Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, July 17, 2006

Color Me Flabbergasted

Why? Because liberal columnist Tom Henderson has just published an editorial in the Lewiston Tribune with which I almost completely agree:
Spokane effort just a jihad against big-box stores

Death to Wal-Mart! Death to Wal-Mart!

The retail giant may seem too massive to slay, but if it can't be killed, the angry mob amassing in Spokane at least wants to force it to pay higher wages.

Like so many crusades, however, this one is long on ideology and short on practicality.

Members the Peace and Justice Action League are collecting signatures to get a measure on the local ballot to force Wal-Mart and other big-box store retailers to give workers a big raise over Washington's minimum wage.

The state minimum wage is $7.63 per hour. The initiative would force retailers to pay $10.30 per hour. That's if the store provides health insurance. If it doesn't, the required wage would be $12.58 per hour.

A case can made for increasing the minimum wage. It certainly can be made in Idaho, where the state minimum wage reflects the federal minimum of $5.15 per hour. That's pathetic.

But if the minimum wage is increased, it should be increased across the board. Singling out big-box retailers serves no purpose other than some people's vendettas against discount stores.

Rather than be put at a competitive disadvantage, retailers would simply locate outside the city limits -- hurting sales tax revenues while contributing to roadside sprawl.

Spokane has the power to establish its own minimum wage laws, but by focusing on a certain kind of retailer, the measure could keep the city in court for years.

Bad ideas for initiatives have a way of spreading. This one could be particularly seductive given widespread hostility toward Wal-Mart, Target and their brethren. Such stores definitely raise many economic and social justice questions.

"This is about family values and the future of Spokane," said Rusty Nelson, leader of the Peace and Justice Action League.

If so, then it's a battle people should wage with their brains and not their emotions.
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2 comments:

Internet Esquire said...

If your objective is to help the working poor, an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit would be a much more effective and equitable way of doing so than raising the minimum wage.

Dale Courtney said...

Tom,

I about fell out of my chair when I read that as well! :)

best,
Dale