Further thoughts on this story. Our press has a weird definition of “pro-business.” The debate over the minimum wage was framed as one between those who favored raising the pathetic baseline by which we determine the value of an hour of an American worker’s time and those who were “pro-business.”
“Over a million people could lose their jobs without the inclusion of small-business protections,” he said. “I have assurances from the Senate that it will add such protections, which have always been included in the past. That is an increase in the minimum wage I will support.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already signaled that Democrats will accept pro-business changes.
Aside from it being lazy, shitty, writing, it’s a shorthand way to defang the critics of the present minimum wage, much in the way that the debate over the war before it began was one between “patriotic” groups and “anti-war” factions. It assumes that:
Unions are anti-business
Fair treatment of workers is anti-business
Your potential customers having enough money to spend in your shop because they make enough at their jobs is anti-business
All of which is at best reductive, and at worst fundamentally dishonest. Are workers and those who employ them potential enemies? At times, yes. There should be healthy tension between employers and employees. There should be a relationship that recognizes and honors the power dynamic between the two, a relationship based on mutual dependence and respect. That way everybody gets what they need. But to imply that workers who want to be recognized for the work they do and paid in such a manner that reflects that respect are “anti-business” is to take an incredibly shortsighted view of the situation.
(Especially considering the total fucking insanity of CEO salaries right now as proportional to their lowest-paid workers, but that’s a whole post about whaling ships and Japan that I’m not done researching yet.)
It assumes the only “pro-business” standpoint is one which gives the most money to employers and keeps the most money from employees. That may be the way some businesses run, but it’s certainly not the way all businesses operate.
And don’t throw small businesses in my face. When I was working the deli counter at a farm market store in 1992, I was making nearly $7 an hour, about what the other ten or so employees made. Why? Because they couldn’t hire even high school kids for less, because they wanted people who wouldn’t steal from them, because they liked us and tried not to screw us as much as they could, and because it made sense.
Pay people decently and they’ll value their jobs. Treat them like worthless animals and that’s what you’ll get.
I don’t know why that’s not “pro-business.”