professional athletes, Texas’ most distinctive job is petroleum engineers, and New York’s is fashion designers, according to new data.

Pew Charitable Trust analyzed information by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which listed the most unique job in each state and the District of Columbia compared to the national average.

 

The Washington Post

The Washington Post

03192015_Unique Job Map_The Washington Post

The Washington Post, based in the nation’s capital where political scientists are most popular, explains the data:

Pew analyzed the overall prevalence of certain professionals nationwide. They then compared the expected concentration relative to a state’s population to the actual concentration, to calculate the most unique job in each state, which are given on the map above.

Washington State’s most unique job is aircraft assemblers, as 90 percent of aircraft delivered in the United States will be assembled in the Evergreen State, according to Washington Aerospace. Nevada, not surprisingly, has 32 times more gaming supervisors than any other state in the union.

Like Texas, North Dakota relies on energy. They employ 36 times more extraction workers than expected based on the national average.

Indiana, home to the Purdue University Boilermakers, have more working boilermakers than anyone else – six times as many, in fact, than the rest of the country. Hawaii, on the other hand, employs 13 times as many professional dancers than its 49 predecessors, an important fact to keep in mind when you take your dream vacation.

h/t: The Blaze

Share this and tell us what the most unique job is in your state.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Who Are The Biggest Fans Of Minimum Wage Hikes?

a katz / Shutterstock.com  a katz / Shutterstock.com

Liberal politicians and media love to profile earnest minimum wage workers who benefit immediately from a minimum wage hike (even if they later lose their jobs because of it, after the media has moved on).

But we never see profiles of the biggest winners from minimum wage hikes: the salespeople whose job is to convince supermarkets, retail stores, and fast food restaurants to install self-service ordering and checkout kiosks.

Self-serve kiosks are no longer rare or remarkable; they are sweeping across America–and every time the minimum wage is increased, these technologies become more cost-competitive versus human workers.

In public documents, the companies selling these self-service machines tout their accuracy, ease of use, customer satisfaction, and various other features that are said to make them a wise investment.

But what these companies do not want to be seen promoting is how much labor they save – i.e., how many employees they make it possible to eliminate.

Consider an actual supermarket in Bethesda, Maryland. It has a sticker on its front door proudly proclaiming it has a unionized workforce.

The store has one employee bag groceries for every two traditional checkout lanes. So, for example, to check out six people at once, it used to employ six cashiers and three baggers, for a total of nine employees.

Then recently, over the course of a few days, it installed a group of self-service checkout machines. This cluster of six machines allows six customers to check out simultaneously, with…get this…just one employee monitoring them.

In the course of one week, this proud union shop had eliminated the need for eight workers per shift.

And the kiosk salesperson had scored another commission.

Think of all the self-service machines you saw in 2014. Now chew on the fact that 21 states have increased their minimum wage since New Year’s Eve, making those machines instantly more cost-competitive.

To be clear: there is nothing dishonorable about these salespeople or the stores that add these machines. Labor-saving devices – from the automobile to the dishwasher to the computer – are a basic feature of human progress and should be applauded.

The problem comes when government mandates like the minimum wage artificially hasten the adoption of labor-replacing devices, particularly in the midst of our ongoing underemployment crisis, with our nation experiencing the lowest labor force participation rates in three decades.

Rather than face this issue, many have their heads in the sand.

In the New York Times last summer, an article waxed eloquent about a burrito chain called Boloco. The Times noted how Boloco pays even its newest, least-efficient employee more than the minimum wage, in contrast to other fast food brands that were portrayed as stingy. The co-founder of Boloco was quoted as saying: “If we’re talking about building a business that’s successful, but our employees can’t go home and pay their bills, to me that success is a farce.” He even appeared at a photo op with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and called for a minimum wage hike, saying that paying his workers more than minimum wage was “a no-brainer.”

But missing from the fawning media was one significant fact: Boloco uses self-ordering kiosks to reduce the need for paid employees.

Last year, for example, in its Bethesda location, not far from the supermarket mentioned above, Boloco typically had one cashier available to take orders–and four self-serve ordering kiosks. So to move five people through the line simultaneously, Boloco did not employ five workers; it employed one.

The kiosk vendor promotes its work for Boloco in materials that hint gently at the labor-replacement value of self-service machines: “Boloco wanted to keep its emphasis on guest service, without having to exponentially increase staff.” But don’t worry; it quotes a Boloco Vice President reassuring us that “Kiosks . . won’t ever 100 percent replace our cashiers. . . .”

By the way, Boloco just closed its Bethesda and Washington, DC outlets. It gave all of its now-unemployed former workers four weeks severance.

Now imagine Bethesda’s labor-replacing mechanization being replicated nationwide, and you have a sense of how our existing unemployment crisis is about to get a whole lot worse for low-skilled workers and the unemployed.

Gallup’s CEO recently posted an essay that called the official 5.6% unemployment rate “The Big Lie,” noting that “as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed.” With government-mandated wage hikes fueling the accelerating wave of self-service kiosks that will take over fast food restaurants, supermarkets, and dollar stores, many more Americans are about to be added to that figure. As union agitators promise fast food workers that they are soon going to make $15 per hour, many are actually headed to $0 per year.

Of course, mechanization is inevitable, over time. Machines get cheaper, and their quality improves. New jobs will emerge to replace many of the old ones lost.

At the same time, people must improve their skills to survive in this new economy. But instead of having a national conversation about the need for struggling Americans to get to work on improving their skills, we continue to debate endlessly the notion that politicians can wave a magic minimum wage wand and deliver pain-free higher salaries to these workers.

American workers desperately need leaders focused on policies to strengthen our economy, improve our schools, speed economic growth, and create new jobs. In the meantime, there are probably more than a few self-serve kiosk salespeople rooting instead for more minimum wage hikes.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom