Yesterday, Kriss and I attended Seattle mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Symposium at Seattle University. This was no balanced discussion of the potential impacts of increasing the minimum wage in Seattle to $15; instead, everyone involved seemed to have agreed ahead of time on the goodness of significantly increasing the minimum wage. All that’s left is the details.
Indeed, in a letter to attendees attached to the agenda, the mayor wrote that the Income Inequality Advisory Committee had three goals for the day:
- “Help inform ourselves of the rising income gap in our community and the complexities when addressing this issue.”
- “Establish Seattle as a national leader in developing strategies to address income inequality.”
- “Serve as a model to catalyze a broader national movement to address the rising wealth gap in our country.”
We are all committed to supporting Seattle’s workers and crafting a solution that does not burden our immigrant entrepreneurs in South Seattle, our small business owners in Lake City Way, our beloved neighborhood restaurants or our critical community non-profit partners.
In opening remarks, the mayor set the stage, saying that there is plenty of evidence that we can increase the minimum wage without placing an undue burden on business. But, he hedged, businesses “do have legitimate concerns.” Still, “what we do here can serve as a model for the entire nation.”
On the first goal, the symposium completely failed. There was no recognition that the impacts of a minimum wage increase (especially one so large as is contemplated) are highly controversial among economists. Complexities were waived away or not mentioned.
Members of the business community were present at the symposium. Ideally, they would have had an opportunity to present opposing views that were seriously lacking yesterday.
More blog posts to follow on the various panels.