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David Boze

Predicting the consequences of Seattle's $15 minimum wage

AP: ap_f9baf491afc7f915550f6a706700cd80
Supporters of Seattle's $15 minimum wage measure break into applause, Monday, June 2, 2014, after the Seattle City Council passed the measure, which will be phased in over several years. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) | Zoom
There was little doubt that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's and Socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant's dream of forcing a $15 minimum wage on big and small businesses across the city would happen. So, what now? What outcome can we expect after the implementation of the highest minimum wage in America?

First, here's how the law will go into effect: Next April, businesses across the board - except those that employ fewer than 500 and offer tips and benefits - will have to pay a minimum wage of $11 per hour.

The wage will only increase from there: the first businesses liable for a $15 minimum will be ones that employ more than 500, but don't offer health insurance. That will happen in 2017. The last businesses on the hook for $15 minimum will be those with fewer than 500 and that offer health benefits and tips. That happens in 2021.

Between now and 2021, say hosts David Boze and Ben Shapiro, Seattle's economy will begin to erode because of the policy. Here are a few predictions for the consequences of the $15 minimum wage law:

-Sawant will ask for an even higher minimum: That's right, she'll want more than $15 eventually. She and her compatriots have even told Shapiro that a $1,000 minimum wage should be up for discussion.

-The issue will go to the ballot: A group of $15 Now activists are fighting to put the $15 wage issue on the November ballot, hoping to force it to happen on Jan. 1, 2015. Seattle voters will probably reject this because, you know, they're not that liberal.

-Political mantra turns to means: Shapiro's theory is that in Seattle - and maybe in other liberal areas - the means will simply become the solution. That is, means - like a $15 minimum wage - become the solution to social problems rather than outcomes, like investing in education.

-Total labor valuation imbalance: David Boze says that in Seattle the value of labor will be unbalanced. You'll have someone with a degree and experience working in an office earning the same as someone who flips burgers. Someone earning $14.50 per hour managing a coffee shop will suddenly be earning the same as her employees, and so on.

-Businesses flee to suburbs: This is an easy one. Why open a deli in Leschi if you could do it for 60 percent less a couple of miles away in Renton?

-Teens, immigrants lose jobs: As if unemployment isn't already bad for teens and minority immigrants, it will only get worse. At $15 per hour, every college grad from Bothell to Boston with a degree in lesbian French literature will flock to Seattle to pick up a menial job. Who will employers hire, the person with a BA or a 17-year-old high schooler?

-More socialism: Now that Sawant has $15 minimum wage under her belt, she's free to move on to other issues. Next up, she'll try to implement her plans for rent control, or a millionaire's tax. In other words, Seattle descends deeper into socialism.

-One homogeneous class: After the minimum wage vote on Monday, Councilman Nick Licata commented that a true world-class city is one where all the classes live in the same world. We're guessing that in a few years, Seattle will look more like Moscow in 1953 than any modern American city. Everyone will get to stand in a bread line together.

-Massive, unending, intractable unemployment: Sure, you'll be able to get a job in Bellevue, Lynnwood, or Tacoma, but Seattle will eventually become the unemployment capital of the Pacific Northwest; it will go from booming to Detroit in just a few years. And we're not talking about tech workers; we're talking about the kinds of people this law was allegedly supposed to help: the poor and disenfranchised. They may have the chance to earn $15 per hour, but there won't be many chances to earn it when all the jobs move out of town.

Neal McNamara, Writer, KTTH
Originally from the Northeast, Neal McNamara has worked as a news reporter for more than 10 years at newspapers across the U.S., landing most recently in Seattle.
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