One can easily judge how well Socialism has worked at producing wealth—everywhere it’s tried it fails. So why do we keep falling for the same tired rhetoric? It’s because the proponents of Socialism market it as more socially just than a system based on the drab realities of economic principles which actually work. In other words, they appeal to emotion rather than reason. They fill their speeches with outrage and passion about dominance in society by the wealthy and the plight of the poor working person who spent 20 years in a low-wage job. But missing is the simple logic the person chose to remain in that job, rather than to use it as a stepping stone to a better one. They also appeal to the baser emotions of jealousy and contempt—jealousy for the wealth that others have and contempt for what they perceive as unearned privilege. It is easier for them to sell the poor on the idea that someone is holding them down, than the truth that they are responsible for producing success in their own lives. It is an easier pill to swallow that you are a victim, not a failure. In doing so, they also promote the uncharitable assumption that the wealthy are all greedy and oppressors. An assumption which is simply not true.
In Seattle—perhaps especially in Seattle—the bulk of small business owners pride themselves on kindness, love, and charity toward others. Many owners work along side of their employees, oftentimes paying employees more than they take home themselves. These big-hearted entrepreneurs are job-creators and benefactors; anything but oppressors.
In a recent article (Political slogans crowd out reason on minimum wage) the author observes that catchy slogans can overwhelm reason. While this observation is correct, even this author makes the mistake of allowing the rhetoric to advance bad ideas through compromise. The article implies that “black and white thinking” is part of the problem and suggests that a job loss of 100,000 is better than a loss of 500,000, and somehow that’s more reasonable. But why accept a job loss of 100,000 as a concession to the slogan throwers? How is that a victory for reason?
So here’s an argument based on both reason and emotion. This is what will be lost if Seattle adopts a high minimum wage. If small businesses are driven out, who will replace them? In the vacuum left behind larger businesses will step in—big businesses who buy in quantity, with specialized administration staff, major distribution channels, and distant or even offshore production facilities where wages are much less. These larger companies can afford to pay a higher local wage, because other costs are kept much lower. Small business simply can’t compete with the economies of scale available to larger businesses. Gone will be the local charm and home-town atmosphere of the endless small businesses in Seattle. Gone will be the family-like atmosphere of small business owners working along-side their employees. In their place will be national chains, with owners living elsewhere. Is this really the vision we want for Seattle? No, we should work toward keeping Seattle businesses under local ownership. KEEP SEATTLE LOCAL!