The Associated Press sent its cameramen and reporters out to get the reaction of small business owners to California's just-passed six-year plan to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Anyone expecting the AP to find representative responses clearly doesn't understand how the far-left propaganda machine disguised as an objective news service operates. All three business owners interviewed operate in ultra-high-cost San Francisco. The first told AP that $15 an hour "is still probably not enough." The second complained bitterly that the increase should have targeted "multinational corporations" and spared little guys like him. The third demonstrated the likelihood of an upward ripple effect above the minimum-wage level when he signaled his intention to continue to pay more than the minimum even after its 50 percent impact fully hits.
The video's headline and caption make it appear as if its intent is to present reactions that are representative of small businesses throughout California, not just the takes of three guys who happen to own small businesses in San Francisco:
Small Businesses React to Calif. Wage Increase
California lawmakers on Thursday approved the nation's highest statewide minimum wage of $15 an hour to take effect by 2022. It was hailed by Democrats as a national example amid the growing gap between rich and poor.
James Batholomew, the person who claims to have invented the term "virtue signaling" five years ago, would recognize the AP's characterization of Democrats' move — and the legislation itself — in an instant (bolds are mine throughout this post):
One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous. It does not involve delivering lunches to elderly neighbours or staying together with a spouse for the sake of the children. It takes no effort or sacrifice at all.
Critics may argue that California Democrats "did something" by voting in a high minimum wage. Horse manure.
The same day they voted to raise the minimum wage, five Democratic lawmakers received big campaign checks from a local union of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the group that pressured lawmakers for the wage bill, according to documents filed with the state.
The SEIU Local 1000 Candidate PAC made election contributions of $8,500 each to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), former Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) and Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose).
The local also gave a $4,200 campaign contribution to Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento).
All of those Democrats voted for the measure.
All of the contributions were made Thursday, the same day the Assembly and Senate approved a bill that would raise the minimum wage in California to $15 an hour over the next six years, according to the campaign finance report.
It doesn't get much more brazen than that.
Even those who aren't getting direct payoffs didn't do anything. They're forcing businesses do things for them by mandating that they pay all employees at least $15 an hour or more. When it costs certain of those who are currently employed their jobs, causes other business to close completely, or motivates other businesses which can do so to relocate to another state, leaving many of those currently employed without work — too bad, so sad. It doesn't hurt the legislators or Governor Jerry Brown one little bit.
Here's the video:
Let's take each of the folks interviewed one at a time.
First, there's Philip DeAndrade, owner of Goat Hill Pizza:
PHILIP DEANDRADE: I think it's the minumum you can earn to live in a city like San Francisco, and it is probably not enough. But the market won't allow us to go any further. And frankly, we can afford the minimum wage because everybody's going to have to do it. So all of the competition will have to do it. So you can work it into your pricing and it won't be unreasonable, because everybody has to do it.
That quote is a classic from a guy who's already in business and doing well who is confident that his upscale clientele will continue to pay for his product, even if he has to raise prices. (Given the city's far-left elitist nature, we should also recognize that any kind of complaint might be bad for business.) One convenient aspect of a minimum-wage law for existing businesses is that it makes it dramatically harder to start up new ones, including those which might compete with Mr. DeAndrade's three-location, all in Frisco chain.
Now let's get to the piece of work who goes by the name of Brian Hibbs, who owns Comix Experience:
BRIAN HIBBS: By the math, if we didn't come up with some other solution, I would have to fire almost everybody in the store and work almost all the hours myself.
I think what people want is that multinational corporations that make billions of dollar of profits, you know, don't pay their janitorial employees one-one thousandth of what the executives make. That's what I think people want. I don't think that people want to punish small businesses or people with starter jobs, people who don't have to work for a living, who work because they enjoy the thing that they do, not because they're trying to make money off of it.
I think these things are lost on the margins, and there's going to be lots of unintended consequences from this.
Hibbs is a leftist mugged by reality who thinks there should be exceptions carved out for just for him, while the other guys, those greedy multinational corporations, bear the burden.
Let me buy you a clue, Mr. Hibbs. The left doesn't genuinely care, long-term, about carving out any kind of exception for small businesses, people with starter jobs, or people who don't have to work. One leftist who has been open in her opinion that small businesses should get no breaks happens to currently be in charge of the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Erica Groshen’s left-wing ties include her 1998 co-authorship of an article urging an end to small businesses’ exemption from expensive federal regulations ...
... Groshen co-authored her 1998 article, in which she argued against regulatory exemptions for small firms, for the union-backed Economic Policy Institute.
... “Large firms are doing well by employees, and themselves, by providing jobs with higher wages and benefits and greater job security,” read the article. “[P]ublic policy, rather than favoring small business by exempting it from many forms of regulation, should strive to be size neutral.”
The article was titled “Small consolation: The dubious benefits of small business for job growth and wages.”
The reason the left exempts small businesses usually has nothing to do with the valid consideration for their concerns. Instead, as explained above, it's about virtue-signaling. What small-business exemptions really do is cause many small businesses to stay small — even ones which might otherwise grow and expand the economy — so they won't get tangled up in the regulations which burden the larger ones.
The final small businessperson in the video, Rick Karp, owns Cole Hardware. Five of his six stores are in San Francisco, while the sixth is in Oakland:
RICK KARP: We've always tried to pay our staff above minimum wage, and hope to continue doing that as we go through the future. But I think it's, it's so difficult, especially in San Francisco, to live off anything less.
But can we raise prices? The answer is no. Amazon is all over San Francisco with same-day delivery, and they don't have the wage base that we have to. It's an anti-competitive environment, and I think that if it happens statewide, then it will level the playing field and help independent retailers.
So as many people are legitimately afraid of $15 an hour — I am too, frankly, because our bottom line is real thin — but I hope that we'll be able to innovate to keep our business thriving.
One certainly wishes Mr. Karp well, but the other people who can better handle $15 an hour include the big-box hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe's, which typically have higher sales per employee. Additionally, Amazon may decide to serve more of their California customers with next-day and later delivery requests out of locations in Nevada or other nearby states.
Note that AP didn't venture out to lower-cost areas of the state which will be far more adversely impacted by the 50 percent hike in the state's minimum wage over the next six years — but the headline for their video pretends that the wire service did.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.