Continuing in our ride through the fact-filled world on the Wayback machine, we find ourselves ten years later, after the disastrous I-518 raised the minimum wage by almost 100% over two years.  We remember, the tumbleweeds blowing across Bellevue Square, the rotting structures at the empty Seattle Center, the frozen hungry children begging for a meal after their parents were fired from their jobs.  It’s like it  …. never happened.

In 1998, voters were presented with the second minimum wage initiative in ten years, I-688.  The first one, I-518 in 1988, raised the MW almost 100% over 24 months, eliminated the tip credit, extended the MW to agricultural jobs, and established a youth wage for those under 16.  It also extended the MW to those in domestic service (nannies, maids, drivers, gardeners, etc.)

I-688 proposed to increase the minimum wage from $4.90 as of 1/1/98, to $5.70 on 1/1/99, and to $6.50 effective 1/1/00, of increase of about 32.6% (if my math is correct) in equal annual steps over two years.  The second most important piece was indexing the minimum wage to inflation beginning in 2001, so frequent initiatives to raise the MW would not be necessary.  The state could, by rule, establish a lower minimum wage for workers under age 18, the so-called ‘teenagers.’

The 1998 Voter’s Pamphlet contains the following statement against I-688 (remember the Secretary of State cannot edit these statements, so numerous outright lies are contained within the statement. I have kept the bold in the original):

“STATEMENT AGAINST I-688

A 32% increase in the state minimum wage now and unlimited increases in the future will have a direct impact on the family budget of every Washington citizen. When wages are artificially forced up, all other costs go up as well. The price of groceries, gasoline, rent and other goods and services will increase. This will hurt working families and those on fixed incomes, especially senior citizens.

Government mandates for automatic wage hikes and price increases should not be allowed without future voter approval.  Provisions of I-688 could have a devastating impact on communities especially outside Seattle.  The inflation index is based on urban statistics and does not take into consideration the special needs of smaller and rural communities.  What might work in Seattle is not always good in Colfax, Wenatchee or Aberdeen.

Ninety-two percent (92%) of Washington businesses already pay more than the minimum wage. The minimum wages really is starting wage not intended to be a living wage. More than 80% of those still making the minimum wage are teenagers or people living within a family with more than $30,000 per year in income.

Big government should not try to fix every economic worry. The marketplace has proven to be a much better regulator of the economy than the government. To help small businesses continue to offer good opportunities for young people and to keep prices from rising out of control, vote no on I-688.

REBUTTAL TO STATEMENT FOR:

The minimum wage is a starting wage and not intended to support a family. Most people who  earn it our teenagers or part-time workers. Starting wage jobs take people off welfare.

An increased minimum-wage low-cost families because prices of everyday goods and services will rise, not reduce taxes for working families.

I-688 takes away federal wage protections far entry workers and small businesses. Vote no on I-688.

Voters pamphlet statement prepared by:

CAROLINE LOGUE, National Federation of Independent Business; GARY SMITH, Independent Business Association; RUSS GOODMAN, Washington restaurant Association

Advisory committee: JAN TEAGUE, Washington Restaurant Association; STEVE APPEL, Washington Farm Bureau, DAN BRUNELL, Association of Washington Business, CINDY MINDT, Washington State Hotel and Motel Association.”

 

Well, there you have it.  I-688 passed 66% yes, 33% no, a two-thirds yes vote.  Not as high as the earlier vote to repeal the tip credit, but still astronomical for the time period.  One year later, Tim Eyman’s initiative to repeal car tab fee would be passed by voters, too.

Prices raising out of control?  We have enjoyed the lowest inflation since the end of World War II during the period after I-688.  Teenagers working on the minimum wage?  That stinker was debunked years ago.  A recent report for the City of Seattle also updates and further debunks that statistic for the Seattle area.  Government mandated price rises out of control?  Nope.  Prices in Seattle are noticeably lower than many other comparable parts of the country, for everything from fresh produce, groceries, cars, even homes.  Particularly in the fine dining and drinks sectors, Seattle has very low prices, despite the apocalyptic hyperbole we are hearing.

What should be noticeable is the arguments in the 1998 Voter’s Pamphlet are exactly the same as those proposed by opponents of Seattle’s current efforts to increase the minimum wage.  And, they are exactly the same as the arguments recorded in the 1988 Voter’s Pamphlet against I-518.  And, they are exactly the same as the arguments used in the 1930′s to oppose the first laws establishing a federal minimum wage, and against early state efforts to establish minimum wages.  Exact, word-for-word identical arguments over a period of almost one hundred years.  What gives?

In  the next part we will provide some inside baseball about why a small group of neocon restaurant owners is fighting so hard against the current effort.

Your homework is to enjoy a meal at Lost Lake, the 5 Point, Tom Douglas’ Serious Pie, St. Clouds, or Terra Plata, and ask yourself why are these restaurants, all of which pay well above minimum wage, are able to serve such excellent meals at reasonable prices, despite the anti-restaurant environment?  Post your findings in the comments.

 

In what has become an increasingly fact-free argument, I thought it might be time to take the Way-back Machine (very timely considering the Sherman film is in theaters right now) and find out more about Washington’s minimum wage.  How did Washington end up with the country’s highest minimum wage?  How come we still have restaurants opening every day, when clearly, its impossible?

Washington stepped off the national minimum wage ladder for the first time in 1988, with the enactment of Initiative 518.  I-518 proposed to raise the then minimum wage from $2.30 to $3.85 effective 1/1/89, and then going straight to $4.25 effective 1/1/90.  It removed the exception for tipped labor, and agricultural labor.  The minimum wage, as proposed, would apply to all workers across the board, with a limited exception for workers below the age of 16.  The statement against I-518 from the 1988 Washington State Voter’s Pamphlet follows:

Statement against I-518

Will HURT THE WORKING POOR

Initiative 518 will reduce jobs, increase inflation and hurt the working poor. Employers recognize that it is almost impossible to keep full-time employees by paying the state or federal minimum wage (even farm workers in Washington average almost $5 per hour). But a reasonable minimum wage does permit employers to provide entry-level and part-time supplemental income jobs which would otherwise be reduced. This year the employer community supported a 40% increase in the state minimum wage but the bill died in the legislative debate.

When the minimum wage is increased, impacted employers reduce working hours, increase mechanization, and reduce service to control costs. They also pass the cost of any wage increase to consumers in the form of inflation.

Tips are considered wages by state and federal law, but this initiative ignores that fact and, as a consequence, employers of tipped workers will be unfairly penalized millions of dollars resulting in higher menu prices and loss of employment opportunities for unskilled job applicants.

MEANS FEWER PART-TIME JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Supporters of the initiative argue that an increase above the federal minimum wage will help heads of larger households. But an initiative which outlaws any job that doesn’t pay enough to support a family of three, does a great disservice to the vast majority of minimum wage earners who are single, work part-time, and live in households which earn significantly above the poverty income level. For these families the increase means fewer part-time jobs and entry-level positions.

We can target programs to help the poor without reducing job opportunities for everyone else.

VOTE “NO” ON 518

Rebuttal of for
Economists don’t agree with initiative supporters. As the New York Times acknowledged, “there’s a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market.”

For example, seasonal agricultural workers are impacted by Initiative 518. Those unable to produce at a production rate equal to the minimum wage won’t be allowed to work.

For more information, call 1-800-521-9325.

Voters Pamphlet Statement Prepared by:

CLIFTON FINCH, Association of Washington Business; ROBERT SEEBER, Restaurant Association of Washington; LINDA MATSON, National Federation of Independent Business.

Advisory Committee: GARY SMITH, Independent Business Association; BILL Washington State Farm Bureau.

 

The initiative passed 76.55% yes, 23.45% no.  The result was predictable.  Bands of hoodlums roamed the land, raping and pillaging as they stole food and goods from the now abandoned restaurants and small businesses.  Nearly all business in Washington came to a halt, as hundreds of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs left the state for the freedom of Texas, Alabama, and South Carolina.  Children went hungry, and families were forced to rely on their own resources, growing food in tiny plots guarded by armed vigilantes.

What? No? Really?!

Do the arguments in the voter’s pamphlet sound familiar?  They should: they are the same arguments repeated today by members of the WRA and the NFIB.  I-518 raised the minimum wage from $2.30 to $4.25 over 24 months, an increase of almost 100%.  The result was unprecedented economic prosperity in Washington, making it one of the most desirable places to live, work, and start a business.  Incomes were high and taxes were low.  Small businesses, and restaurants in particular, prospered as never before with much more money sloshing around in the economy.  Every economic indicator took off.   But that is not the end of the story.  Coming soon, I-688!

 

 

 

Many of you know that I was involved in highlighting the work of B92 Radio in the US, during the NATO bombing of Serbia.  B92 is one of the most important journalistic efforts in the world, and a stunning example of the power of the Internet to be a force for truth and peace.  I hope you will join me in supporting B92 and bringing this issue to light in your circles.

Michael Weisman

Statement in view of the threats to B92 journalists and newsroom staff

Attacks on B92 and threats to the authors of the B92 Insider investigative journalism show have become even more intensive and brutal, showing no signs of abating even after Serbian President Boris Tadiæ’s statement yesterday that the state would not tolerate violence by hooligans and criminals. Tadiæ pointed out that the state took all the measures necessary to protect journalists going on to say that the state organs would respond in accordance with the law to arrest and prosecute anyone threatening other people’s lives. Minister of Interior Ivica Daèiæ said that the police took all the measures needed

to identify the persons behind the threats to B92. Minister of Justice Snežana Maloviæ also called for the perpetrators to be tracked down and severely punished.

The most recent wave of threats, particularly in social networks online, but also in the form of graffiti sprayed on Belgrade walls, whereby the authors of the Insider show were threatened with rape, slaughter and murder, came about following the broadcast of the investigative journalism show’s first episode entitled “Power(lessness) of the State” last Thursday featuring leaders of football fan groups whose ban had been recently requested  by the

state prosecutor.

This episode presented the content of over a hundred criminal charges against the leaders of football fan groups filed by the police in recent years which, as a rule, have failed to result in effective convictions in a court of law.  The B92 newsroom came into possession of the information thanks exclusively to the

Access to Information Act, and through comparative analysis of the available information the crucial problem was presented to the public– which is the absence of response on the part of the justice system failing to ensure security and safety of the citizens in this country.

Threatening, brutal, vulgar and primitive reactions of these criminals and their followers after the broadcast of the first episode and public statements by senior state officials testify to the fact that they feel secure, beyond the reach of justice. They are effectively sending threatening messages to the institutions of the system themselves, to the democratic processes, thus revealing a dominant ideological background of these groups and individuals drawing on

xenophobic racism, anti-Europeanism and contempt for democracy, while their sexist obsession indicate that these are sociopaths suffering from serious disorders with solely one thing in common – violence.

B92 would like to remind the public that our media company has been constantly exposed to threats and attacks. They were particularly vicious and intense at the times of the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence, Radovan Karadžiæ’s arrest, the gay pride parade which was ultimately cancelled, recent assaults on foreigners and the brutal murder of Brice Tatton, a French citizen, in Belgrade city centre for which the individuals portrayed in The Insider show were charged with. The attacks on B92 ranged from hooligans’ assault on the B92 building and arson attack to physical attacks on our journalists

and associates culminating in serious physical injuries inflicted to our cameraman during B92 coverage of the protest against the arrest of Radovan Karadžiæ.

The police have been guarding the B92 building for the past year and a half. Often some of our journalists have to be provided with direct police protection and escort. Given the circumstances and conditions in which our journalists and newsrooms are working, it is indeed pointless to speak about the state of media freedoms in Serbia. The statements by the President of the Republic, Minister of Interior and other most senior state officials claiming that the state would not tolerate violence as well as that those responsible for the threats and attacks would be identified and prosecuted are welcome, but they are not enough. In the case of attacks on B92, we may no longer speak of isolated incidents but constant pressure to which the B92 employees have been exposed to, while the public at large has borne witness to it in the past years. The physical security of the building and protection provided  by the police for the journalists who are the most at risk are not enough because it is obvious that no one can effectively protect about fifty professional journalists who have to

do their job every day. It is neither possible to constantly monitor dozens of football fan groups that were mentioned in The Insider series. It is necessary that this state, if it is truly committed to democratic reforms and European future, finally expose the individuals behind the attacks on the professional media outlets as well as to bring those responsible to justice.

B92 calls on the democratic public, journalist and media associations, human rights groups in the country and abroad to show solidarity with the journalists of this media company that are subjected to threats, as well as our request for the Serbian government to ensure the conditions in which the journalists of B92 and all other media in Serbia would be able to report to the public on the issues of public interest, but without fear for their lives and personal safety.

Veran Matiæ

B92 CEO and editor-in-chief

There has been a great deal of concern about language in the recent FCC call for rule making on network neutrality.  The FCC notice is intended to develop a definition of net neutrality along the lines proposed in the rule making.  The concern is directed at language that would permit network operators (I always use the words network operators because these rules would apply to Internet and non-Internet networks) to conduct ‘reasonable network management.  The Ars Technica article makes one glaring error; there is nothing about ‘tiering‘ that violates net neutrality, but it is a bad idea for a lot of other reasons.   First, here are the principles the FCC has offered for public comment:

“Under the draft proposed rules, subject to reasonable network management, a provider of broadband Internet access service:

1. would not be allowed to prevent any of its users from sending or receiving the lawful content of the user’s choice over the Internet;

2. would not be allowed to prevent any of its users from running the lawful applications or using the lawful services of the user’s choice;

3. would not be allowed to prevent any of its users from connecting to and using on its network the user’s choice of lawful devices that do not harm the

network;

4. would not be allowed to deprive any of its users of the user’s entitlement to competition among network providers, application providers, service

providers, and content providers;

5. would be required to treat lawful content, applications, and services in a non-discriminatory manner; and

6. would be required to disclose such information concerning network management and other practices as is reasonably required for users and

content, application, and service providers to enjoy the protections specified in this rule making.”

Now first of all, let’s give the FCC a great big hand for doing such a fine job putting the definition of network neutrality into words, and going much further than most folks would have imagined.  Now, the way the FCC phrased it, they made all six principles subject to the prefatory phrase ‘reasonable network management.’  That is not the way I would do it.  Only principle 5 (OK maybe 4, too) needs to be made subject to reasonable network management, because none of the rest of the  principles implicate any kind of network management at all.  I would like to see the Commission simply take the phrase ‘subject to reasonable network management’ and move it down to principle 5.  Then there would be no confusion that any of the other principles would somehow be compromised by allowing the network operators to ‘manage’ them.

If we can define network neutrality in six pithy phrases, I don’t see why we can’t take a whack at defining reasonable network management in a few pithy phrases also.  My framework for this is based on my research concerning comparative telecommunications laws, and specifically the European Union Framework Directive and Access Directive.  I’m not going to dissect the EU directives here, but I wanted to give some background.

The basic principles for reasonable network management:

1.  The management must be directed to traffic on the network.  It must be directly related to a specific, identifiable traffic problem existing on the network.  If audited, the operator should be able to show what the problem was; it is an identified situation.  This excludes peremptory management, for example taking actions to prevent a traffic problem.  The correct action to peremptorily address traffic is to expand the capacity on the network.  The rule is addressed this way intentionally, so that a network operator will be forced to open or expand capacity to solve traffic congestion.   Network management must stop as soon as the congestion has cleared.

2.  The network operator cannot discriminate between one kind of data and another to management traffic congestion.  The operator must act to remove the congestion, not the data.

3.  To help improve service during periods of congestion, the operator can prioritize certain data.  For example, if an episode of congestion made it hard for voice data to travel over the network (thereby rendering some voice-over-IP apps inoperable), the operator could prioritize voice data.  But the operator cannot retard other data.  Actually, the scenario painted by US ISPs of slowing some data to somehow create some space (??) for other data to move faster, like on a freeway, just doesn’t make sense.  That is not how a data network works.  The analog between freeways and networks breaks down.

4.  The operator cannot act to improve the ‘user experience.’  Since the operator is handling data for all kinds of users, who are sending data as well as receiving it, the operator would have to pick and choose which users’ experience to improve.  Obviously, this can’t be done because how do you choose?  This may also violate the rule against peremptory management.   Network management must occur on the network, not at the user.

5.  All management must be transparent.  Operators are limited to the use of management that meets the technical standards and specifications laid down by the Commission.   Operators must provide a complete description of the methodology they use for network management to anyone who asks.

6.  A network operator cannot refuse network access based on ‘reasonable network management grounds.’ “Where obligations are imposed on operators that require them to meet reasonable requests for access to and use of networks elements and associated facilities, such requests should only be refused on the basis of objective criteria such as technical feasibility or the need to maintain network integrity.”  (EU Access Directive)  When you send a message to someone on another network, you are ‘accessing’ the network.

7.  Network operators cannot manage the network in any way that distorts competition.  For example, they cannot refuse access or slow down access from some competitors, but not others.  They cannot favor their own traffic over others’.

That is pretty much it.  If the FCC wants to define the terms of reasonable network management, I see no reason they cannot.  I strongly urge the Commission to regulate network management in a way that is consistent with the rest of the world.  There is no US Internet or EU Internet.  There is just an Internet, and network operators and users should be able to use it the same way wherever they are.

I can’t claim the credit, but they have put some of the favorite back on the HH menu, at HH prices. The portions are reduced, and fries no longer come with the lamb burger, but it’s a step in the right direction.

US Representative Rick Larsen, who represents northwest Washington State, Friday signed the anti-net neutrality letter shopped around by the telcos and cable cos.  The letter was shopped around to Democratic reps in the hopes of scaring off FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.  In the letter,  the signers recite a litany of telco lies and misrepresentations.  For example, they attribute the growth of the Internet on ‘regulatory restraint,’ an allusion to the polices of Michael Powell, Reed Hundt and Kevin Martin.  But those policies slowed and eventually destroyed the growth of the Internet, so that now the US has one of the lowest Internet use rates of any developed country.  And the quality of our service is just about the worst in the developed world (slowest, most expensive) , again, thanks to regulatory restraint.

A least one signer has already made signs of his intent to possibly repudiate his signature on the letter. I guess in this age of the Internet, he had received assurances the telcos would block any comments about his signature. They can do that, right? Not yet, Rep. Jared Polis, sorry.  But we know where you want go, now.

It’s a surprise Larsen would sell out to the telco/cableco sock puppets.  His district used to have dozens of independent ISPs.  Now, there are nearly none, and the nascent high-tech industry that was developing in this beautiful area of Washington State is gone.  Larsen’s district suffers from lack of high-speed Internet service; I know because I’ve met with the leaders in the area.  Lack of quality Internet has hampered job creation and made it impossible to create or relocate the kind of jobs that would permit young people to remain in the area.  And the few success stories (Bellingham’s fiber to the industrial park project, San Juan County’s decision to build it themselves) are public efforts to get around the tail-dragging, dishonest, manipulative telcos.  Thanks Rick Larsen, you outed yourself as a telco sock puppet.

I went to pick up a take out dinner of chicken from Bastille’s take out menu.  They don’t just accept an order for take-out.  They had to check to see if I could have a take out meal.  Since they are still skitchy about eat-in meals for un, I was pleased when they deemed me OK to have a take out meal.

First, you don’t actually get a half chicken. You get about a third of chicken.  A small breast and part of the thigh.  I assume they use the rest for sandwiches and stock.  The chicken is tender, and tiny, and extremely dry, and undercooked.  Since it is undercooked, you can’t eat all of it.  Potatoes good; the vegetable consist of a pice of onion.  For $18.   This is their signature meal.  I’ll never order it again.  What a waste.

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