Regional Minimum Wage Plan Gains Support, Could Include Controversial Exemptions

Juan Salcedo spends more than third of his life at Jack in the Box or Wal-Mart. Thirty hours a week goes to the fast-food franchise, where he makes a minimum wage of $10.30 an hour, and another 30 hours is spent working the night shift at America’s biggest department store chain, where he takes in $11.50 per hour. “It’s not because I like working two jobs,” he says.

With these earnings, Salcedo, 60, can’t afford an apartment, so he rents a garage behind a house in San Jose, where he lives with his disabled sister. “There’s a lot of weight on my back,” he says, adding that he can’t afford the proper medicine to treat his diabetes.

Like many living on the fringes of Silicon Valley, where housing costs have ballooned by as much as 54 percent in the last five years, Salcedo remains jammed in working-class poverty. He desperately needs a pay bump, he says, which is why he and 40,000 other minimum wage workers are holding out hope for a new regional plan to boost Silicon Valley’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The proposed pay hike would cover cities from Palo Alto to Gilroy and give Salcedo an extra $35 per day, which isn’t much, but enough that he could find better housing, save for a new car and doctor’s appointments, and afford a healthier diet. “With $15 an hour, I would not feel like I’m drowning,” Salcedo says. “I could probably afford a much better life. I could have my own apartment and not be stuck in a garage.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced the plan in September, and so far workers, nonprofit leaders and the business community have praised it. But one point in the plan has generated anxiety that a segment of minimum wage workers will be left behind.

In his Aug. 13 memo calling on San Jose to study the economic impact of a $15 pay floor, Liccardo also requested an assessment of “a lower ‘training wage’ for youth under the age of 18,” as well as exemptions for employers that hire “hard-to-employ” categories that include people who are homeless, on parole and emancipated foster youth.

Scott Myers-Lipton, a San Jose State University professor and lead organizer for San Jose’s successful 2012 minimum wage effort, said he’s troubled by the discussion of exemptions.

“Why penalize those marginalized groups?” he says. “Why have a sub-minimum wage?

“This is like a Round Two battle of the minimum wage in San Jose. Let’s not go backwards. The people of San Jose voted 60 percent not to have exemptions [in 2012]. So why are we considering it now, when it didn’t have the negative impact people said it was going to have in the first place?”

Liccardo was one of those people who opposed the 2012 ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage from $8 to $10, in part because it didn’t take a regional approach. “We were afforded the opportunity to say yes or no, take it or leave it,” Liccardo says. “That’s not a very good place for a policymaker to be in.” He defends the study of an exemption provision by suggesting a flat minimum could keep people out of the workforce.

“By increasing the minimum wage by 50 percent,” Liccardo poses, “are you simply precluding them from getting their foot in the door?”

Sparky Harlan, CEO of the Bill Wilson Center, which provides services to families and youth in Santa Clara County, says her group also has “concerns” about the exemptions, particularly those that would affect teen workers.

“A lot of these kids are breadwinners for their families,” Harlan says. “They may be 17 years of age, but their money is used to pay rent for their family’s housing, so to put them at a lower wage doesn’t make sense.”

And then there’s a question of why foster youth should be penalized in pay for situations beyond their control.

“It’s definitely not the old picture where the kid went to work to earn some extra money to go to the movies on the weekend,” Harlan adds.

Chris Richardson, Silicon Valley regional director of Downtown Streets Team, which prepares and places homeless people in jobs, argues that the rationale for exemptions doesn’t fit reality. When San Jose’s minimum wage jumped to $10 per hour, it didn’t become harder to find employment for the homeless—instead, job placement increased.

“In San Jose we’ve been placing more and more people in employment every year despite the minimum wage,” Richardson says.

As for parolees, Richardson points out, there are already financial incentives for employers—a $2,500 tax credit.

Exemptions could even cause problems for small businesses, according to Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association. “It’s primarily small business owners that have to enact a lot of these rules,” he says, “and if it becomes too burdensome or complicated, it really comes back on the employer’s shoulders.”

There are, however, those who support a conversation about exemptions. John Hogan, CEO of the nonprofit Teen Force, says that exemptions could work in specific situations. In the context of training, Hogan suggests exemptions could help youth avoid being priced out of the labor market.

“There needs to be a time limit on it,” he says, “and the people in those programs need to be getting additional benefits from the program besides the wage—specific skills training, transportation support, child care, housing.”

Hogan acknowledges that he’s been wrong on the minimum wage in the past. In 2012, he opposed Measure D because it lacked a regional approach. “I will say that I was wrong, because when San Jose moved, it actually caused all these other cities to move,” he says. “Even though it’s created some administrative hassle, the benefits have outweighed all that.”

While the exemptions are still up for debate, the regional approach itself has been commended as a good economic and political strategy for Mayor Liccardo. While Bay Area cities such as San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville have all increased wages independently in the past year, Liccardo convinced the mayors of Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Palo Alto and Santa Clara to support the proposal.

“Most of our residents don’t pay a lot of attention to where the city limits are, and to ensure that there’s equity for workers and predictability for employers, it makes sense for us to raise the wage regionally rather than continue this pattern of patchwork labor regulations,” Liccardo says.

San Jose State’s Myers-Lipton agrees with the regional approach, but he firmly believes the expansion should be for everyone. “Let’s bring more people into having a better standard of living,” he says. “I’m supportive of the regional approach, but let’s lift up everybody and not have wages for various groups.”

Salcedo knows he and many others could be just an illness or injury away from finding themselves homeless, and potentially in an exempted class, which is why he agrees that a minimum wage should not only be regional, but all-inclusive.

“I’m 60 years old and I’m working 60 hours a week just to make ends meet,” he says. “If it’s possible, I would want the minimum wage raise to $15 today, right now. It’s what I need, and what everyone in the state of California needs—not just me.”

47 Comments

  1. This is Opinion, not News. And sloppy too. Ms. Kandil should stick with subject matter consistent with her previous tomes such as “How Will Jessica Simpson Lose the Baby Weight”, “Popular Kids’ Drinks to Avoid”, and “5 Non-Dairy Food With Calcium”.

    Ms. Kandil fails to consult *any* economists about the predictable consequences of hiking the minimum wage. Instead, she relies on a few quotes from the economically-challenged that support her thesis.

    Do critical thinking Metro readers a favor, Ms. Kandil, and limit your opinion pieces to Cosmo.

  2. Dear Ms. Kandil,

    Here’s a 4th grade (simple) math problem for you:

    Mr. Doe owns a restaurant in San Jose that employs 15 workers, and pays them SJ minimum wage of $10.30 per hour.

    If they all work normal hours, it takes $8,652 per week to pay them all.

    If the minimum wage were raised to $15 that weekly cost of $8,652 would rise to $12,600.

    What do you think Mr. Doe will do to come up with an extra $4,000 per week?

    Your answer can be as creative as you wish and I simply can’t wait to hear it.

  3. > It’s what I need, and what everyone in the state of California needs.

    This, pure and simple, is the tribalist forager ethos.

    10,000 years ago, Salcedo would forage in the forest and say to himself, “I need an elk. everyone in the tribe needs an elk.”

    What would he do if he didn’t find an elk? Have the forest government pass a minimum elk law?

  4. I have spoken at various City meetings and to politicians about the minimum wage. While I do not object to paying people more, the notion of just assuming everyone pays the minimum wage is disturbing.

    A minimum wage is just that…a minimum. If you are paying your top workers minimum wage, your business has no right to retain those employees. That being said, there are certain jobs that, no matter how diligent people are or how good they are, there is not additional value based on work performance.

    If the minimum wage is not done at a regional level, you are not helping anyone. Cities are across the street from each other and living and working here is the same whether you work on the north side of Stevens Creek or the south side. I support raising the minimum wage for all cities in the region.

    Further, I think we should pay as much as we can to our service workers, because let’s face it, that is what this discussion is all about….the retail community. We are the folks that get your coffee, make your pizza, get the electronics off the shelf, and make living in this great area….great. We should be taking care of our workforce. Why are we stopping at $15/hr? Last I saw, there were people crying in the news about the unfortunate tech employees making $100K/yr and not being able to find a place to live. Sorry to be blunt, but boo hoo. What about the service industry worker that makes $15K-30K/yr? $15/hr = $31K/yr…that’s full time. But of course service industry workers are not expected to only work 40hrs/week. They should work 50-60hrs per week. So, let’s just say they work 55hrs/wk (split the difference). That brings the total (with overtime…when employers pay that) is more like $48K/yr. So, working 55hrs/wk, not taking any time off (because that means they will not get paid), they are making literally HALF of what the tech worker makes and can’t afford to live here.

    So, are we trying to make it so people can actually live here or just so they can get by and upgrade their garage living to a small room? Can the service industry afford to pay its employees $50/hr? No…well, yes it can, but you will be paying $7 for a slice of cheese pizza, maybe more. But, getting back to the real question, what should the minimum wage be? Is it supposed to be a living wage? If the minimum wage goes up, consumers should not only expect price increases, they should welcome them. Because an increased cost of an item will mean that the worker they are being serviced by is making more….and we should all support that. I look forward to raising our prices so I can pay our crew more. I hope that the community that is the overwhelming majority of the minimum wage increase is also that excited when they actually have to pay more for their products and services.

    I would like to make one request when considering all of the minimum wage requirements. I have thought a lot about what the minimum wage increase would do to our business. I do not believe it would reduce any jobs or negatively affect our ability to hire. The issue is more along the lines of who I would hire. Would I be as willing to hire the 17 year old that has no work experience of any kind? Maybe not. Would I not hire for a position? No, but it would change the level of risk I might have when hiring someone….or the tolerance I have for a new worker not fitting in right away.

    My suggestion is to allow for a three month entry level (trial) wage. This entry level wage would allow businesses to reduce their risk in bringing on someone with no experience with that business and allowing the business to pay that person less until they have proven their fit. Three months seems like a fair time to judge a person’s capabilities for learning and productivity. This time frame is used to hold any distribution of benefits, including sick time that the new Sick Leave Law mandates. The reduction in salary for these three months could be up to 20%. So, when the minimum wage reaches $15, the employer has the legal right to pay that person $12/hr for up to three months or 520 hours worked (the equivalent of three months of full time employment). That way, if they work more than 40 hours per week, they can squeeze that timeframe down. Again, these are minimums, and the employer can choose to pay more at anytime if they feel the employee is working out. This brings a bit of reward and acknowledgement to a worker that they are doing well….always a good thing.

    I can already hear people objecting, saying that employers will hire people for three months at a time and fire them. I am sure that will happen, just as often as people pay employees cash off the books to save payroll taxes, workers compensation fees, and unemployment insurance fees. Let’s not build laws for the corner cases. If businesses are that crappy that they will exploit workers that way, then we as consumers will find out and boycott them. Why would you want to support a business that treats their employees like crap? Let’s look at laws that can take care of the workers, but also allows for businesses to not assume all the risk of a new, unknown talent coming in the workforce. Our business has hired over a dozen “never worked anywhere” people in the past nine years, and some took a lot of work, a lot. If they started at $15/hr, would I have invested the time and energy in them and rode it out even three months (in some cases six)? Not sure, and I bet I am more forgiving as an employer than most. We are training people. We are providing the soft skills that people need to survive. We want to make sure every customer walking through our door leaves with a smile…and that depends on the quality of the work force.

    I want to pay our guys $20/hr or more. But I need to know I can count on the community that puts money in our business. The consumers are the ones that need to support this, not just at the ballot box, but with their wallets. Please support your local businesses when they are forced to increase prices to cover the increase in labor costs. We don’t want to reduce our labor force, we want to pay them more. Supporting us is how we can do it. Thank you.

    • This “crisis” is brought to you by Union-bashing politicians and corporations. The declining numbers of Union members across the US contributes to lower wages. If you want better pay, sick leave, benefits, and vacations… UNIONIZE!

      • Which is of course why California’s unionized manufacturing economy has fled overseas and to right-to-work states. And let’s not forget about Michigan or the Midwest rust belt. Or our booming non-union tech economy.

        Unions deserve credit for improving equitable treatment and safety. But that’s morphed into extortion – particularly in public sector and ports employment where compensation is considerably higher than in equivalent private sector jobs.
        More outsourcing of union jobs as a result of productivity failing to match wage hikes.

        By comparison, Germany’s unionized labor force and economy have thrived.

        • Germany’s union workforce is better paid, with better benefits than workers here, union and non-union. But hey, who is interested in reality here.

          • Data from 2012: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_average_wage

            US #4 in disposable income, Germany #12. The adaptability of the German model to the US has been studied to death – the key take-away is that it’s not portable. Would be nice if it were.

            Also relevant : German and other European manufacturers have opened factories in right-to-work states such as South Carolina and Alabama. Boeing too. And in California we have …? Toyota’s US HQ and design center is moving to Texas. Grateful for Tesla, but their Fremont employment (3,000) is below NUMI’s (4,700 employees when closed).

            Know many US manufacturing companies that have prospered since being unionized?

            The only ones I can think of are relatively small (under 200 employees) , family owned companies – usually with some intellectual property protection. Some specialty steel and machine parts companies come to mind.

            US unions have previously made significant contributions in a number of areas and would like to like them. But find few reasons today.

            A Calpers analysis published today says covered employees earn about 20% more than others. Just wish they were at lest 20% more productive.

    • > Can the service industry afford to pay its employees $50/hr? No…well, yes it can, but you will be paying $7 for a slice of cheese pizza, maybe more.

      Your misunderstanding of economics and business is staggering.

      Every single corporation that has chosen to locate in the County will move out to a County where they aren’t forced to pay their workers so much, meaning a reduction in jobs of epic proportions. Most restaurants operate at profits margins of 2 or 3%, so they will all be forced to raise their prices to such dramatic levels that people will cease eating at them. With the loss of jobs, it is impossible to argue that the increased spending power of people will keep these businesses afloat. Every small retail store will close down as people start ordering their products from Amazon.

      Heck, even if you could imagine some fantasy universe where this didn’t totally destroy the economy, do you really think it would cost only $7 for a slice of pizza? Try something like a minimum of $25.

      I know this is a single thought in a longer post you’ve presented, but I just had to stop reading when I got to this point, because I think it shows that you aren’t coming from a place of reality.

      • Thanks – agree. Businesses transform or leave markets when costs become economically impractical. Examples: self-service restaurants and delivery v. brick & mortar stores. Steep minimum wage hike? Fewer would get higher minimum wages and prices rise. Rinse, wash, repeat.

        Really want to help very low paid workers? Kick out all the temporary, mostly foreign, farm workers. Food prices would skyrocket as farms would need to compete in the larger labor market. Nearby low-income housing would help since they would’t be commuting.

        We could put jail inmates and homeless to better use by raising their own food and suppling food for the needy. Elmwood began as the County’s poor farm. It’s a concept worth revisiting for some of our able-bodied homeless or indigent population.

      • “CARTHAGUS”
        Sorry you think I am not in reality, but I actually am. The *reality* is we have a lot of people here now and a lot more on the way (arriving daily I might add, not all at once). And, believe it or not, these people need services to survive. If your solution is to relocate to other areas where things are less expensive, then might as well put another 100,000 cars on the road.

        I would really like to hear your “reality” solution for the service industry that needs to exist in the area. The independently owned businesses are also what makes the area livable. If you only want Starbucks, In-n-Out, Applebees, Jack-in-the-Box, etc. to be the only options, then Generica, here we come.

        Again, back to my original comment, to live here costs money, a lot of money. So, how do we enable local business to exist here? We need to pay people well and charge more than you want to pay. Who reading this feels differently about this? As a small business owner, I would like to know. I don’t want to raise prices, but there really is no other option. I won’t reduce quality and I am not cutting my work force (affecting quality).

        I am open to suggestions.

        • > As a small business owner, . . .

          > I am open to suggestions.

          Kirk:

          As a small business owner, recognize that you are along for the ride.

          The free market is self balancing. All things being equal, the best managed businesses survive, and poorly managed businesses become casualties.

          Nonetheless, you are up against powerful, venal, and stupid forces beyond your control. If some trust fund whack job gets the idea in his head that your business is bad for the planet, or bad for minorities, or bad for furbish louseworts or snail darters, you could be in for a world of grief not of your own making.

        • > people need services to survive

          What point are you trying to make? That the cost of labor is negligible because demand is infinite? That seems like an unusual argument, but I may be misunderstanding you because your rebuttal is somewhat incoherent.

          As far a my “solution” — I assume you mean a solution to the problem of people like Mr. Salcedo? How about education and training opportunities so that they can obtain the skills to work a job which pays a living wage? The minimum wage shouldn’t be intended as a living wage — it should be an entry-level wage ideally for people under age 25.

          By age 60 an individual should be able to develop some job skills to differentiate himself from a 16-year-old in the job market. It’s unfortunate that that hasn’t been the case for Mr. Salcedo, and I don’t blame him for that — I don’t know his full situation, and it may be that he was never provided the opportunities to develop job skills.

          However, I will posit this: even in a society where every individual has the opportunity to develop the job skills that will raise their wage-earning capacity, there will be some individuals who do not take advantage of those opportunities. Let’s call that breakage. You can’t lead a horse to water and you can’t guide every individual by the hand. As I mentioned in another comment on this article, only 2.5% of hourly-wage workers are minimum wage earners above the age of 25. Do you think that maybe — just maybe — that small percentage represents the breakage that you could expect from a society that provides full opportunity for job skill development?

  5. “In 2012, there were 3.6 million hourly paid workers in the United States with wages at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. These workers made up 4.7 percent of the 75.3 million workers age 16 and over who were paid at hourly rates… Minimum wage workers tend to be young. Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up about half of those paid the federal minimum wage or less.”
    – United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

    I wish the author would include facts like that in a report like this. It really frames the issue in a totally different context.

    • > I wish the author would include facts like that in a report like this. It really frames the issue in a totally different context.

      The author framed the issue in tribalist consumer terms. In the tribalist reality, money has only one purpose and that is consumption.

      Money equals consumption.

      More consumption for the tribe is good.

      Economic statistics, productivity, value of goods and services produced by labor, return on investment, etc. are all TOTALLY MEANINGLESS concepts.

      It’s all about consumption.

  6. To live here in the Bay area you need to make big bucks. Here is a bright idea. BUILD MORE HOUSES!!! Its basic supply and demand. I see a lot of vacant land build more houses. This guy is lucky to live in a garage. The rents are insane due to lack of housing. BUILD MORE HOUSES. Problem is the greedy people that own homes don’t want to see houses prices come down. They would rather complain why food and gas cost more.Higher wages equal higher prices…AGAIN BUILD MORE HOUSES.

    • Your assumption is that the new houses being built will be affordable rather than landlords trying to get the most they can out of would be buyers/renters.

      • Ella, sorry, but you don’t understand basic economics.

        Do you want to get the most money you can from an employer? Or from the government, if you’re on Social Security? Would you turn down a pay raise, if the reason was simply that workers are scarce?

        There is no difference whatever between those situations and someone who rents out a house.

        And “affordable” is a vague and meaningless emotion-based word. If two people cannot ‘afford’ to rent a 3-bedroom house, then get a third person. Now it’s affordable. See how it works?

        As ‘SJOutsidethebubble’ points out, you’re just engaging in tribalism: you versus the evil, demonic, greedy LANDLORD. But the truth is, you’re no different (and no, I’m not a landlord).

    • It’s not that simple, Jeff, otherwise what you’re asking for would be done in a heartbeat. More houses means extending sewer lines, hiring more police, building more schools. Where does the money for those things come from? Property taxes. And unless the housing you’re building is dense enough to resemble rabbit warrens, they won’t produce the property taxes to pay for the service demand they generate.

      • Actually Carthagus, sales tax pays for services. Housing is a loser for cities due to Prop 13, has been for decades. Unfortunately, the main reason San Jose is is such bad shape. Sure, denser housing will help for sure…and that is what is needed for us to scale.

        • SJ Revenue breakdown https://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/30129
          2014-15 Top Sources
          Property Tax: 23%
          Sales Tax: 19%
          Utility & Phone: 12%

          SJ considered raising sales tax by 1/2 cent to snare an additional estimated $65M. One the tax-payer groups made a convincing case that more than 2X that could be saved by cutting waste. Hiking sales tax would drive more big-ticket buyers to less expensive online and non-SJ retailers.

          Interesting that that two of the top revenue sources (almost 1/3rd of revenue) are regressive. Hurts the poor the most.

          Scant evidence that promised Measure B savings are making any tangible impact.

          • > 2014-15 Top Sources
            Property Tax: 23%
            Sales Tax: 19%
            Utility & Phone: 12%

            Interesting charts.

            I never realized that SJ’s revenue sources were such a hodge podge.

            If I were king, I would cut property taxes and sales tax,

            I would offset the revenue loss, by increasing the following revenues:

            + Money and Property
            + Local Agencies
            + State & Federal Government
            + Departmental Charges
            + Other Revenue
            + Transfers
            + Reimbursements for Services
            + Encumbrance Reserve
            + Fund Balance – Carryover

            I don’t know why this government budgeting is so hard. Seems simple enough to me.

          • Bigger impact and faster to achieve by cutting the expense side v. increasing or shifting revenue sources. Using ratio analysis when comparing against other cities and SJ’s past is helpful too.

            What I find staggering is why SJ allowed SF to become the epicenter of tech. High rents are now causing companies to look elsewhere – maybe there’s a chance to recapture it. Nice to have an influx of workers instead of residents as less demanding on infrastructure than new schools, roads, sewers, etc. necessitated by new housing developments.

          • > What I find staggering is why SJ allowed SF to become the epicenter of tech. High rents are now causing companies to look elsewhere – maybe there’s a chance to recapture it.

            The local political “leadership” seem to be very smug about the tech industry, and look at the proximity of Silicon Valley as an entitlement.

            Google and Apple HAVE to be here because WE are wonderful.

            “There is nothing so mobile as businesses and rich people”.

            They will go where they are loved and respected. They will NOT stay where they are looked at only as tax cows.

          • Yes, property tax absolutely goes to government services, but my understanding is, in general, these revenues do not cover the services needed to support the housing element. Maybe San Jose is different since it has so much housing that is actually does make up a significant percent of the revenue, but I believe in *most* cases, the property tax on a residence is a net loss for a city. As a very recent example, the SummerHill development over by Valley Fair on the former BAREC site built 110 new single family homes that sold from 900K-1.3M. It is my understand that even this new development will cost the city money. I don’t know if that is true…it seems like those home values are substantial and they might actually generate a net positive. Either way, it is not much. The lion share of many cities comes from commercial tax/sales tax.

  7. What all of these minimum wage discussions COMPLETELY MISS IS THAT THE LARGEST PROBLEM WE HAVE IS THE COST OF HOUSING–AND THAT’S BECAUSE WE DO NOT BUILD ENOUGH!!!! Increasing the minimum wage is a Band-Aid solution in so many ways. It doesn’t address problems such as: people whose skill sets are not in demand, etc. It also doesn’t address the fact that THE LOWEST PAID PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS BE OUTBID FOR HOUSING WHEN YOU DON’T BUILD ENOUGH!!!

    • Despite free housing, less than 50% of units were occupied for chronic homeless 18 months after SJ Housing’s program was launched.

      SJ is and has been a net exporter of jobs for the past 30 years – only 0.8 jobs per SJ worker. Would make more sense to build low-income housing in cheaper central valley or far South County than in SJ. SJ has an unprecedented housing building boom – new construction everywhere. Land for good paying semi-skilled jobs is rapidly declining as it’s replaced by housing.

      Why must SJ be the dumping ground for the County’s low-income residents?

      • Wow…the compassion just flows out of this little nugget of wisdom. Let’s send all of “those people” somewhere else. “The Valley?” Really? The “Valley” is incredibly depressed with more poverty, a slower economic recovery, and a higher unemployment rate than “this Valley”. The “South Valley” is primarily a bedroom community with most people travelling north for work just as many people in “the Valley” travel west to “this Valley” to work which of course contributes to the steady increase in housing costs “over there” and “down there” and “right here”. But what the heck, I guess “they” can use their increase in “still not a living wage” for transportation to and from their job here to their cardboard box there. Thanks for the lesson in “NIMBY” and “I got mine, screw everyone else” compassionate humanity. It stands as an object lesson to us all.

        • Cheaper land & construction costs = more housing for same dollars. Lower overall cost of living too. Senior public housing and assisted living residents don’t work. Housing for this population increases service related employment in economically depressed areas.

          Isn’t providing more for the needy compassion?

        • We need to “share the wealth” with other communities when it comes to taking care of homeless. There are over 300 homeless encampments in San Jose, with 80 shelters in D3 alone. Residents are scared, and moving out.

        • Several decades. New, multi-unit construction abounds. Proof-point: building permits. The SJ Business Journal is another source.

        • > Unprecedented housing boom?! Obviously you haven’t lived here long.

          Here’s an idea: why not forage for housing where there is an abundance of housing?

          It doesn’t seem to make sense for forage where there’s a shortage of housing? If your tribe doesn’t learn to follow the wildebeests and hunt where they are, your tribe will probably become extinct.

    • The raise in minimum wage would be incredibly helpful, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking it is a living wage, brcause it is definately not.

      • nor does it need to be for unskilled entry level employment. see Carthagus comment.

    • > It is not minimum wage but livable wage.

      If there are any politicians listening who actually intend to do something about a “livable wage”, I would like to live extremely well.

      No corner cutting, No off-brand stuff.

      Fairness requires only the premium stuff. The same stuff that Dianne Feinstein or Barbara Boxer would get.

  8. The forest needs to be bigger, there needs to be more elk, deer, and wild boar in the forest, and we need to do something about the other tribes hunting in the forest.

    • All the Elk and Deer are dead here. Every day our tribe has to travel further and further to hunt and forage. Unfortunately the path to the hunting grounds are extremely overcrowded. Up above we have a tribal shaman saying, “WE NEED MORE TEE-PEE’S” but in reality, there’s too many tee-pee’s and our trails are too narrow to the hunting grounds.

      I suppose it would be wise to create a “Council of wild Game” to live catch our hunt, and bring it down to where we live. I don’t think we can widen the path’s any further.

      • > I suppose it would be wise to create a “Council of wild Game” to live catch our hunt, and bring it down to where we live. I don’t think we can widen the path’s any further.

        You’re getting warm.

        We could create some dedicated specialized work parties (call them “businesses”), who would create some valuable stuff that people in other forests would like to have, like — oh say — technology and software. We could trade that stuff to the people in the other forests for elk, deer, and wild boar. And, instead of having them ship us a bunch of wild boar carcasses, we could give them a little bit extra technology and software, and ask them to cut up the boar carcasses and put the roasts, chops, and bacon into neat little packages, and just send us the packages.

        We wouldn’t have to provide housing and roads for all the people in the other forests. They could continue living in the other forests.

  9. Question: Why does Juan Salcido work for so low an hourly wage?

    If you answered “because the minimum wage is too low” you should be congratulated, for you managed to chose the only answer that can be proved wrong without knowing anything else about the man or his job. For if Juan’s pay is actually too low, then:

    A. Juan would not have accepted the job
    B. No one with Juan’s skill level would’ve accepted the job
    C. The job would’ve gone to someone with a lower skill level

    But Juan did accept the job, so we can rule out A.
    Juan has many coworkers who possess the same skills and are paid the same money, so we can rule out B.
    No one with a lower skill level exists, so rule out C.

    There certainly exists a dividing line between an hourly wage that Juan will reject and one he will accept, and if his current wage is on the acceptable side of that line, how can it be argued that his pay is too low? Juan took the job for the wage he is currently getting, and, equally important, his employer took Juan for the minimal job skills he offers.

    The only justification for paying Juan more for his work is if the supply of unskilled labor shrinks and Juan’s value to his employer increases. Conversely, the only justification for his employer to demand more work from Juan (a measure of skill or exertion) is to raise his wages. It’s a two-way street, one not designed for outsiders.

    Those truly dedicated to the plight of minimum wage workers should campaign to force the illegals to go home. That would shrink the labor supply, make Juan (who must be here legally, right?) a more valuable commodity, and lower the demand for, and rental rates, on slum apartments.

  10. In 1912, Massachusetts organized a commission to recommend non-compulsory minimum wages for women and children. Within eight years, at least thirteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia would pass minimum wage laws. The first attempt at establishing a national minimum wage came in 1933, when a $0.25 per hour standard was set as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act. However, in the 1935 court case Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (295 U.S. 495), the United States Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional, and the minimum wage was abolished. The minimum wage was re-established in the United States in 1938 (pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act), once again at $0.25 per hour ($4.23 in 2015 dollars).

    When wages go up, prices go up, leaving Juan no better off than he was before. Juan’s problem is his lack of the skills that would allow him to make more than the statutory minimum wage. It’s the same problem millions of Juans in this country have. Millions of Juans living in the US are doing so because as bad as some folks think it is here, it is way better here than it is in the places they left. You don’t see millions of people sneaking into Mexico. The day after I turned 16, I started working a full time summer job in a furniture mill. I had no skills, and got on the job training. I made $1.50/hour; $60.00/week gross, and I took home $48.00. The rest of the workers made more than I did, because they had skills. I knew very quickly that a career in furniture manufacturing was not for me. I studied harder, graduated high school the next year, and went off to college on two academic scholarships. It was the only way I could afford to go to college. I worked the next summer in the mill, at $1.75/hour because I had some skills. Another year later I obtained part-time office clerk jobs, at $4.50-$5.00/hour. More skills=more pay. There will always be people with few or marginal job skills. They will always be at the bottom of the wage scale. Is it the taxpayers’ job to pick up their slack? Some people say yes. I am not among them.

    • > When wages go up, prices go up, leaving Juan no better off than he was before.

      True. And not true.

      The point I have been harping on is that politics is an irreconcilable contention between two very different, incompatible logic systems.

      The capitalist-market logic system is a closed, fully constrained system. There is a linkage (called “price”) between supply and demand.

      The tribalist-forager logic system is open-ended and unconstrained. The forest is vast and there is an inexhaustible supply of elk, deer, and wild boar in the forest. “Money” is just like nuts and berries in the forest. The supply is inexhaustible.

      Some other tribe (capitalist employers) have hogged all of the nuts and berries for themselves, and the tribalist-forager logic is to organize a war-party and take the nuts and berries from the other tribe.

      No explanation of “supply and demand” and “price levels” is going to have any effect on the foragers.

      “Me hungry. You have berries”.

      There is a reason that Ian Rand referred to such people as “primitives”.

      The big joke is that “socialism” is just “tribalist-foragerism” with lipstick.

      Bernie Sanders isn’t a forward thinking genius. He’s a very primitive thinker.

  11. The arguments over ‘fairness’, a ‘living wage’, the ‘minimum wage’, and related debates are all based on the same thing: the perversion of ‘equality’.

    A basic American virtue is equality of opportunity. That is an entirely good thing. But like so much else, ‘equal opportunity’ has been perverted into ‘equality of results’ — which turns the concept of equal opportunity on its head. The minimum wage, ‘fairness’, a ‘living wage’, ‘everybody gets a prize’, no more letter grades; only Pass/Fail grades (and it takes some effort to fail in a gov’t school), racial quotas, and every other argument that demands ‘equal results’ all comes from the same ‘progressive’ mind-set.

    When you think about it, ‘equality of results’ is communism, no? ‘To each according to his need’.

    That makes ‘equal results’ anti-American. It takes zero effort. You get the prize for simply existing. Juan Salcedo gets his pay raise without having to go back to school to get a skill. He gets free money for doing nothing extra to earn it. Worst of all, the burden is not shared by society, rather, it is imposed on employers, just as rent control costs are imposed only on property owners.

    Some folks probably think this point of view is cold hearted. But America became the wealthiest country in the world because our system encouraged people to be self-supporting, and to make themselves more valuable to an employer.

    Now half the population is on the dole, living at the expense of the other half — and that balance is tipping more toward more people on the dole. This is unsustainable. Worse, it makes half the population dependent. “American exceptionalism” is based on competition, on people bettering themselves, and on the government keeping its nose out of the free market.

    Now we’re going in the wrong direction. For doing absolutely nothing to earn it, people will be handed free money at the expense of another segment of the population.

    Explain how that’s “fair”.

  12. Another input: decline in labor force participation rate. http://cacs.org/research/what-is-the-labor-force-participation-rate/

    “we found that from 1948 until the late 1960s, the LFPR remained relatively stable, ranging from 58.8% and 59.6%. From the late 1960s until the early 2000s, it rose steadily, driven by the entrance of baby boomers, particularly women, into the labor market. However, the LFPR began to decline in the early 2000s. The rate of decline increased during the Great Recession. As of 2014, the LFPR was at 62.9% – its lowest level since 1977.”