Friday, August 30, 2013

Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.): Raising Fast-Food Industry Wages to $15/Hr. Would Lead to 'Millions of Jobs Created'

Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky added her ignorant voice to the cacophony of economic confusion Thursday on the low-rated MSNBC show hosted by Chris Hayes. If a Republican congressperson made a statement as breathtakingly ignorant as the one you're about to see, it would get wider media play. Schakowsky's "brilliant" suggestion almost certainly won't.
Why has nobody thought of this fantastic idea? Here it is as "articulated" by Schakowsky in response to a question from Hayes (HT Bridget Johnson at PJ Tatler; bolds are mine; click on the "transcript" tab at the link to see the full text of the discussion; the original transcript has no caps and is missing some punctuation, but yours truly has added them where needed):
HAYES: What do you say to the people watching this and saying, "look, this is between the employees of Mcdonald's and their employer? This is a private market encounter that happens between people seeking work and those who are looking to hire folks, and it's not really any of your business, respectfully, Congresswoman, what they pay their workers"?
SCHAKOWSKY: Look, this is an entire industry that is paying poverty wages in this country, and thousands and tens of thousands, maybe millions of people who simply can't make it on those kinds of wages. And i think that forming a union, getting $15 an hour, which makes a modest income of about $31,000 a year, if you get to work full time, is something that is a proper demand. And actually these workers are acting -- are going to the employers, are going to these companies. I'm standing with them because i think we need it for our economy. If they got paid more, we're going to see millions of jobs created because there are going to be consumers in the marketplace.
On that basis, I'm going to support an across-the-board minimum wage increase to $25 per hour. Everyone with a full-time job deserves $50K. (/sarc)
Given that the workers granted $15 or $25 per hour will at best be marginally more productive — the only argument I see is that some will be more focused on their work if they're under less financial stress, which may be true in some instances but won't be in many others — what Schakowsky is essentially arguing for is an employer-sponsored "stimulus" program. The trouble is that arbitrarily and hugely increasing wages across the board to way above market value, which is what Schakowsky really wants to do, will lead to inflation which will gobble up a significant portion of the just-obtained pay increase. It will also cause McDonald's and other employers to take a harder look at automating more of the processes, causing them to need fewer employees.
I'm pretty sure that the period in the parenthetical which usually follows the congresswoman's name is a typo. She would more correctly be described as "(D-Ill)."

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