Monday, March 3, 2014

Amherst To Set Domestic Policy?

Current Minimum Wage in Massachusetts is $8/hour, Federal rate is $7.25

Tracy Kidder once famously said of Amherst that we are the only town "to have its own foreign policy."  Well on March 19 Amherst Town Meeting could set a domestic policy not normally within the purview of local town government by passing an ordinance requiring a $15/hour minimum wage anywhere within the confines of our 27.8 square miles, surrounded by reality.

Since 200 registered voters signed the petition the Amherst Select Board had no choice but to call the Special Town Meeting, although SB Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe called it "very unusual."

The idea is the brainchild of UMass Grad Student Matthew E. Cunningham-Cook.  Originally he was going to run for Select Board in the 3/25 election but became preoccupied with collecting signatures for this Special Town Meeting.

Although it does sort of fall within his educational field of study at the UMass Labor Center.

Spring is a very busy time with the town election on March 25 and the annual Town Meeting starting April 28.   Some of the Select Board members wondered if this March 19 Special Town Meeting would get a quorum -- especially since it's only for one issue.

Without a quorum the article is defeated, as there would be no "do over."

Amherst small business owners would breathe a sigh of relief, as laying off workers can be stressful.  Although small business owners in neighboring towns would perhaps be disappointed. 


18 comments:

Anonymous said...

guess this student is not an economics major.....lower the lowest wage earners to 15/hr...for some probably a 30% increase in wages...those making 15 an hour would want a raise probably bringing them 18 to 20 an hour...a couple of things things this gentleman does not realize most university employees are unionized and locked into contracts....most small businesses could not afford this as they would have to pass their increased labor costs to consumers...coffee at raos would have to be significantly increased....hastings would have to raise prices..i would have to assume that restaurant workers are exempt because of the way they are paid....and since he is proposing only for the town of amherst...then people would go elsewhere for their goods and services.....take example den's the gas station that provides full service..a gas pumper making 15/hr ...ridiculous....could go on and on about the negative effects..he should have talked with his econ professor first...
i know one person who is not going to this town meeting...so i hope it is defeated by lack of attendance.....

Anonymous said...

Try and enforce it. Stick to fixing potholes, and true town related issues. Fuckin' Liberals.

Tom Porter said...

His heart is obviously in the right place. And who can blame him for offering the idea - after all, it isn't a crazy original hallucination, rather a parroting of the White House line that is being crammed down on governors nationwide, right now. The only flaws with the concept are:

** No one currently paid above $15/hour will be affected positively; in fact their future raises are now on hold,
** Those below $15/hour would see hourly rate increases perhaps offset by scheduling reductions,
** Higher-cost labor will cause goods and services vended in Amherst to be repriced higher, driving customers out of town and driving shopkeepers out of business,

The usual complications that arise when bystanders know better than the stakeholder footing the bill, how to value the labor of their employees.

Aside from these issues, it's a really solid idea.

Anonymous said...

Minimum wage at $31,200 annually? You're kidding right? Today's younger generation needs to stop thinking they are entitled to more pay.

If you work hard, and do MORE than is expected of you, and make your employer feel like they can't lose you, then guess what happens?

You get a raise, you get promoted. Earn your keep Millenials. Stop looking for a handout.

Everyone is looking for work; but nobody wants to WORK!

Anonymous said...

This is just like someone in a Labor Union complaining about their pay and benefits; when they have absolutely no clue that the rest of the world is paid less than them and has worse benefits.

My guess is that this is a young kid, who has probably never worked a day in his life, who probably thinks he should make $70k plus as soon as he's done his Graduate Degree.

Anonymous said...

....and how does a town full of thrifty cheap-skates think this absurd increase will be funded? By reduced business hours, reduced service from businesses, and higher prices. But that's OK because those same people will then turn to state or federal aid of some sort to reduce the overall cost to them. Awful little town, why would anyone live there?!

Dr. Ed said...

I actually support this -- as a solution to other problems which the government has created.

First, it simply must be more profitable to work than not -- and that is not true today. When you can "make" more money living on public assistance (which you can) there is no economic incentive to actually work.

Making work profitable is a prerequisite for making people want to do it. A $32K annual salary for minimum wage looks quite different when one realizes the $60K purchasing power of the public assistance recipient.

Second, it really isn't fair to penalize someone (and her family) for making the socially responsible choice to get herself off public assistance. There is a big difference between gross and net income -- FICA in particular -- and her public assistance is reduced on the basis of her gross pay while she only receives the net.

Third, raising the minimum wage offsets other governmental interference in the economy, notably the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs. Amherst is particularly noxious in terms of this sort of thing, and absent removing that interference with the free market, raising the cost of labor is a way of balancing things out.

If you want to argue "free market" fine -- I won't disagree -- but that means truly a "free market" where the government isn't already interfering with the labor market.

Anonymous said...

Why work? Make nothing and you get free insurance, free prescriptions, free cell phone, free hospitalization, an EBT card to buy lottery tickets and liquor with, and free or drastically reduced housing. Screw working we have everyone else in this country to pay our way.

Anonymous said...

This kid is a classic uninformed and ignorant to economic realities. Those who use the term "minimum wage" assume that there is some enduring class of Americans who are poor in some meaningful sense, and that there is something compassionate about reducing their chances of getting a job.
The truth is most Americans living below the government-set poverty line have a washer and/or a dryer, as well as a computer and high speed internet. More than 80 % have air conditioning. More than 80% also have both a landline and a cell phone. Nearly all have television and a refrigerator. Most Americans living below the official poverty line also own a car and have more living space than the average European. I don't mean poor Europeans in poverty, I mean the average European.
Why then do the liberals like to call them the "poor"? Because government bureaucrats create the official definition of poverty, and they do so in ways that provide a political rationale for the welfare state - and, not incidentally, for the bureaucrats' own jobs.
Most people in the lower income brackets are not an enduring class. Most working people in the bottom 20% in income at a given time do not stay there over time. More of them end up in the top 20% than remain behind in the bottom 20%.
There is nothing mysterious about the fact that most people start off in entry level jobs that pay much less than they will earn after they get some work experience. But what this kid has no concept of is when minimum wage levels are set without regard to initial productivity, young people are disproportionately unemployed and priced out of jobs.
For example, in European welfare states where minimum wages, and mandated job benefits to be paid for by employers, are more generous than in the United States, unemployment rates for younger workers are often 20 percent or higher, even when there is no recession. He might have considered a few classes in economics.

He must be studying political science and believes any notion he hears about on Facebook 'like' pages. Sounds like he ought to apply for a job at Team Maria's administration. I'm sure they are in need of more qualified administrators.

Anonymous said...

Will this include all university and Amherst College employees?

Anonymous said...

I would love to know where Anon 12:35 gets their information. How many poor people do you know? Just because you say that poor people have all these things does not make it so. Just because you think poor people have all these things does not make it so.
I would like to see you live on $14,000 a year...be able to pay for rent, groceries, clothes, heat, medical care, maybe child care, maybe gas to go to work if you are lucky enough to own a car. $14,000 works out to $1,200 a month. It's really not much. Could you live on that Anon 12:35? No? Then shut up.

Anonymous said...

Could I live on it? Sure and I have. Have you been there or do you just talk out of your ass like most liberal idiots. The difference was I had enough drive to get myself to the other side like most people who fall into poverty do. But not the lifers who live off your liberal sympathy and don't need to move on up like the Jeffersons because being poor guarantees them all the state and federal subsidies that allow them to have cable, a washing machine, free healthcare, free medications, a free cell phone, a cash card loaded for free every week and all the other things that keep the poor in a place that they like, being taken care of. Who needs a job, the liberal lefties of Amherst will take care of me. The problem isn't the poor it's the educated idiot lefties who think it's okay to subsidize everyone who doesn't want to work. You moron.

Anonymous said...

The only way minimum wage should be increased is in stages, say $1 increase a year until it reaches $14 or so. It gives the economy time to adjust without lots of low paid workers losing their jobs. I don't see why having a lower wages for those in High School should be an issue but anything less than $10 an hour is just to low. For those over 40 consider what minimum wage was when you where 16 and what you could buy with that. Compare today's prices. Minimum wage has fallen way behind. Like it or not.

As for Amherst having $15 an hour and no one else. Just a disaster for small businesses. Most of them hang by a thread. It would be more kinds to burn their business down than pass this article.

Anonymous said...

Would passage of this mean that tipping would no longer be expected in Amherst restaurants?

Anonymous said...

I can tell you never tip anyways.

Anonymous said...

Nice , Anon 429. Way to show your intelligence. You sound like a true Tea Partier to me.

Anonymous said...

Sure, that's a typical liberal response when they have no experience with something, they call everyone a Tea Partier. Anyone that doesn't fit into the socialist agenda must be a Tea Partier. Fucking joke.

And like most of the idiots who nothing about economics you base your argument on how much someone "needs" in order to have "a living wage", or on some other ridiculous criterion that pays little or no attention to the worker's skill level, experience or general productivity. So it is hardly surprising that doing any thing as stupid as what is presented in Amherst if done on a large scale would price many a young worker out of a job.

Want productivity and a positive outcome for your business, then pay kids more because you want to see your business thrive and have a plan to do so that involves successful employees. Don't rely on the government to come up with some arbitrary number and merely subtract from your profit margin. Hire kids that have a positive attitude. Screen them so you get educated kids working for you. Pay them $10.50 to start and offer them training and watch your business take off. One such privately owned franchise that does just that is In N Out burger. They have low turnover, very positive employees, and long long lines at every store. It's not the single reason for their success but a big part of it. Did they need minimum wage? No they just needed to realize that you get what you pay for and not what you are forced to pay regardless of skill, aptitude or desire to grow. That's why countries that have no minimum wage have very low unemployment.

It's what made this country great at one time when people wanted to earn a living and weren't coddled, or took a government gravy train because it was easier than actually making a living. Minimum wage only keeps people poor and offers them no future.

Of course none of this successful formula works for Amherst because business in Amherst is like water to fire when it comes to business.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:12

I am not a fan of the liberal hand out. I started with little, worked hard and became successful. I had help along the way, Pell grants, student loans, etc. Not everyone is as capable as I was. The opportunities that existed 20 years ago are drying up fast.

I would recommend reading about the conditions in the Mills of people like Rockefeller and Carnegie before making bold statements like countries without a minimum wage have low unemployment. What are the lives like for those people. Most companies will push to pay the least. Those leaders at the companies got rich off paying low wages and having unsafe working conditions.

Ford took a different approach by doubling the wage he paid people. He knew that he needed his workers to be able to afford his products to succeed. That is what the minimum wage is all about.

I would argue that when gap between the rich and poor grows it is not because the poor just keep getting lazier.

This income gap is already a concern to the rich. A few months ago there was a meeting of many rich executives to talk about the income gap. They are smart enough to know that if you suppress workers for to long there will be a tipping point.