The C Is for Crank

Today in manufactured outrage: The libertarian Washington Policy Center is outraged—outraged!—that the AFL-CIO is offering its interns a stipend of "less than minimum wage," calling the union "hypocritical and mean-spirited" for paying its "own employees" less than the state minimum wage of $9.19 an hour.  

Four observations:

1) The amount the AFL-CIO pays per week, $350, is exactly $17.60 a week less than the Washington state minimum wage, assuming an intern actually worked 40 hours a week, which would be an unusually heavy load for an internship.

Image via Washington Budget and Policy Center (a lefty think tank unrelated to the Washington Policy Center).

2) The internships that have WPC so hot and bothered aren't even in Washington state, but in places like Mobile, AL and Austin, TX, where the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour applies. So they're actually well above that minimum wage, which works out to $290 for a 40-hour work week, or $1,160 a month.

3) As a former intern many times over, I would've found a $1,400-a-month stipend generous.

And 4) The Policy Center has consistently opposed increasing the minimum wage, arguing that it's bad for business; in fact, they support a bill that would institute a so-called "training wage" for new minimum wage workers (not just teens, but working moms, bottom-rung health care workers—anyone who makes minimum wage).

That "training wage" would be 75 percent of minimum wage for a worker's first 680 hours—that is, their first 17 40-hour weeks or 34 20-hour weeks—on the job. That works out to $6.89 a hour—even lower than the already paltry federal minimum. 

So pardon me if I doubt the sincerity of the WPC's concern for the AFL-CIO's poor underpaid workers.