Monday, November 22, 2010

Minimum Intelligence

The NY Post is now waging war against a living wage in NYC wielding non sequitors as weapons. In Saturday's paper, the Post unearthed an economist to deconstruct arguments for increasing the minimum wage-and somehow this academic exercise got conflated with the living wage proposal: "There is broad agreement among economists that raising the minimum wage forces businesses to cut jobs and roll back the hours of their low-skilled workforce. Only a handful of studies suggest otherwise -- but politicians and activists who support a "living wage" mandate in New York City are sure to promote such research as the final word in the debate."

Help us out here. We know that academics have often been accused of having their heads up their asses, but for the life of us, we can't figure out what Michael Saltsman-or the Post for that matter-is talking about. Whatever one feels about the utility of the raising of the minimum wage, in our view, the arguments pro and con on the subject are irrelevant to the underlying rationale for a living wage for retail workers in projects that have been heavily subsidized by tax dollars.

Saltsman goes on to refute some new research that claims to bolster advocates of raising the minimum wage-but what this has to do with the Post's headline, "The Living Wage Lie," is any one's guess. Maybe the editors thought that no one would actually read the piece and they could get by disinforming with a header. If the Post wanted to instruct us on this subject, it should have provided a better introductory headline.

But there is another important point that needs to be re-emphasized from an earlier post we did. In the absence of a truly independent economic impact study of EDC's lavishly tax supported mega-development deals, it is impossible for the agency, the mayor, and all of his real estate classmates to say that paying workers a living wage in these projects will hurt economic development. They can't because they are currently unable to show that their efforts are actually generated new jobs, and not simply cannibalizing existing jobs and damaging local entrepreneurism.

Until EDC and the mayor agree to create a methodology that analyzes their economic development projects in an objective manner, all of their attacks on living wage have no real basis in reality-or any reality that transcends their solipsistic, one lies, and the other swears to it, world.