I heard Bernie Sanders make another one of his economically-deranged statements as the crowd cheered, this one about how no American should work 40 hours a week and not have enough to live on. Then I went to the local Baskin-Robbins.
I ordered a single scoop of Chocolate Mousse Royale in a waffle cone. The cost was…$4.68.
For a single-scoop ice cream cone.
I will not go back to Baskin-Robbins again, which means I may have had my last ice cream cone. I also cannot believe that the company can continue selling ice cream cones at such absurd prices. When I worked for Baskin-Robbins as a summer job, a single-scoop cone cost $.29, and no, dinosaurs were not roaming the earth. I was paid the minimum wage, because a moron can do that job and you get to eat all the ice cream you want (within limits, which I thoroughly explored.)
Like most minimum wage jobs, scooping ice cream is overwhelmingly one filled by the young, who do not need a living wage, or those who have no skills or experience whatsoever and need to develop some. When the minimum wage goes up, companies eliminate jobs, and when it goes up too much too fast, whole occupations and companies disappear. This isn’t capitalist propaganda: it’s true. Most of the jobs that disappear are those that make life a little more pleasant for those not doing them, like pumping gas, ushering in movie theaters, operating elevators, waiting on tables, and scooping ice cream, jobs that can be learned in about an hour or less by anyone with an IQ hovering around 90.
I ran a study on the issue at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: it indirectly got me fired, in fact, because the Chamber didn’t appreciate that the results didn’t support their position that raising the minimum wage causes inflation. (It usually results in increased inflation, but doesn’t have to. Ice cream cones can get more expensive without changing the price of automobiles, but unions usually succeed in making a minimum wage increase justification for a union wage hike, which is the another reason Democrats like to increase the minimum wage.)
This is going to be a big topic in the Presidential campaign, because people with IQ’s hovering around 90 are a substantial voting bloc for Democrats, and they really believe there is such a thing as a free lunch. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Congress’s official arbiter of such matters, produced a report last year estimating that while an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 would hike incomes for roughly 16.5 million workers, it would leave another 500,000 Americans unemployed. Never mind, say the Bernies among us; the important thing is to get those few ice-cream scoopers who are left a little closer to the obscene salaries made by greedy corporate CEOs, even if it gets the rest of them fired. The scoopers and their equivalents are like the soldiers being sent into combat and told that the chances of them coming back alive are 1 out of 10, and who think, “Gee, I’m going to miss the other nine guys.” They think this way because they are either not very experienced in life, or not too bright…which is why they earn the minimum wage.
Various knee-jerk progressivism-infected cities, like Seattle, are leaping off the cliff with local $15 minimum wage increases, a one-way ratchet that will have significant negative effects on employment and the quality of life in those cities. Good restaurants will close; indeed, some already have. The rest will be more expensive. Some of those former ice cream scoopers won’t be able to eat. The bright side: that will create more pressure for government handouts, and thus more Democrats.
I don’t know why the minimum wage can’t simply be incrementally raised by statute over time as the cost of living rises, if only to put a stop to the demagoguery of pols like Sanders. Convincing the dim, gullible and the ignorant to support policies that are likely to hurt them and make life less pleasant for the rest of us is an unethical, ugly practice that politicians excel at and will never cease, because it works. It always has. It also gradually eliminates lovely little moments of fun and pleasure that make our increasingly stressful existence more bearable, like licking an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.