Hamil with Care

Unintended Consequences of the Minimum Wage Increase

When the Seattle City Council passed its historic minimum wage increase in 2014, the news was met with jubilation among the most subversive sectors of our society. As the city experienced unprecedented economic success, and wave after wave of studies affirmed the positive impacts of the law, the future of the Emerald City looked bleak.

Thankfully, a series of studies are emerging, to point out the dark clouds obscuring the silver linings of job growth, regional prosperity and declines in unemployment. I now present to you a sampling of this cutting-edge research.

Raccoon Maimings Up 100 percent in 2017
Dale Kopec enjoyed a placid life in his charming craftsman home in Madison Valley, where he rented out the unheated crawlspace under his back porch to a Seattle Central Community College student named Ethan. After the wage increase took effect, Ethan was able to scrape together enough money to split a studio apartment in Othello with three of his friends.

In this bewildering new economic climate, Kopec found himself unable to rent out the dark, dirt-floored nook that once paid for his timeshare in Chelan. He finally gave up and decided to use the now-vacant rental property for its previous purpose: storing gardening supplies. One afternoon, while loading bags of mulch into the crawlspace, Kopec was attacked by an aggressive raccoon, painfully disfiguring the tip of his nose and requiring outpatient treatment, and adding one more data point debunking misguided leftist policies.

Decrease in the Cost of Infinity Pools
Opponents of the minimum wage increase are transparent in a way that their ideological opponents are not, so it’s no surprise they’d be forthcoming about one of the very few benefits of this pernicious law. After all, even a stopped clock is right once a day.

In this case, the increase has triggered an inadvertent benefit to consumers. The city’s most successful restaurateurs work hard and therefore earn the right to play hard, too. However, the grievous damage done to their bottom lines has left Seattle’s celebrity chefs with less capital to invest in the “big boy toys” that allow them to relax after a stressful day. This has led directly to a decline in the purchase of infinity pools in the Seattle metro area. However, thanks to the inviolable laws of supply and demand, the pool builder’s loss is your gain! You can now enjoy the beguiling allure and soothing luxury of an infinity pool, at prices five percent lower than last year. Jump right in!

Caviar Doesn’t Taste As Good
Not every ill effect of the minimum wage increase is economic. What about the unquantifiable damage done to those things that enhance our lives in ineffable ways?  A recent survey by the Luxury Market Research Group revealed that a shocking 73 percent of Seattleites in the top five percent income bracket report that caviar tastes “not as good” as it used to. When the results are limited to just the top three percent, the results are even more disturbing: over half of respondents report that caviar tastes “noticeably worse” to them now. 

While extrapolating objective data from such a survey is more art than science, the findings suggest that increased wages among low-skilled workers cause higher-income earners to derive significantly less pleasure from life’s little indulgences. When the $15 minimum wage is fully phased in by 2021, every worker in Seattle will be able to buy an ounce of caviar for the equivalent of just five hours of labor. For some of Seattle’s wealthiest and most productive citizens, those numbers just don’t add up.

Pool photo by David Shankbone, caviar photo by THOR, raccoon photo by Darkone.