If you’ve ever wondered how the United States got in to its current mess of a stagnant economy and out-of-control government, I have a suggestion. Take a good look at what a handful of voters in one of America’s finer suburbs did to themselves and the rest of their community, and realize that it is a microcosm for what’s happening all across the country.
The city in question is Seatac, a small suburb in the state of Washington (it’s name is derived from the larger neighboring cities of Seattle and Tacoma). Last year a group of activists there were frustrated with the preponderance of low paying entry-level service industry jobs, so they did what seemed only logical: they collected enough signatures on petitions to launch a ballot initiative that, if passed, would require a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.
The city was soon flooded with cute campaign signs. Featuring the silhouetted image of a young child tossing a toy glider in to the air as the glider pointed upwards, the slogan read, “vote ‘YES’ for proposition 1 and watch our economy take off!”
Unionized workers at the Seattle Tacoma (frequently abbreviated “SEA-TAC”) International Airport and at nearby hotels and restaurants took to the streets urging passage of the initiative. And while the margin of victory was so slim that the election results weren’t certified until three weeks after Election Day, on November 26th proposition 1 was declared the law of land.
The Huffington Post called it “historic.” CNN Money said business owners had been “stung.” The true believers in big government declared it a harbinger of things to come, and celebrated the new wealth that would be theirs once the new wage requirement took hold on January 1 of 2014.
But then suddenly the rule of law got in the way of the liberal progressive agenda. A court challenge quickly ensued and a county judge determined that, for a couple of very good reasons, the new minimum wage requirement wouldn’t apply to many of the workers who had campaigned for it.
For one, the employees at SEA-TAC airport wouldn’t see a wage increase because SEA-TAC airport is owned and operated by the city of Seattle. While the city of Seatac is adjacent to Seattle – and the name of the city of “Seatac” and the abbreviated name of the “SEA-TAC” airport are pronounced the same, the laws of the city of Seatac don’t have jurisdiction in the city of Seattle – so the passage of proposition 1 had no impact on the wages paid to Seattle city employees.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.