I consider Seattle to be my hometown, having grown up in unincorporated King County with a Seattle address. The region is abundantly blessed with natural beauty and a mild climate, so it’s no mystery why people want to live and work there. Seattle also boasts a robust economy, in spite of a city council that at times seems perversely focused on creating a hostile environment for business.
The first blow to business was the 2014 ordinance raising the minimum wage in yearly steps to $15 per hour by 2017 for large businesses and by 2021 for small businesses. Seattle defines as large any business that employs more than 500 people nationwide.
However, local franchises for national chains such as McDonald’s are also classified as large under the ordinance, regardless of the number of people actually employed by the franchisee. Too bad, franchise holders, that you can’t be trusted to determine how much you can afford to pay your 75 employees. Seattle knows best.
(Slightly off topic: It’s evident that raising the minimum wage is a really effective way to redistribute wealth…from the low wage workers who will lose their jobs to the low wage workers lucky enough to retain their jobs. It also chills job growth, even in really hot markets like Seattle. But enough of that.)
The second and third blows came in quick succession. First, in August of 2016, the Council passed an ordinance that requires landlords choose on a first-come, first-served basis from among the pool of qualified candidates. The reasoning behind this is to prevent discrimination against renters with “alternative sources of income.” So much for being able to select the prospective renter most likely to, you know, pay rent.
But it’s also too bad for you, single mom, trying to rent your basement unit in order to help pay your mortgage, if the first qualified applicant can’t seem to take his eyes off your six-year-old daughter and sets off all your parental alarm bells. Seattle knows best.
Then, in September of 2016, came the ordinance dictating how retail and food service businesses schedule their employees. The ordinance includes a provision that requires employers to pay additional “predictability pay” if, for example, they have to call in a substitute employee at the last minute due to illness. Too bad, business owners, if it’s a slow day and you have to pay previously scheduled employees to stand around doing nothing; it’s either that be subject to predictability pay. Because Seattle knows best.
I wonder…How much control over day-to-day operations can government seize from business owners before they lose effective ownership of their own businesses? It’s a question Seattle seems determined to find an answer for.
6/6/17 Update: Now Seattle has passed a tax on sugary drinks (coffee excepted, because apparently Starbucks has some clout in the city) because you really can’t be trusted to make these kinds of decisions on your own. I mean, really, you probably should never have moved out of your mother’s basement. She wouldn’t let you have Coke for breakfast.
To be clear, it’s not the place of government to try to shape what you eat or what you drink, what you inhale or whether or not you wear your seat belt. Responsible adults are capable of making these decisions for themselves. Yes, some people will make poor choices and suffer tragic consequences, but that doesn’t negate the right of the rest of us to live our lives free of government interference.