The Sept. 16 edition of The News Tribune included an excellent, though inadvertent, point-counterpoint regarding Washington’s minimum wage. On page 1A, Gov. Jay Inslee is quoted saying “It is time we give our families a living wage.” On page 14A, a press demonstration photograph is shown from Zume Pizza in California, where entrepreneurs are using robots to automate retail pizza production and delivery.
When you forcibly increase the basic cost of labor by fiat, rather than follow market economics, you incentivize the elimination of many types of labor by making research, development and equipment investment more enticing. I won’t have sympathy when those who felt they could somehow win by unilaterally dictating labor terms are surprised when the buyer decides it’s not worth it.
Entitlement requires the consent of the job source, and the source always has the prerogative to shrug, say “no,” and walk away or pursue alternatives. It works both ways.
Setting a high entry-level labor cost, whether by mandated pay rates or by the bureaucracy and over-regulation surrounding employment, eliminates any job whose market value is less than that cost. We’re losing our apprentice roles, our first-job learning opportunities and the important foundations they build in personal pride, responsibility and skills growth.