Sunday, July 21, 2013

Jobs for the Inner Cities

It’s about time that the people speak truth to power. It’s about time that everyday citizens talk back to the politicians who believe that they should be dictating wage rates.

The Trayvon Martin story is getting all the ink, but the dispute over Walmart in Washington, D.C. is more important. Getting jobs into the inner cities is the real story.  

Facing the prospect that Walmart would open six stores in the district, the Washington City Council voted a bill requiring the retailer to pay a minimum wage of $12.50.

Citizens of Washington and former Mayor Anthony Williams have called on the mayor to veto the bill.

One is reminded of the fact that in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has vetoed a number of such bills, only to have the City Council override his vetoes. Thus, no Walmarts in New York and no Kingsbridge Armory development project.

Reporting on the story the New York Times quotes Washingtonian Fred Reaves on the situation. Hopefully, his remarks signal a growing awareness by those who are being consigned to joblessness by such laws:

“Those big people in government, they don’t understand my situation,” said Fred Reaves, 45, who is unemployed and said he would gladly take a job at the current city minimum, $8.25.

“Eight-something, it’ll motivate you to start going to work,” Mr. Reaves said as he stood around the Skyland Town Center, a patch of barren asphalt and shuttered stores where Walmart planned to build. “You can start paying some bills. It will help you to come off public assistance.”

Stirrings from Mayor Gray’s office are encouraging:

Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Gray, argued the opposite: minimum-wage jobs help the chronically unemployed take a first step into the work force.

“Yes, Walmart jobs are not great,” Mr. Ribeiro said. “But for some people, it will be their first employment and they’re not qualified to do anything else. We need that entry-level benchmark in the District.”

Also, this:

Victor L. Hoskins, the deputy mayor for development, said Walmart’s threat to cancel projects if the measure took effect was no bluff. He calculated that 4,000 retail and construction jobs were at stake from three of the projects.

“The question is not $8.25 versus $12.50,” Mr. Hoskins said. “The question is $8.25 versus zero. It’s called no jobs.”

Former Mayor Williams offers some comments in the Washington Post today:

Why have D.C. officials met yearly with firms, including Wal-Mart (yes, the retailer so reviled of late), and invited them to Washington? Because business investment leads to retail convenience and jobs, which lead to more business investment, more jobs, neighborhood amenities and, ultimately, the kind of virtuous cycle that we’re beginning to see in many areas of the city.

Regrettably, the LRAA [Large Retailer Accountability Act], while well-intentioned, sends the opposite message: that the District is indifferent, if not hostile, to business. Moreover, for all the damage the bill will do to the D.C. business climate, it won’t help that many residents.

It’s good to see that citizens are beginning to understand of the stakes in these political games. It would be better if the culprits had been identified. Everyone knows that these policies are being imposed by labor unions.

As a sidelight, in Spain, where the youth unemployment rate is over 60%, the government has just abolished all minimum wage laws.


Lastango said...

Excellent summary. And I hadn't heard that Spain had done away with minimum wage. (I'm pleasantly surprised about that, because the political class in Spain is still in Lying Mode regarding the economic meltdown there.)

Wal-Mart is a strong contributor to the efficiency of the economy, and singlehandedly lowers by several percentage points the cost of living (i.e. increases the wealth) of its customers. Driving Wal-Mart out of DC would be a blow to the quality of life there, particularly for lower-income people. But then, that sort of consideration hasn't stopped statists from waging war against school vouchers and other market-based forms of family choice regarding education. Keeping the locals poor and on the plantation is a feature, not a bug.

Dennis said...


I keep wondering when Blacks and minorities are going to figure out that they are being used. There is no way the power structure and the democrats are not going to keep them in thrall to the government.
I often wondered why people cannot figure out that if one raises the minimum wage then the whole economy raises to match the previous buying power that existed. The minimum wage just keeps creating the need to raise it until the country is priced out of the global market place. It keeps building a larger underclass and more poverty in the long run. There are fewer and fewer entry level jobs for people to learn to work at younger ages.

Sam L. said...

I read elsewhere that the DC government does not pay $12.50 (or more) to its lowest-paid employees.

Oh, the hypocrisy!

Anonymous said...

Identity politics is so banal. It's the hallmark of political demagogues and their ignorant constituencies. It's amusing to watch until you realize it works.


Dennis said...

For your edification:

Mr Steele says it so much better than I. There is a growing number of Blacks, and I would hope minority people, mostly Conservatives at this present moment, who are finally getting it.


Maybe it isn't working considering how 'puny" these demonstrations were. If one can only get 2000 people in NYC then one has not proven or demonstrated a thing. More people showed up for free pizza!
This is a repudiation of the race baiting communities, Obama and the fellow travelers that try to perpetuate division in this country for political gain. By extension I think that one is beginning to see the same thing happening happening in the sex baiting arena.
I have said in the past that when the radicals take over these groups, which at one time had very honorable intentions, that eventually there will come a time, when they think they have gained real power, that they will begin to falter and fail.
Detroit is a perfect example of what progressives and the democrats do to every thing they touch because power over rides the desire to solve problems that serve every one. This is where the country will wind up, but given Obama's ever decreasing approval rates, I am cautiously optimistic. maybe even the "takers" will recognize that there isn't going to be anything to take without the "makers."