Matt HealeyThursday,25 July 2013

The Snap:

The minimum wage has always been a controversial topic. The left usually wants it raised while the right wants it lowered or eliminated. The left argues that keeping it as low as it is keeps people mired in poverty. The right argues that raising it will raise the costs for businesses and cost jobs.

The Download:

Both arguments have some validity. However, as long as the law is uniformly applied, then it is fine. If it raises costs, the costs are uniformly applied to everyone. That is what makes the recent vote taken in the Washington DC city council so unacceptable. The bill, as explained by The New York Times, raises the minimum wage for large retailers who are moving into the city only. Existing large retailers would be exempt. So would smaller businesses and the Washington DC city government. So the only retailer who would be affected would be Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is a controversial retailer. There are a lot of people who hate them because they kill local businesses and generally have a long history of questionable labor practices. Communities have tried to block their stores through zoning laws, preventing them from getting tax breaks, etc. All of these approaches are fine. However, passing (At the time of this writing the bill had been passed by the council but not yet signed) a bill that changes the rules for, effectively them only, is a bit problematic. It is problematic for two reasons. The first is that it puts Wal-Mart at a competitive disadvantage. They have to incur labor costs that other retailers, both large and small, will not have to face. The second is that it is a hypocritical. The city is effectively saying that Wal-Mart has to pay higher wages because the current minimum wage is not enough, but the city does not have to pay these wages. If the wage is insufficient, then it should be insufficient for everyone, not just people who work at Wal-Mart. I hope that this bill get vetoed. If it does not, then no one should blame Wal-Mart if they pull out of DC.

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Hat Tips:

The New York Times, Image Credit: Flickr

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