In the business world, the time honored way to break in and then get ahead is to underprice your competition and steal their business. Your first instinct might be, you'll make more money by charging more. Eventually, when you're on top, maybe you will. But if you're starting out and don't have much of a track record, you need a way to get a foot in the door, and then you build from there. The Waltons started out underpricing everybody else and rode it all the way to being billionaires. They sell stuff rather than labor, but the principle isn't really any different when you've got nothing to sell but your time. Lord knows that here in the law business, which is all about selling time, lots of cheaper guys are trying to steal our business every day. And some of them succeed. It would be great if we could come up with a way to stop that, but actually it's illegal even to discuss with our competitors how to keep the prices up.
So everybody gets to try to steal the other guy's business by selling cheaper. Well, almost everybody. The big exception is the group that most needs the right to underprice in order to get started, namely minority youth. And thus we have the bizarre phenomenon of those posing as the champions of the underprivileged, namely the "progressives," in fact conducting a war against minority youth by taking away the single most important thing they have going for them to try to get started and get ahead in life, namely the ability to underprice the competition in order to crack into the working world.
Our new mayor, de Blasio, has long had minimum wage increases as a centerpiece of his agenda. Hard to say he's corrupt, as opposed to just clueless. He actually thinks that the government has the power to order businesses to pay workers any and all arbitrary amounts, and it will thus be so, without any adverse consequences. The other players in the minimum wage game are far, far more cynical. The latest maneuvering played out at the New York convention over the past weekend of something called the Working Families Party. The WFP is not a real political party, but rather a creature created by and operated for the benefit of labor unions in the government and government-funded sectors, the biggest being education workers (UFT) and healthcare workers (SEIU). Turns out that the WFP has a valuable "ballot line" to bargain with in the upcoming November gubernatorial election, which may be more competitive than some had thought previously. Would they nominate someone to draw votes away on the left from Democratic nominee Cuomo?
These WFP people absolutely have as their number one interest keeping out the lower priced competition. (I'm not sure de Blasio is savvy enough to realize that.) And, to no surprise, the news coming out of the weekend convention of the WFP is that Cuomo essentially bought its endorsement by promising to support legislation to allow New York City to increase its minimum wage to $13. That's no small increase from the current $8.
Meanwhile, this report from 2013 puts the 18 - 29 year old African American unemployment rate at 20%, and Hispanic rate for the same age group at 12.6%. I would have said that the excess that those rates reflect above the unemployment for everyone else is substantially caused by the minimum wage. Well we're about to get a pretty good experiment to see who's right about that. New York will raise its minimum to $13; Seattle is going to $15. Will minority youth unemployment spike in these jurisdictions? My money says it will.
And now, the more we learn about the new teachers' contract, the more we find out that at every decision point its goal is to protect the worst teachers at the expense of the vulnerable kids. My personal favorite is that somehow the City agreed to replace independent teacher validators with "peer validators" jointly appointed by the union and the City. Can there be any doubt that the goal of the union is to protect the job of every last teacher? Then there are the new so-called PROSE schools, which the mayor brags about as encouraging innovation. Here's what Jenny Sedlis of StudentsFirstNY has to say about them in a May 8 op-ed in the Post:
PROSE schools aren’t free from the most restrictive parts of the union contract: They can’t make changes to how they attract and retain teachers through compensation, they can’t adjust class size to adapt to new models or to afford added teachers in other subjects, they can’t exit low-performing teachers and they can’t keep their highest performers if they need to reduce positions.
Mayor de Blasio, the WFP, et al. of the "progressive" ilk, pose as the protectors of the minority kids while they are really conducting a war against them. Can a few people please catch on?