L.A.’s Minimum Wage Hike: A Teaching Moment for Those Trying to Help the Underprivileged

A lightly annotated story from today’s L.A. Times from the frontline of the politically connected trying to claim special exemptions from L.A’s forthcoming minimum wage hike, which highlights not the corruption of the politically connected seeking special favors but the logic that should lead to a universal exemption, i.e., abandoning the prospective minimum wage hike.

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It begins with a discussion of the dilemma of Homeboy Diner, in City Hall itself. It is:

part of Homeboy Industries’ well-known anti-gang program, opened four years ago to great fanfare. At the time, then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised the nonprofit group for finding work for onetime gang members and former convicts struggling to reenter society.

Homeboy has spent months seeking relief from the law, but only for clients in its so-called transitional jobs training program. Without an exemption, the nonprofit will need to eliminate 60 of its 170 trainee positions by the time the wage reaches $15, said Jose Osuna, the group’s director of employment services.

Currently, an 18-month possible exemption for “transitional workers” has been “set aside for more study” by the L.A. City Council.

Any and every low wage job might become “transitional” of course and it is especially those whose perceived marginal value to employers might trend low, like ex-cons, who face the greatest dangers from the marginal cuts in demand for workers that minimum wage hikes cause—even if the total unemployment rate or total hours employed don’t dive obviously in some economists’ study.

Council member Curren Price is opposed to any exemption:

“Philosophically, I do not feel comfortable saying to transitional workers that, because they have faced challenges in their lives, they deserve to be paid less than every other worker in the city,” he said in an email statement.

Source: Reason.com

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