Tuesday morning, the subject of Seattle City Council and its recent decision to raise its minimum wage to $15 is what trended briefly at Seattle coffee shops.
“How did they settle on $15? That’s what they want to know. That would put me out of business,” the owner's said.
There is no good answer for them. Ohio’s minimum wage is $7.95. Which is about what most Mom and Pop coffee shops pays their employees.
When offered that supporters behind the wage measure saw this as the first step to trying to rebuild that city’s middle class, owners laughed. When they were told that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray triumphantly declared the wage hike, to be phased in over a few years, to be a useful model for the rest of the nation, profanity came on loud and strong.
Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks, a Seattle-based company.
Schultz is a billionaire.
But here’s where both mom and pop shop owners and Schultz see eye-to-eye: They both understand that government cannot create middle-class prosperity by killing businesses and stifling entrepreneurial pathways to economic mobility.
Starbucks already starts its employees above the minimum wage and offers a lot's of other perks. Starbucks is the largest coffee house company in the world. It has the luxury of such generosity.
Mom and Pop shops cannot afford to offer any of these perks. That is why he has the sympathy of many proven business creators like Schultz, who was born into working-class poverty.
“I wouldn’t want to see the unintended consequences of job loss as a result of (the minimum wage) going that high. That would not be the case at Starbucks, but I suspect that most companies,
especially small-and-mid-sized companies, would not be able to afford it,”
That’s exactly where mom and pop's find themselves.
Whatever the Seattle folks are drinking, let’s hope it stays far from here.