Reality has intruded even in Washington, D.C., where a slim majority to DC City Council members has voted to repeal the minimum wage hike for tipped workers.
In a report headlined "Fight against Fifteen: Democrats Push to Repeal Minimum Wage Hike in Nation's Capital," IBD explains what is going on:
"Fight for $15" is the rallying cry for most Democrats these days.
But soon after Washington, D.C., voters approved a hike in tipped wages to $15, Democrats on the city council moved to repeal it.
That's what happens when ideology crashes into reality.
Fifty-six percent of DC voters approved Initiative 77, which would have raised the minimum wage for workers who depend on tips from the current $3.89 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026.
Seven of the thirteen members of the City Council are now–wisely–in favor of repealing Initiative 77. This is pretty astonishing in a place that went for Hillary Clinton by 91 percent to four percent.
Why did these seven members vote this way? IBD explains:
But the D.C. council members came to understand what economists — and D.C. restaurant workers themselves — already know. Sharp increases in the minimum wage will cost lost hours, lost jobs and lost income. (The unemployment rate is over 9% in D.C.'s poorer wards.)
Not only would the wage hike pretty much eliminate tips — why tip when the waiter is already making as much as everyone else? — it would almost certainly make workers who keep their jobs worse off financially, since they'd have to pay taxes on every dollar of income.
Initiative 77 is ill-named–what it doesn't promote is human initiative.
A good waiter, a man or woman with initiative, that is, can earn far more than $15 an hour.
Tipped workers represent one of the remaining meritocracies.
The current low minimum wage is no doubt a hardship for those who are unsuited to being in a tipped profession. They do well to improve their skills or consider another line of work.
IBD only laments that the City Council's wisdom on tipped workers doesn't extend to more general issues, including unrealistic minimum wage hikes in other lines of work that, as has happened in Seattle, will likely harm the very people the Council seeks to help.
A study found that in Seattle the average low-income worker made $125 less a month after minimum wage hikes kicked in and employers, in a dastardly effort to remain solvent, cut back on hours.
IBD says that "Fight for Fifteen" is a great bumper sticker.
As a public policy, however, it all too often backfires.