In yesterday's rush to get up nine posts (including one on this week's hot city hall topic, ridesharing, and Josh's first two posts outing himself as a flâneur, we neglected to post On Other Blogs, but there was a lot going on out there.
On Other Blogs Yesterday:
1. The Atlantic Cities explores some fundamental questions about the sharing economy.
First, do sharing services (like UberX, AirBnB, and toolshare companies) meet demand for things people were already buying (or renting) anyway, or do they create new demand? Would you have bought that jackhammer anyway, or did you decide to undertake your jackhammering project because it only required you to rent it?
Second, is it better to rent an apartment through AirBnB and spend the money you save on other goods and services in the city you're visiting, or spend several times as much at a hotel chain?
And (just like the question Seattle City Council members are asking this week, as they discuss how to regulate currently unregulated ridesharing services like UberX and Lyft), will treating sharing services like other, regulated economic players put the nascent share economy out of business?
2. On Sunday, the New York Times' editorial board made the case for a higher minimum wage (the President's proposed $10.10, not the $15 for which union and fast-food activists across the nation are pressing).
The minimum wage, the NYT editorial board argues in a major column typically reserved for three separate editorials, is more than just a wage floor. It's a mechanism "specifically intended to take aim at the inherent imbalance in power between employers and low-wage workers that can push wages down to poverty levels" that "effectively substitutes for the bargaining power that low-wage workers lack."
Earlier today, by the way, the city council announced the schedule of public meetings for its special committee on the minimum wage and income inequality; Sally Clark is the chair, and all nine council members are members.
The council committee creates a third potential track toward a higher minimum wage—on top of an income-inequality panel created by Mayor Ed Murray, which meets in private, and a potential ballot measure, which council member Kshama Sawant has said she will support if other options fail to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
3. Meanwhile, the Puget Sound Business Journal argues that Seattle's income inequality problem is "not as bad as you might think," because its the ratio of low-income households to high-income households is "much better" than elsewhere in the nation, and because the percentage of people living below the poverty line in the region—11.8 percent—is lower than places like Memphis, where 19.3 percent of households live under the poverty level.
As a result, the PSBJ writes, raising the minimum wage won't have as much of an impact here as it would elsewhere in the country, where the federal minimum is $7.25 (or $2.13 for tipped workers). Frankly, the fact that we suck less than elsewhere doesn't strike me as a very strong argument against raising the minimum wage in Seattle, which, although the highest in the nation, is still far from a "middle-class" income.
4. Also in the PSBJ: A group of 50 local elected officials, including Democratic members of the King County Council, city council members from SeaTac, Normandy Park, and Burien, and Democrats in the state house and senate, have written a letter to the Seattle Port Commission urging them to allow the voter-approved $15 minimum wage take effect for Sea-Tac Airport employees. The minimum wage has gone up for about 1,600 workers in the city of SeaTac itself, but the Port has jurisdiction over the airport, and has declined so far to raise wages for around 4,700 low-wage workers there.
5. "Anti-gentrification" activists protested Microsoft by stopping its Connector buses, which link employees in Seattle to the Redmond software giant, for around 45 minutes yesterday, Geekwire reports.
It's a perfect example of Ida Tarbell lefties failing to get Elizabeth Kolbert lefties: The anti-development protesters (whose flyers read, "FIGHT DEVELOPMENT") were stopping buses that are taking cars off the road.
I guess they'd rather have all those Microsoft workers clogging up freeways with their cars instead.